The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Bachelor in Urban Ecology

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 undergraduate program in Urban Ecology will prepare you for a professional career in environmental and sustainability planning, public health, public policy, or community development and planning. U graduates work in government, private, and nonprofit sectors, and have used analytical and technical skills to pursue work as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysts, planning consultants, conservationists, 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, and urban planning.

Contact Us

BS/BA Coordinator:
Dr. Sarah Hinners

CMP Main Office: 
ARCH 220

CA+P Student Success Center:
ARCH 130

Admission into the Major

The Design Foundations program provides pre-major students with cross-disciplinary design-related literacy and skills in a supportive, cohort-based learning environment. In their first year, Design Foundations students work together in three courses—Design Contexts (DES 2630), Design Ecologies (CMP 2010), and Design Foundations Workshop (ARCH 2630). During their second year, students explore in greater depth one of three streams of inquiry—design, urban ecology, or architecture–preparing them for entering one of the college’s three undergraduate majors.

Prior to beginning studies in Urban Ecology, students should have satisfied the University’s Lower Division Writing Requirement, the American Institutions Requirement, the Quantitative Reasoning Requirements, and most of the Intellectual Explorations. Transfer students should have completed, or nearly completed their general education requirements. Those interested in majoring in Urban Ecology must meet with an Academic Success Advisor to declare.

Transfer students should have or nearly have completed their general education requirements. Typically, the Urban Ecology major can be completed in a two- year period. However, efficiently scheduling both required courses and desired electives demands care, forethought and consideration. Urban Ecology courses are usually offered once a year, and their scheduling is reasonably predictable.

BS/BA Requirements

Design Foundation Courses:
ARCH2630 – Design Foundations Workshop (3)
DES2630 – Design Contexts (3)
CMP2010 – Design Ecologies (3)

Core Courses:
CMP3100 – Planning Theory and Practice (3)
CMP3200 – Ecology of Human Settlements (3)
CMP3270 – Visual and Oral Communication (3)
CMP3400 – Economy of Cities (3)
CMP4010 – Field Studies in Urban Ecology I (3)
CMP4020 – Field Studies in Urban Ecology II (3)
CMP4260 – Land, Law & Culture (3)
CMP4280 – Ecological Planning Workshop (3)
CMP4450 – GIS for Urban Ecologists (3)
CMP4600 – The Just City (3)
CMP4954 – Internship in Urban Ecology (3)

Minimum of 18 credits of electives from the approved list. Electives must be 3000 level and above.

Additional Requirements:
Continued enrollment in the major requires students to maintain and graduate with a 2.7 overall GPA.

Urban Ecology Honors

The Honors Program offers an academically challenging course of study for undergraduate urban ecology students. The program allows the top students in the college to satisfy some of the urban ecology degree requirements through a distinctive and demanding set of classes created to stimulate design, planning, and conceptual excellence. Students completing the specified requirements will earn an honors bachelor of science/arts. Click here for examples of Honor Theses in Urban Ecology.

To satisfy the requirements for honors, students must be accepted into the University’s Honors College. In selecting courses, students should look for opportunities to simultaneously satisfy general education or major pre-requisite requirements.

Honors Core – 4 courses
• Intellectual Traditions series, a 2-semester sequence (6)
• Honors Science (3)
• Honors Writing (3)

Honors Electives – 9 credits

Honors Thesis/Capstone Project
• CMP 4999: Honors Thesis (3)

Honors Certificate – students who complete 5 required courses (2 Intellectual Traditions, 1 Honors Writing and 2 Honors Electives), but do not write a thesis can apply for the Honors Certificate, click here.

Urban Ecology Minor

With the successful completion of six undergraduate courses in urban ecology (18 credit hours), a student from any major at the University of Utah may earn a minor in Urban Ecology. This supplementary undergraduate program may be of use to students from a wide variety of disciplines who wish to acquire a base of knowledge about urban ecology.

Admission to the Minor: 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 meet with an Academic Success Advisor for review and approval of the courses to be applied to the minor.

Required Courses (with a grade of B- or better):
CMP 2010 Design Ecologies (3)
DES 2630 Design Contexts (3)
CMP 3200 Ecology of Human Settlements (3)
CMP 4010 Field Studies in Urban Ecology I (3)
CMP 4600 The Just City (3)
+ 1 additional CMP course 3000-level or higher (3)


At the U, we plan for our students to have an Exceptional Educational Experience identified by four broad categories we call the Learning Framework: Community, Knowledge & Skills, Transformation, and Impact. This major map will help you envision, explore, design, and plan your personalized Exceptional Educational Experience with the Learning Framework at the core. In addition to assisting you in planning your coursework and navigating the requirements of your major, this map will help you incorporate other kinds of experiences to expand your knowledge, support your development, and prepare you for the future you want.

The full PDF can be found here.

International students seeking employment in the U.S. during or after completing their degree program have access to a number of helpful resources. F-1 students are eligible for curricular practical training (CPT), as well as post-program optional practical training (OPT), and a STEM OPT extension. The BA/BS Urban Ecology Program is a STEM CIP (Code: 03.0103 Environmental Studies).