Study Abroad

Students in Urban Studies have the opportunity to study abroad in some of the world’s most exciting and innovative cities. In collaboration with CIPE, the Urban Studies faculty help students apply for exchanges to urban studies programs at other elite institutions.  

Why should I study abroad as an Urban Studies major/pre-major?

  • To enhance your learning by taking courses that can count towards the requirements of your Urban Studies major, but which are not offered here at Yale-NUS. For example, you might like to go somewhere that allows you to engage more deeply in an approach within urban studies such as architectural history or public policy
  • To give you the experience of living and studying in another city, and to travel to and learn about other urban contexts
  • To extend and enhance your foreign language skills

Do all the courses I take on study abroad need to be in the area of urban studies?

  • No. You can take courses related to your Urban Studies major, but you are also encouraged to take other courses that interest you or that complement your major, especially if those courses are not available at Yale-NUS
  • If you do want to take courses that have content relevant to urban studies then those courses may count towards the requirements in your major. It is your Head of Study who decides if a course taken on study abroad counts towards the major. So speak to your Head of Study about your course choices before you make them
  • Remember, while it is good to pick up some urban studies courses while on study abroad, you want to still enjoy the full experience of being a Yale-NUS Urban Studies major. In any case, regulations require that at least 20MCs in the major is completed at Yale-NUS

Can I petition to take specific required major courses abroad?

Yes, but approval is on a case-by-case basis. You are advised to talk to the Head of Study before going abroad and taking the course. And we prefer you take Introduction to Urban Studies and Urban Theory at Yale-NUS.

Is there a cap on the number of major courses that may be taken for credit elsewhere?

Yes. According to Yale-NUS graduation requirement, a maximum of 20 major credits can be taken outside of Yale-NUS.

Is there a cap on the number of minor courses that may be taken for credit elsewhere?

Yes. We would like you to take at least 2 of your 5 courses in Urban Studies with Yale-NUS, and we recommend they include Urban Theory and Introduction to Urban Studies. This is because of the specificities of the syllabus offered here.

Is there a cap on any particular type of course that can be taken for credit?

No, but students are encouraged to take the Introduction to Urban Studies course and the Urban Theory course at Yale-NUS. This is because of the specificities of the syllabus offered here.

When is the best time to go on study abroad as an Urban Studies major/pre-major?

The best times for Urban Studies majors to study abroad is Semester Two Year 2 and Semester One Year 3.

If you plan to study abroad in Semester One of Year 3 (Junior Year), then you need to complete Introduction to Urban Studies by the end of Year 2.

If you plan to study abroad in Semester Two of Year 3 (Junior Year), then you need to complete your Introduction to Urban Studies and Urban Theory sequence by the end of Year 2.

It is recommended that students contemplating Urban Studies as a major, complete Introduction to Urban Studies as soon as they can, and preferably before they declare into the major (that is, in Semester Two of Year 1 or Semester One of Year 2).

Is there a time I am discouraged from being away?

Once you enter the major, you are discouraged from being away in Semester 2 of Year 3. This is because we do scaffolding work to get you ready for the capstone, including workshopping potential topics and approaches.

You cannot be away in Year 4, your senior capstone year.

What should I do prior to leaving to ensure that I can get major / minor credit for courses they take abroad?

You should meet with your Major Advisor for advice on your choice of place of study, and the courses you might take.

You would need to speak with the HoS and get approval of the course choices.

What if the courses I plan to take on study abroad are not available and I have to change my course choice?

This can happen. In this case you should email the Head of Study to seek approval before registering for courses. You should send along the syllabus along with your request, and be sure to include in the email details of what you have already completed towards your major.

I have finished my study abroad but I did not get agreement from my Head of Study about how their courses will be counted, what should I do once I am back on campus?

Talk to the Head of Study or Major Advisor as soon as possible upon arriving back on campus. If the course cannot be counted towards your major, it can still be counted as an elective.

Who is responsible for signing the credit transfer form in the major?

Your Head of Study.

Can students take a directed reading course for credit while abroad?

Yes. Some of our approved programmes offer independent study in lieu of a method course (for example, SIT Programme) that can be counted as credit or towards your major requirement. However, approval is on a case-by-case basis.  Consult with the Head of Study or Major Advisor before going abroad

Can I get a letter of support for my application/petition?

