Our courses

BU Spark! provides students with opportunities to engage in real-world computing and data science projects through courses where students can pursue their own projects or work on an external partner’s project. Spark! also offers two credit workshops where students build their knowledge around specific topics relevant to real-world application of computing and data science.



HUB XC475 (AR675): Spark! Technology Innovation Fellowship Course

Mondays from 2:30 – 5:15 PM*

If you have a project you want to build or take to the next level but don’t know where to start, XC475 will help you take your project from an idea to a working prototype in one semester. If you don’t have an idea but want to join a student-driven innovation project, this course is for you too. You will work through Spark!’s structured product innovation process with technical support from Spark! experts and industry mentors. An application and interview are required for registration to this course.

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HUB XC410 A1: Spark! Justice Media co-Lab

Fridays from 11:15 AM – 2:00 PM*

If you have a background in computer and data science, statistics, computer engineering, or journalism-related disciplines, XC410 A1 will match you with computational journalism projects provided by external media partners (like the Boston Globe, CBS Boston, GHB, USA Today, and more). You will work on computational investigations focused on issues of justice and accountability, and be guided by veteran faculty practitioners in journalism and computer and data science. An application for registration to this course is required.

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HUB XC410 B1: Data Science for Good (DS4G)

Mondays from 6:30 – 9:15 PM*

If you want to tackle real-world computing and data science challenges related to a pressing social issue, in XC410 B1, you will work in teams on client-based projects. You will engage with a wide range of potential stakeholders, iterating and producing usable data sets, tools, software products, or research that addresses their data needs. You will develop technical artifacts involving data science and strengthen your computational and analytical skills by working with messy, real-world data to yield meaningful, reproducible, and defensible insights and compelling interfaces. An application for registration to this course is required.

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CDS DS488 (DS688): Spark! UX Design X-Lab Practicum

Spring 2024: Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00 – 6:15 PM*

In CDS DS488, you will have the opportunity to apply methods and practices of user experience design to real-world projects for industry partners.

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CDS CS/DS519: Spark! Software Engineering X-Lab Practicum

Spring 2024: Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00 – 6:15 PM*

In CDS DS519, you will have the opportunity to apply your programming and system development skills by working on real-world projects provided by partnering organizations within and outside of Boston University.


CDS CS/DS549: Spark! Machine Learning X-Lab Practicum

Spring 2024: Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 – 3:15 PM*

In CDS DS549, you will have the opportunity to apply your knowledge in algorithms, inferential analytics, and software development by working on real-world projects provided by partnering organizations within and outside of Boston University.

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NEW! CDS DS594: Spark! Data Visualization X-Lab Practicum 

Spring 2024: Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 – 4:45 PM*

In CDS DS594, you will have the opportunity to work on a semester-long project for an external partner that highlights the strategic, infrastructural, and architectural considerations involved in building a data science analytics pipeline.


Workshops (2-credits) 

CDS DS219: Spark! Software Engineering Career Prep Practicum

Spring 2024: Wednesdays from 4:30 – 6:15 PM*

Taught by industry veterans who are Spark! Experts in Residence, this 2-credit workshop prepares you for a career as full-stack software or data engineer. This workshop covers the language of modern software development including patterns, source control, pull requests, open source, containerization, virtualization, and agile vs waterfall development methods. This workshop will also introduce you to some of the specialized professional software engineering and DevOps roles in the industry.


CDS DS280: Spark! UX/UI Design Workshop

Spring 2024: Wednesdays from 2:30 PM – 4:15 PM*

This 2-credit workshop covers the basic steps of the UX design process, beginning with user insights and problem definition, empathy maps around personas, user stories, and low-fidelity wireframes, to brand design and high-fidelity wireframes. In this workshop, you will complete a series of activities within the UX design toolkit developed by Spark! in collaboration with the Red Hat UX design team. This course fulfills a single unit in the Digital/ Multimedia Expression BU Hub area.


CDS DS291: Spark! Exploring DEI in Tech

Spring 2024: Fridays from 10:10 – 11:55 AM*

In this 2-credit workshop, you will explore topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) in the tech sector. This workshop implements the theory of practice of DEIJ across the technology sector, allowing you to gain a foundational understanding of key concepts like intersectionality, inclusive dialogue, and how to initiate DEIJ efforts in your communities. You will apply this framework to better understand issues of DEIJ in the tech sector, academia, business, and other domains from AI to hardware. You will complete a final project using an intersectional lens to asses a problem you’re passionate about and develop solutions.

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NEW! CDS DS719: Spark! Intro to Product Management for Data Science

Spring 2024: Wednesdays from 4:30 – 6:15 PM*

This 2-credit workshop, created by a BU alum and Microsoft Product Manager, provides you with a practical and hands-on introduction to product management through exposure to an instructor with industry experience, guest speakers, and assignments based on real products. From this class, you will learn about scoping and managing the lifecycle of a technical feature from concept to launch, identifying and tracking qualitative and quantitative success metrics, and ensuring customer satisfaction and smooth team collaboration.


CDS DS290: Spark! Civic Tech Research Design Workshop

Spring 2024: Not offered* 

This workshop focuses on how we learn from data, answering questions like how do we identify and analyze relationships in our data? What conclusions can we draw from our data, and how applicable are our conclusions to broader contexts? How do we communicate effectively about our data and analyses? How can we be critical consumers of data and research, and identify issues and limitations in how data is used by data scientists, journalists, academics, and others?  


CDS DS2920: Spark! Civic Tech Toolkit Workshop

Spring 2024: Not offered* 

This workshop covers essential programs, tools, and frequently used data sets necessary to work effectively on civic tech projects, enabling greater interdisciplinary engagement and contextual understanding of the tools in an applied context. You will work with GIS/ geospatial programming languages, gain familiarity with commonly used libraries and packages in R and Python, and leverage data visualization tools like Tableau, Flourish, and PowerBI. Additionally, you will also learn about and engage with commonly used civic tech data sets including census/ ACS data, elections data, land use and housing data, development data, data about criminal legal systems, and more.


*Course offerings and times are subject to change.

This page was last updated on January 5, 2023.