In the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning .
Undergraduate Study in Urban and Regional Studies
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
The program in Urban and Regional Studies (URS) is a four-year academic program aimed at assessing the problems of human communities and regions. URS courses ask how social and economic forces have changed cities; what these changes mean for people in their daily lives; and how citizens, community groups, and planners can work together to make productive, safe, lively, and livable places. Graduates from the program receive a bachelor of science degree.
URS Degree Requirements
URS requirements for graduation include:
- Eight semesters of residence
- 120 academic credits
- General education requirements consisting of writing seminars, qualification in one foreign language, and a series of distribution requirements
- Required courses for the major
- Departmental electives
- Free electives
- Completion of the university physical education and swim test requirements
a. First-Year Writing Seminars: Two Courses
Information regarding the First-Year Writing Seminar can be found at www.arts.cornell.edu/knight_institute. Advanced Placement (AP) credit can be applied toward a maximum of one First-Year Writing Seminar. Students earning a score of 5 on one English literature and English language exam will receive 3 credits which will be applied toward one First-Year Writing Seminar. Students earning a score of 5 on both English literature and English language exams will receive 3 credits toward one First-Year Writing Seminar and 3 credits toward the in/out-of-college elective requirement.
b. Foreign Language: Qualification in One Foreign Language
Qualification in one foreign language can be demonstrated by completing three courses in one foreign language in high school; or by demonstrating advanced standing through the Cornell Advanced Standing Examination (CASE); or by successfully completing a non-introductory foreign language course of 3 or more credits at the 2000 level or above; or by successfully completing any other non-introductory course at the 2000 level or above conducted in a foreign language; or by successfully completing 11 credits of study in a single foreign language.
Students whose speaking, reading, and writing competence in a language other than English is at the same level we would expect our entering first-years to have in English (as shown by completing high school in that language or by special examination during their first year at Cornell) are exempt from the college’s language requirement.
c. Distribution Requirements: Nine Courses outside of CRP
Students must successfully complete nine courses outside of the Department of City and Regional Planning for the distribution requirement. A total of four courses must be completed in the categories of physical and biological sciences (PBS) and mathematics and quantitative reasoning (MQR). Of those four courses, at least two must be classified as PBS and at least one course must be classified as MQR. The fourth course can be classified as either PBS or MQR. The remaining five courses must be courses identified by the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the categories of cultural analysis (CA); historical analysis (HA); knowledge, cognition, and moral reasoning (KCM); literature and the arts (LA); and social and behavior analysis (SBA). These five courses must be selected from at least four of these five categories (i.e., CA, HA, KCM, LA, and SBA). No more than three of these five courses can be taken in any one department. URS students may petition to substitute equivalent courses from the College of Engineering, School of Hotel Administration, College of Human Ecology, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and the departments of Architecture and Art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP).
*URS students can apply ART 2907/ARCH 3702 - Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age toward the MQR requirement.
**URS students can apply architectural history offerings in the Department of Architecture (ARCH 3810-3812) and art studio and art history offerings in the Department of Art toward the LA requirement without petition.
2. Core Requirements for the Major: Seven Courses
One course from the following list of microeconomics courses (fall or spring, 3 or 4 credits)
One course from the following list of statistics courses (fall or spring, 3 or 4 credits)
3. Required CRP Courses: Five CRP Courses
The program requires that students take five additional CRP courses at the 3000-level or higher, for a minimum of 3 credits each. Independent study courses (CRP 4900-4970) cannot be applied. Students are encouraged to select courses in consultation with their faculty advisor. Required CRP courses must be completed at Cornell University.
4. Free Electives
Free electives include credit from any successfully completed academic course offered by any department at Cornell. Free electives can be completed for a letter grade or S/U. Please refer to the AAP policy on non-academic credit for a list of excluded courses.
Rules Governing the URS Program
URS students are expected to comply with college and program rules. Any deviation must be petitioned prior to the act. Failure to comply with department rules may result in review by the college Academic Review Committee.
URS Course Requirements
- Students may not use any one course to meet more than one specific requirement (i.e., if a student takes a statistics course to meet the MQR distribution requirement, that same statistics course may not be used to meet the statistics requirement).
