Master in Urban Governance


Read more about this programme on the institution's website

Programme Description

The programme offers a varied set of courses (obligatory and elective), seminars, working groups sessions, and a series of guest lectures by internationally well-known scholars. Furthermore, you conduct your own research project (thesis) in which you apply theories and social scientific research methods to examine urban governance issues.

Mode of education

The programme provides courses and training in real-life settings giving an opportunity to learn and practice scientific and managerial skills. It includes a variety of teaching methodologies aimed at the interaction between teachers and students, between students and practitioners and between students themselves.

Next to general lectures given by leading scholars in the field, pedagogical games such as action planning, fieldwork and excursions are part of the teaching methods. The courses provide the most recent theoretical and empirical insights into urban governance. Practical and professional skills are developed in urban governance labs, including working group sessions and seminars. Inspirational guest lectures enable a knowledge and experience transfer from experts in the field. The urban governance labs are further used to build group identity among the students.

The curriculum is subject to alteration. No rights may be derived from this information.


Block 1

  • Urban governance (by IHS)
  • Cities: engines of economic growth and innovation (by IHS)
  • Policy innovation in complex systems (by ESSB)
  • Working groups urban governance lab (collaboration IHS-ESSB)

Block 2

  • International Public Management (by ESSB)
  • Managing Interactive Governance (by ESSB)
  • Place-making in cities (by IHS)
  • Working groups urban governance lab (collaboration IHS-ESSB)

Block 3

  • Research design (by IHS and ESSB)
  • Elective
  • Master's thesis (start)
  • Working groups urban governance lab (collaboration IHS-ESSB)

Block 4

  • Master's thesis (by IHS and ESSB)

Why study Master Urban Governance

This Master’s specialisation is part of the MSc in Public Administration of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. A unique asset of this Master’s specialisation is the collaboration between the Department of Public Administration (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, ESSB) and the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies Opens external(IHS).

"This new Master’s specialisation offers an opportunity to learn how to develop innovative urban policies and appropriate management strategies."

Ingmar van Meerkerk

Programme coordinator

What is this specialisation about?

Cities are complex, challenging and fast-growing. They are major economic and development drivers that generate vast amounts of wealth and are home to more than half of the world’s population (estimated to be closer to 70% by 2050). They are at the heart of cultural, social and political innovation and play a key role in discovering answers to social issues such as migration, social segregation, poverty, climate change, health, unemployment, and terrorism. Sustainable governance policies are crucial to securing global resilience to these issues and to secure the well-being of people who live inside and outside of cities.

Cities require competent managers who are able to develop and implement innovative policies to tackle these issues. They need experts who understand the importance of involving the community in urban governance and decision-making, who are able to employ cross-jurisdiction solutions to land and environmental issues, who drive the sustainable economic development of cities while protecting the public interest, and who oversee the development of international, public and non-profit organisations.

Within the governance of cities, governments do not act alone but rather involve a variety of public, private and social actors with their own interests during the process of urban development. The MSc in Urban Governance offers insight into this “new way of governing” and seeks to equip students with expertise in public administration, political sciences, urban economy, sociology and urban planning. Students will learn how to analyse urban governance issues and will develop specific skills and strategies for the management and design of urban governance processes that enable stakeholders to effectively and legitimately deal with various issues.

Why choose this programme?

  1. Benefit from the knowledge of two renowned partners: The Department of Public Administration, which has an excellent reputation in interactive governance and public management (#5 in the 2020 Shanghai Academic RankingOpens external of World Universities on Public Administration), and IHS, honoured in 2007 with the UN-HABITAT Award for ‘leading the way as a global centre of excellence and knowledge through its high-quality teaching programmes in urban management and planning’ and which has over 60 years of experience in educating and training local and national governments officials.
  2. Follow courses and lectures offered by leading scholars and active urban policy advisors in the field of urban governance.
  3. Join in our interactive urban governance labs where you will use your theoretical knowledge to solve real-life examples of urban governance issues.
  4. Prepare for your career and network during your project work and field visits to local stakeholders such as the Port of Rotterdam, Housing Associations or the Municipality of Rotterdam.
  5. Gain knowledge of current trends, topics, innovations and tools from various disciplines in the field of urban governance (such as the circular economy, place-making, co-production, self-organisation, etc.)
  6. Apply and develop your knowledge globally by learning from international case studies, staff and classmates.
  7. Conducting your own research (thesis) using social scientific, research methods.
  8. Take the unique opportunity to conduct your thesis abroad within our partner network.


  • #5 worldwide for Public Administration
    • Shanghai rankings 2020
  • #5 worldwide for Planning and Development
    • Center for University Ranking (CWUR)
  • #69 worldwide
    • Times Higher Education (THE)

Career opportunities for Master Urban Governance

After completing this specialisation you will be able to analyse urban governance issues and processes. You will be able to design interactive governance strategies to tackle urban issues and to act as a broker and advisor in urban development projects. You are educated to organise and manage the necessary processes to tackle these problems and develop solutions.

Possible positions

Graduates will be suitable candidates for positions as a:

  • Member of a project team that works on large urban development projects (such as city centre restructuring, the extension of a city’s port area or the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods).
  • Government official working on urban strategies (e.g. dealing with climate change, citizen initiatives, sustainable energy, social innovation) and urban planning at the local, regional or national level.
  • Government or private party official working in public-private partnerships on increasing urban sustainability.
  • Working for a non-profit organisation, such as a housing corporation, a health care organisation or a big social enterprise working on neighbourhood development.
  • Policy advisor, researcher or consultant working for a knowledge institute or consultancy firm dealing with urban development issues, advising on or designing co-production processes between users and providers of urban services.

Labour market prospects

Based on a survey among 167 alumni, almost all graduates who have obtained a degree of one of the Dutch Master’s specialisations in Public Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam found a position immediately after their graduation. About 11 per cent of them gained a permanent position as soon as they commenced their job, whereas 34 per cent of them found a position which had the prospect of a permanent position. Four out of ten students started with a temporary position and 17 per cent as trainees. Approximately 50 per cent of the alumni who participated in this survey work for the central government or for municipalities. An additional 13 per cent work in education and health care, i.e. sectors in the public domain. Two out of ten alumni work in the private sector. The figures for the Master’s programme Urban Governance are expected to be more or less similar to these figures.

Factsheet summary

  • Official CROHO name: Public Administration
  • Programme name: Urban Governance
  • Instruction language: English
  • Type: Master
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Location: Campus Woudestein, Rotterdam
  • Tuition fees (2021-2022):
  • €2,168 (Statutory fee: Dutch / EEA students)
  • €12,300 (Institutional fee: Dutch / EEA students)
  • €15,500 (Institutional fee: non-EEA students)
Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

ESSB is home to a vast diversity of study programmes and scientific disciplines: Public Administration, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS ... Read More

ESSB is home to a vast diversity of study programmes and scientific disciplines: Public Administration, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS, and two research institutes RISBO and DRIFT are linked to the faculty. Our education is small-scale and based around Problem Based Learning (PBL). Being connected to the professional field is another characteristic of our study programmes. Read Less
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