Improve Urban Policy through Effective Data Analysis
Though they may not always have the words “data” or “analyst” in their job titles, professionals in urban planning and policy are, in fact, immersed in data. As the trend towards evidence-based decision-making continues, government agencies, foundations, nonprofits, and planning firms all recognize the importance of leveraging data to create effective policy decisions and urban plans. However, the ability to analyze large and complex datasets can be challenging for those without specialized training.
Ideal for those who want to examine urban issues using existing and emerging forms of data, the Graduate Certificate in Applied Urban Informatics at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) provides hands-on experience with valuable analytic and computational tools while developing the key skills needed to work with varied data sources that can serve to inform policy decisions in a range of government, nonprofit, and private organizations.
Available on campus and online, the Applied Urban Informatics certificate offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that is designed to prepare professionals to confront major issues affecting urban communities, including impacts upon vulnerable populations, economic development, infrastructure systems, and policy implementation. Students with this certificate will be able to identify urban challenges and use the informatics toolkit to derive actionable insights from data.
Program at a Glance
- On Campus
- Part-Time Study
- 16 Credits
- 8–9 Months to Completion
- No GRE/GMAT
Leverage Data to Advance Your Career
By completing the Graduate Certificate in Applied Urban Informatics, students will be primed for specific analysis and planning roles within the urban and regional planning and public policy fields. These positions can usually be found within local and state nonprofit community-based organizations, foundations, and private research and planning firms.
Why Earn a Graduate Certificate in Applied Urban Informatics at BU?
- Active Learning Environment: Combining urban affairs courses with computer science electives, BU’s Applied Urban Informatics certificate offers practical, hands-on approaches to analytics and data science in the context of urban issues, providing the tools to harness data to cultivate informed urban policies, identify community needs and resources, and administer effective service-delivery programs—education you can apply on the job.
- Engaged Faculty: In BU’s Applied Urban Informatics graduate certificate program, you benefit from working closely with highly qualified faculty who provide interdisciplinary perspectives on data analytics and urban policy issues, sharing valuable expertise that will help you advance your career.
- Extensive Network: Study complex issues alongside peers with solid urban management and policymaking experience, learn from faculty who have valuable contacts in the field, and benefit from an alumni community with strong professional connections.
- Complementary Analytics Labs: For those without a background in R or Python, our preparatory analytics laboratories offer access to advanced tools and provide opportunities to hone analytics skills using cases that are populated with realistic data.
- 15:1 Class Ratio: Enjoy an exceptional student-to-instructor ratio, ensuring close interaction with faculty and access to support.
- Valuable Resources: Make use of Boston University’s extensive resources, including the Center for Career Development, Fitness & Recreation Center, IT Help Centers, Mugar Memorial Library, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Center for Antiracist Research, Initiative on Cities, Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, George Sherman Union, Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, and many others.
- Flexible Options: Study at the pace that works for you, evenings on campus or fully online. Courses begin fall, spring, and summer; online courses have two starts per term.
- Track Record: Learn from the best—BU MET has been offering programs in urban affairs since 1968. The Master of Urban Affairs was introduced in 1969, and the Master of City Planning was introduced in 1978.
Learn to Solve Challenges in Planning, Urban Management, and Public Policy
The Graduate Certificate in Applied Urban Informatics is offered through BU MET’s Department of Applied Social Sciences, which oversees several graduate programs focusing on the challenges of the urban environment, including the Master of City Planning (MCP), the Master of Urban Affairs (MUA), the Graduate Certificate in Applied Sustainability, and the Graduate Certificate in Urban Policy & Planning.
BU’s City Planning & Urban Affairs programs prepare future leaders, practitioners, and innovators for the myriad challenges that arise in urban planning and policymaking. Students consider the political, social, and technical implications of each facet of planning and policymaking, and thus grapple with the fact that there are few, if any, simple solutions or approaches to urban issues.
Graduates can pursue a wide range of professional careers in town, city, and regional planning; sustainable management; community and economic development; transportation planning; public-sector/nonprofit management; and policy research, among others.
Graduate with Expertise
Boston University’s Applied Urban Informatics graduate certificate will equip you to:
- Define and identify urban challenges in the sphere of planning, policy, and operations, particularly related to social, economic, and environmental constraints that influence decision-making.
- Utilize the informatics toolkit to define and address specific challenges and to derive actionable insight from data.
- Analyze the ethical implications of emerging technologies.
- Incorporate data analysis results into urban planning and policy decisions to increase the quality of life for residents and support city government.
- Communicate results clearly and effectively in a medium appropriate to the project, without relying on jargon.
Access to Analytics Laboratories
As a student in BU MET’s Applied Urban Informatics program, you have free access to hands-on analytics preparatory laboratories Introduction to R for Business (ADR 100) and Introduction to Python (ADPY 100). These labs are required for those without a background in R or Python.
BU MET graduate certificate programs can serve as building blocks to a master’s degree. Some courses in the Graduate Certificate in Applied Urban Informatics may be applied as electives in the Master of Urban Affairs or Master of City Planning degree programs. To be eligible for the degree, you must apply for admission and be accepted into the degree program. Consult with a graduate admissions advisor to learn more about these options.
Graduate Certificate in Applied Urban Informatics Curriculum
Please Note: Required course MET UA 654 is also available in an online delivery format.
