Urban and Public Policy Studies

Do you want to help reduce the number of people living in poverty? Are you interested in how city governments make decisions that affect millions of people? Would you like to create policies that improve public transportation, housing and other issues? If so, this is the major for you. Urban and public policy studies is an interdisciplinary program that helps you understand the complex relationships between social issues and the policies behind them, so you can use your knowledge to help people around the world. 

What will I learn?

As an urban and public policy studies major, you’ll focus on topics that help you understand how cities work—including environmental design, geography, sociology, political science and sustainability.

This is a flexible program, where you can choose to study policies related to race, housing, transportation, health and other topics that shape our cities. Throughout the program, you can also take courses in practical skills that are applicable across disciplines, such as how to write a grant or evaluate a program. 

What can I do outside of class?

Whether you want to explore New York State’s second-largest city, meet people on campus or get hands-on experience, you’ll find plenty of opportunities here. 

  • Internships. Practice your skills in a real-world environment, working side-by-side with professionals and building your professional network. Our students have interned at the Partnership for the Public Good, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and other leading policy-driven organizations.
  • Study abroad. We encourage students to spend time living and learning in another country.
  • Clubs and events. UB has hundreds of student groups where you can make new friends and explore your interests. 
Study Abroad

What can I do with an urban and public policy studies degree?

With thousands of cities around the world, there are plenty of opportunities to put your talent and skill to work. 

A degree in urban and public policy is designed to prepare you for a career in many different types of organizations, including government agencies, urban planning and development consultants, nonprofit and community groups, and real estate developers. 

Our graduates have worked for a variety of leading organizations, including:

  • Chicago Transit Authority.
  • City of Wooster Division of Planning.
  • Ellicott Development Co.
  • Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
  • HSBC Bank.
  • Syracuse Economic Development Corporation.
  • Teach for America.
  • U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Western New York Law Center.

Many students also go to graduate school to get an advanced degree in urban planning, public administration, public policy, law or other related fields. 

Who will I learn from?

Get insights about urban planning from leading environmental design experts. Talk about human behavior with well-known anthropologists and sociologists. Take policy classes from political scientists who publish their research in top journals. 

In this program, you'll get to take courses with faculty throughout the university—just one benefit of being in an interdisciplinary major. Of course, your instructors may also include working professionals from various fields and industries who come to UB so they can share their experience (and connections!) with the next generation.

With such a wide range of teachers and mentors, you'll have plenty of opportunities to meet the people who can guide you on your career path, every step of the way.