Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs


Program Description

The Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs trains students in public policy, urban studies, and grassroots organizing, examining ways policy and community engagement can effect positive change.

Our program combines graduate seminars in urban studies, politics, sociology, and public policy with hands-on experience in community-based research, policy design, policy analysis, advocacy, and implementation. Graduates are uniquely equipped to formulate policy and initiatives for more equitable and vibrant urban areas, inspired by thoughtful engagement with the theory and practice of social justice.

  • Internship – Gain hands-on experience in the field and build a network of professional contacts
  • Career Opportunities – Supported by academic and field mentorship, and leadership development
  • Distinguished Faculty – Comprised of both leading academics and accomplished professionals and practitioners in the field
  • Flexible Schedule – Our full-time program offers courses in the afternoons and evenings. Students can also explore part-time options.

Learning Outcomes

Student will:

  • master foundational concepts of urban history, sociology, and politics, and demonstrate the capacity to apply these ideas in real-world settings
  • demonstrate expertise in one or more areas of urban public policy
  • contemplate models of social change and social justice while developing the requisite skills and knowledge to actuate change
  • apply knowledge gained in the classroom in various and diverse community settings
  • apply knowledge gained in the community to inform classroom learning and scholarship
  • build networks through interactions with professionals from fields including public policy, advocacy, community organizing, and public service
  • engage in meaningful career planning through both self-reflection as well as through interactions with colleagues and professionals in the field
  • contribute to the public discourse around contemporary urban policy issues
  • demonstrate professional skills in writing, urban and participatory research, and policy analysis
  • propose, design, and implement a research project that combines the conceptual and practical tools provided by the program

Program Details

Our two-year, 36-unit master’s program brings together the best of our many years of experience with urban and public affairs programming. The curriculum trains students to understand and shape policy, with a focus on the urban and metropolitan histories that impact our region.

Students receive both classroom and hands-on training in the mechanics of urban policy and advocacy. The community-based research requirement gives students experience conducting applied urban research and analyzing policy alternatives. The capstone project and full-time summer internship allow them to develop expertise in specific areas of urban, regional, or public policy while building the personal and professional networks that will help them launch their careers upon graduation.


Our program is full time with courses offered in the afternoons and evenings, plus occasional Saturday workshops. Students are welcome to explore part-time options. Many electives are offered in the evenings from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Occasionally electives are offered in the afternoon. Required courses are offered in both the afternoons and evenings. Students should be prepared to attend required classes as early as 3:30 or 4:30 p.m. a few times a week. Schedules may vary each semester.


Capstone Project

Students are required to complete a capstone project that synthesizes their expertise on a topic related to urban and/or public affairs.

Past topics include:

  • A Defense of Rent Control: The Social Contract and Government Intervention in SF's Housing Market
  • Organizing Anarchy: Creating Meaningful Change From Local Places
  • Food Access in the Heart of the City
  • Reinventing Cities by Reviving Transportation
  • Innovations in Inclusion and Cultural Competency: The Role of SF Nonprofits in Meeting the Needs of LGBTQ Homeless
  • The Solidarity Economy: Transitioning to a Sustainable Path for an Uncertain Future
  • Access to Access: Are Immigrants Fully Served Under the Affordable Care Act?
  • Lessons from the Best Worst Job Ever

Last updated Feb 2018

About the School

As one of the country’s premier Jesuit Catholic universities, the College of Arts and Sciences pairs a rigorous academic curriculum with an urban, global perspective. The college's vision of success i ... Read More

As one of the country’s premier Jesuit Catholic universities, the College of Arts and Sciences pairs a rigorous academic curriculum with an urban, global perspective. The college's vision of success involves both the head and the heart, with outstanding faculty members giving students the skills and compassion to fashion a more just and humane world. Read less
San Francisco , Buenavista , Orange + 2 More Less