Master of Urban Studies (MUS)

The Master of Urban Studies program is a 52-credit graduate program that gives students skills to study and interpret urban phenomena from a variety of social science perspectives. The substantive knowledge and analytical skills provide excellent preparation for employment in public agencies, private firms, and non-profit organizations. Since the core curriculum of the MUS program mirrors that of the Urban Studies Ph.D. program, MUS students can make a relatively easy transition into the doctoral program, if they apply and are accepted. In any case, the MUS program is academically focused on researching issues in the urban setting.

Students in this program delve into such things as problems associated with growing social and economic inequalities between different places and population groups within the metropolitan region; environmental problems related to the prevailing pattern of urbanization; the lack of effective institutions of regional governance; and challenges such as unemployment, affordable housing and gentrification, environmental and food justice, and sustainable transportation.

The program explores these issues from multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary points of view. Through participation in classes and seminars, and supervised research activities, MUS graduates are prepared to work in applied research and community-based advocacy settings.

Program Requirements

The degree requirements can be completed over two academic years if students take at least 9 credits per term for 6 terms (Fall, Winter, Spring). First, students learn urban theory, research design, and methods in the core course sequence. Students then complete the required courses in their chosen specialization (field area). The final requirement is to conduct original research on an urban studies question or problem, with the supervision of a faculty committee comprised of three faculty members.

Core Courses 21 credits
Field Area 25 credits
Thesis 6 credits
Total Credits 52 credits

Field Areas

MUS students also complete in-depth studies in a specialty field area and conduct original research that leads to a written thesis and oral defense.  The field area may be either one of those described below or a self-designed area of specialization that is negotiated with the thesis committee chair.

  • Community Development
  • Economic Development
  • Transportation
  • Environment
  • Gerontology
  • Social Demography

See the MUS Student Handbook for field area courses.

Where Our MUS Alumni Are Now:


  • Technical/Program Manager, Energy Trust of Oregon
  • Living Cully, Program Manager
  • Associate Director of Partnerships & Programs, Oregon Food Bank
  • Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project; Local Food Research Center Coordinator
  • Senior Research and Evaluation Analyst, Multnomah Idea Lab
  • Slalom Consulting, Principal (focused on data & financial clients). Adjunct Prof at NYU in Data Visualization
  • PSU Institute on Aging, Research Assistant/Project Manager
  • Consultant - nonprofit management, event planning, project management
  • PhD student in Geography at University of Georgia