Yes, your Advisor/Head of Study can write letters of support.  They will need plenty of notice (at least two weeks ahead of the deadline) and you should meet with them before making this request.

You should also ensure whomever is writing for you understands where you are in your progress in fulfilling the requirements of the major, and why you are pursuing this choice with study abroad. This means the letter writer should have:

  • Your transcript
  • A sense of why you want to study abroad and why this specific institution.

Which Yale-NUS study abroad partner institutions are recommended for Urban Studies Majors and why?

Amherst College

Location: this is not an urban location so if that is what you are looking for then this might not be for you

Related Programs: Architectural Studies programme at Amherst emphasizes not the techniques of architecture, but rather the ideas behind it, so good if you like an architectural focus without a design requirement

Offerings: Amherst students can access the “Five Colleges” programmes, which includes Smith College which has a minor in Urban Studies


Sciences Po (English language)

Location: It is Paris!

Related Programs: No specialist urban studies program but many urban, development, sociology, political science and public policy courses

Offerings: Good range of courses (from geography, politics, sociology) that might count towards topical requirements of Urban Studies major



Location: Small town College experience in Pennsylvania.

Related programs: Swathmore has no Urban Studies program, but  has a number of urban themed courses. Bryn Mawr College is linked to Swathmore in the Tri-College system and that has Growth and Structure of Cities program.

Offerings: Many urban courses offered at both Swathmore and Bryn Mawr.


Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Spanish speakers only)

Location: Santiago, Chile.

Related programs: Minor in Urban and Regional Studies, run by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urban Studies. Good if you have an interest in development and Global South contexts.

Offerings: There are a good range of courses from development focus through to more urban design focus.


University College London Arts & Sciences

Location: Central London, Bloomsbury

Related programs: This is a specialist liberal arts program and you are expected to take two courses in the Liberal Arts program, and two courses from anywhere else in UCL, including the Bartlett School of Architecture and Urban Planning as well as Geography.

Offerings: The Liberal Arts program offers a number of interdisciplinary courses, which includes courses with urban content. There are many urban courses linked to the various urban related majors. You can find out about them through the UCL Urban Laboratory portal. The UCL Urban Lab also hosts many speaker series which you can attend. urban, planning and architecture programmes in Bartlett School (Planning and Architecture) and Geography


University of Virginia

Location: Small city of Charlottesville, so not that much of an urban experience if that is what you are looking for.

Related programs: The School of Architecture runs a range of programs including Urban and Environmental Planning, and Architectural Studies, which is non-design based.  School of Public Policy and Sociology programme also offers urban related courses. The institution has an excellent reputation for architectural and urban planning programs.

Offerings: There is a wide range of offerings, including specialist historical preservation courses.


Vassar College

Location: Located in small town Poughkeepsie, but this is a shortih railway rise north of New York, so you get a small town, college feel with access to NYC.

Related programs:  Has a defined Urban Studies programme with lots of recognizable courses, and good interdisciplinary scope, this includes an Urban Theory course.

Courses: Introduction to Urban Studies and urban Theory courses can count as required courses, although we do not recommend both taken at Vassar.


Yale University

Location:  New Haven has had some key urban texts written about it and sports some architecturally famous buildings in part because of Yale Architecture School.

Program: Yale has an Urban Studies minor, with strengths in community development and architecture. The minor is headed by Prof Elihu Ruben, who has taught at Yale-NUS

What petition opportunities that would suit Yale-NUS Urban Studies students?

Columbia University & Barnard College

Location: NYC

Program: strong urban and architectural programs, at both Columbia and Barnard

Courses: Many courses but access to them can be very competitive and past students did not always get courses of choice.

In the start up phase of Yale-NUS a number of students pursued this option.


Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, small city in state of New York.

Program: There is an specific non professional, interdisciplinary, liberal arts undergraduate Urban and Regional Studies program offered through the Department of City and Regional Planning.

Courses: Many great courses to choose from.


Manchester University

Location: Manchester UK

Program: Strong in urban studies (home of the Manchester Urban Institute and affiliated centres), and at undergraduate level has Bachelors in Urban and Regional Planning, as well as Geography, Development Studies and Architecture.

Courses: Many courses in urban area.

In the start up phase of Yale-NUS a number of students pursued this option.


Chinese University of Hong Kong

Location: Hong Kong!

