Urban Studies

at UBC's

Vancouver Campus

Now, more than ever, we need people who are trained to understand and shape urbanization from the public, private, and civic sectors. Urban Studies provides a comprehensive conceptual and applied foundation for those who seek to shape cities. Students graduate with the fundamental tools needed to influence urban development.

Why this program?

  • Benefit from a partnership between Urban Planning and Geography programs that are among Canada’s most respected.
  • Learn alongside community members and professionals involved with shaping the future of Vancouver, forging professional relationships, and networks.
  • Gain expertise in five areas of focus: environment, technology, indigeneity, globalization, and social equity.
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Program information

  • Campus: Vancouver
  • Faculties: Faculty of Applied Science (Engineering), Faculty of Arts
  • Degree: Bachelor of Arts
  • Length 4 yrs
  • Co-op Yes
    You can combine your studies with full-time, paid work at top local and international organizations.
  • Honours No
    You can study intense specialization in a single field.

Over the next century, all of the world’s net population growth will take place in urban regions, and nearly every aspect of economic, social, political, technological, and environmental change is now urbanized.

Urban Studies provides a comprehensive conceptual and applied foundation for those who seek to shape cities. Urban Studies gives students broad and deep knowledge of the historical and intellectual threads of urbanization throughout the world while also providing students with the fundamental tools needed to influence urban development.

Whether students choose to specialize in technical data analysis, development finance strategies, dialogue and engagement practices, or political and policy-oriented communication, urban studies students are prepared to critically integrate specific urban interventions with broader efforts to address complex societal challenges.

Experiential learning and research

Students will gain relevant professional experience through community engagement projects in several courses and a community-engaged capstone, as well as optional co-op experiences.

Campus features

The UBC Vancouver campus is a living lab for urban studies. The campus is embedded in the deeply globalized dynamics of Vancouver and the UBC campus itself is a major hub of development within the Vancouver region.

Life at UBC's Vancouver campus

Urban Studies is designed around a “community of peers” model meant to provide students with a robust sense of community. This community is developed by using Vancouver as a living laboratory to specifically address the questions of how sustainable, healthy, inclusive, and connected communities have been and will be developed and planned.

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Your future

Professional  roles of graduates span a range of sectors, including (but not limited to):

  • Urban and regional planning
  • Politics and government
  • Research and consulting
  • Real estate and development
  • Environmental design
  • Social policy
  • Cultural development
  • Economic development
  • City administration
  • Community organization and engagement
  • Youth development
  • Social justice and environmental advocacy


After further training, graduates of urban studies also pursue careers in law, K-12 education, and business.

Program requirements

English-language requirements

English is the language of instruction at UBC. All prospective students must demonstrate English-language competency prior to admission. There are numerous ways to meet the English Language Admission Standard.

General admission requirements

IB Diploma Programme

  • Completed IB Diploma, including at least three Higher Level courses.

IB Certificate Courses

  • IB Certificate courses (Standard and Higher Level) may be used in an admissions average if you are graduating from a recognized high school curriculum that can be used as your basis of admission.
  • IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL, or IB Math Studies, do not satisfy the math requirement for admission to UBC’s science-based programs, the Faculty of Management, the UBC Sauder School of Business, or the Vancouver School of Economics.

Degree-specific requirements: Arts

  • No specific courses required beyond those needed for general admission

Related courses

The following subject categories are particularly relevant for this degree. Consider taking courses in these areas in your junior year and senior year.

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics and Computation
  • Second Languages
  • Social Studies
  • Visual and Performing Arts
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