- For courses that satisfy any specific requirement (i.e., general education, distribution requirements, core requirements for the major, and CRP required courses), the course must be successfully completed with a letter grade, unless a particular course is offered exclusively under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading basis (SX/UX).
- Students may not satisfy any general education requirement, distribution requirement, core requirement for the major, or required CRP course requirement with a course completed for fewer than 3 credits.
- The five required CRP courses at the 3000-level must be completed at Cornell.
Advanced Placement Credit
AP credit refers to college credit that students earn before they enter Cornell. AP credit may be earned from Advanced Placement (AP), General Certification of Education Advanced Level (“A” Level), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Cornell department (CASE) examinations. Its primary purpose is to exempt students from introductory courses and to place them in advanced courses. Its value is that it allows students to include more advanced courses in their course of study.
AP credit is applied as free elective credit only, with the exception of one First-Year Writing Seminar. URS students may not apply AP credit to general education requirements in: (1) sciences (PBS); (2) mathematics/quantitative reasoning (MQR); (3) cultural analysis (CA); (4) historical analysis (HA); (5) knowledge, cognition, and moral reasoning (KCM); (6) literature and the arts (LA); and (7) social and behavioral analysis (SBA).
Please refer to the AP section of this catalog for additional university guidelines regarding AP credit.
The general college transfer credit policies apply to all transfer coursework, in addition to the URS-specific processes and policies below.
Transfer Credit Review Process
All transfer credit is evaluated by the designated Cornell faculty member in the appropriate subject area. To apply transfer course work toward the URS degree, an approved AAP Transfer Credit Request form and a sealed official transcript are required. All requests require submission of supporting documentation, including course descriptions, syllabi, and/or portfolio. All approved forms and official transcripts should be submitted to the AAP Office of Admissions and Academic Services, 235 Sibley Dome, Ithaca, NY 14853.
Additional Information for Transfer Students
To ensure a timely transfer of credit, incoming transfer students are required to submit final transcripts immediately upon acceptance. Students should also meet with the director of undergraduate studies and the AAP Office of Admissions and Academic Services during orientation to review how their credits are applied toward the Cornell degree and for course enrollment planning.
Students who transfer into the URS program must successfully complete:
- A minimum of four semesters in residence
- A minimum of 60 academic credits at Cornell
- 30 of the 60 credits must include the five required CRP courses for the major (CRP 1100 , CRP 1101 , CRP 2000 , CRP 2010 , and CRP 3210 ) and the five required CRP courses.*
*CRP 1100 , CRP 1101 , CRP 2000 , CRP 2010 , CRP 3210 and the five required CRP courses cannot be satisfied with transfer credit.
Deviating from Curriculum, Policies, or Procedures
Students wishing to enroll in fewer than 12 or more than 20 credit hours, seek a substitution for a specific graduation requirement, deviate from any college or department policy, or adjust enrollment after the add/drop period must petition the department for permission. Petitions must be submitted prior to the act. Further, students wishing to take more than the standard number of credit hours should have a cumulative grade point average of 3.000 or better. Petitions should be submitted only if there are clearly extraordinary circumstances that merit special consideration. In order for a petition to be approved, circumstances must be extenuating. Once submitted and acted upon, petitions can only be reversed by subsequent petition.
Appeals: A student has ten days from the time of the petitions decision to appeal the decision in writing. Appeals should be submitted directly to the Department of City and Regional Planning for review and vote by the full tenure/tenure-track faculty. The faculty decision on the appeal is final. No further appeals will be considered.
Concurrent Degree Option
The five-year concurrent degree option allows students to earn a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies as well as a bachelor of arts (B.A.) from Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, or a B.S. from Cornell’s colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, or Human Ecology. Students usually apply to the concurrent degree option during their second year. Once admitted, they are assigned an advisor in each college to assist with course planning and graduation requirements. Concurrent degree candidates must satisfy all requirements for both degrees and a minimum of 150 academic credits.
