Make a Difference through Effective Urban Policymaking
The Graduate Certificate in Urban Policy & Planning at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) provides an in-depth, multidisciplinary perspective on complex twenty-first-century urban issues, including housing and community development, public health, economic and infrastructural management, and environmental sustainability. The program is ideal for mid-career professionals who seek to advance their careers as urban managers, policy analysts, city planners, researchers, and consultants in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors, as well as students and recent graduates who want to gain an interdisciplinary perspective of how urban systems work.
Program at a Glance
- On Campus
- Part-Time Study
- 16 Credits
- 8–9 Months to Completion
- No GRE/GMAT
- Tuition & Fees Range—Part-Time Study*: $11,920-$15,400
*Based on 2022–2023 Boston University tuition and fees. Merit scholarship may reduce cost.
Advance Your Career in Urban Policy and Planning
The Urban Policy & Planning graduate certificate program offers in-depth exploration of policy analysis and formulation; urban public financing; comparative planning and development; urban spatial analysis; the political, legal, social, and economic dimensions of urban development; and the relationship between urban land use and the environment. As a student in the program, you will gain the expertise to develop successful policy and planning solutions with various urban stakeholders; work with public and private leaders at the city, state, and federal levels to overcome conflicting goals; administer effective service-delivery programs; and evaluate how to better incorporate and prioritize equitable and sustainable urban strategies.
Why Earn a Graduate Certificate in Urban Policy & Planning at BU?
- Active Learning Environment: BU’s Urban Policy & Planning courses focus on practical, hands-on approaches and provide the expertise to analyze a range of information in order to cultivate successful 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 Urban Policy & Planning graduate certificate program, you benefit from working closely with highly qualified faculty who provide interdisciplinary perspectives on 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.
- Student Support: Enjoy an exceptional student-to-instructor ratio, ensuring close interaction with faculty mentors 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, and many others.
- Flexible Options: Study at the pace that works for you, with multiple on-campus class times that include evenings, and courses that begin fall, spring, and summer.
- 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 Urban Policy & Planning 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 Applied Urban Informatics.
BU’s Urban Affairs & City Planning 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 Urban Policy & Planning graduate certificate will equip you to:
- Understand the history and theory of urban and regional development, the structure and functions of urban systems, local and national policymaking processes, and the role of planning.
- Explain and assess the economic, environmental, political, social, and equity issues inherent in planning theory and practice to develop effective policy for urban development.
- Create strategic policy and planning solutions that incorporate the diverse perspectives of various stakeholder groups, including those of minority and disadvantaged communities.
BU MET graduate certificate programs can serve as building blocks to a master’s degree. The Graduate Certificate in Urban Policy & Planning shares specific courses with the Master of Urban Affairs and 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 Urban Policy & Planning Curriculum
In addition to the below courses, students are also required to maintain an e-portfolio of the work they produce throughout the program. For more information, please visit this page.
Please Note: If a required course is not offered within the academic year (fall, spring, and summer sessions), students may request to take a replacement course. The request must be permitted, reviewed, and approved by the program coordinator in conjunction with representatives of the participating MET academic departments.
