Urban Studies & Affairs Masters United States Graduate Programs

Urban studies and affairs master's degree programs are a subset of public policy. Students enrolled in an urban affairs master's degree program focus on the interactions within a city, involving government, planning, agency administration and public services. Students seeking a master’s degree in urban affairs are often politically or civic minded. A graduate program in urban affairs prepares students for careers in politics, non-profit or community outreach organizations, or private planning firms.

A prospective graduate student of urban affairs should ideally be:

  • A problem solver
  • Interested in how a city operates
  • Big picture oriented
  • Driven by a desire to help people
  • Able to evaluate data to make decisions
  • Fascinated by both the social and economic considerations that drive city planning

Urban Affairs Master's Degree Program Curriculum

Urban affairs is a broad and ever-changing subject, and at many schools, the master’s degree programs in urban affairs are in constant flux. You may be able to structure your degree to focus on one specific area, such as public policy, advocacy, city planning, asset allocation and budgeting or government and organizational theory.

Courses commonly offered at urban affairs graduate programs include:

  • Urban planning
  • Non-profit management
  • Economics
  • Statistics
  • Real estate development
  • Political decision making
  • Public budgeting
  • Environmental planning
  • Transportation
  • Developmental design

Urban Affairs Career Paths

Urban affairs professionals are often tasked with balancing conflicting priorities presented to them by community members, politicians, and regulatory bodies.  They often work closely with engineers, architects, lawyers, and private developers.  Urban affairs professionals might pursue potential career opportunities in local, state, or federal government, architectural engineering organizations, or consulting firms.  Some may choose to enter into politics at the local or national level.  

Urban Affairs Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 38,700 urban planners employed in 2012.  Employment in this field are expected to grow by 10% between 2012 and 2022, equavalent to the addtion of about 4,000 new postions during that time period.  The BLS stated that job prospects will be best for urban planners who have earned a master's degree from an accredited planning program, have work experience, and are willing to relocate to pursue career opportunities.

Urban Affairs Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary of urban planners was $65,230 in 2012.  The 10% of earners made more than $97,630, and the bottom 10% of earners made less than $41,490.  The graph below provides 2012 median salary data on urban planners employed in select industries.Salary of Urban Affairs Professionals

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