City Studies

City Studies is a multidisciplinary undergraduate program that introduces students to concepts and skills to understand and tackle problems of an increasingly urban world.

The growth of city-regions in Canada, North America and across the world raises new sets of urban planning and policy challenges, including growth management, economic competitiveness, transportation and congestion, public infrastructure planning, environmental sustainability and conservation, neighbourhood wellbeing and social inclusion, health, and quality of life in cities more generally. New challenges require new ideas and solutions. City Studies is a multidisciplinary undergraduate program that introduces students to concepts and skills to understand and tackle problems of an increasingly urban world. On completion of the program, our graduates are well-positioned to pursue further professional development in a wide variety of careers related to urban issues, among others, urban planning, transportation, real estate and development, social services and community development, government, and policy and research. The program also offers preparation for graduate studies in related fields.

Program Options

The Specialist Program in City Studies (Arts) is intended for high achieving students, and will provide them with the skills and knowledge they will need to pursue specialized training at the graduate level in fields like public policy and municipal governance, urban planning, community development, as well as other city-focused fields of studies. Students in the Specialist program will also have the opportunity to develop the in-depth theoretical and conceptual knowledge in applied urban studies, quantitative and qualitative research and GIS skills, practical skills such as project management, facilitation and community consultation, and communication skills needed to succeed in a wide variety of urban professions. Students are encouraged to discuss the selection and sequencing of courses with the Program Advisor or Associate Chair (City Studies).

The Major Program in City Studies (Arts) requires a total of 7.0 full credits within the broader 20 credit requirement for a UTSC degree.


The Major Program in City Studies with Co-op (Arts) combines the Major Program in City Studies with two four-month work terms in the private, public, or not-for-profit sector. Students enrolled in the City Studies Major Co-op Program will receive support from the Arts & Science Co-op Department to get job-ready and secure co-op placements. This is a limited enrolment program.


The Minor Program in City Studies (Arts) requires the completion of 4.0 credits. Students taking the Minor Program should consider selecting most of their Applications program requirements from one area of focus: City Building, Community Development, or City Governance. 

The cross-disciplinary Minor program in Urban Public Policy and Governance (Arts) equips students with the conceptual tools and methodological skills they will need to understand and analyze processes of city-regional and municipal governance and policy making in Canadian and comparative perspective. The main emphasis is placed on the policy and governance dilemmas of contemporary local governments and how these are distinct from those experienced at other levels: structural revenue constraints, infrastructure deficits, socio-spatial polarization, competition for investment, inadequate accountability and ethics regimes for politicians and public servants, and the distinctive ways in which local policymaking takes place through public deliberation. Students completing the Minor program in Urban Public Policy and Governance combined with a Major program in City Studies, Public Policy, Human Geography, Political Science, Economics for Management Studies, History, Critical Development Studies or other relevant programs will be well prepared for graduate studies in public policy and governance, urban planning, and public administration, and for public sector careers at the municipal and provincial levels, or in the non-profit and advocacy sectors. 

Areas of Concentration

Our courses are organized into three areas of concentration that focus on a particular set of issues and concepts: City Building, City Governance, and Community Development:

Areas of Concentration: City Studies

The City Building area of concentration focuses on the built environment, particularly urban planning and design, transportation and other infrastructures, real estate and housing, and the environmental challenges of urban growth. Students will take courses on topics including: 

  • CITB01H3 Canadian Cities and Planning
  • CITC03H3 Housing Policy and Planning
  • CITC04H3 Municipal and Planning Law in Ontario
  • CITC14H3 Environmental Planning
  • CITC18H3 Transportation Policy Analysis

The City Governance area of concentration addresses the politics and administration of cities and metropolitan regions, including how local government works, civic engagement, intergovernmental relations, and public finance. Students in the City Governance stream will take courses including:

  • CITB04H3 City Politics
  • CITC12H3 City Structures and City Choices: Local Government, Management, and Policymaking
  • CITC15H3 Taxing and Spending: Public Finance in Canadian Cities
  • CITC16H3 Planning and Governing the Metropolis
  • CITC17H3 Civic Engagement in Urban Politics

The Community Development area of concentration focuses is concerned with neighbourhood wellbeing, especially the role of community-based groups and organizations in promoting social inclusion and resident involvement. Students in the Community Development stream will take courses that include:

  • CITB03H3 Social Planning and Community Development
  • CITC01H3 Urban Communities and Neighbourhoods Case Study: East Scarborough
  • CITC02H3 Learning in Community Service
  • CITC07H3 Urban Social Policy
  • CITC08H3 Cities and Community Development