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Master of Arts in Urban Studies

Transform Your World

Urban Studies homepage photo

Cities around the globe are facing complex issues in need of creative solutions. At Fordham, our solutions-oriented interdisciplinary program will prepare you to tackle the challenges confronting urban society in a range of areas:

  • Economic development
  • Inequality and social justice
  • Public health
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Urban arts and creative industries
  • Historic preservation and gentrification
  • Technology and the development of “smart” cities.

With New York City as our main laboratory, you’ll design a unique course of study tailored to your own interests. You’ll engage in fieldwork with real-world implications and emerge with a nuanced understanding of the powerful forces that are shaping our cities, as well as the problem-solving skills required to improve the quality of life for their citizens.

Program Highlights

  • Flexible, interdisciplinary program shaped by student interests and career objectives
  • Strong foundation in applied research methods and contemporary urban issues
  • Research and study abroad opportunities with our international partner universities
  • Opportunity for fieldwork with public agencies, community nonprofits, museums, architectural and engineering firms, economic development corporations, and more
  • Curricular Practical Training is available to F-1 students

Program Basics

  • Designed as a 16-month program (three to four semesters for full-time students)
  • Curriculum requirements include three core courses, seven elective courses, fieldwork, and the completion of a master’s thesis for a total of 36 units.
  • Master’s thesis topic is directly tied to research and fieldwork
  • Classes held in the evening to accommodate fieldwork


  • City and regional planning
  • Real estate
  • Historic preservation
  • Education
  • Public administration
  • Environmental regulation
  • Urban renewal and design
  • Housing development agencies
  • Business improvement districts
  • Economic development corporations
  • Museums
  • Nonprofit cultural and arts institutions

Learn more about how a master’s degree in urban studies can help you in your career.

Spring 2021 Virtual Events

1/19, Thursday, 7 – 8 p.m.
aiany center for architecture
Moshe Safdie: Person Place Thing with Randy Cohen
Person Place Thing is an interview show hosted by Randy Cohen based on the idea that people are particularly engaging when they speak, not directly about themselves, but about something they care about. Cohen’s guests talk about one person, one place, and one thing that is important to them. The result: surprising stories from great speakers. This installment of Person Place Thing will be a conversation with Moshe Safdie, Principle of Safdie Architects.

Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. Over a celebrated 50-year career, Safdie has explored the essential principles of socially responsible design with a distinct visual language. A citizen of Israel, Canada, and the United States, Safdie graduated from McGill University. After apprenticing with Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia, he returned to Montréal to oversee the master plan for the 1967 World Exhibition. In 1964, he established his own firm to realize Habitat ’67, an adaptation of his undergraduate thesis and a turning point in modern architecture.

1/20 Wednesday, 9 – 10 a.m.
urban land institute ny
ULI Madrid: The Power of Perception: Perceived Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing During the Covid-19 Pandemic
ULI Madrid, SGS & JLL will address the importance of maintaining workplace wellbeing and ensuring employees feel comfortable re-entering the office during times of uncertainty. This webinar will cover:

  • How the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly accelerated workplace wellbeing trends
  • Strategies for ensuring employees feel as safe as possible when re-occupying the workplace
  • Strategies for ensuring employees feel as safe as possible when re-occupying the workplace Long-term trends we anticipate for the future of the commercial real estate industry

This event is in English.

1/26, Tuesday, 1:15 p.m.
columbia gsapp lectures in planning series
Cities on the Move: On Turbulent Urbanism of Irregular Migration
The increasing fortification of national borders is producing new turbulent urban landscapes of irregular migration, which could be described as ‘cities on the move’. This is not only because certain cities make stopover points along ambitious trajectories of ‘people on the move’, but also because they create urban environments which are themselves rapidly ‘moving’ due to the opposite powers that work within and through them to hinder or facilitate irregular migration. This lecture discusses the urban spatial movements created by the efforts of global, regional, state and urban powers to regulate migration and by the forces opposing them, which together turn cities into contested arenas of unstable landing pads and jumping-off points along the increasingly blocked global routes of ‘unauthorized’ migration.

