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Urban Studies Program - Employment & Career Paths

Urban Studies – A Bridge to Employment and a Career

Throughout the program in Urban Studies and through interaction with the faculty you’ll be exposed to a wide range of job opportunities where your skills, knowledge and understanding of cities – and how to make a difference – will be in high demand.

Increasingly, government (Federal, State and local) is being restructured into layers of agencies. Each is charged with specific authority, with power to get things done. In Michigan, MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority) now has statewide responsibility for coordinating urban policy. Your Urban Studies degree from Wayne State will give you a skill-set that will connect with the work of MSDA.

At the local level, the key development agency in Detroit is DEGC (yes, there is a confusing alphabet soup of organizations!). The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation coordinates property and business development in the city, working in partnerships between government and the private sector. Several graduates from WSU’s Department of Geography and Urban Planning have made careers with this increasingly engaged agency. But don’t forget that traditional units of government are critical actors in making cities better.  There are career opportunities across city hall where your training will stand you in good stead.

In addition to careers in government, graduates from Urban Studies will be attractive to the “thirdwave”: the nonprofit sector – local agencies working closely with communities to effect change.  Their work embraces housing renewal, commercial redevelopment, open space planning, neighborhood economic development and more.  Local CDC’s – Community Development Corporations – are the change agents of tomorrow and they need your drive, enthusiasm and knowledge. Rick Belloli, Executive Director of the South Side Local Development Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a highly successful graduate from one of our programs

There will also be career opportunities in the nonprofit sector, working on broader urban policy issues.  As we all move towards environmentally conscious development, the role of foundations, advocacy groups and research agencies in understanding and shaping the sustainable city is increasing by the day.  Your training will fit well with this new agenda. Here in metro Detroit, the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, the Local Initiative Support Corporation or Greening of Detroit are leading the way. Detroit-based SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) our seven-county Metropolitan Planning Organization has hired numerous Wayne State Urban Planning students and graduates.

These sophisticated grass-roots agencies work on a day-to-day basis with the private sector.  Your degree in Urban Studies will also be attractive to the real estate development industry. The may want you to go on to get an MBA or masters in Urban Planning (also offered in Geography and Urban Planning) but your initial skills will open many doors in the private sector.  And don’t forget, the Urban Studies degree will also provide an excellent training for advanced degrees, including Public Administration or Law School.

National and Michigan Professional Associations

[many with listings of employment opportunities] 

 Books and Other Guides to Employment with a Degree in Urban Studies

  •  A Guide to Careers in Community Development, by Paul Brophy and Alice Shabecoff (Island Press, 2001) ** At Amazon
  • Careers in City Politics: the Case for Urban Democracy, by Timothy Bledsoe
  • Careers in Government, by Mary Elisabeth Pitz
  • Careers in Local Government, by Felicity Taylor
  • Career Inside the World of Government, by Sue Hurwitz
  • Careers In Urban Affairs: Six Young People Talk About Their Professions In The Inner City. By Bernard Asbell ** at Amazon
  • Challenging Careers in Urban Affairs, by Sterling McLeod ** at Amazon (used)
  • Harvard Guide to Careers in Government and the Public Sector, by Carla Mortensen
Urban Studies & Planning
656 W. Kirby 3198 Faculty Admin Building
Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: (313) 577-2701
Fax: (313) 577-0022
Website: clasweb.clas.wayne.edu/dusp
Email: DUSP@wayne.edu