The Barnard–Columbia Urban Studies program enables students to explore and understand the urban experience in all of its richness and complexity.  It recognizes the city as an amalgam of diverse peoples and their social, political, economic, and cultural interactions within a distinctive built environment. Students study the evolution and variety of urban forms and governance structures, which create opportunities for, as well as constrain, the exercise of human agency, individual and collective. They explore the place of the city in different historical and comparative contexts, as well as in the human imagination.

Majors build an intellectual foundation that combines interdisciplinary coursework and a concentration of study within a single field. Through the two-semester junior seminars, students study urban history and contemporary issues, and at the same time hone their interdisciplinary, analytical and research skills. This shared experience prepares them for their independent research project in their senior year. We encourage our majors to use New York City as a laboratory, and many courses draw on the vast resources of the city and include an off-campus experience.

As an Urban Studies major, you will conduct your own independent research. You will learn how to analyze real-world issues using multiple perspectives and methodologies. You will be familiar with a wide range of academic approaches — while still being a master of one. You will organize and present group projects, learn how to apply empirical reasoning to complex situations, and be constantly challenged to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively.

Our majors have a wide range of interests as well as professional opportunities. In our most recent departmental assessment, we surveyed dozens of past graduates, and these were some of the paths they took:

  • Development and real estate
  • Urban education
  • Clinical research
  • Market research
  • Publishing
  • Consulting
  • Political campaigns
  • Community organizing
  • Youth development programs
  • Environmental non-profits
  • Social justice non-profits
  • Finance and private equity (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs)
  • Working for New York City
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Graduate school (e.g. Masters of Urban Planning, Masters in Architecture, Masters of Social Work, law school)





Urban Studies Program
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

For all inquiries:
(212) 854 4073