Irit Katz is a University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Architecture and Urban Studies at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, and a Bye-Fellow of Christ’s College. She has practiced as an architect in Tel Aviv and in London and has an interdisciplinary academic background in architecture, hermeneutics, cultural studies, and global policy. Her work focuses on built environments created and shaped in extreme conditions, with a particular emphasis on spaces of displacement, migration and refuge in camps and in cities. Her books include the co-edited Camps Revisited: Multifaceted Spatialities of a Modern Political Technology (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) and the forthcoming The Common Camp: Spaces of Power and Resistance in Israel-Palestine (University of Minnesota Press).

1/27 Wednesday 7 p.m.
museum of the city of new york
Our Fair City Virtual Conversation: In-Between
Streetscape adaptations during the pandemic have demonstrated both possibilities and pitfalls. Now it’s time to move from improvisation to planning. How can New York plot a wholesale reorganization of the way we use streets—more than a quarter of the city’s land—less as a grid of channels to sluice vehicles around and more as a collective outdoors where eating, commuting, playing, selling, working, and innumerable other activities all coexist. For the third session in our series, Our Fair City: Building a More Equitable New York, critic and editor Justin Davidson talks to urban designer Justin Garrett Moore, landscape architect Kate Orff, and transit expert Shin-pei Tsay about how we can reimagine our public space.

1/28 Tuesday 12:30 p.m.
fordham law speaker series 2021
Supercharging Environmental Justice in Crisis Times
Hayley Gorenberg is the Legal Director of NYLPI, where she guides the organization’s litigation and advocacy. Before joining NYLPI in 2018, Hayley was General Counsel and Deputy Legal Director of the national civil rights organization Lambda Legal, where she litigated landmark cases advancing the rights of LGBTQ people, including a range of pathbreaking matters involving disability rights, health access and discrimination against marginalized communities. Prior to that she ran a citywide task force at Legal Services for New York City, creating legal advocacy campaigns and training other lawyers and advocates to achieve high-impact results for low-income New Yorkers living with HIV. Hayley was named 2017 OUTLaw Alumna of the Year by New York University School of Law and received a 2018 Forger Award from the American Bar Association for “sustained excellence” advocating for the rights of people living with HIV. She has served as a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard and sits on Princeton University’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Advisory Council and the New York State Council on Women and Girls. Hayley earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, her law degree from New York University School of Law, and a certificate in change leadership from Cornell University.

Learn more about the A2J Initiative at Fordham Law.

1/28, Thursday, 7 – 8 p.m.
cary institute of ecosystem studies
Restoring Resilient Tropical Forests
Join Cary Institute President Joshua Ginsberg for a virtual Cary Science Conversation with forest ecologist Sarah Batterman. Take a virtual trip to Panama and discover why healthy tropical forests are our climate allies, how tree species diversity regulates forest regrowth following disturbance, and science-based recipes for reforestation success. Sarah Batterman uses large-scale ecosystem experiments, field observations, and modeling to understand how tropical trees, their microbial partners, and nutrients impact tropical rainforest recovery from disturbance, response to environmental change, and ability to trap carbon. This understanding can inform policy makers and natural resource managers about potential carbon offsets in the tropics, and how to recover tropical forests to combat climate change.

2/2 Tuesday 7 p.m.
museum of the city of new york
Your Hometown Virtual Conversation with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC
In this "live" virtual version of the new podcast "Your Hometown," Darryl McDaniels of famed Queens-founded hip hop group Run-DMC talks with host Kevin Burke about growing up in New York City and its influence on his life and work.

2/3 – 5, Wed 9 a.m. – Fri 3 p.m.
world bank transport global practice / wri ross center for sustainable cities
Transforming Transportation 2021: Reimagining Safe And Resilient Mobility For Recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global transport sector and the people and businesses that rely on it in unprecedented ways. Across the globe, rethinking mobility is now a priority to build back better, with safer, more resilient and efficient transport systems for all. Transforming Transportation 2021 will bring together sustainable mobility world leaders from the public, private, academic and civil society spheres in a global virtual event to discuss the path forward.