(Two courses/8 credits)
MET UA 664 Planning and the Development Process
This course specifically explores the area where the private and public sectors meet so that the student can develop an awareness of the complexity of dealing with these often competing interests. The objective of the course is to give the student an understanding of the motivations of the private sector in the way they go about creating their products and projects and to leave the student with the tools and knowledge to successfully negotiate the Public Interest with the Private Needs. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 701 Urban Problems and Policy Responses
Major problems confronting urban areas and the process of policy formulation and implementation. Emphasis on problem interdependence and systems characteristics. Analysis of problem definitions (housing, crime, poverty, etc.), goals, public/private responsibilities, existing programs, and policy options. Analysis of selected, comparative international experience. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Carroll||STH B20||M||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
(Two courses/8 credits)
Choose two from the following list:
MET UA 503 Housing and Community Development
Surveys the factors affecting supply and price of urban housing. Examines federal, state, and municipal programs, as well as future policy options, from the standpoint of housing quality and community development goals. Analysis of selected international comparative experience. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 508 Real Estate Development
Various factors affecting location, construction, financing, and marketing of real estate in metropolitan areas. Studies the relationship of public policy to the activities of the private sector, market analysis techniques, evaluation of development projects, and problems of real estate investment. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 509 Public Finance and Urban Infrastructure
Economic, social, and political aspects of state and local government finances. Theory of public finance; revenues, expenditures, and survey of budgetary processes. Planning techniques in capital budgeting and other finance activities. Selected issues: debt, user fees, property taxes, and incentives. [ 4 cr. ]
|A1||IND||Chapdelaine||CAS 229||R||6:00 pm – 8:45 pm|
MET UA 510 Selected Topics in Urban Affairs
UA510 is the designation for "Special Topics in Planning". The subject matter for UA510 courses changes from semester to semester, and more than one UA510 can be offered in a given semester. The Fall 2020 offerings are listed below.
UA510 A1 (O'Connell & Koehler, Thursday)- "Globalization: Pandemics & Planning": This course explores the evolving roles of planning in global cities, with an emphasis on pandemics and other disasters as watershed experiences. Using Boston as a principal example, students will learn about the impacts of globalization, and its incumbent health risks, through historical and contemporary case studies to understand cultural, technological, and socioeconomic development patterns. Besides public health measures, the course will cover economic resilience, international trade and supply chains, transportation, income inequality, the service economy, and the increasing importance of telecommunications and distance working.
UA510 A2 (Sungu- Eryilmaz, Monday)- "Cities & Analytics: Making Sense of Data": Several cities in the U.S. and abroad collect increasing amount of data to support decision-making and transform into sustainable and resilient places to live, work, and play. Analytics is the core of any of these efforts. This project-based course will be divided into two parts. In the first part, we will explore the policy and planning aspects of these efforts. Who are the stakeholders? What kind of existing or emerging urban problems are addressed with these efforts? What are the intended and unintended potential consequences? In the second part, we will work with existing open datasets and selected basic analytical techniques to understand urban issues.
Spring 2021: UA510 A1 (Hassol, Thursday)- "New Trends in Transportation": Transportation is changing faster than ever before. New vehicle technologies, including electric vehicles and automated vehicles, have the potential to transform longstanding paradigms of vehicle ownership and use. New transportation services such as ride- hailing, bikeshare, and electric scooters, enabled by information and communication technologies, offer new travel choices and also new business models. This course will apply principles of micro-economics (e.g., marginal utility, price elasticity, demand functions) along with information on macro-level factors such as changing demographics, to develop a framework for understanding transportation trends. We will use the framework to explore likely trends in electric vehicles, automated vehicles, "micro-mobility" modes, and mobility-as-a-service, and their impacts on travel behavior. In addition, we will explore the likely future of traditional public transportation within the emerging transportation ecosystem. Guest speakers from private industry and government will share their perspectives on emerging transportation business models, public policy challenges, and analytical techniques. Assignments will emphasize employing the principles learned in class to assess real-world transportation questions.
