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Urban Education


MALS students take four classes within the program—Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies, two core courses in their chosen track, and the thesis—and choose their remaining electives from among all courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs at the Graduate Center.


MALS Track in Urban Education

Education in urban America has long been a critical issue that cuts across social, cultural, political, and economic concerns. Today, the links between education and opportunity in our global society, as well as the myriad ongoing attempts to reform or improve urban education have made the topic especially timely and the subject of a wide body of scholarly literature from varied disciplines. The Urban Education MALS Track is designed to immerse students in a range of topics and approaches to understanding urban education and equip them, ultimately, to identify and pursue their own interests, scholarly or practical, in urban education.

Degree Requirements:
This Master’s degree program includes a required introductory course (Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies), two required core courses to introduce the student to key questions and topics in urban education, and six courses of the student’s choice, as well as a final thesis or project. Together, these courses will provide a total of 30 credits for the Master’s degree and are designed to conform with similar requirements of other MALS concentrations.

The two core courses will provide students with a critical foundation of knowledge in the issues and politics of urban education.

• The first core course, Issues in Urban Education (MALS 78100), uses theoretical research and experiential learning to analyze the roots of the crisis in urban education as well as its current forms and issues. Integrating texts and perspectives from history, sociology, urban politics, education, and anthropology, the course aims to create a foundation for research and practice in urban education. Students will explore several key topics – the history of urban spaces and their schools, the experiences of those who have taught in and attended urban schools, and the efforts to reform urban schools – but will also be supported in developing their own research interests and questions. Race, ethnicity, gender, and class, along with educational policy matters of governance, school finance, community relations and teacher quality, will be considered within the larger context of social geography. When possible, readings, discussions, and activities will focus on education in New York City.

• The second course, The Politics of Urban Education (MALS 78200), investigates the social, economic and political forces that shape contemporary urban education. Readings and discussions focus on school reform as a political, rather than technical, construct. We will consider historical and contemporary efforts to reform urban public schooling by locating them within a wider political arena. The class will examine how both local and national political dynamics have helped shape and drive varying school reform strategies, including market-based choice models, state and federal accountability programs, changes to school funding mechanisms, and mayoral control. Particular attention will be paid to issues of race and class as frames for understanding the politics of urban education.

Questions about the MALS track in Urban Education may be directed to