Urban Studies

Have you always been fascinated by cities, human communities and how these are created, evolve, expand and change? The city is a concept that many of us may take for granted, and yet the creation of cities and communities that serve as social, political, economic and scientific hubs has been one of our species’ most crucial and successful social experiments dating to the earliest of human settlements. By majoring in Urban Studies in the Department of Social Science you will study various aspects of the function and form of contemporary cities. You will benefit from the “hands-on” approach of the faculty and take advantage of one of the world’s most socially diverse urban settings, the Greater Toronto Area. You can further personalize your degree by focusing on one of three pathways: Global Urbanism; Urban Governance (Policy, Politics and Finance); and Urban community, Environment and Planning.

Below is a sample list of some future choices to explore following studies in Urban Studies. This list is not exhaustive but it provides a solid idea of what fellow graduates have gone on to do and what potential careers an Urban Studies degree can offer. Some options are more directly associated with specific areas of Urban Studies than others.

  • Author
  • Archivist
  • Communications Consultant
  • Community Developer
  • Cultural Consultant
  • Diplomat
  • Editor
  • Emergency Response Planner
  • Emergency Management Consultant
  • Entrepreneur
  • Historian
  • Historical Site Coordinator
  • Industrial Relations Consultant
  • International Aid Director
  • International Development Worker
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Lobbyist
  • Magazine Contributor
  • Marketing Director
  • Market Researcher
  • Media Correspondent
  • Non-Profit Organization Director
  • Politician
  • Public Safety Consultant
  • Project Manager
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Public Relations Representative
  • Researcher
  • Safety Analyst
  • Social Program Director
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • UN Representative
  • Urban Disaster Analyst
  • Urban Planner

Note: It is important to remember that some of these career choices may require additional education or preparation in the form of graduate studies, experiential education or professional formative courses and exams. For a more in-depth description of some of the careers mentioned above please consult the Career Cruising website, available to York University students using their Passport York account through https://passportyork.yorku.ca/ppylogin/ppylogin. You can also visit the National Occupational Classification website, available at www.hrsdc.gc.ca/noc.

Skills Developed through an Urban Studies Degree

A background in Urban Studies ensures that you develop the skills and mindset to tackle many different professional challenges. Here are just a few of the skills an Urban Studies degree can help you develop:

Core Skills

  • Familiarity of the history of human development and urban places in both the global north and global south and how these have shaped our development as human beings
  • Exposure to an interdisciplinary curriculum and concepts such as urbanization, urbanism as a way of life, to urban planning
  • An understanding of some of the fundamental issues at the intersection of geography, sociology, anthropology and politics with respect to urban settings
  • Hands-on exposure and direct access to a variety of communities and urban settings across the GTA
  • The ability to shape your degree by focusing on one of several key fields within urban studies

Communication, Data Gathering and Organizational Skills

  • The ability to present your thoughts clearly and intelligently in written and oral statements
  • Deduction of information from various sources and the ability to concentrate on relevant resources
  • The ability to organize, understand and analyze sources of information and to apply novel forms of technology or new information to different professional settings and tasks
  • The capacity to critically analyze problems, think creatively and make sound decisions while considering different sides of an argument
  • The skills to collect various types of information, assess them, analyze and incorporate potential linkages from different fields, put them into writing and efficiently convey your message and the goal of your work

Management and Teamwork

  • The ability to interpret and analyze information presented by peers and efficiently and constructively support or challenge their proposals, theories, ideas and reports in order to achieve a project’s intended and successful end result
  • The capacity to lead and interact with a variety of people with different approaches and personal and professional backgrounds
  • The ability to debate, persuade, mediate and present your thoughts and opinions to others, as well as the capacity to recognize and incorporate other potential solutions or applications to given problems
  • The capability to identify priorities and proper courses of action, to plan the execution of tasks and to determine and delegate responsibilities to group members to most effectively carry out projects

Professional Associations and Organizations

Knowing the industry and how to excel in it after receiving a degree are key elements of future success. University study sets up the building blocks you will need to develop and enhance your understanding and knowledge in your career. Being part of a professional organization or network and gaining further insight through training are excellent ways of increasing your knowledge of the field. The following is a selection of organizations related to the field of Urban Studies that you may want to visit as you research career options for Urban Studies graduates.

Getting Started

York University's Career Centre has a wide variety of activities and supports to help York University students and recent graduates explore their field of interest and connect them with employers and alumni, including workshops and individual appointments, employer recruitment sessions, panel discussions, an alumni mentoring program, Career Fairs, a Volunteer Fair, and a Graduate & Professional Studies Expo. Our online job posting system has thousands of full-time, part-time (on-campus and off-campus), internship, summer and volunteer opportunities posted for York students every year. Check out our website at www.yorku.ca/careers or visit the Career Centre at 202 McLaughlin College to find out more about the ways the Career Centre can support York students in creating a fulfilling career!