2/12 Friday 10 a.m – 1:30 p.m.
fordham international law journal symposium 2021
Black Lives Matter Around the Globe: A Symposium Focused on Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Abroad
In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matters protests in the United States, the 2021 Fordham International Law Journal Symposium topic will focus on the manifestation of the Black Lives Matter movement and the issue of racial and ethnic discrimination around the globe. Panelists will include judges, scholars, and activists within and outside of the Fordham community well versed in civil and human rights issues in an international context. Conversation will surround an identification of the particular issues in jurisdictions outside of the United States as well as ongoing proposed solutions.

2/17 Wednesday 7 p.m.
museum of the city of new york
Row Houses, Brownstones, and Townhouses: From Amsterdam to the South Bronx
Row houses, brownstones, townhouses—this residence of many names can be found in cities up and down the eastern seaboard, as well as internationally. These common sites, rarely given a second thought by city dwellers, have a deeper history behind them than meets the eye. Author, planner, and historian Charles Duff discusses his latest book The North Atlantic Cities with Monxo López, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. The two will consider the role of row houses in developing the modern city—and compare New York to other metropolises like Boston, Washington, and Baltimore. López, an owner of a row house in the South Bronx will bring his own personal experience as a row house dweller to the conversation and consider how his experience has helped him define community, forge friendships (and make adversaries!), and beyond.

2/26 Friday 10 a.m – 2:45 p.m.
fordham urban law journal spring symposium 2021
A Taxing War on Poverty: Opportunity Zones and the Promise of Investment and Economic Development
Following the 2008 Great Recession, general economic uncertainty and anxiety enveloped the United States but was more acutely felt in specific pockets of the nation. Severely distressed areas across the country suffered from severe unemployment, low levels of and declines in public investment, and the lack of infrastructural improvements and access to private capital. The seemingly localized adverse effects ultimately spilled over into the national economy. Responding to this economic despair, Congress believed it drafted a provision to remedy the uneven economic recovery in the United States: Opportunity Zones (OZs). These are low-income census tracts that lure private investment through private opportunity zone funds (OZFs), which reward investors with tax deferrals, reductions, and exclusions. Since its inception, states have designated nearly 9,000 OZs across the nation in hopes of bringing economic growth to “blighted” areas. Alongside professors, attorneys, scholars, economists, investors, and advocates, the Symposium will explore what OZs are, the reasons for persistent gaps in access to capital in distressed areas, private-sector investment motivations, and the misnomers and shortcomings of OZs, as well as the possibilities of equitable or sustainable economic development.

3/16, Tuesday, 1:15 p.m.
columbia gsapp lectures in planning series
Opportunity Zones: A Baseline Evaluation in West Baltimore
This talk presents the findings from 65 interviews with community and government officials, program managers, developers, and fund managers about the federal Opportunity Zones (OZ) program in West Baltimore. It concludes with a set of short-term policy recommendations as well as a discussion of the broader federal policy framework that is necessary to attract durable and equitable investment into highly distressed neighborhoods.

Michael Snidal is a doctoral candidate in urban planning at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Snidal is also the Principal of Snidal Real Estate, a Baltimore-based construction and property management firm. He was formerly the director of neighborhood development for West Baltimore at the Baltimore Development Corporation. His work and opinions have been featured in academic and popular news sources such as the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times.

3/16 Tuesday 5 p.m.
museum of the city of new york
When Existence is Resistance: The History of Trans Activism in NYC
The past, present, and future of LGBTQ activism in New York has always been trans. From the Stonewall Uprising to building community for LGBTQ youth to fighting for civil rights, trans activists have been at the forefront of the movement to reconsider gender binaries and have advocated for safety, freedom, and power for all gender identities. Join MCNY for this free online workshop exploring the history and legacy of trans activism.

3/23, Tuesday, 1:15 p.m.
columbia gsapp lectures in planning series
Urban Renewal Through Preservation and Rehabilitation
By 1965, nearly 800 American cities—located in almost every state across the country—sought to spur revitalization through the federal policy of urban renewal. Typically, their efforts took the form of large-scale demolition aimed at clearing space for new, modern construction. The Housing Act of 1954, however, introduced federal funding for rehabilitation-based approaches as well. This talk considers the motivations behind this more conservationist approach; the practical constraints to its wider-spread adoption; and its prevalence, character, and material impacts on the ground. The landmark case of Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood, in particular, helps demonstrate how a preservation-based approach to urban renewal still transformed both the physical and social character of a community.

