Urban Studies: Methods and Policy

Students posing on the 606 trail in Chicago

Urban Studies: Methods and Policy brings together the theory and practice of urban studies while providing a close look at poverty, education, health, immigration, crime, energy, and the environment.

In this comprehensive and personal approach, students have the opportunity to study with leading experts in the field, gain hands-on internship experience, and meet face-to-face with change-makers through a series of observational learning seminars in City of Chicago neighborhoods.

“I loved it! I built method skills that will be helpful for my future career…it was the best academic experience I have ever had.”

Rebecca Dunn
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA

From the beginnings of the modern discipline of sociology, the Chicago School, in the 1920s, to present day evidence-based research, University of Chicago faculty and scholars have been leaders in the multidisciplinary field of urban studies. Emergent new institutes such as Urban Labs and the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation provide centers for scholars to apply their research skills to pressing problems in US and global cities, and to address the challenges of global urbanization such as poverty, health, energy and the environment. Closer to home, researchers have focused on education and crime as pivotal issues in improving the lives of urban dwellers.

“I definitely see myself working with a city. This experience has solidified my environmental interest in urban areas, and desire to improve sustainability, resilience, and functionality of cities. I aspire to obtain a higher degree in urban planning and work to combine my two interests.”

McGara DeWan
Colby College
Waterville, Maine

Come join this ongoing project at UChicago this summer, where the city will become your laboratory. In its inaugural summer, 2016, students had externships with organizations such as Experimental Station, I Grow Chicago, The Plant, and Chicago Urban League, visited neighborhoods on the North, South, and West Sides of the city, and explored issues such as the use of green spaces, addressing disparities in public education, and community-led urban development through site visits, guest lectures, and classroom discussions. In 2017, students will have similar opportunities to engage with the most pressing issues facing our cities in the present and future.

Students huddled around a person showing them a bagProgram Curriculum

  • Methods and Policy: This course will explore quantitative and qualitative research methods used to tackle urban issues in the areas of energy, environment, and public health, and education, poverty, and crime. Team-taught by researchers in the field, and featuring frequent guest discussants from government and community organizations, the course will provide students with experience in researching root causes and proposing effective solutions to real-life problems in Chicago. The course concludes with a one-day symposium with civic and community leaders at which students will present their research and reflections.
  • Field Days will be neighborhood-based in Chicago on a weekly basis.
  • Urban Internships will be arranged for student teams with civic and community organizations in Chicago.
  • Panel discussions with faculty and invited speakers will be held weekly to air questions and compare approaches to specific issues in our primary areas of study:  poverty, education, crime, health, the environment and immigration.
  • The program will conclude with a colloquium at which students will present their research and discuss their findings with faculty, civic and community leaders, and other invited guests.

“I used this program to help me decide what I want to do with my life. I think it achieved that goal perfectly … I've always been interested in urban studies, but I didn't know anything about it. So I used this program to learn more about urban studies and see if this is something I want to do, and the answer is absolutely "yes, this is really cool stuff.”

Eric Wise
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas


Program Requirements

  • Eligibility: current undergraduate at UChicago or another college or university
  • University housing is available


  • Applications accepted beginning mid-November
  • Rolling admissions: apply early; courses and housing can fill before the deadline
  • Submit all application materials by May 19
  • To apply, submit an application with personal statement, application fee ($40), and transcripts

Course Details


Program Costs



Student Life Fee (one time fee)

Double: $338 per week per person
Single: $413 per week per person

$249 per week per person (3 meals per day, 7 days per week)

Cost is dependent on length of study;
$204 per 3 week session to $612 for 9 weeks

Students who cannot prove that they have adequate health care coverage in the US must enroll in the University Student Health Insurance (U-SHIP) plan and will be billed accordingly.

* 2017 rates yet to be determined

Competitive, merit-based scholarship awards will be awarded. To apply, you will need to supply the following additional materials as part of your application:

  • Two (2) letters of recommendation, one (1) from faculty members who have taught you and one (1) from someone who can speak to your community/civic involvement and leadership qualities
  • 150-word statement about your urban research interests

You can also review the Register and FAQ pages for more information.

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1427 E 60th Street
Second Floor
Chicago, IL


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