About Our Program
Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, SFU's program in Urban Studies offers students a broad-based, interdisciplinary graduate education preparing them to understand and address the diverse and interconnected opportunities and challenges facing cities today.
Our flexible program allows students to pursue a Master's degree or graduate diploma either on a full-time or part-time basis. Distinguished university faculty and part-time instructors, many of them accomplished urban practitioners, offer stimulating evening classes to our diverse student body with its variety of professional and academic backgrounds and wide-ranging interests.
Master of Urban Studies
The Master of Urban Studies Program (M.URB.) requires completion of 32 credit hours of URB courses, usually comprising eight courses in total. One or two graduate courses from other departments may be substituted with permission. Three of these courses (URB 670, 696, and 697) are required and must be taken in sequence as preparation to researching and writing an independent research project, which demonstrates their integration of concepts and techniques acquired during the course of their studies. Graduates of our program have written projects on topics as diverse as urban transportation, affordable housing, pedestrian street design, food security and urban agriculture, cultural policy, risk management, social inequality, and collaborative planning.
Graduate Diploma in Urban Studies
The Graduate Diploma can add valuable experience in studying cities to an undergraduate degree by providing the opportunity to develop urban expertise and insights. The Graduate Diploma requires completion of 24 hours of URB courses, usually comprising six courses in total. One or two graduate urban courses from other departments may be substituted with permission.
For a complete listing of Urban Studies curriculum, download our brochure.
Students in our program reflect the talent and diversity of cities across Canada and beyond. Some have decided to pursue a graduate credential after gaining experience working for organizations including the municipalities of New Westminster, Richmond, North Vancouver, Surrey, and Vancouver; Metro Vancouver; the North Vancouver Recreation Commission; the BC Ministry of Children and Families; Translink, Transport Canada, and; Stantec Consulting. Other students have joined us directly after completing undergraduate degree in a variety of disciplines, or after postgraduate work experience in a broad range of non-urban related fields, including the film and biotech industries, teaching, tourism and recreation, politics, engineering, arts administration, and fine arts. All of our students have honed their knowledge and interest in cities in the classroom or on the job, as well as through other forms of urban-related experience, including volunteer work. To learn more about our students' urban interests and engagements, please visit their blog.
The Urban Studies program is designed to meet the needs of our diverse student body. All of our courses are scheduled in the evening, and the option for part-time study allows our students to pursue their diploma or degree while working and/or raising a family.
Students find our program to be a welcoming and supportive place. Faculty and staff offices and a much-used student workspace are located together in the same suite in the Harbour Centre building at Hastings and Richards Streets, facilitating access to and interchange among all members of our program. Despite the mix of part-time and full-time students, strong bonds between students, as well as robust intellectual and social community achieved in part through our active Student Society mark our program's student culture.
For those with the time to devote to extracurricular activities, the Program has much to offer outside the classroom. In recent years, students have participated in multi-day field trips to Portland and Seattle, have traveled to the United Kingdom to participate in the field school sponsored by the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. Our program hosts distinguished local and out-of-town speakers on a regular basis, including through the yearly or bi-annual Visiting Fellowship in Urban Sustainability, which, among others, has welcomed New Urbanist luminary Hank Dittmar and public intellectual and provocateur James Howard Kunstler. In the Spring of 2012 and fall of 2013, we will be hosting a speakers series on gentrification, which will bring six distinguished scholars from Canada and around the world to address this vital topic for Vancouver and cities around the world.
Graduates of our program have parlayed the knowledge and skills they have gained in pursuing their degree or diploma into rewarding, urban-related careers in planning, project management, post-secondary education, consulting, community outreach, sustainability, and urban research for employers as diverse as municipal governments around the region, Metro Vancouver, Translink, the Portland Hotel Society, BC Housing, Thomas Consultants, HB Lanarc, Stantec Consulting, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, and HASTE (Hub for Action on School Transportation Emissions). Alumni testimonials suggest the importance of the SFU Urban Studies experience to their success.