Master of Urban Studies (MUS)


The Master of Urban Studies (MUS) 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 include:

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

Core Curriculum

  • USP 613 Urban Economic and Spatial Structure  
  • USP 614 History and Theory of Urban Studies  
  • USP 617 Sociology and Politics of Urban Life  
  • USP 630 Research Design  
  • USP 634 Data Analysis  
  • USP 683 Qualitative Analysis  

The first three courses listed introduce the student to the basic ideas, concepts, and theories about urban development and urban life. This helps students position their own interests within the larger field of urban studies. The following three courses introduce the student to the range of methods appropriate to the field and serve as a starting point from which the MUS student is expected to take advanced courses in quantitative and qualitative methods.

See 600-level Courses for course descriptions.

MUS 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 

Community Development deals with the dynamics of neighborhood and community formation and change and with public policies that address the needs of groups and places within contemporary society. Within the broad field of Community Development, students can address such topics as ethnic and neighborhood history, housing and economic development, community organizing and social justice movements, equity planning, the roles of public and nonprofit institutions in community building, mediation and conflict resolution, changing patterns and systems of communication, and the changing meanings of place.

Required Courses:

  • USP 528 Concepts of Community Development
  • USP 607 Community Development Seminar
  • USP 616 Cities in the Global Political Economy
  • USP 689 Advanced Urban Politics and Sociology
  • Appropriate methods courses


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Economic Development

Economic Development is concerned with the factors that lead to differential rates of economic development at various spatial scales: within and between nations, states, regions, cities, and neighborhoods. In analyzing these differences, issues such as the meaning of economic development, who gains and who loses from various changes, as well as analysis of policies to promote economic development, are addressed. The Center for Urban Studies and Institute for Portland Metropolitan Studies offer research opportunities in this field.

Required Courses:

  • USP 517 Urban Economic Development Policy
  • USP 615 Economic Analysis of Public Policy
  • USP 572 Regional Economic Development

Choose One:

  • USP 591 Geographic Information Systems I
  • USP 654 Data Analysis II

Choose Two:

  • USP 510 Urban Labor Markets
  • USP 510 Making It Local: Strategies for an Economy of Place
  • USP 546 Real Estate Development II
  • USP 551 Community Economic Development
  • USP 569 Sustainable Cities and Regions
  • USP 570 Transportation and Land Use
  • USP 578 Impact Assessment
  • USP 579 State and Local Public Finance
  • USP 588 Sustainable Development Practices
  • USP 590 Green Economics and Sustainable Development
  • USP 616 Cities in the Global Political Economy
  • Appropriate additional methods courses

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The Transportation field includes planning, policy, forecasting, measurement and evaluation of multimodal transportation infrastructure and systems. The multidisciplinary field covers all modes of passenger and freight transport and includes the holistic study of relationships and interactions of the transportation systems with land use, the region, the economy, the environment, institutions, the community, and people. Students can address topics such as impacts of transportation on land use and land values, the relationships between urban form and travel behavior, the costs and benefits of transport facilities, the operation of transportation facilities, equity impacts of transport and the effects of transportation plans and policies, among others. There are opportunities to work on research through the Center for Urban Studies and the Center for Transportation Studies.

Required Courses:

  • USP 537 Economics of Urban Transportation
  • USP 544 Urban Transportation Planning
  • USP 556 Urban Transportation: Problems and Policies
  • USP 570 Transportation and Land Use
  • USP 654 Data Analysis II

Choose One:

  • USP 510 Discrete Choice Modeling
  • USP 655 Advanced Data Analysis: Structural Equation Modeling
  • USP 656 Advanced Data Analysis: Multilevel Regression

Choose Two:

  • USP 510 Sustainable Transportation
  • USP 543 Geographic Applications to Planning
  • USP 565 Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning
  • USP 578 Impact Assessment
  • USP 579 State and Local Public Finance
  • USP 587 Travel Demand Modeling
  • CE 550 Transportation Safety Analysis
  • CE 553 Freight Transportation and Logistics
  • CE 555 Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • CE 558 Public Transportation Systems
  • CE 559 Transportation Operations
  • Appropriate Additional Methods Courses

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This field area is in development. Courses may be selected from the following regularly listed and periodically offered special topic offerings, in consultation with field area faculty:

  • USP 571 Environmental Policy
  • USP 569 Sustainable Cities and Regions
  • USP 588 Sustainable Development Practices
  • USP 518 Energy and Society
  • USP 584 Negotiation in the Public Sector
  • USP 549 Regional Planning and Metropolitan Growth Management
  • USP 529 Green Buildings I
  • USP 590 Green Economics and Sustainable Development
  • USP 510 Socio-Technical Systems in the City
  • USP 582 Sustainable Transportation
  • USP 510 Urban Political Ecology

Plus appropriate advanced and/or specialized methods courses

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Gerontology addresses the social issues, problems, policies, and programs that affect the quality of life for our rapidly aging population. Students have the opportunity to work directly with faculty on publicly and privately funded research at the College's highly regarded Institute on Aging. Adult development and aging is approached from a multidisciplinary and collaborative perspective.

Required Courses:

  • PHE 558/658 Perspectives on Aging

Aging-specific electives (five required if Gerontology is 1st field; four if 2nd field):

  • USP 564 Political and Administrative Issues in Aging
  • USP 585 Housing and Environments for the Elderly
  • NURS 672 Introduction to Family Caregiving for Older People (at OHSU)
  • PHE 556 Health Aspects of Aging
  • PHE 657 National Long Term Care Policy
  • PHE 659 Economics of Aging
  • PSY 562 Psychology of Adult Development and Aging
  • SOC 569 Sociology of Aging

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Social Demography

Social Demography provides training in the tools of demographic analysis, with particular attention to the methods of data collection, techniques of demographic analysis, and the interpretation of research findings. Social demography involves the use of the principles and methods of demography in decision making and planning in both public and private settings. Graduates in the field of social demography use demographic data to identify and analyze important population trends and their consequences while working in government agencies, research organizations, and corporations.




Dr. Connie Ozawa Urban Studies Coordinator
Associate Professor
Urban Center Building, Room 370 R
(503) 725-5126

Pauline Duffy, Student Services Coordinator
Urban Center Building, Room 370C
(503) 725-4016


Office of Graduate Studies