Program Overview:



The Master of Urban Policy and Leadership program prepares professionals to be leaders in communities, public agencies and non-profit organizations. Strong leaders are those who:

  • Have the capacity and skill to identify and assess assets and needs
  • Engage, empower and mobilize people and resources
  • Navigate complex policy processes and organizational systems
  • Craft actionable solutions for complex problems
  • Understand urban areas and the problems they face in our rapidly changing world

Through rigorous course work, active research, topical courses on urban policy, and applied experiences in the public and non-profit sectors, students learn to be:

  • Critical analysts of urban problems
  • Active participants in the design of innovative solutions (policies, programs, and organizations)
  • Advocates for communities, organizations, and issues
  • Agents of urban social justice

The MSUPL curriculum provides students with theoretical, practical, and technical knowledge to accomplish these things.

Students are trained in the art and science of urban policy analysis, organizational management, strategic planning, and community engagement. MSUPL students are provided tools to address global, national, and local conditions that undermine urban communities; the technical capacities to advocate on behalf of diverse urban populations; and the critical skills necessary to work in complex organizational arenas. Tackling issues of equity, fairness and social justice are at the heart of the MSUPL program. You can click here to read features on recent alumni.

Students work closely with a faculty advisor to design a curriculum plan that suits their interests and needs. Students may concentrate in one of three areas: Public Policy, Non-Profits, or Neighborhood Development, or they may craft their concentration in consultation with a faculty advisor aligning with their unique interests or needs.

Students can attend full-time (9-15 credits per semester) or part-time (3-6 credits), and all required courses are scheduled in the evening (after 5:30) to accommodate students who may be working or have other daytime obligations. For students interested in attending full-time, there are daytime elective courses available.

A mix of full-time faculty and highly qualified part-time instructors teach our classes. With permission from the Program Director, students may also take in-person courses at other CUNY campuses, including Baruch College and The Graduate Center, to help meet their educational and professional goals.

Our students help organize social and educational events for their colleagues at the graduate student association.  Many policy students also contribute to the student-edited and written journal, Urban Review, published each semester. Learn more and follow us on Linkedin, Instagram, and X.

The MS in Urban Policy and Leadership (MS UPL) program is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). In accordance with NASPAA’s guidelines regarding public access to outcomes-related information, please click here for MS UPL Alumni Data and here for MS UPL Program Data regarding the MS UPL program.

New Paris Exchange! The Hunter College Department of Urban Policy and Planning will send its first cohort of graduate students to Paris in 2024 as part of an exchange program with France’s leading urbanism school, the École d’Urbanisme de Paris. Up to four students may go in the fall semester, and the program is in English. All courses will count toward program electives. Students pay standard Hunter tuition.

Program Director: Jill Simone Gross, PhD

Curriculum/Course Requirements Summary

The Master of Urban Policy and Leadership requires 36 credits of graduate study (9 credits may be taken from other graduate programs within Hunter or the CUNY system). The credit requirements are broken down as follows:

  • General Core (12 credits)
  • Research Methods and Analysis (6 credits)
  • Urban Structure (3 credits)
  • Areas of Concentration (9 Credits)
  • Unrestricted Electives (6 Credits)

General Core (12 Credits)

  1. Introductory Course (students are required to take one of the following)
    • URBG 701 Introduction to Organization and Management for the Public Sector (3 Credits)
    • URBG 700 Introduction to Urban Policy Processes (3 Credits)
  2. Applied Research Requirement: URBG 790 Urban Development Workshop (6 Credit Practicum)
  3. Capstone Requirement: URBG 792 Urban Affairs Capstone (3 Credits)

Research Methods and Analysis (6 Credits)

Students are required to take two of the following courses:

  • URBG 710 Urban Data Analysis (3 Credits)
  • URBG 713 Introduction to Qualitative Research (3 Credits)
  • URBG 706 Introduction to Policy Analysis (3 Credits)
  • URBP 702 Introduction to GIS for Urban Policy and Planning PREFERRED OPTION (formerly URBP 787.1Y)

Note:  Students who completed URBP 787.1Y will need a course substitution approval sent in writing to the registrar’s office. Contact the MS UPL program director to request written approval.


GTECH 709 GIS Mapping (3 Credits) *In-Person (P) section only

Urban Structure (3 Credits)

Students are required to take one of the following courses:

  • URBG 702 Structure of the Urban Region (3 Credits)
  • URBG 758 Governing the City (3 Credits)
  • URBG 787.18 Political Economy of Cities (3 Credits)
  •  URBG 7871K – 01 Urban Politics and Governance (with permission of advisor)

Concentration (9 credits)

See additional detail on Areas of Concentration to the right.

Open Electives (6 credits)

See our Course Offerings and Semester Schedule page.

Areas of Concentration (9 Credits)

  • Urban Policy
  • Neighborhood Development
  • Non-Profits
  • Create your own concentration

Each concentration is designed to give students a working knowledge or specific foci within the field. To fulfill this requirement, each student selects three courses (9 credits) related to their chosen area of concentration in consultation with their advisor. For more detailed information and examples of the classes that can be taken for each concentration, please see page two of the MSUPL Curriculum Guide.

Students with special interests that do not fit into these specializations can design their own concentration. Some examples of individually tailored specializations from former students include: Education Policy and Leadership, Arts and Economic Development, Immigration and Community Advocacy, Youth Leadership and Community Development, and Comparative International Urban Development.