The undergraduate program offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science (SB) major designed to prepare students for careers in both the public and private sectors. The major also provides a foundation for students intending to do graduate work in law, public policy, development, urban design, management, and planning. The subjects in the major teach students the ways in which the tools of economics, policy analysis, political science, and design can be brought to bear on critical social and environmental problems in the US and abroad. In addition, students learn the special skills and responsibilities of planners who seek to promote efficient and equitable change. Students pursue one of the following tracks: urban and environmental policy and planning; urban society, history, and politics; or urban and regional public policy. The Department also offers a five-year combined SB/MCP degree, as well as minors in International Development, Public Policy and Urban Studies.


Bachelor of Science in Planning (SB)

Those students who choose to major in the Department earn a Bachelor of Science in Planning (SB), an interdisciplinary pre-professional major designed to prepare students for careers in both the public and private sectors. It also provides a sound foundation for students intending to do graduate work in law, public policy, economic development, urban design, management, and planning. Majors take a set of common core courses, complemented by further course work in one of three streams: urban and environmental policy and planning; urban society, history and politics or urban and regional public policy. The courses in the major teach students how the tools of economics, policy analysis, political science, and urban design can be used to solve social and environmental problems in the United States and abroad. In addition, students learn the skills and responsibilities of planners who seek to promote effective and equitable social change.

Each year, the Department offers an urban field experience course, 11.027 City to City, to its majors. As part of this course, students research a policy or planning question in both Boston and a chosen city. In recent years, we have taken our undergraduate majors to Montreal, London, Barcelona, Venice, Mexico City, Paris, and Copenhagen.

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning offers many possibilities for creating a concentration tailored to your needs and interests in the following categories.

  • Designing the Urban Environment
  • Environmental Policy
  • Urban History & Society
  • Policy Analysis and Urban Problems
  • International Development
  • Education

The required laboratory, 11.188, emphasizes urban information systems and offers skills formeasurement, representation, and analysis of urban phenomena. In the laboratory subject, students explore the ways emerging technology can be used to improve government decision making.

Required Subjects (69 units)

All of the following:

  • 11.001J Introduction to Urban Design and Development, 12 units, HASS (4.250J)
  • 11.002J Making Public Policy, 12 units, HASS-D, CI-H (17.30J)
  • 11.123 Big Plans, 9 units, HASS
  • 14.01 Principles of Microeconomics, 12 units, HASS
  • 11.188 Urban Planning and Social Science Laboratory, 12 units, LAB, CI-M
  • 11.011 The Art and Science of Negotiation, 12 units

Thesis (24 units)

Majors are required to write a senior thesis. The thesis may consist of an analysis of a public policy issue, a report on a problem-solving experience from an internship or other field experience, or a synthesis of research on urban affairs. The thesis writing process is accompanied by a required undergraduate thesis seminar, which meets in the fall.

  • 11.ThTJ Thesis Research Design Seminar, 12 units, CI-M (4.THTJ)
  • 11.ThU Undergraduate Thesis Seminar and Thesis, units arranged,

Planned Electives (57-60 units)

Majors in Course 11 are required to formulate or select one stream of coursework for further concentration. Students can select from the following recommended options or create their own stream tailored to a particular set of urban, policy, or planning concerns. Students are encouraged to develop a program that will strengthen their analytic skills and broaden their intellectual perspectives, and that will test these insights in real-world applications. Within the selected stream, students must take 57-60 units of coursework

Complete details are available here in a printable format: ug_sb.pdf

Urban Field Experience

We encourage declared majors to take the optional urban field experience class, 11.027 City to City (CI-M), which is taught in the spring and includes a trip during spring break. Students may take this course multiple times, as the content differs each year, but it may only be counted once as a planned elective.

For DUSP majors interested in spending a semester abroad, we recommend the International Honors Program (IHP), which has a semester-long program called Cities in the 21st Century. (For further information, see The department offers transfer credit for courses taken as part of the IHP. If you are planning on studying abroad, contact the transfer credit examiner, for consultation on your course of study.

