Global Metropolitan Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The 21st century will be an urban century with more people around the world residing in metropolitan regions than in any other form of human settlement. This urbanization is taking place in both the global North and the global South. Its implications are widespread: from environmental challenges to entrenched patterns of segregation to new configurations of politics and social movements. The Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative is concerned with this urban condition. This multidisciplinary endeavor brings together numerous faculty and supports research and houses graduate and undergraduate curricula. It is one of a handful of strategic initiatives selected by the UC Berkeley campus to mark a new generation of scholarship and to consolidate an emerging academic field.

The objective of the designated emphasis (DE) is to encourage and support multidisciplinary doctoral-level education and research on global metropolitan issues. Multidisciplinary training will be provided through a wide range of course offerings as well as through participation in seminars and conferences organized by GMS.

The Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies is for selected UC Berkeley PhD students with interest in metropolitan and regional issues. Students may come from any discipline across campus. The designated emphasis provides students with certification as well as with a context for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and development of research.

The list of core GMS faculty can be found here:
The list of affiliated GMS faculty can be found here:

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Applicants must already be enrolled or accepted into an existing PhD program at Berkeley (master’s students and students at other institutions are not eligible). Students should apply at least two semesters before the PhD qualifying examination.

Interested students must apply for the designated emphasis. They are selected on the basis of academic qualifications, appropriateness of their interests to the program's teaching resources, and the enrollment capacity of the required courses.

Admission to the GMS Designated Emphasis is determined by the GMS co-chairs. Applications are due one week prior to the last day of the fall and spring semester.

The GMS DE application, and list of additional required documents, can be found here.

Designated Emphasis Requirements


Students in the designated emphasis program must complete two core courses required for the designated emphasis.

In addition to the two core courses, students in the Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies are required to take three additional courses for graduate credit on topics in metropolitan studies. Students must either select from the GMS - DE Electives List or petition for an outside course from the GMS Co-Directors. DE Electives must be taken for graduate credit unless otherwise noted on the Electives List. No more than one elective course for the DE can be taken from the student’s home department. Note that not every course will be offered in any given year.

Elective courses should be completed prior to advancing to candidacy. Students may substitute no more than one course not on the list, with the approval of the Curriculum Committee. 

Core Courses
GMS 200Global Metropolitan Studies: Introduction to Theories, Histories, and Methods 13
GMS 201Research Seminar in Comparative Urban Studies3
See Program Statement for List of Approved Electives 2

This course is designed to examine metropolitan development through history and consider metropolitan issues from the varied perspectives of the social sciences and the professions. This course must be taken for a letter grade, and should be taken precandidacy.


Designated Emphasis Electives List 

Qualifying Exam

The student’s PhD qualifying exam committee must include at least one member of the Global Metropolitan Studies Graduate Group core faculty, who will evaluate the student’s knowledge related to the designated emphasis.

Once the student has completed the Application for the Qualifying Exam and the GMS qualifying exam checklist (located in the student handbook), they should submit both forms to the GMS DE graduate office in 226 Wurster Hall for the head graduate adviser’s signature.


The student’s dissertation topic also must be related to Global Metropolitan Studies and the dissertation committee must include at least one member of the GMS Graduate Group core faculty who can evaluate the dissertation from that perspective. 


Global Metropolitan Studies

Contact Information

Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies

226 Wurster Hall

Phone: 510-643-9440

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Co-director, Head Graduate Advisor

Joan Walker, PhD (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Co-director, Head Graduate Advisor

G. Mathias Kondolf, PhD (Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning)

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