Designated Emphasis

The Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies (GMS) is for UC Berkeley Ph.D. students interested in urban and metropolitan and issues across the globe. The Designated Emphasis provides students with a context for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and development of research, opportunities for research funding, as well as a Designated Emphasis certification. Students applying to GMS may come from any discipline across campus.

A Designated Emphasis at U.C. Berkeley is an area of study constituting a new method of inquiry or an important field of application relevant to two or more existing doctoral degree programs. It is not a free-standing degree program, but must be added as an additional “major” along with an existing doctoral degree program. Students electing to add a Designated Emphasis are required to complete the academic work in the Designated Emphasis in addition to all the requirements of the doctoral program. There are no adjustments made to the normative time of the student’s program when a student undertakes a Designated Emphasis.


Requirements of the Designated Emphasis

To qualify for the Designated Emphasis, students must include a GMS faculty affiliate on their Qualifying Examination committee. Students are consequently required to be admitted to the DE before taking the Qualifying Examination.

GMS students must complete two required courses and three electives. GMS 200 (described below) must be taken pre-candidacy, whereas GMS 201 should be taken post-candidacy. The student’s dissertation topic must also relate to urban and metropolitan issues.

Global Metropolitan Studies 200:  An Introduction to Theories, Histories, and Methods

This course is designed to expose students to the range of theoretical perspectives and methodologies used to understand and address urban processes and problems. This course must be taken for a letter grade.

Global Metropolitan Studies 201: Dissertation Seminar

This seminar is designed for students who have completed their qualifying exams, and are working on their dissertations. The course is a dissertation-writing seminar. Students engage with one another’s ongoing research projects as a way of grappling with alternative approaches to the student of urban processes and problems. 


Elective Courses

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. The courses must be selected from the approved list unless a substitution is authored by the GMS steering committee. GMS updates the list of electives annually. No more than one elective course for the DE can be taken from the student’s home department. Students may substitute no more than one course on the list. 


Admission to the Designated Emphasis

Students must apply for the Designated Emphasis. The GMS directors select students on the basis of academic qualifications, research interests, and the enrollment capacity of the required courses. 

Applicants must already be enrolled or accepted in an existing Ph.D. program at Berkeley (master’s students and students at other institutions are not eligible). Students should apply at least two semesters before the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination.

To apply for admission, please complete the GMS - DE Application. For inquiries, email


Research Funding for DE Students

The GMS program regularly funds graduate student research.  Please consult Funding for announcements and calls for proposals.