Off-Campus Study Opportunities
In addition to on-campus studies, URS students are encouraged to take advantage of the university’s resources for international research and education. Most URS students choose to spend a semester at Cornell in Rome, usually during the spring semester of junior year. Other URS students participate in semester-long Cornell Abroad and/or Cornell in Washington programs.
Cornell in Rome
The urban studies component of Cornell in Rome is offered during the spring semester for students interested in the economic, political, cultural, and social life of contemporary European cities and regions.
URS students in their third or fourth year of study are eligible to participate in Cornell in Rome. To be eligible for Cornell in Rome, URS students are required to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.000 or better, and to have successfully completed CRP 1100 , CRP 1101 , CRP 2000 , CRP 2010 , and the economics requirements prior to the Rome semester. Students are admitted by application and review of their record. Application is made by December 1 of the preceding year to the AAP Office of Admissions and Academic Services. For additional information, visit the Cornell in Rome website.
Students are required to enroll in CRP 4160 - Rome Workshop , a 6-credit field research course that defines the semester. It requires students to spend about 20 hours per week in assigned peripheral neighborhoods exploring such issues as public space, urban design, social housing, infrastructure services, immigrant integration, tourism, historic preservation, and economic development challenges. Additionally, students typically enroll in courses in art history, architecture history, photography, contemporary art, and Italian, along with architecture, art, and visiting students.
URS students may fulfill in-department electives, distribution requirements, and free electives in Rome.
URS offers qualified students the opportunity to write an honors thesis. To be eligible for the honors program, students must at least have completed the junior year, completed four semesters registered in URS, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.500, have a minimum GPA of 3.700 in the major (including the microeconomics and statistics requirements), and have completed at least 10 of the 12 courses in the major. Once admitted, an honors student selects a faculty advisor and develops and writes a thesis with close guidance. The thesis must be 75 or fewer pages.
M.R.P. Option for B.S. URS Seniors
URS seniors may also apply to earn an accelerated Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.). If admitted to this highly selective program, a student must:
- Complete 60 credits, at least 30 of which must be obtained within the Department of City and Regional Planning, including credits earned in fulfilling the M.R.P. core requirements. Interested URS majors are encouraged to take graduate credit options in upper division classes where possible to fulfill some of the 60 credits.
- Have two committee members on file.
- Complete the independent work requirement by submitting an acceptable thesis, professional report, or research paper. Two bound copies of the work need to be submitted to the graduate field coordinator.
All two-year M.R.P. program requirements also apply to the accelerated M.R.P. program.
The accelerated degree option will generally allow a student to complete the M.R.P degree in three semesters if graduate level credits were completed during their URS program. In certain situations (e.g., where the student has completed a qualifying, credit-bearing internship) the accelerated degree option can be completed in two semesters. URS students are encouraged to work for a year or two before returning for the accelerated M.R.P. program. Interested students should meet with their advisor and develop a plan during the last two years of the URS program.
Please note the following guidelines for acceptable M.R.P. work:
- No grades below C- will be acceptable for meeting the 60-credit-hour requirement.
- No more than six hours of grades of C-, C, or C+ will be accepted for meeting the 60-credit-hour requirement. Partial credit from a class could be used in calculating this six-hour maximum (e.g., if a student has received C in two 4-credit classes, only 6 of these 8 credits can count toward the degree.)
- A cumulative average of B (3.0 GPA) will be required for graduation.
- Classes not related in some way to the student’s degree will not be counted in the 60 credits. Examples of such classes include wine tasting, culinary arts, English as a second language, dance, and physical education.
- Incomplete class work must be completed by the beginning of that semester one year hence.
For information on admissions requirements and how to apply, contact the Department of City and Regional Planning office.
Urban Studies Minor (non-URS majors)
The Urban and Regional Studies (URS) minor has been formulated specifically for out-of-department students who are interested in complementing their current academic program with an introduction to various facets of urban studies (domestic, environmental, international, professional, or urban affairs).
To complete the URS minor, students must take at least six courses (minimum total of 18 credits) in the Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP). Courses must be completed with letter grade of C or better.
Specific Course Requirements for the Minor
1. 9 credits of required core courses:
2. 9 credits of elective CRP courses at the 3000-level or higher.
