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Smart and Sustainable Cities (SSC)

What is a Major in Smart and Sustainable Cities?

The Smart and Sustainable Cities (SSC) major is one of the first majors of its kind in the United States. You will learn about sustainable urban development and how smart technology and urban analytics can be combined to create solutions for the cities of the future.

SSC header

Why Study Smart and Sustainable Cities at Virginia Tech?

The core of the major consists of two parallel tracks. The first track focuses on urban analytics and decision-making. In this track, students will develop modeling and data visualization skills that can be applied to understand urban and regional systems in data-driven, quantitative, and computational ways.

The second track focuses on sustainable urbanization and the future of cities. Students in this track will study the process of urbanization. Specific attention is given to the interdependence of social, economic, environmental, and technological factors and how these evolve over time.

Both of these tracks are then integrated through a course on data and the art of decision-making and a fusion studio where students will apply their knowledge to real problems.

Students will also be able to develop their own unique area of concentration by selecting three or more courses from five subject areas: Urban Policy and Decision-Making; GIS and Data; Cities, Culture, and Place; Economics, and International Development (which includes study abroad options).


Careers and Further Study

What Can You Do with a Smart and Sustainable Cities Major?

Jobs Held by Our Graduates

  • Local, state, and federal Government
  • Domestic and international Nonprofits
  • Planning and engineering consulting firms
  • Real estate development
  • Private industry

Beyond the Classroom

Experiential Learning

Washington Experience

Students will have an opportunity to study in the National Capital Region through the new Washington, D.C. Semester in Global Engagement or the well-established Washington, D.C. Semester in Leadership through Policy and Governance.

Washington, D.C. is at the center of global affairs. It is home to government agencies, many of the world’s leading think-tanks, numerous international organizations and a range of non-governmental organizations. Here, the most significant policy decisions are debated and made, holding both domestic and international importance.

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a unique 15 credit program open to all Virginia Tech majors. The Washington Semester consists of a combination of courses on global affairs, internship opportunities, workshops, seminars, and networking opportunities with DC professionals and policy makers. It offers students the opportunity to experience policy-making firsthand, and explore the wealth of political and cultural opportunities available in the Washington D.C area.

The Washington Semester, Leadership through Policy and Governance extended summer session program offers a unique 11-week immersion into work experience within the nation’s capital. Students will learn about and work on challenging public policy issues that shape communities locally and nationally while obtaining academic credit. Washington Semester Fellows will also attend seminars that enable them to understand their internship from a range of analytical perspectives.

Study Abroad

SPIA offers study abroad courses for SSC majors.


Bachelor of Arts in Public and Urban Affairs Degree

Smart and Sustainable Cities Major Requirements

  • Public Issues in an Urban Society 
  • Collaborative Policy-Making & Planning
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Sustainable Urbanization 

Minor and Elective Hours

Our program gives you the opportunity to build knowledge in another area by pursuing a minor, double major, or cognate.

120 hrs
B.A. Public and Urban Affairs Degree

45 hrs
General Education

47 hrs
Major Requirements

28 hrs


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