Program: CUHK has a major and minor in Urban Studies.

Courses: Many of the courses map onto those offered in Urban Studies at Yale-NUS.


Hong Kong University

Location: Hong Kong!

Program:  The long-standing Department of Urban Planning and Design  is not offering a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies

Courses: These are likely a little more professional in emphasis.



Location: Cambridge Mass. USA (Boston metropolitan area)

Program: Minors in public policy, urban studies, as well as development are offered out of the Dept Urban Studies and Planning.

Courses:  Many to select from and planning & public policy strengths.



Location: New York

Program: The Metropolitan Studies program is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program run out of the School of Social and Cultural Analysis.

Courses: There is a wide range of courses, with a strong social science emphasis.


Stanford University

Location: Silicon Valley, California (south of San Francisco)

Program: Has an identified undergraduate Urban Studies program which is interdisciplinary and combines academic approaches with real world experiences.

Courses: Good range many of which map on to Yale-NUS offerings.


University of Sheffield

Location: City of Sheffield, UK.

Program: It has a Bachelor of Arts in urban Studies. This is an interdisciplinary program. Sheffield is well known for its planning school, which has a strong social science emphasis.

Courses: Many offerings to choose from.

What about summer study abroad opportunities for Urban Studies?

The New School Parson’s

Parson’s has a Summer Studies in Constructed Environments which is a five-week program for current college students and college graduates of any age interested in preparing for advanced studies in architecture, the architectural interior, and industrial design. This is good if you think you might be wanting to go on to architecture and need to develop a portfolio.

Al Lim Class of 2019

Study Abroad at Harvard University, US

“My classroom experiences enabled engagements with the urban in new and unexpected ways. I took a Mapping History class, which involved a hands-on approach to learning about historical gazetteers, cadastral surveys and geospatial history. The class had us consider spatial questions and I put together my technical knowledge on ArcGIS, QGIS, geo-referencing maps and three-dimensional topographic models to create my final project on the Mappability of the Thai-Laos border. In addition, I took a Social Studies Junior Tutorial, which required a 20-25 page original research paper throughout the semester. This exposed me to social science methodologies like semi-structured interviews, participant observation and thinking through ethical research quandaries. My Advanced Poetry workshop there also provided another complementary avenue for the Urban and Humanities to intersect on the page. I also had a major fanboy moment, when I got to meet and audit Professor Neil Brenner’s class at the GSD. He is a world-famous academic, known for his cutting-edge planetary urbanization theory, and one of the most inspiring lecturers I’ve ever had.”

Elizabeth Heng Class of 2018

Study Abroad at Yonsei University, Korea

“I attended Underwood International College (Yonsei University) in Fall of 2016. I wanted to be better acquainted with Seoul, a city that I love. The four months I spent there revealed the rhythms and layers of the city to me, and allowed me to repeatedly visit places like the Cheonggyecheon (a wonderful example of urban renewal in downtown Seoul) and experience it a different way each time. Even though I couldn’t take Urban Studies courses there, other courses I took such as Visual Sociology aided my study of cities by teaching me the value of photography as a medium to document and analyze cities and their inhabitants.”

Reuban Su Class of 2017

IES Abroad Barcelona

My study abroad experience in Barcelona was not just about, shopping , siestas and sangrias – it was a chance to be immersed in another culture and way of life. Through the professors and my incredible host mom, I came to see the cosmopolitan city through its history, politics and awe-inspiring architecture – I can certainly say that Gaudi certainly did not disappoint. Anyhow, the highlights of my experience were: learning way too much about the Barcelona model, eating excessive amounts of patatas and making a pilgrimage to the Guggenheim Bilbao. For now, I am content slowly picking up some Catalan whilst waiting for the Sagrada Familia to be completed!

Elson Ong Class of 2017

University College Utrecht

I had a really enjoyable semester at UCU where I was fully immersed in a Dutch environment that allowed me to learn a lot about Dutch culture. I also travelled to many cities within Europe, which provided me with a better understanding of the history and culture of these places. As an Urban Studies major, the Netherlands was a perfect destination for my semester abroad because I wanted to understand what factors contributed towards their successful biking culture and whether there are points of reference that can be applied to Singapore. My one sentence summary of my findings: Biking is not only a means of transport, but a lifestyle for the Dutch!