Bachelor of Science + Master in City Planning

Undergraduate majors in Course 11 may apply for admission to the department's Master in City Planning (MCP) program in their junior year. Students accepted into the five-year program receive both the Bachelor of Science and the MCP at the end of five years of study. Admission is intended for those undergraduates who have demonstrated exceptional performance in the major and show commitment to the field of city planning. Criteria for admission include:

  1. Strong academic record in Course 11 subjects
  2. Letters of reference from departmental faculty
  3. Practical experience in planning which could be gained through internships, practicums, studios, UROPs, summer jobs, etc.
  4. A mature and passionate interest for the field which warrants further study.

In the fall semester of the senior year, five-year students are considered participants in the MCP program and begin meeting its requirements. At the same time, they can be completing requirements for the undergraduate degree.



Minor Programs

The Department offers three minors

  • Minor in Urban Studies and Planning
  • Minor in Public Policy
  • Minor in International Development

Students who successfully complete a minor program will have the field of study specified on their student transcript, thus giving recognition of focused work in the discipline.

Minor in Urban Studies and Planning

The six-subject Minor in Urban Studies and Planning offers students an excellent opportunity to explore issues in urban studies and planning in some depth. Students initially take two Tier I subjects that establish the government, economic, and urban design contexts for local, urban, and regional decision making. Next, students choose three Tier II elective subjects, which provide an opportunity to focus on urban and environmental policy issues or to study urban problems and institutions. Where undergraduate electives are unavailable in the student's field of interest, the student may choose from a variety of graduate courses, subject to the instructor's permission. Finally, students take 11.123 Big Plans, which aims at a reflective synthesis of past and present efforts to implement large projects and policies. Students are encouraged to craft a minor that reflects their own particular interests within the general parameters of the minor program requirements and in consultation with the minor advisor.


Must take both subjects.

  • 11.001J Introduction to Urban Design and Development, 12 units, HASS, (4.250J)
  • 11.002J Making Public Policy, 12 units, HASS-D, CI-H, (17.30J)


Must take 3 subjects from below.

  • 11.005 Introduction to International Development, 12 units, HASS
  • 11.011 The Art and Science of Negotiation, 12 units, HASS
  • 11.013J American Urban History I, 9 units, HASS, (21H.231J)
  • 11.014J American Urban History II, 9 units, HASS, (21H.232J)
  • 11.016J The Once and Future City, 12 units, HASS, CI-H (4.211J)
  • 11.023 Bridging Cultural and Racial Difference, 12 units, HASS
  • 11.025J D-Lab: Development, (SP.721J) (subject meets with 11.472)
  • 11.026J Downtown, 9 units, HASS (21H.234J) (subject meets with 11.339)
  • 11.128 Information Technology & the U.S. Labor Market, 12 units, (subject meets with 11.248J, 14.49J) and prerequisite: 14.01
  • 11.166 Law, Social Movements, and Public Policy, 12 units (subject meets with 11.496)
  • 11.363 Civil Society and the Environment, 12 units (permission of instructor)
  • 11.373 Science, Politics and Environmental Policy, 12 units


Must take subject below.

  • 11.123 Big Plans & Mega-Urban Landscapes, 9 units, HASS

Minor in Public Policy

Public policy is an academic field that looks at the nature of public problems and how we attempt to address those problems through government action. The interdisciplinary HASS Minor in Public Policy is intended to provide a single framework for students in engineering and sciences who are interested in the role of public policy in the field of their technical expertise. The six-subject minor is organized in three tiers.

The first tier provides a foundation in the study of the public and private institutions in which public policy decisions are made and implemented. All students are required to take two subjects that introduce them to rationales for government action, justifications that form the fundamental basis for making public policy. The second tier explores methods of analyzing and assessing the impacts of policy change. The aim is to provide a basic level of competence so that students are knowledgeable about the range of approaches that professionals use to analyze public policies. The third tier offers an in-depth program of study in one substantive field of policymaking. All minors select one substantive policy field and take three subjects within that area of specialization. Students may substitute a semester-long internship for one subject in their chosen field, with the approval of their minor advisor. The internship must be at least 9 units and must be for a letter grade.

The Public Policy Minor is administered jointly by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Department of Political Science. More information can be found on the Political Science website.

Students interested in this minor should begin by contacting Professor Judy Layzer. Majors in Urban Studies are not permitted to minor in Public Policy. Political Science majors can minor in Public Policy, however they can not use any course for the minor that they are using to fulfill their major.

