This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2021-2022 VCU Bulletin. This edition includes all programs and courses approved by the publication deadline; however we may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Xueming (Jimmy) Chen,​ Ph.D.
Professor and program chair

The Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies requires 120 credits, including 40 credits within the major. The program is designed so that students may enter as late as their junior year and provides a solid foundation for professional work or advanced study aimed at addressing some of the most important challenges and issues facing the U.S. and other world regions, such as urban sprawl, economic marginalization, ethnic and racial conflict and environmental degradation. The program covers a wide range of topics related to these issues, including transportation, housing, land use, environmental management, regional and international development, human-environment interaction, globalization and socioeconomic change. Students can focus on the subject matter of their interest by choosing to concentrate in either urban planning and policy or regional analysis and development; alternatively they may opt for a generalized course of study. Nine core courses and a lab (28 credits total) are required for all majors. These courses provide fundamental background knowledge in an array of disciplines that form the foundations of urban and regional studies, such as urban planning and design, human and physical geography, economics, environmental management, urban and public policy, and geographic information systems. Students complete their remaining 12 credits within one of the two concentrations or through a generalized course of study.

The program helps develop a theoretical and methodological background as well as analytical skills that can be used to address a wide range of issues and problems. Students acquire marketable skills in qualitative and quantitative analysis, computer usage, problem solving and communication — as well as a broad perspective on environment and society — that are essential for many occupations.

The generalized course of study option is designed for those students who have a broad interest in urban and regional studies. They can tailor this course of study to match not only intellectual interests but anticipated career goals. Students complete the core courses and then select the remaining 12 credits from any of the non-core courses listed below.

Student learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will have acquired the following.

A multidisciplinary understanding of urban and regional dynamics and planning
Students will develop a multidisciplinary understanding of the characteristics of cities and other regions, the factors that shape them over time and the role of planning in influencing socioeconomic and environmental conditions therein. Among the key topics covered are:

  • The urbanization process in the United States
  • Urbanization and regional change in other cultures and historically
  • Urban design and the built environment
  • Economic geography
  • Urban and regional demographics and sociology
  • The relationship between the natural environment and urbanization and other land use change
  • Local and regional politics
  • The role of planning tools and strategies in addressing urban and regional problems, such as poverty, congestion and environmental degradation

Mastery of general and major-specific skills
Students will acquire the skills needed to function as well-rounded, educated citizens, including those required for careers or advanced study in urban and regional analysis, planning and community development. These include:

  • Oral, written and graphic communication
  • Social science and planning methods, including quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Research using government documents and other library sources
  • Cause and effect reasoning
  • Organized presentation of ideas
  • Critical and independent thinking
  • Computer proficiency
  • The ability to work in groups
  • Analysis of maps and other spatial data

Ethics and a sense of social and personal responsibility
Students will develop a strong ethical foundation and a sense of social and personal responsibility rooted in an understanding of and sensitivity to:

  • The complex notions of the public good
  • The potential social costs and other externalities of regional and economic change
  • Human needs and requirements for becoming a more humane and egalitarian society
  • The ethical dimensions of social conflict and ways in which it can be addressed
  • Diverse cultural and class perspectives
  • The ethical standards of professional behavior