Urban Studies Program

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Founded in 2001, the Urban Studies program at the University of Washington Tacoma offers two undergraduate degrees (BA in Urban Studies and BA Sustainable Urban Development), a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Master of Arts in Community Planning, and Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies.

The Urban Studies Program engages students, faculty, and community to advance critical thinking, social justice, and applied research through the transformative power of higher education.


A premier Urban Studies program within a leading urban-serving university


Teach to engage; research to advance knowledge; act to promote social justice and equitable development

Educational Emphasis

Urban Studies has built its curriculum around four program goals, which are to:

  • Provide students with a broad understanding of the problems and prospects of our metropolitan areas
  • Equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers related to the multi-faceted nature of urban studies
  • Serve as a resource, through service and research, to communities in the Sound region
  • Guide students to effectively analyze the social and cultural worlds that constitute urban environments

Overall objectives of the program:

  • Provide an understanding of the form and function of cities
  • Instill an awareness of problems and issues confronting metropolitan areas
  • Provide an interdisciplinary curriculum that allows students to understand the complex interrelation-ships that make up the urban environment and permits them to approach problems from a variety of perspectives
  • Equip students with the analytical skills needed to undertake research in an urban milieu

Learning outcomes:

  • Approach urban issues from an interdisciplinary perspective
  • Apply analytic and quantitative skills to assess and develop strategies to analyze and resolve urban issues
  • Compare and contrast approaches used in designing and undertaking research in urban studies
  • Demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrate appreciation for the diverse nature of urban populations and the social justice issues many of these populations face