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Urban Ecology (BS)

Urban ecology involves the study of the relationships between humans and nature in urban environments. If you’re interested in enhancing the vitality and sustainability of various communities by exploring the interrelationships among social, environmental, and economic systems, then a degree in Urban Ecology at the U is for you! It is designed to respond to problems and opportunities that exist in cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural places, particularly in the Intermountain West. These include environmental management, fragile landscape protection, recreation and tourism, public lands planning, rapid population growth, regional transportation, energy production, and sprawl.

As a student of the Urban Ecology program, you will take classes in planning, field studies, economics, law, and social justice. Explore a variety of electives topics such as green infrastructure, sustainable development, community leadership, and cities in literature. In your senior year, you will take the Ecological Planning Workshop, which involves tackling real-world problems through completing an internship.

The Student Experience

While being students of the program, they can take time to interact and network with peers and faculty, attend special guest lectures, and join one of the university's student organizations.
In Salt Lake, the students can learn about research being conducted the Metropolitan Research Center and the Center for Ecological Planning & Design. They can also contribute to the field by completing your own research project or get involved in a community-based project.

Career Opportunities

The undergraduate program in Urban Ecology will prepare students for professional careers in environmental and sustainability planning, public health, public policy, and community development and planning. U graduates have used analytical and technical skills to pursue work as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysts, planning consultants, conservationist, community organizers, environmental outreach, and project engineers. With further education, Urban Ecology graduates can pursue a career in architecture, law, real estate development, social work, urban design, urban & regional planning.

BS Urban Ecology + MCMP (4 +1) Program
BS Urban Ecology + MCMP (4 +1) Program
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Urban Ecology Major

Urban ecology is the study of human settlements – from rural communities to megacities – consisting of dynamic relationships between social, natural, and built systems. The urban ecology program in City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah takes an action-oriented, community-engaged approach to help students gain the knowledge and skills to foster sustainable, resilient, and equitable communities. The program is responsive to urban and rural problems and opportunities that exist in the Intermountain West such as population growth and demographic change, economic restructuring, natural resource management, and climate change.

Admission Requirements

Prior to beginning studies in Urban Ecology, students must satisfied the requirements below:

-Complete CMP2010 (Design Ecologies) with C or better grade
-In-major GPA of 2.7 and above
-Cumulative GPA of 2.0 and above


Degree Requirements

Required Courses

*Total Credit: 42

Design Foundations Courses:

Complete the Following:


Elective Courses

*Total Credit: 15-23
  •  Urban Ecology majors are required to take a minimum of 18 credits of electives.
  • Electives must be 3000 level and above. Approved elective courses and further details for Urban Ecology major can be found in the link: Elective Courses for Urban Ecology Major

4 + 1 Program

BS/BA Urban Ecology + MCMP

The BS/BA + MCMP is a “4+1” program through which eligible students complete both a bachelor’s in Urban Ecology and a Master of City & Metropolitan Planning (MCMP) in five years. The BS/BA in Urban Ecology involves the study of the relationships between humans and nature in urban environments, emphasizing the interrelationships among social, environmental, and economic systems, while the Master of City & Metropolitan Planning focuses on the key competencies of technical literacy, ethical inquiry, inclusive community engagement, ecological thinking, and physical planning and design. The 4+1 program combines the strengths of both  programs, preparing students to think ecologically in guiding the growth and development of cities and regions both locally and globally.

4 +1 Program Admission

Students seeking to take advantage of the 4+1 program must first meet current University of Utah undergraduate admission standards, be accepted into the BS/BA Urban Ecology major and be in good standing within the major.

BS/BA Urban Ecology students who want to enter the 4+1 program must apply for admission during the spring semester of their junior year (i.e., after the completion of 75 undergraduate credit hours). To be admitted, applicants must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.4 and demonstrated excellent performance in at least six of the BS/BA Urban Ecology required core courses.


4 +1 Requirement

Students admitted into the 4+1 program will work with an academic advisor to carefully plan out their program of study for the 4th and 5th years.

Students spend their senior year completing the requirements for the BS/BA Urban Ecology degree including three MCMP core courses (at the 5000-level) that count as BS/BA Urban Ecology electives. Students then move on in their fifth year to take an additional 30 graduate-level credit hours, satisfying the remaining MCMP core requirements, plus six credit hours of 6000-level electives.

Students completing these requirements receive two degrees: Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Ecology and the Master of City & Metropolitan Planning Degree, simultaneously.

Urban Ecology Minor

Admission Requirements

Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher to be admitted to the minor. To enter the minor, a student must first consult with the Urban Ecology advisor, Heidi Kim, for review and approval of the courses to be applied.

Degree Requirements

  • • 18 Total Credits
  • Urban Ecology Minor Core Courses / Complete at least 4 of the following:
    • ARCH2630 - Design Foundations Workshop (3)
    • CMP2010 - Design Ecologies (3)
    • CMP3200 - Ecology of Human Settlements (3)
    • CMP3400 - Economy of Cities (3)
    • CMP4010 - Field Studies in Urban Ecology I (3)
    • CMP4600 - The Just City (3)
    • DES2630 - Design Contexts (3)
  • Urban Ecology Elective courses / Earn at least 6 credits from CMP3100~4999 courses


Want to Declare a Major or Minor?

Students must meet the program entry requirements to declare a major or minor in Urban Ecology.

Please submit the major declaration request form or contact the Urban Ecology advisor.

Declare Major

Meet Your Faculty


Reazul Ahsan, PhD
Reazul Ahsan, PhD
Location: U846
Idil Ayral, PhD
Idil Ayral, PhD
Location: U845

Meet Major Advisor

Communication / Urban Ecology / Games

Hyein Lee





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