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Urban Studies and Planning Senior Honors Thesis

To receive departmental honors, students are required to complete USP 190 Senior Honors Thesis. The one quarter seminar is designed for seniors who wish to undertake a research project under the supervision of a USP faculty member and satisfies one upper division elective requirement in both the Urban Studies & Planning and Real Estate & Development majors. Students who have special research interests and plan to pursue graduate school or work in research focused fields are strongly recommended to apply to the Honors Program. Applications for USP 190 are collected in the fall.

2019-2020 Senior Honors Thesis Application

 If you are interested in completing USP 190 Senior Honors Thesis in Spring 2020, please read all the criteria listed below and  complete this application by Friday, February 19th, at noon.

Admission Criteria

To be admitted to the seminar, a student must have:

  • Senior standing at the time of completing the application
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in major coursework (this includes lower division, courses taken through Education Abroad Program, and Summer Session)
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Completed ALL lower-division requirements for their major
  • Completed USP 185B or USP 187 by the start of Spring 2020
  • Have a faculty advisor confirmed from the list of faculty in the Department

Thesis Proposal

The application also requires students to write proposal that describes their prospective honors research project. The typed proposal should be no more than 1000 words (1-2 pages) and include the following criteria:
  • Title
  • Problem or Issue that your thesis is addressing
  • Potential methods and data sources for analysis
  • Potential applications for your findings

Your faculty advisor must review the proposal before signing the Faculty Student Support Agreement Form (see below).

Faculty Advisor

Each student completing the Seniors Honors Thesis is required to have a faculty advisor who is a member of the USP faculty. Prior to applying for admission to the Honors Program, students should contact the faculty member with whom they hope to work, and arrange a meeting to discuss their proposed project and review their thesis proposal. Ideally, the faculty member is someone with whom a student has had one or more classes and whose subject area and is a good fit in terms of the research or creative interests a student hopes to pursue in the program. Students may want to provide an unoficial copy of their transcript as well as a writing sample to the faculty member for review. The faculty member must complete the Faculty Student Support Agreement Form which the student will submit with their application.

Departmental Honors

Successful completion of the honors program enables the student to graduate "With Highest Distinction," "With High Distinction," or "With Distinction," depending on performance in the Senior Honors Thesis.

  • With Distinction: At least a 3.5 GPA in the major and a "B+" or better in USP 190
  • With High Distinction: At least a 3.6 GPA in the major and a "A-" or better in USP 190
  • With Highest Distinction: At least a 3.75 GPA in the major and a "A" or better in USP 190

Past Senior Honors Theses Topics

Listed below are some topics that past USP majors have used for their senior honors theses.

Architecture and Urban Design

  • Highland, Kevin - Crime Prevention Through Public Art: An Assessment of Utility Box Art Programs in San Diego County, 2008-2009
  • Mateer, Steven - Growth Politics and National Security: The Case of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, 2007-2008
  • Wong, Midori - "Redeveloping Redevelopment": Principal-agent theory and the restructuring of the San Diego Redevelopment Agency, 2007-2008
  • Chee, Morgan - Community Redefined: Examining communities in built and virtual environments, 2006-2007
  • Basi, Heera - Affordable Housing Design for Latinos: how architects approach affordable housing design for a predominantly Latino resident population, 2005-2006
  • Berk, Amanda - The Missing Link: An Inquiry into the Discussion Over Access to Balboa Park From the City of San Diego, 2005-2006
  • Hurlbut, Lincoln - Compromising the Built Environment: Modern and Postmodern Ideology in University Design, 2003-2004
  • Liu, Cindy - Green Architecture an amalgamation of terms An exploration into the role of ideologies on the efficacy of Green Architecture, 2003-2004
  • Clossin, Robert - The New Urbanism: Realizing the Vision, A Case Study of the Otay Ranch Project, 1994-1995

