Master of Arts in Urban Studies

Format: On Campus

Effective Fall 2018, the Murphy Institute will become the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies and the MA in Urban Studies will no longer be offered at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

The MA in Urban Studies degree program is designed for students pursuing both scholarly and professional interests in the political, economic, and social dynamics of contemporary urban life. Blending theory with practice, the program offers a particular emphasis on urban problems and solutions, public policy, community organizations and community organizing, social change and social movements, civic engagement, the urban workforce, the administration of public agencies, and the delivery of public services. 

Urban Studies draws on the perspectives and methods of sociology, economics, political science, geography, urban planning, and anthropology to analyze the contemporary city in a global perspective. In addition, by selecting one of three Urban Studies tracks (Public Policy and Administration, Health Care Policy and Administration or the Urban Workforce) students will gain advanced knowledge and skills in their particular area of interest.

Students in the Master's Degree in Urban Studies have the opportunity to learn from and work with nationally-known faculty such as Michael Javen Fortner, Ph.D., Kafui  Attoh, Ph.D., and Distinguished Professor John Mollenkopf, Ph.D., as well as experienced practitioners from government, non-profits, and social service agencies.

Career Prospects

Graduates of the MA in Urban Studies program are prepared for a range of careers in city agencies and government, research institutions, and non-profits serving urban populations.

The program is offered through CUNY SPS’s Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

Admissions Criteria

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Applicants are required to write a personal statement, upload a resume, and provide two letters of recommendation. An individual interview may be necessary.

Application Deadlines

Applications for Fall 2018 are due July 19, 2018

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Recent News About Master of Arts in Urban Studies

Award ceremony

The Murphy Institute Founder and Director Gregory Mantsios Receives Corporate Social Responsibility Distinction from City & State New York

October 30, 2017

Gregory Mantsios, founder and director of the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, was recognized by City & State New York with the Corporate Social Responsibility Award for Labor and Law.

Saving Harlem from Drugs: A Hobson's Choice

August 14, 2017


Margareth Etienne from Jotwell reviews Michael Javen Fortner's book "Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment."

A common talking point about African Americans’ views on crime has been debunked

May 04, 2017

The Washington Post

Dr. Michael Javen Fortner's book, "Black Silent Majority," was referenced in this article that details why so many black voters leaders endorse crime crackdowns when they knew that many of the people who would be arrested and incarcerated would be black.

A murdered basketball player and the uncomfortable discussion around ‘black-on-black’ crime

March 30, 2017

The Undefeated/ESPN

Michael Javen Fortner and his book "Black Silent Majority" are featured in this article about how American cities such as Mt. Vernon, NY, wrestle with how to talk about and prevent violence.