Graduate Bulletin

Urban Studies, M.A.

Concentration: Thesis


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

Spring: October 15

Applications are processed on a semi-rolling basis in that applications may be reviewed prior to the deadlines. Although students are admitted for the Spring semester, the department encourages applicants to apply for the Fall semester since the program sequence is designed to begin at that time.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with academic competence.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

No specific coursework is required. Applicants come from a variety of disciplines.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree in any of the social sciences is preferred. A bachelor's degree in another discipline may also be considered.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words and should include the following elements: why you are interested in Temple's Geography and Urban Studies program; your research and academic goals; your future career goals; your academic and research achievements; and any other information that you feel will be helpful to the Admissions Committee in evaluating your application. The Graduate Admissions Committee is particularly interested in the student's interests and goals and whether they fit with our program's offerings and faculty interests.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. Scores of 500 Verbal and 500 Quantitative are expected.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 internet-based.


A resume is required.

Writing Sample:

A writing sample may be required at the discretion of the Graduate Admissions Committee.

Transfer Credit:

A total of 6 graduate credits from an accredited institution may be transferred into the Geography and Urban Studies program. The credits must be equivalent to course work offered at Temple. In addition, at least half of the grades transferred must be an "A" in order to transfer and a grade below "B" is not acceptable. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 6.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 33

Required Courses:

(1) GUS 8011 (Modern Urban Analysis)

(2) GUS 8097 (Research Methods)

(3) 3 credits in Research Methods (such as GUS 8032 (Community Program Evaluation) or GUS 8113 (Community-Based Research))

(4) 3 credits in Policy Analysis (such as GUS 5015 (Land Use Planning); GUS 5018 (Economic Development Planning for Cities); GUS 5044 (Urban Housing); or GUS 8045 (Poverty and Employment in the Changing Urban Economy))

(5) 5 elective courses

(6) basic statistics course (if statistics has not been taken as an undergraduate)

(7) 6 credits of Thesis Research - GUS 9996

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Comprehensive Examination:

The purpose of the comprehensive examination includes demonstrating a breadth and depth of knowledge in the concepts of urban studies. The examination evaluates the student's ability to utilize and integrate theoretical and applied principles relating to urban studies. The comprehensive exam is generally administered during the end of the first semester of the second year.

The exam may be composed of two parts written and oral. The written examination is normally tailored to the coursework and research of the individual student. The written exam requires answers to three questions selected from a choice of six.

The student is given a specific time to take the examination home. Usually, the student takes the exam home on a Friday and submits it on the following Monday. The exam normally requires that the student write on three questions selected from a list of six:  one from each pair of questions.

The graduate secretary makes copies of the written answers available to the committee members who grade them Pass or Fail. The examination members look for (a) an understanding of core concepts, (b) the application of principles; and (c) an ability to write a coherent and well-constructed essay. Within one week, the committee chair polls committee members and passes the results on to the graduate secretary and the student. The oral exam is generally a follow-up to the written answers. Not all students are required to sit for an oral exam. A student must satisfy all three examiners to pass the MA Exam requirement.


The Master's thesis is an original empirical study that demonstrates the student's knowledge of both research methods and a mastery of his or her primary area of interest. The thesis topic should be rigorously investigated under the direct supervision of a thesis advisor selected by the student. A graduate student who elects to write a thesis should choose a topic as soon as possible in the first year of study. After consultation with the department graduate advisor, the student should select a thesis advisor from the department faculty. The student and his/her advisor may select a thesis committee. The committee should consist of the faculty advisor as Chair and two other faculty members. The thesis must meet the requirements stipulated by the Graduate School of Temple University. Thesis requirements can be downloaded at Deadlines for submission of the completed thesis are November 1 for the fall semester and March 1 for the spring. A student preparing to defend a thesis should confirm a time and date with the Master's Committee. The Thesis Advisor and Committee will evaluate the student's ability to express his or her research question, methodological approach, primary findings, and implications.

Program Contact Information:

Department Information:

Dept. of Geography and Urban Studies
309 Gladfelter Hall
1115 West Berks Street (025-27)
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Department Contacts:


Oloma Tillman


Graduate Chairperson:

Dr. Jerry Stahler



Dr. Sanjoy Chakravorty


About the Program

The Department of Geography and Urban Studies offers graduate work leading to the Master of Arts degree. The program prepares students for further study and for careers in planning and public administration, environmental management, economic development, geographic systems management, community organizing and social change efforts, and careers in academia. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the development of research techniques and analytical skills applicable to problem solving. There is also an emphasis on experiential and service learning, and community-based applied research. The department's faculty is complemented by faculty drawn from Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology and other departments. Graduates of the Urban Studies program find employment in public sector agencies that deal with environmental planning, land use, and urban problems. They also work for quasi-public social service institutions that address various needs of urban residents, as well as for private sector firms whose business requires an understanding of urban and spatial dynamics.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 3 years

Campus Location:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are able to complete the degree program through classes offered after 4:30 p.m. Students are able to complete the degree program on a part-time basis (8 credit hours or less per semester).

Department Information:

Dept. of Geography and Urban Studies
309 Gladfelter Hall
1115 West Berks Street (025-27)
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Interdisciplinary Study:

It is possible for students to select some cognate courses from outside the department, for example: from African American Studies, anthropology, economics, education, political science, and sociology as well as others.


David Elesh, Associate Professor of Sociology, Ph.D., Columbia University; Barbara Ferman, Associate Professor of Political Science, Ph.D., Brandeis University; Judith Goode, Professor of Anthropology, Ph.D., Cornell University; Kenneth Kusmer, Professor of History, Ph.D., University of Chicago; George Rengert, Professor of Criminal Justice, Ph.D., University of North Carolina; William Stull, Professor and Chair, Economics, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

The graduate program in Urban Studies emphasizes study and research related to public policy in urban areas of the United States. The program's faculty have particular expertise in the areas of housing, neighborhood quality, land use planning, urban economic development, and provision of public services. The Philadelphia region receives considerable attention in both the curriculum and the research activities of the department. Particular strengths of the department in urban sustainability, social justice, globalization, and geographic methods.

Job Placement:

Graduates of the Urban Studies program have continued with their education by pursuing doctoral degrees in some of the nation's most prestigious Ph.D. programs; other graduates find employment in a variety of government agencies at the local, county, state, and federal levels. Graduates of our program have also taken professional positions in public sector agencies and organizations including economic development corporations, nonprofit research organizations, and community-based organizations that deal with urban problems. Others have found employment in private sector firms whose business requires an understanding of urban and spatial dynamics.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Students are directed to the College of Liberal Arts Dean's Office for information on registration as a non-matriculated student. A student may take up to 9 credits as a non-matriculated student. If accepted into the program, these credits may be applied toward the degree.

Funding Opportunities

The department offers Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA). The principal duties of a Teaching Assistant include aiding faculty members in the classroom, preparing material for the instructor, conducting tutorials and discussion sections, and grading quizzes, tests, and papers. TAs are expected to spend 20 hours per week on their duties. Teaching Assistantships carry a stipend and full-tuition remission (6-9 credits per semester). Students wishing to be considered for assistantships or other financial support should have their applications submitted by January 15.

December 2007