Urban Studies

Main Content

What can I do with this major?
Area Employers Strategies


  • Demography

  • Social Statistics

  • Public Administration

  • Policy Analysis

  • Research

  • Program Development

  • Human Services

  • City Planning

  • Law Enforcement

  • Politics

Federal departments and agencies such as: Departments of Agriculture, Education, Interior, Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Drug Enforcement Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, Veteran’s Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging

Peace Corps

State and local government

Planning and development commissions

National, state, or local parks or recreation departments

Housing authorities

Social service agencies

Transportation departments

Supplement curriculum with coursework in statistics and social research. Develop exceptional computer, communication, and research skills. Gain work experience via government internships, part-time jobs, or summer work. Develop a specialty such as aging, family, criminal justice, or healthcare. Learn the federal job application process. Obtain a graduate degree for advanced positions. Consider obtaining a minor in political science, public administration, or other relevant fields.

Regional and Urbban Planning

  • Transportation

  • Demography

  • Housing

  • Historic Preservation

  • Urban Design

  • Urban Renewal

  • Environmental/

  • Regulatory Issues

  • Economic Development

  • Land Use

  • Research Design

  • Program Development

Architecture firms

Engineering firms

Local planning agencies

Real estate and development contractors

Investment companies

Transportation agencies

Zoning administration

Federal, state, and local government

Utility companies

Non-profit organizations

Historical restoration or preservation agencies

Neighborhood revitalization initiatives

International development organizations

Enhance curriculum with courses in business, social sciences, and statistics.

Earn a graduate degree in urban or regional planning from an accredited planning program. Find a related internship, part-time, or summer job. Develop strong computer skills. Learn another language to communicate with diverse community members or to work abroad. Plan to work collaboratively with a wide array of professionals and local citizens. Understand that most planners work for local governments.

Human Services

  • Counseling

  • Case Management

  • Advocacy

  • Rehabilitation Counseling

  • Mental Health Services

  • Programming

  • Administration

Community service agencies

Advocacy groups

Federal, state, and local government

United Way agencies

Local branches of national non-profit organizations

Religiously-affiliated service organizations

Private foundations

Adoption and child care agencies Nursing homes and retirement communities

Hospitals and wellness centers

Halfway houses

Vocational services

Educational information services

Gain experience and develop helping skills through volunteer positions. Spend summers working at camps, YMCA’s, or other social service agencies. Gain experience working with diverse populations. Develop excellent communication skills. Concentrate course work in an area of interest such as youth, gerontology, or poverty. Learn a second language in order to interact with non-English speakers and increase marketability. Serve as a peer mentor, resident assistant, or other student leader. Earn a master’s degree in social work, counseling, or other related field to increase employment opportunities. Most states require licensure or certification for positions involving the direct provision of therapeutic services to clients.


  • Real Estate: Construction Management, Development, Sales, Leasing

  • Management

  • Human Resources

  • Sales

Real estate firms

Rental properties

Construction and development companies

Insurance firms

Retail stores


Staffing agencies

Manufacturing companies

Credit management companies and organizations

Service industries

Healthcare organizations

Earn a minor in business or supplement curriculum with courses in general business, accounting, and finance. Gain business experience through part-time jobs, summer work, and internships. Develop excellent computer skills. Learn to use software applications such as spreadsheets, databases, and word processing. Hone written and oral communication skills. Join related professional associations. Seek leadership roles in student organizations.


  • Teaching

  • Research

Colleges and universities

Adult education providers

Earn a graduate degree for post-secondary teaching. Assist a professor with research. Take extra courses in research and statistics. Develop exceptional written and oral communication skills. Secure strong personal recommendations, particularly from professors.

Social Science Research

  • Data Analysis

  • Demography

  • Market Research

  • Information Sourcing


Government agencies

Research institutes

Non-profit organizations

Private industries

Advertising and marketing firms

Consulting organizations

Information brokers

Newspapers, magazines, news agencies

Public opinion research polls

Develop exceptional quantitative, statistical, and writing skills. Learn to use statistics software packages as well as database, spreadsheet, and desktop publishing programs. Volunteer to help a professor with a research project.

Obtain an advanced degree for research administration positions. Network with professionals working in areas of interest. Gain experience working on teams.

Strategies for placement in Urban Studies

  • Many transferable skills such as analytical, organizational, research, interpersonal, computer, leadership, teamwork, and oral/written communication are associated with the urban studies degree.
  • Internships, part-time jobs, summer jobs, and/or volunteer experiences are critical for gaining experience and developing a career path.
  • An undergraduate degree is sufficient for many entry-level positions in business, industry, and government; however, a graduate degree is likely to be more desirable in a competitive market.
  • An undergraduate degree in urban studies is good preparation for graduate or professional education in law, business, and other related fields. Research prerequisites for graduate or professional programs of interest.
  • To enhance graduate or professional school opportunities, maintain a high grade point average, secure strong faculty recommendations, join student or professional organizations, and gain relevant experience outside of the classroom through work, internship, volunteer, and research opportunities.
  • A Ph.D. is required for teaching at the four-year university level.
  • For human or social service positions, gain experience with a population of interest (i.e., children, college students, elderly adults) and develop multicultural sensitivity and understanding. Plan to earn a graduate degree in counseling, social work or related field.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals working in areas of interest.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section
504/ADA /ADEA Employer.


Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning
The Sierra Club 
Urban Land Institute 
International Economic Development Council
U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development 
GIS Jobs 
Light Rail