Community and Economic Development

  • Brooks, Whitney - The Workers and Customers of Wal-Mart, 2008-2009
  • Sanchez, Martha Elena - Los Laureles’ Canyon Basin: San Antonio de Los Buenos Wastewater Treatment Plant Evaluation and Comparative Analysis: Catalyst infrastructure impacts and their mitigation strategies in terms of environmental sustainability and ensuring public health, 2006-2007
  • Brown, La Mikia - Double Jeopardy: The tensions that face Christian activists of color as they attempt to navigate their intersecting identities and find a place where their political and religious beliefs do not clash, 2005-2006
  • Martos, Marina Noel - Reality Changers, The Barrio Logan College Institute and PAZZAZ: How three grassroots organizations have mobilized a community in their efforts to increase the educational resources and futures for San Diego's inner city youth, 2005-2006
  • Port, Ian Smith - In Blues We Trust: House of Blues and the Spirituality of Popular Culture, 2005-2006
  • Burson, Julie E. - Sustaining Community Technology Centers: A Detailed Account of Available Support Services in San Diego and Approaches to Performance-Based Measures, 2002-2003
  • Narayan, Santosh - Marketing to Business Tourists: The Story of the San Diego Convention Center, 2000-2001
  • Davison, Susan - Case Study of Community Development Block Grant Spending in the City of San Diego, 1996-1997
  • Dinnebier, Jenny - An Analysis of Community mobilization: A Case Study of Eden Gardens, 1995-1996
  • Ibay, Michael M. - A Study of Community-Based Activism and Grassroots Mobilization in Low Income, Minority Neighborhoods: Latina Political Participation in The Barrio, 1994-1995
  • Blumberg, David - The Empire That Wasn't: A Study of the Roots of San Diego's Cul-De-Sac Status, 1994-1995
  • Cate, Elizabeth - Community Development Block Grant: Success or Failure? 1993-1994
  • Le Veen, Jessica - Enterprise Zones: A Case Study of San Diego's Barrio/Logan Enterprise Zone, 1992-1993


  • Castaneda, Justice Mya - Claiming Concrete: An Introduction to the Garfield Scholar-Warrior Initiative 2009-2010
  • Sharma, Rahul - Funding Inequalities: A Case Study of California's Education Funding System, 2007-2008
  • Tang, Stephanie - The Rise of High School Hispanic Americans: A study of how out-of-school programs & extracurricular activities can positively impact the lives of these students, 2006-2007
  • Mistry, Bahavna - Diminishing the Risk By Reaching Out: A Case Study of At-Risk Students in San Diego City Schools, 1998-1999
  • Bohaboy, Kathleen - Enduring the Institutional Deterrents in Innovative Practice: Institutional Factors that Impede School and Community Collaborations, 1996-1997
  • Charron, Cindy - Primary Intervention of At-Risk Students" Case Study of the STARS programs, 1995-1996
  • Everson, Christina C. - Bilingual Education, The Politics of Choice, 1994-1995 Gawaran, Edmond J. The Study of Mira Mesa High School: Viewing the Academic and Social Climate of a Minority-Dominant Educational Institution, 1994-1995 Cohen, Amy The Comer School Development Program: Implementation at Four San Diego Schools, 1993-1994 Dominguez, Gina Gender Bias or Class Bias in Education, 1992-1993


  • De Leon, Jemma Mae Cordova - Designing Sustainability A Toolkit of Sustainable Design Strategies for San Diego's Urban Parks 2009-2010
  • Hecklau, Dylan Robert - Re-working the Land: The Environmental Justice Stakes of One Formerly Used Defense Site's Reuse as Public Space 2009-2010
  • Intervalo, Jamie - Ecological Concerns on Campus: How Does Student Involvement with Sustainability Issues Affect UCSD Sustainability Policy and Land Use? 2007-2008
  • Norris, Richard - A Tale of Two Cities (or a City and a Nation): An Honors Thesis in Urban Studies and Planning, 2006-2007
  • Behrend, Katrina Andrea - Some People Don't Have the Complexion for Protection: An Analysis of Environmental Justice Advocacy in San Diego, 2002-2003
  • Thompson, Hallie - Only Rain in the Storm Drain: A Study of Innovative Regulation and Public Education in Pollution Prevention Programs, 2002-2003
  • Ferman, Sara - Knowledge Networking and Information Exchange: A Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Development 2000-2001
  • Thurlow, Aaron - Evaluating the Environmental Performance of the University of California, San Diego, 1998-1999
  • Chan, Winnie - Thirsty for Interagency Coordination: An Analysis of Coastal Water Quality Management, 1997-1998
  • Fulton, Orion - Maintaining Habitat Connectivity with Habitat Conservation Plans? 1997-1998
  • Roberts, Stephen - CERES and The Natural Step: Developing Criteria for Environmental Management System Protocol Evaluation, 1997-1998
  • Mau, Ada Getting to 50 Percent – San Diego’s New Integrated Waste management Program, 1996-1997
  • Hoskinson, Andrew Joel - Multiple Species Conservation Program, 1995-1996
  • Hovland, Christina - The Batiquitos Lagoon Enhancement: Scientific Input and Landowner Aesthetics, 1995-1996
  • Khan, Ziad - The Greening of Sony Corporation’s Executivne Sutie’; A Case in Corporate Environmentalism, 1995-1996
  • Antonacci, Kathryn L. - An Analysis of the Group Dynamics Among Members of the Advisory Committee for the City of Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan, 1994-1995
  • Carrales, Catherine - Who's Got the Power? Politics at Work Behind the Scenes of San Diego's Multiple Species Conservation Program, 1994-1995
  • Boardman, Kelly - A Critical Evaluation of the City of San Diego’s Approach to Remediate the Impacts of Nonpoint Source Coastal Contamination, 1992-1993
  • Bowling, John Greening - UCSD: Creating an Ecologically Sustainable Program, 1992-1993

