Graduate programs at CUSP offer a unique, interdisciplinary and cutting edge approach that links data science, statistics and analytics, and mathematics with complex urban systems, urban management, and policy. The curriculum addresses the necessary technical skills and critical problem solving frameworks in addition to providing research opportunities and real-world experiences through internships and practicums that enable students to be successful in a wide range of career trajectories. CUSP students understand how to work with data at all stages of the data lifecycle from acquisition to visualization. Furthermore, they gain knowledge about cities by using robust and live data in their class projects, applied research activities, and partnering with companies and NYC agencies addressing existing urban challenges.

The 30-credit program is designed to offer students flexibility to design their curriculum to fit their personal and professional interests. Students may seek deep training in data science and informatics as applied to various domains related to cities, or focus more on learning how to utilize analytics and data-driven decision-making techniques to inform urban operations and policy decisions.


To introduce students to the field of Urban Informatics and help prepare students for their graduate students, NYU CUSP offers preparatory resources at the beginning of their degree. These resources help students learn the skills necessary for a successful academic career, discover resources at CUSP and NYU, and connect with other students.

Free Online Programs

There are many free online courses that our students take to augment or refresh their technical skills in these topics before applying. We suggest the following free online courses:

Urban Computing Skills Lab

To help prepare for the specific types of urban computing and data analysis students will engage in at CUSP, CUSP offers a free online prep course to admitted students. The UCSL is designed to walk students through some urban science analyses and tasks. The prep course can be completed at any pace, and also more than once.

New Student Orientation

CUSP’s New Student Orientation is an intensive 4-day program that includes a number of speakers, workshops, academic boot camps, and events that introduce students to CUSP, the field of urban informatics, and NYU resources.


Core Classes (18 Credits)

CUSP students take 6 required core classes and a non-credit lab to form the foundation of their Master of Science in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. In the fall, these courses include Principles of Urban Informatics, Civic Analytics & Urban Intelligence, Applied Data Science, and a choice between Urban Spatial Analytics OR Urban Decision Models, as well as a non-credit lab. In the spring and summer, CUSP students begin a 6 credit (two course) capstone, the Urban Science Intensive.

This course is the introduction to the core disciplines of data acquisition and management, integration, and analytics. In this course, the student will learn the major concepts, tools, and techniques for what informatics can do for cities. It includes background in data management, visualization, and data science, and also includes material not usually covered in computer science courses, including how to best handle spatial-temporal data, and issues related to citizen science and participatory sensing. It presents software tools, frameworks for problem-solving and model selection parameters using data science in the urban context, including basic modeling and analytical methods; visualization techniques, including geographic information systems; working with large datasets and understanding data sources, including instrumentation, physical sensors, imagery, and mobile sensing platforms; explores issues of data ethics, privacy, etc.; and provides an introduction to citizen science, crowd-sourcing, and participatory sensing

Cities are increasingly data-rich environments, and data-driven approaches to operations, policy, and planning are beginning to emerge as a way to address global social challenges of sustainability, resilience, social equity, and quality of life. Understanding the various types of urban data and data sources – structured and unstructured, from land use records to social media and video – and how to manage, integrate, and analyze these data are critical skills to improve the functioning of urban systems, more effectively design and evaluate policy intervention, and support evidenced-based urban planning and design. While the marketing rhetoric around Smart Cities is replete with unfulfilled promises, and the persistent use (and mis-use) of the term Big Data has generated confusion and distrust around potential applications. Despite this, the reality remains that disruptive shifts in ubiquitous data collection (including mobile devices, GPS, social media, and synoptic video) and the ability to store, manage, and analyze massive datasets require students to have new capabilities that respond to these innovations.

This course introduces students to computational approaches to urban challenges through the lens of city operations, public policy, and urban planning. Students are exposed to a range of analytical techniques and methods from the perspective of urban decision-making. Issues of city governance, structure, and history are presented to understand how to identify and assess urban problems, collect and organize appropriate data, utilize suitable analytical approaches, and ultimately produce results that recognize the constraints faced by city agencies and policymakers. This is not an easy task, and requires an understanding of urban social and political dynamics and a significant appreciation of data governance, privacy, and ethics. Specific attention is given to domain areas of energy and building efficiency, transportation, public health and emergency response, waste, water, and social connectivity and resilience, as well as the deployment of urban technology at the neighborhood scale. The role of civic engagement and community participation in the context of open data and citizen science is explored, as well as the evolving relationship between, and influence of, informatics on urban governance. Top-down and bottom-up models of innovative service delivery are discussed and debated in the context of public decision-making. Case studies and best practice examples from U.S. and global cities are used extensively, with a particular focus on New York City.

