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

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.

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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.

Certificate-to-Degree Pathway

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.

Please Note: Required course MET UA 654 is also available in an online delivery format.

Required Courses

(Three courses/12 credits)


(One course/4 credits)
Select one with an advisor’s approval. Possible electives include:

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

Tuition & Financial Assistance

Competitive Tuition

Our 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.

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Comprehensive Financial Assistance

Our services include scholarships, graduate loans, and payment plans.

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Get Started

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Please visit the BU MET admissions page for details on how to apply, financial assistance, tuition and fees, requirements for international students, and more.

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