Health Care

  • MacManus, Maureen - The Right to a Nutritious Diet: Examining Food Gaps Through an Environmental Justice Lens 2009-2010
  • Geiger, Tamara - Determining What Factors Impact Community Garden Proliferation in American Cities, 2008-2009
  • Gershon, Rebecca - What's for Lunch? An Analysis of the National School Lunch Program in the San Diego Unified School District and the Berkeley Unified School District, 2008-2009
  • Saladino, Tina - Age Related Macular Degeneration: Patient Knowledge, Disease Severity, Social Function, and Depression, 2007-2008
  • Machado, Teresa - The Effects of Park Proximity on Physical Activity levels and Childhood Obesity: A case study of the City of Santa Ana's Park Space availability, physical activity levels, and rising childhood obesity, 2006-2007
  • Kwei, Julia - Understanding the Role of the Urban Planner in Planning For the Elderly Population, 2005-2006
  • Lieu, Christine - Culturally Competent Communication Strategies for Nurses Interacting with Deaf Patients, 2005-2006
  • Tobar, Maria - Obesity: There Are No Winners in This Game, 2003-2004
  • Nations, Amanda - The Low Birth Weight Paradox: Setting an Example for Improved Community Prenatal Health, 2002-2003
  • Cobb, Elizabeth - Examining State Efforts to Increase Enrollment in the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, 2001-2002
  • Lee, Jennifer - Gauging the Necessity and Sustainability of Ethnic Specific Nonprofit Health Organizations—A case study of Korean Health—1999-2000
  • Rudy, Cheryl - Exploring Access to Health Care Issues for the Filipino-American Population: A case study of National City, California—1999-2000
  • Hampton, Jamie - Building Bridges: Sector Employment Intervention in San Diego County—a health care sector plan—1998-1999
  • Myer, Parvathi Aarthi - Approaching the Vision of the Safe Motherhood Initiative. The Potential of Traditional Birth Attendant in Rural Karnatika, India, 1997-1998
  • Dahlgren, Nels Nathaniel - Informal Caregiver Support Network: Their Impact and Efficacy, 1996-1997
  • Wright, Wendi - Mexican Immigrants in the United States: Efforts at Inclusion through Local Programs of Tuberculosis (TB) Control and Prevention, 1996-1997
  • English, Karla - Barriers to Effective Health Care and HIV/AIDS Epidemic, 1995-1996
  • Stevens, Gregory D. - The Role of Missed Opportunities in the Underimmunization of Two-Year Olds: A Retrospective Review of Patient Records for Immunization and Missed Opportunity Rates in Three South-San Diego Public Clinics, 1994-1995
  • Brennan, Caryl - Changing Demand for Perinatal Care Under the Medi-Cal/OBRA Provision, 1993-1994
  • Oneto, Sarah - Access to Syphilis Treatment in Central and Southeast San Diego County, 1993-1994


  • Franco, Jacqueline - A Cross Examination of Affordable Housing near an Urban and Border Region Historical Influences in Housing and Community Quality 2009-2010
  • Jasmin, Kim - In the Eyes of the Community: Measuring the Impacts of Two Affordable Housing Developments in City Heights Redevelopment Project Area, San Diego, 2008-2009
  • Donald Povieng - The Impact of Proposition 13 on California's Housing Market An analysis of how Proposition 13 has constrained affordable housing opportunities at the local level, 2004-2005
  • Brady, Richard - Post-Proposition 13 Residential Development Patterns in Carlsbad, California 2002-2003
  • DePerio, Genevieve - Ethnic Diversification of the Suburb: A Case Study of Housing Access for Filipino Americans in Mira Mesa, City of San Diego, 1999-2000
  • Volk, Michelle - Chicago Abandoned Property Program: Effective or Missing the Mark? 1996-1997
  • Friess, Daniel L. - A Means of Profitably Supplying Affordable Housing, 1992-1993