(Three courses/12 credits)
MET UA 511 Introduction to Urban Informatics
Data is everyone's responsibility now. City planners and urban professionals no need to have the words "data" or "analyst" in their job title to be immersed in data. They are expected to use them regularly as the trend towards evidence-based decision making continues. Government agencies, foundations, nonprofits, and planning firms all recognize the importance of leveraging data to create effective policy decisions and urban plans. However, planners and urban professionals grapple with how to analyze large and complex datasets. In this class, students will learn about the applied dimensions of the emerging field of urban informatics which is used to understand cities and to inform urban planning practice and policymaking. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Sungu-Eryilm||CGS 423||W||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET UA 591 Applied Analytical Methods
Evidence-based and data-driven approaches to urban problems are the industry standard among municipalities, agencies, and non-governmental organizations. This course will cover a variety of statistical "tools" from three broad areas: (1) descriptive statistics, (2) inferential statistics and hypothesis testing, and (3) measures of association. Students will learn how to develop research questions, describe, and draw conclusions from quantitative data, and interpret statistical research findings, and be able to present these findings to a variety of audiences in a clear and accurate way -- to be able to "tell a story" with numbers. In addition, students will develop a proficiency working with large data sets and conducting analysis with a critical lens, using the analytical software -- Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) -- commonly used in urban planning and related fields. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 654 GIS and Spatial Analysis
Geographic Information Systems for Planners provides an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specifically with a focus on applications in urban planning. The role of spatial analysis in local, state and regional planning has steadily increased over the last decade with the infusion of windows-based GIS software such as ESRI ArcGIS. The class focus is to prepare students to feel comfortable communicating with other GIS users, research spatial data, and produce high quality digital maps in an applied learning environment. [ 4 cr. ]Spring 2023
|A1||IND||Sungu-Eryilm||CAS 327||T||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
(One course/4 credits)
Select one with an advisor’s approval. Possible electives include:
MET CS 521 Information Structures with Python
This course covers the concepts of the object-oriented approach to software design and development using Python. It includes a detailed discussion of programming concepts starting with the fundamentals of data types, control structures methods, classes, arrays and strings, and proceeding to advanced topics such as inheritance and polymorphism, creating user interfaces, exceptions and streams. Upon completion of this course students will be able to apply software engineering principles to design and implement Python applications that can be used in with analytics and big data. Effective Fall 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Quantitative Reasoning II, Creativity/Innovation, Critical Thinking.
Prerequisite: Programming experience in any language. Or Instructor's consent. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Lu||CDS 262||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
|A2||IND||Pan||FLR 152||T||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
|A3||IND||Pinsky||CDS 262||W||8:00 am – 10:45 am|
|E1||IND||Lu||CDS 262||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET CS 677 Data Science with Python
Students will learn major Python tools and techniques for data analysis. There are weekly assignments and mini projects on topics covered in class. These assignments will help build necessary statistical, visualization and other data science skills for effective use of data science in a variety of applications including finance, text processing, time series analysis and recommendation systems. In addition, students will choose a topic for a final project and present it on the last day of class. Prerequisite: MET CS 521 or equivalent. Or, instructor's consent. [ 4 cr. ]Spring 2023
|A1||IND||Pinsky||EPC 207||R||8:00 am – 10:45 am|
|A2||IND||Pinsky||MET 101||T||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET CS 688 Web Mining and Graph Analytics
Formerly titled CS 688 Web Analytics and Mining.
The Web Mining and Graph Analytics course covers the areas of web mining, machine learning fundamentals, text mining, clustering, and graph analytics. This includes learning fundamentals of machine learning algorithms, how to evaluate algorithm performance, feature engineering, content extraction, sentiment analysis, distance metrics, fundamentals of clustering algorithms, how to evaluate clustering performance, and fundamentals of graph analysis algorithms. Laboratory Course. Prerequisites: MET CS 544, or MET CS 555 or equivalent knowledge, or instructor's consent. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Vasilkoski||MET 101||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
|A2||IND||Vasilkoski||EPC 209||W||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET CS 699 Data Mining
The goal of this course is to study basic concepts and techniques of data mining. The topics include data preparation, classification, performance evaluation, association rule mining, and clustering. We will discuss basic data mining algorithms in the class and students will practice data mining techniques using data mining software. Students will use Weka and JMP Pro. Prereq: CS 546 and either CS 579 or CS 669. Or instructor's consent. [ 4 cr. ]Spring 2023
|A1||IND||Lee||CAS 213||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
|A2||IND||Lee||EPC 209||W||2:30 pm – 5:15 pm|
|E1||IND||Lee||CAS 213||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
Other graduate-level electives from the Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Master of Urban Affairs programs may be available with an advisor’s approval.
City Planning & Urban Affairs Faculty
Assistant Professor, Applied Social Sciences Director, City Planning & Urban Affairs
Tuition & Financial Assistance
Competitive TuitionOur part-time rates are substantially lower than those of the traditional, full-time residential programs yet provide access to the same high-quality BU education.
Comprehensive Financial AssistanceOur services include scholarships, graduate loans, and payment plans.
Please visit the BU MET admissions page for details on how to apply, financial assistance, tuition and fees, requirements for international students, and more.
News & Events
April 18th, 2023 at: 2:30pm - 3:15pm
Financing your BU MET Graduate Education (for DOMESTIC students)
April 21st, 2023 at: 10:00am
Computer Science Research Seminar Series: Multimodal Machine Learning and Human-Centered Computing for Health and Wellbeing
April 21st, 2023 at: 3:00pm
Celebrating with the ABA Community the 5th Anniversary of MS in ABA