UA510 A2 (Kwon, Wednesday)- "Equity and Social Justice": This course introduces conceptual and applied approaches to community activism to promote (or resist) social, political, and economic change in cities across the US. This course situates various forms of local community activism within larger discussions about inequality, intersectionality, and unequal geographies of opportunity. Students will explore past and present examples of community mobilization with an emphasis on the role of community-based organizations. The course will focus on some of the following themes: racial inequality, immigrant rights, health inequality, environmental justice, and housing access. Guest speakers will share their experiences and the strategies they used for advocacy and/or organizing campaigns covered in class. In this course, students are expected to share, interrogate, and reinterpret their own experiences and perspectives based on course readings, conversations, and assignments. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 523 Skills and Techniques in Planning
Students introduced to specific skills and techniques to help them achieve community and urban planning goals. The course covers a range of communications skills, including oral, written, visual, and using social media in planning to help planners develop concise, understandable plans and documents. Grant research, writing, and administration will be discussed. Segments on community outreach and engagement and how to build equity and cultural competency will be explored. Students will be introduced to skills in designing and implementing community meetings, including facilitation skills and managing group dynamics. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 527 Feeding the City: Urban Food
This course examines historical and contemporary issues involved in providing food to cities and metropolitan areas. Tracing the routes that food takes into the city and the major sources of food, the course looks closely at the accessibility of food, especially in poorer urban neighborhoods. Among topics covered are obesogenic neighborhoods, food deserts, gentrification and foodie culture, public school food and nutrition, attempts to minimize food waste, and immigrants and ethnic foods in the city. The course also considers recent attempts at food production in cities, including urban agriculture, vertical farming, and craft production of food products. After closely looking at the history and current status of food programs, the course concludes with a consideration of urban food policies. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 580 Boston Experience: The Role of Architecture in Creating the Sense of Place
The Boston Experience is a graduate and advanced undergraduate course designed in the seminar format. The course will provide an introduction to the study of architecture as an important foundation for students of urban affairs and city planning and as an important foundation for students in other disciplines such as civil engineering, historic preservation, and the applied social sciences (such as sociology). The course will also serve as a foundation of the basic concepts and a general overview of the field of architecture. This foundation will also provide a prerequisite for the two advanced studio planning courses currently offered at MET in the Department of Urban Affairs and City Planning (UA 613 and UA 510). [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 610 Urban Environmental Issues
This course is designed to present a comprehensive approach to urban environmental issues by integrating environmental planning and policy. It is intended for both students with and without planning background. This course provides a broader view and discussion of natural resources planning relating to issues affecting urban watershed management. This approach includes water policy, sustainability of water resources, freshwater planning (Lakes and Rivers), coastal waters, open space protection, stormwater management, clean water act, wetland protection, low impact development, and stakeholder involvement with a focus on the means and techniques available to local governments to plan and protect watersheds. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the potential to address full range of urban watershed issues, including water supply planning, water quality restoration and protection, open space planning, habitat protection and ecological conservation, and enhancement and regulatory activities. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 613 Urban Design and Development
The role of urban design in the community development process. Examines human behavior, aesthetic foundations of design methods, citizen/client participation, and public policy issues. Analysis of actual community spaces. Student design exercises. [ 4 cr. ]
MET UA 619 Urban Transportation Policy and Planning
This course will provide students with a broad introduction to important concepts and policy issues in transportation, principally at an urban and metropolitan level. In addition, the course will explore methods planning practitioners can use to analyze transportation problems and propose solutions. The course will use specific examples of planning initiatives (both operations and capital) from transportation agencies within the Boston Metropolitan region. Guest speakers from local, regional, and state transportation agencies within the Greater Boston Metropolitan area will supplement the instructor's lectures and assigned readings. [ 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|
Under special circumstances, certificate courses may be substituted with prior approval of the academic advisor.
City Planning & Urban Affairs Faculty
View All Faculty
Lecturer, City Planning & Urban Affairs
Professor of Sociology, Bridgewater State University
PhD, MA, BA, American University
Lecturer, City Planning & Urban Affairs
Economic Development Lead (New England), Amazon
MA, Tufts University; BA, History, St. Anselm College
Lecturer, City Planning & Urban Affairs
Technology Policy Analyst, US Department of Transportation
PhD, University of California Irvine; BA, Wesleyan University
Lecturer, City Planning & Urban Affairs
Former (retired) Principal Technical Advisor for Planning and Innovative Finance at the US DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
MPA, Harvard University; BA, Rhodes College
Lecturer, City Planning & Urban Affairs
Principal and Founder of Pracademic Solutions
DrPH candidate, Tufts University School of Medicine; MPH, Boston University; MCP, Boston University; BS, Wentworth Institute of Technology
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