Public Service Organization

  • Forest, Greg - Reaching Out: The Transborder Support of Network of Maclovio Rojas, 1996-1997
  • Marcos, Ana - Globalization of Grassroots Politics: A Case Study of GABRIELA NETWORK and its Transnational Networking and Mobilizing Efforts, 1996-1997
  • Walker, Leslie - The San Diego-Tijuana Border Initiative: An Analysis of the Mechanisms Used to Meet the Regional Challenges of Binational Cooperation, 1996-1997
  • Kim, Ellen S. - Asian American Stereotypes: Caricatures of Manipulation, 1994-1995
  • Advani, Shireen - Gender and Ethnic Consciousness among Asian Pacific American Professional Women, 1993-1994
  • Kim, Bob - Social Networks and Single Homeless Men, 1992-1993
  • Seikaly, Sherene - A Black Forum, The Political Expression of Underground Rap, 1992-1993

Social Services and Policy Analysis

  • Button, Galya - Effective Drug Prevention Methods Within The San Diego-Tijuana Region: An Examination of University of California, San Diego Undergraduate students' Perceptions of Drug Consumption and Prevention, 2003-2004
  • Chen, Miya Saika - Domestic Violence, Refugee Women and the Availability of Support Services in the San Diego Region, 2002-2003
  • Welsh, Erin - A Study of San Diego's Social Safety Net: The Lack of A Continuum of Care for Youth Emancipating from Foster Care, 2001-2002
  • Cheng, Katherine K. - The Criminal Justice Sentencing Process, 1998-1999
  • Cohan, Daniel A. - Manipulation of Gender in the Construction of Legal Defense for Women, 1997-1998
  • De la Cruz, Melany - Reconstructing, Redefining, and Reorganizing the History of the American Labor Movement: A Case Study of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, 1997-1998
  • Warren, Kevin - Community Policing in Southeast San Diego: Its Effect on Neighborhood Safety, Security, and Quality of Life, 1995-1996
  • Bennett, Sheri - The Trouble with Transfers Areias Dairy Farms—A Case Study, 1994-1995
  • Budd, Lise - Sociological Dimensions of Increased Punitiveness within the Juvenile Justice System of San Diego County, 1994-1995
  • Kuluva , Rachel - The Struggle That Does Not Exist: The Role of Women on the Kibbutz, 1992-1993

Urban and Regional Planning

  • Couvrette, Michael Stephen - Commuter Rail System Design Methodology: An Evaluation of the San Diego Coaster 2009-2010
  • Minor, Dillon - Rural Transportation Survey Toolkit for the Coordinated Plan SANDAG's 2010 Rural Transportation Survey Design Toolkit for Determining Unmet Transportation Needs of Hard-To-Reach Communities 2009-2010
  • Reed, Emma - Increasing Disaster Awareness at the University of California, San Diego Determining the most effective strategies to educate university students about how to react during large-scale emergencies 2009-2010
  • Lisa Chau - Evaluating Smart Growth Theory vs. Practice: the Hillcrest Uptown District, 2007-2008
  • Trayler, Becky - The Evaluation of Traffic Signal Coordination Techniques and the Implications for San Diego, California, 2007-2008
  • Novin, Iman - Equity in Redevelopment Incentive Policy: A Case Study of Type II Incentives in Downtown San Diego, 2005-2006
  • Christina Burke - Infrastructure as a Medium for Sculpting the Creative Way A study of the emergent collaborative efforts utilizing creative processes to maintain a blueprint for an urban renewal paradigm of today, 2004-2005
  • Ryan Solow - Storm Water Containment Bureaucracy Systems: How does the NPDES Permit functionally create systems that induce public private co-operation? 2004-2005
  • Seeley, Ryan George - The Effects of Intelligent Transportation Systems on Co-Operation Among Transportation and Regional Planners, 2001-2002
  • Rand, Allison - Beyond the Walking City: How Successful is Transportation Demand Management in San Diego County, 1998-1999
  • Sider, Daniel A. - Investigating the Absence of Neotraditional Planning in American Suburbia, 1997-1998
  • Cenzano, Juan Carlos - Uptown District: Land Use Planning as a Transportation Demand Management Strategy, 1993-1994
  • Marker, Glen D. - The Modernist Project in a Campus Community: A Critique of Master Planning at UCSD, 1993-1994
  • Schnitz, Jeffery - California Intra-Municipality Conflict: A Case Study of the Discord Between the City of San Diego and the Community of La Jolla, 1993-1994
  • Griffin, Ian - Local Governmental Issues Concerning Geographic Information System Implementation, 1992-1993

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