Minor in International Development (NEW!)

MIT students have enormous interest in tackling problems of global poverty and economic development in the poor regions of the world. The minor in international development will increase the capability to understand, analyze and tackle today's problems in emerging countries, including the challenges of dealing with increasing urbanization, the need for industrial growth and jobs for increasing number of educated youth, the crisis of resources and infrastructure, the fragmentation of state capacity and rising violence, the ethical and moral issues raised by development planning, the role of appropriate technology and research, and the challenge of dealing with popular discontent. Through research and teaching, we combine a robust introduction to the theoretical framework of the field, with a strong analytical orientation and problem-solving method tested through field engagement. Taught by faculty from one of the worlds premier academic centers of expertise in planning, at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and with more than a quarter century of experience in dealing with problems of international development, the minor is a new offering to MIT students that emphasizes problem-solving, multidisciplinarity and an understanding of institutions at various levels from the local to the global as the key to solving todays problems in emerging countries.

The six-subject minor is structured into two tiers. The first tier gives students a general overview of the history of international development and major theories and debates in the field, and an introduction to the dilemmas of practice. It will also introduce students to the challenges of applying models of interventions across contexts and the importance of understanding local institutional frameworks and political economies across scales and levels of governance. The second tier of classes offers an array of more specialized and advanced subjects to allow students greater depth in specific sectors and international development issues with faculty immersed in a variety of disciplines. These sectors range from public finance, infrastructure and energy, sustainability, the role of technology policy, the form and the structure of cities, the politics of urban change and development, the role of law and public policy in development and the rethinking of development in terms of human rights.

The courses seek to combine the real world resources of experienced practitioners by taking advantage of fifteen mid-career international development and planning practitioners (Spurs/Humphrey fellows), who are hosted by DUSP each year, and who can serve as a major resource for connecting MIT undergraduates to the international world of development planning practice.

TIER I: Introduction to International Development Theories & Practice

Choose two:

  • 11.025 D-Lab: Development
  • 11.005 Introduction to International Development
  • 11.140 Urbanization and Development (meets with 11.480)

TIER II: Specialized Topics in International Development

Choose four in consultation with the minor advisor:

  • 11.002 Making Public Policy
  • 11.027 City to City
  • 11.144 Project Appraisal in Developing Countries
  • 11.147 Innovative Budgeting & Finance for the Public Sector
  • 11.164J Human Rights in Theory and Practice
  • 11.165J Infrastructure & Energy Security Challenges
  • 11.166 Law, Social Movements, & Public Policy
  • 4.233 The New Global Planning Practitioner
  • EC.715 D-Lab: Disseminating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Innovations for the Common Good

Additional information can be obtained from Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning



HASS Concentrations

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning offers many possibilities for creating a concentration tailored to your needs and interests. The Following list suggests some of the possible combinations of subjects. When more than three subjects are listed, the student should select three (3) in consultation with the Concentration Advisor.

You can also always create a concentration that fits your particular interests within Institute guidelines. We will assist you in selecting three subjects that suit your concerns and background. Since some subjects are offered only every other year, we encourage you to discuss the possibilities with us by the end of your sophomore year. For further information contact Professor Anne Whiston Spirn. Subject offerings change on an annual basis and students should check with the Department for the latest information.

Complete details are available in PDF: ug_hass.pdf



Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) provides a unique opportunity for students to participate in ongoing faculty research, off-campus research, or other related field experiences. UROP offers students a chance to apply classroom learning to a real-world problem. UROP projects can supplement coursework and provide opportunities for professional experience.

Recent UROP projects in DUSP have explored such areas as legal studies, housing and real estate, computer mapping, economic and social development, energy, environmental impact, and social welfare. For information about UROP opportunities, contact Ezra Glenn



Undergraduate Contacts

Professor Anne Whiston Spirn

  • Undergraduate Chair, HASS Concentration Advisor

Professor Amy Glasmeier

  • Minor Advisor, Transfer Credit Examiner

Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal

  • International Development Minor Advisor

Lecturer Ezra Glenn

  • UROP Coordinator

Sandra Wellford

  • Director of Student Services
  • Academic Advisor