Upon completion of course requirements, students complete a URS minor application form, and submit it to the Department of City and Regional Planning Office, 106 West Sibley Hall. The URS program notifies the student’s home college, and the home college will record completion of the URS minor on the student’s transcript.
Graduate Study in City and Regional Planning
The Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) offers several options for graduate study in city and regional planning, historic preservation planning, regional science, and real estate.
Cornell was one of the first institutions in the country to offer preservation courses, and is internationally recognized as a leader in the field. AAP offers a M.A. in historic preservation planning.
A variety of advanced degrees in planning are offered, including a M.R.P.; dual master’s degrees in planning and landscape architecture, and planning and real estate; and a Ph.D. in city and regional planning.
AAP offers a M.A., M.S., and a Ph.D. in regional science.
For more information regarding the M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. programs in the city and regional planning department, please refer to the department website.
Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)
M.R.P. Degree Requirements
To complete the M.R.P. degree, a student must:
- Complete 60 credits; at least 30 of these credits must be obtained within the Department of City and Regional Planning, including credits earned in fulfilling and completing the thesis, professional report, or research paper, and the M.R.P. core requirements.
- Accumulate four registration units (one registration unit is obtained each semester).
- Have two committee members on file by the end of the first year.
- Complete the independent writing requirement by submitting an acceptable thesis, professional report, or research paper (two bound copies submitted to the graduate field coordinator).
M.R.P.–Core Course Curriculum
Following are the lists of courses required to complete a typical two-year M.R.P. degree. M.R.P. students should consult with a department advisor for a complete list of courses that can be applied toward requirements three through seven below.
1. Required Courses for M.R.P.:
2. Demonstrated competence in economics, or successful completion of an economics course at Cornell
3. Demonstrated competence in statistics, or successful completion of a statistics course at Cornell
4. Successful completion of an advanced methods course
- Approved CRP courses include:
- A complete list of approved advanced methods courses, including courses outside of CRP:
5. Successful completion of a law or international institutions course
6. Successful completion of a workshop
Every year, the department offers workshops in land use, community and economic development, international planning, historic preservation planning, real estate, and urban design. Offerings will vary. Selected workshops/studios outside the department have been accepted for credit.
7. Successful completion of an exit project - CRP 8920 - Masters Thesis, Project, or Research Paper (credits vary based on option)
- A research paper (4 credits)
- A professional report (4-10 credits)
- A thesis (up to 10 credits)
Two bound copies must be submitted to the graduate field coordinator before the thesis degree deadline. See the graduate field coordinator in 106 West Sibley Hall for full instructions regarding formatting and binding guidelines.
Beyond the core curriculum, the department offers three concentrations. The first two, Land Use and Environmental Planning and Economic Development Planning, are thematic, while the third, International Studies in Planning (ISP), is for students wishing to work outside the U.S. It is common for students in ISP to also work in the other two concentrations.
Rules governing the M.R.P. Program:
- No grade below C– is acceptable for meeting the 60-credit-hour requirement. No grade below the C level will meet a core requirement.
- No more than six hours of grades of C–, C, or C+ will be accepted for meeting the 60-credit-hour requirement. Partial credit from a course could be used in calculating this six-hour maximum; e.g., if a student received C in two, 4-credit courses, only 6 of the 8 credits may count toward the degree.
- A cumulative grade point average of B (3.000) is required for graduation.
- Nonacademic courses and courses not related in some way to the student’s degree will not be counted in the 60 credits. Please refer to the college policy on nonacademic credit for additional information. Examples of courses not related to the degree may include Introduction to Wines or Academic Writing.
- Incomplete coursework must be completed by the beginning of that semester one year hence.
Criteria for Good Academic Standing:
To be in good academic standing, an M.R.P. student must:
- Successfully complete a minimum of 12 academic credits* each semester; and
- Earn a minimum semester grade point average (GPA) of 3.000; and
- Comply with all M.R.P. curriculum and rules.
At the end of each semester, the graduate field reviews the record of each student who is not in good academic standing and decides on an appropriate action from the following: warning, required leave of absence, and required withdrawal from the M.R.P. program.