Francesca Russello Ammon is Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. A social and cultural historian of the built environment, she is the author of Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape, winner of the 2017 Lewis Mumford Prize for the best book in American planning history. She is currently writing a history of postwar preservation and urban renewal based upon the Philadelphia neighborhood of Society Hill.

Past Spring Events . . .

1/12 Tuesday 1:15 p.m.
columbia gsapp lectures in planning series
Exploring the Impact of Displacement on Cities: a Framework for Analysis
Karen Jacobsen is the Henry J. Leir Professor in Global Migration at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and directs the Refugees in Towns Project at the Feinstein International Center. Professor Jacobsen’s current research explores urban displacement and global migration, with a focus on the livelihoods and financial resilience of migrants and refugees, and on climate- and environment-related mobility. She is currently at work on a book that examines the impact of displacement on cities. Her books include A View from Below: Conducting Research in Conflict Zones (Cambridge UP 2013 ) and The Economic Life of Refugees (Lynne Rienner, 2005).

1/12 Tuesday 5 p.m.
museum of the city of new york
Civil Rights in New York: From School Boycotts to ‘Beyond Vietnam’
From fighting employment discrimination to organizing for equitable schools to marching against police brutality, New Yorkers were at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the 20th century. In this online educator workshop, dive into the stories of New York’s network of activists including Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and explore the history and legacy of Black activism in the city. In this program hosted by MCNY, you'll discover primary sources from the Activist New York and King in New York exhibitions, and enjoy a preview of the virtual field trip, The Civil Rights Movement in NYC.

1/13 Wednesday 7 p.m.
museum of the city of new york
American Utopia: David Byrne and Maira Kalman in Conversation
Former Talking Heads frontman and multimedia artist David Byrne and best-selling author, illustrator and artist Maira Kalman discuss their new collaboration, a book inspired by Byrne's award-winning musical American Utopia (Bloomsbury, October 2020). The two will sit down for a virtual conversation with WNYC's Alison Stewart about creating the book and their decades-long careers as New York artists.

Fall 2020 Virtual Events

past events

12/3 Thursday – 5:30 p.m.
History in a Time of Epidemic: Some Lessons from Latin America
Dr. Paul Ramírez, Associate Professor of History and Religious Studies at Northwestern, will offer a historian’s reflections on the impact and significance of past epidemics in light of the current COVID crisis. How have communities in Latin America overcome outbreaks? Does the past have lessons for us now? In undertaking these inquiries, we will address medical science, the role of religious communities, and history, or the act of storytelling. His book Enlightened Immunity: Mexico's Experiments with Disease Prevention in the Age of Reason (Stanford University Press, 2018) examines the rituals, genres, and technologies that accompanied the adoption of a public health policy in late-colonial Mexico.

Sponsored by the O'Connell Initiative. The O’Connell Initiative in the Global History of Capitalism is supported by generous gifts from Fordham alumnus Robert J. O’Connell, FCRH '65.

11/20 Friday
Imagining Cities in the Global Age
A graduate Global Studies seminar by Professor Rosemary Wakeman conducted from the University of Macerata in Italy.

View More Past Events . . .

11/18 Wednesday, 5 – 6:15 p.m.
Pathways to Practice Series: Careers in Immigration and International Human Rights Law
The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School is an innovative Think-and-Do Tank that aims to make international human rights protections an everyday reality for marginalized communities around the world. Fordham Law alumni will discuss their experiences practicing in the immigration and international human rights fields. Co-sponsored with the Feerick Center for Social Justice.

11/13 Friday – 10 a.m.
Pandemics through Time: The Renaissance Experience and Modern Pedagogy
Seminar and Workshop sponsored by Fordham History and the Renaissance Society of America.

