The Master of Science degree program in Urban Studies provides students with a broad understanding of urban society and trains them in research techniques appropriate to the study of metropolitan communities. The course of study stresses the understanding of social processes and the analysis of social and economic policies affecting cities.

The PhD degree program in Urban Studies is designed to prepare individuals to obtain employment in academic departments, as well as government institutions and social agencies, and to conduct sophisticated research in the field of urban studies. The course of study emphasizes history, research methodology, and social science theory.

Urban Studies Programs offers two interdisciplinary graduate programs of study that are housed in the College of Letters and Science and led by social science faculty members from the Departments of Africology, Architecture, Criminal Justice, Educational Policy and Community Studies, Geography, History, Political Science, Nonprofit and Public Administration, Public Health, Sociology, and Urban Planning.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.

Admission

An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements, hold a master’s degree or the equivalent in a social science or a related field, and meet the criteria established by the Urban Studies Programs Faculty to be considered for admission:

  1. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic work. Recommendation forms may be obtained online from the link above.
  2. A sample of the applicant’s written work that demonstrates the applicant’s ability to conduct independent social science research and/or the ability to critically analyze the work of others.
  3. A letter of intent outlining the applicant’s reasons for graduate study.
  4. GRE scores.
  5. A response to a question that elucidates the applicant’s reasons for taking up the academic study of urban affairs and describes her/his intellectual ambitions in the field.

Credits and Courses

Minimum degree requirement is 33 credits beyond the master’s degree; these credits include core courses, a methodological specialization, a topical specialization, and a dissertation. At least 27 credits must be earned in UWM courses while in the doctoral program. Credits for the methodological specialization and the topical specialization combined must total at least 15 credits, with 6 credits from one area and 9 from the other. Students will decide, in consultation with their advisor, whether to focus more on methods or on topics. In consultation with their major professor and the program director, students must develop a plan of study, which should be filed in the USP office by the end of the second semester of enrollment.

Core
URB STD 921Seminar: Research Methods in Urban Studies3
URB STD 981Argument in Urban Studies Scholarship3
or URB STD 983 Contemporary Urban Social Structure and Change
Select one of the four listed below:3
Urban Social Structure
Seminar in Urban Political Process
The Internal Structure of the City
Seminar on the History of American Urban Problems
Select one of the following: 13-4
Spatial Analysis
The Quantitative Analysis of Historical Data
Advanced Statistical Methods in Sociology
Methodological Specialization
Select 6-9 credits 6-9
Topical Specialization
Select 6-9 credits 6-9
Thesis
Select 6 credits in doctoral thesis or dissertation courses6

Methodological Specialization (6-9 credits)

Students must declare one specialization from the following list and take two to three courses, for a total of 6 to 9 credits. Credits taken in the methodological specialization and the topical specialization combined must total at least 15 credits.

Statistical Analysis/Quantitative Research Design (2 course minimum)

A methodological specialization in statistical analysis requires SOCIOL 982/URB STD 982 and at least one additional statistical/quantitative course beyond the core competency. This course, selected in consultation with the student’s advisor, should support research objectives and dissertation goals. Students are recommended to choose SOCIOL 760 above if they wish to take SOCIOL 982/URB STD 982. See the Graduate Program Director for a list of qualifying courses or online at: http://www4.uwm.edu/letsci/urbanstudies/graduate/phd/upload/CompletePHDStudentGuide.pdf.

Geographical Information Systems (2 course minimum)

A methodological specialization in GIS requires the following two courses. Students who elect this specialization must take GEOG 547 to complete the statistical/quantitative core competency.

GEOG 525Geographic Information Science4
GEOG 625Intermediate Geographic Information Science4

Students who elect the GIS option earn 8 credits in the two required courses and must complete a minimum of 7 credits in topical courses or take one additional methods course with 6 credits in topical courses.

Optional additional coursework in GIS may be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor, with consideration of research objectives and dissertation goals. See the Graduate Program Director for a list of suggested courses.

Historical Methods (2 course minimum)

In consultation with their advisor, students who elect this specialization must select two historical methods courses in that support research objectives and dissertation goals. See the Graduate Program Director for a list of qualifying courses.

Qualitative Methods (2 course minimum)

Students who elect the methodological specialization in qualitative methods select two courses in consultation with their advisor in support of research objectives and dissertation goals. See the Graduate Program Director for a list of qualifying courses.

Program/Policy Evaluation (2 course minimum)

A methodological specialization in program/policy evaluation requires POL SCI 769/PUB ADM 769 and at least one additional program/policy evaluation course. This course, selected in consultation with the student’s advisor, should support research objectives and dissertation goals. See the Graduate Program Director for a list of qualifying courses.

Mixed Methods (2 course minimum)

Graduate students intending to pursue mixed research methods in their dissertation must file with the USP a plan of study created in consultation with their major professor and the program Director.

Topical Specialization (6-9 credits)

Students must declare a topical specialization, in consultation with their advisor, to gain competence in one of the faculty areas of specialization and must take two to three courses in that specialization, for a total of 6 to 9 credits. Students who opt for 6 credits (two courses) of methodological specialization must take at least 9 credits of topical specialization courses. Those who select 9 credits (three courses) of methodological specialization must complete 6 credits of topical specialization courses.

A variety of specializations and qualifying courses are published annually on the Urban Studies website. Students are required to take 6-9 credits at the 700 level or above in the specialization field, no more than 3 credits of which may be in independent study courses. With the approval of the major professor or program director, students may take up to 3 credits in U/G courses.

Thesis (6 credits)

A maximum of 6 credits in doctoral thesis or dissertation courses may be counted toward the 33 credits required for the degree.

Additional Requirements

Residence

The PhD student may meet the residence requirement by completing 8 or more graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions, or by completing at least 6 graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

The student must pass a doctoral preliminary examination to qualify for formal admission to candidacy for the degree.

Dissertation

The candidate, working under the supervision of the major professor and the candidate’s dissertation committee, must write a dissertation which demonstrates ability to formulate a research topic and pursue original investigation.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate must, as a final step toward the degree, pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.

For additional information on the PhD, see the Graduate School Doctoral Requirements page