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Sticky notes on a poster

We know education is not one-size-fits-all.

Some students find that they have an interest in an area of Urban Studies that doesn’t fit easily within the existing concentrations; examples might include urban health care or cities and technology.  For these highly motivated and creative students, a self-designed concentration may be the best option. 


In developing a self-designed concentration, a student must work with an advisor who has expertise in the student’s area of interest and is a member of the Academic Council (the faculty member’s title must be Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor).  Often, though not always, the advisor is an affiliated faculty member of the Urban Studies Program.  To see a list of these faculty members and their research and teaching interests, click here.

Procedures and Requirements:

The student and advisor should develop a proposed list of courses in the concentration, totaling at least 20 units.  Proposals must be submitted in writing to the Director of Urban Studies and to the Student Services Officer, and must include:

  • an explanation of why the area forms a coherent field of study;
  • the list of proposed courses; and
  • a description of how each course meets the student’s educational objectives. 

The proposal must be accompanied by a letter to the Director of Urban Studies indicating that the academic advisor has examined and approved the student’s plan, and agrees to serve as advisor. 

Students pursuing a self-designed concentration must submit proposals to the Director of Urban Studies by the middle of the second quarter of the student’s sophomore year. Applications received after that deadline are not considered. Students interested in pursuing a self-designed concentration are strongly encouraged to meet with the Director of Urban Studies before the start of their sophomore year.

Students who declare a self-designed concentration, like all other Urban Studies majors, must complete the Urban Studies core, skills, service learning, and capstone requirements.  Their courses must total at least 70 units.