10/26 Monday – 6 p.m.
Comrade Sister: Caribbean Feminist Revisions of the Grenadian Revolution
Yuko Miki and Laurie Lambert's Freedom & Slavery Working Group will be presenting a book talk on Lambert's Comrade Sister: Caribbean Feminist Revisions of the Grenadian Revolution (University of Virginia Press, 2020). Dr. Lambert, Fordham Associate Professor of African & African American Studies, will be in conversation with Ronald Cummings, Assistant Professor English Language & Literature at Brock University.

10/14 Wednesday, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
#FreeTheHair: How Black Hair is Transforming Civil Rights Laws and Movements
One of the world’s leading legal experts on “grooming codes discrimination,” and Founder of the #FreeTheHair campaign, Professor Wendy Greene will discuss her legal scholarship and public advocacy combating race-based discrimination African descendants suffer when they don natural hairstyles like twists, braids, afros, and locs. Professor Greene will also explore landmark U.S. legal reforms her scholarly activism is shaping, such as the C.R.O.W.N. Acts (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace/World Acts), which redress this systematic form of racial discrimination and are transforming civil laws and discourse globally. This event is free and open to the public. CLE credits are available. CLE credit for the program has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York State CLE Board for a maximum of 1.5 non transitional credits: (1.5) Diversity Inclusion & Elimination of Bias. Presented by the Center on Race, Law and Justice and in conjunction with The Leitner Center, Fordham Black Law Students Association and Fordham Latin American Law Students Association.

10/14 Wednesday
Designing Utopias
The NYU Urban Initiative presents Professor Rosemary Wakeman in a line up of eminent international scholars for this year’s multidisciplinary Urban Research Seminar. This event series is open to the greater NYU community in an effort to integrate NYU's faculty and students with a keen interest in cities.

10/7 Wednesday
From Resettlement to Revolution: The Comuneros of Colonial Peru
Fordham Associate Professor of History Sarah Elizabeth Penry, author of The People Are King: The Making of an Indigenous Andean Politics (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines the community-based democracy that played a central role in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions and continues to galvanize indigenous movements in Bolivia today.

10/6 Tuesday
Utopian New Towns Around the World: Past and Present
A talk by Professor Rosemary Wakeman from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

9/10 Thursday, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
Unfinished Work: Black Lives Matter and Policing after the Protests
This event is presented in conjunction with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and the Fordham Black Law Students Association and co-sponsered by the Center on Race, Law and Justice.

9/10 Thursday
Unmaking the Nation of Immigrants
A presentation with Carly Goodman, co-editor at Made by History at the Washington Post.

The Year Ahead

Fordham Forward

Fordham University has developed a comprehensive plan, Fordham Forward, for successfully restarting operations on our New York campuses and welcoming students, faculty, and staff back to campus.

Fordham Forward Bullet Lower Density and Social Distancing

Operate at a lower density and institute social distancing standards in all facilities

Fordham Forward Bullet Enhanced Cleaning Measures

Undertake enhanced cleaning measures

Fordham Forward Bullet Personal Protective Equipment

Require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment

Fordham Forward Bullet Mandatory Universal Testing and Daily Health Screening

Employ mandatory universal testing and daily health screening to monitor, trace, and isolate potential infections

Fordham Forward Bullet Education

Educate around behaviors that ensure the health and safety of students, employees, and our local community

FordhamForward Arrows

New York Forward

The restart of Fordham University conforms with the governor’s plan to restart New York. As outlined in New York Forward, the state will reopen on a regional basis as each region meets the criteria necessary to protect public health.

New York City is in Phase Four as of July 20.

Learn more about Fordham Forward

Fordham’s Urban Studies Program stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all the protesters demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality towards minorities across the country. We firmly believe that in a society, in which all are not free from oppression and injustice, no one is truly free. Therefore, we must all recognize our responsibility to work towards pointing out systemic inequality and racism throughout our country, and our institutions, as a first step toward ending and overcoming it.

Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest.(Ella’s Song, Bernice Johnson Reagon)

We strongly believe in the importance of confronting the past (and the present) for building a better and more equitable future, and we are committed to confronting existing racial injustice in our teaching and research