This course introduces students to the theory, principles and applications of mathematical and computer modeling of data as applied to cities. It will be based on two unified themes: foundations for predictive analytics and decision-making followed by applications in data science. The 1st half of the course will cover predictive modeling using a wide array of examples, including predictive modeling, an advanced treatment of regression, visualization and graphics, and automated analysis for high dimensional data. The second half will introduce students to applications in data science such as analytics of images and video as well as subjective data processing and analysis.

Please note: students choose between Urban Spatial Analytics (CUSP-GX 7002) and Urban Decision Models (CUSP-GX 7004) during their fall semester.

Urban Spatial Analytics focuses on developing spatial analysis skills specifically in urban context, which cuts across various interdisciplinary fields like urban land-use planning, socio-economic development, education, public health, real estate, criminal justice, environmental studies, transportation, and urban demography.* *This course will equip students with Geographic Information System (GIS) concepts to collect, understand, organize, store, analyze and visualize complex urban geospatial data. Students will learn about combining and overlaying local urban datasets (like MapPLUTO, Taxi/Cab data, Tree Census, Transportation & other datasets) with regional and national datasets like US Census, in order to understand spatial relationships and foster critical thinking in addressing urban issues that informs urban and regional policies.* *Students will gain hands-on training on geospatial data management, advance analyses (geo-statistics, proximity analysis, site suitability analysis, cluster analysis..) , visualization techniques, and applications on solving real world problems, using ESRI’s product – ArcGIS (ArcInfo with advanced extensions) as a primary software, however students will be exposed to other tools/programming languages like QGIS, CartoDB, ArcGIS Online, Python and others.

Please note: students choose between Urban Spatial Analytics (CUSP-GX 7002) and Urban Decision Models (CUSP-GX 7004) during their fall semester.

This course provides an introduction to computer-based optimization and simulation models for decision-making for government officials and policy makers. The emphasis is on models that are widely used in diverse functional areas, including every day operations such as waste collection, policing and transportation to policy making on environment/climate change to sheltering the homeless. Applications will include resource allocation, workforce planning, revenue management, asset-liability management (public sector finance models), environmental policy modeling, pension and bonding planning, and political campaign management, among others. The aim of the course is to help students become intelligent consumers of these methods. To this end, the course will cover the basic elements of modeling — how to formulate a model and how to use and interpret the information a model produces. The course will attempt to instill a critical viewpoint towards decision models, recognizing that they are powerful but limited tools.

This class will teach you to recognize where and understand why ethical issues can arise when applying analytics to urban problems. You will consider issues across the lifecycle of projects that aim to improve city life through data-driven decision-making, starting with collection and moving through the management, sharing, and analysis of data. You will learn how to parse the unique privacy implications of persistent monitoring of activities in putatively public space, the introduction of sensors and other forms of instrumented measurement into the built environment, the repurposing of government data for uses not anticipated at the time of collection, and the kind of analytic techniques that turn these data into actionable insights. The class will also teach you how to assess whether these result in fairly rendered decisions and how to evaluate the desirability of their consequences (from the perspective of various stakeholders). Finally, the class will force you to consider what ethical obligations you may have to those who figure in your research, as well as those to whom the lessons are later applied. You will learn to think critically about how to plan, execute, and evaluate a project with these concerns in mind, and how to cope with novel challenges for which there are often no easy answers or established solutions. To do so, you will develop fluency in the key technical, ethical, policy, and legal terms and concepts that are relevant to a normative assessment of these novel analytic techniques. You will learn about some of the common approaches and tools for mitigating or managing the ethical concerns that these tend to provoke. And by exposing you to a variety of policy documents, the class will help you understand the current regulatory environment and anticipate future developments.

The Urban Science Intensive (USI I) is part of a two-semester capstone sequence that is the experiential learning focus of the program. USI I takes place over 14 weeks in the Spring semester and prepares students for delivering Capstone Projects in the summer. The core of the course is team-based work on a real-world urban problem, combining problem identification and evaluation, data collection and analysis, data visualization and communication, and finally, solution formulation and testing. This project-based course begins with the Social Impact Project, where students are introduced and immersed in problem definition and project delivery skills. The course also lays the foundation for the Capstone Projects, where students work on integrated teams with Agency and Industry Partners, immersed in the public aspects of the project. * *The Urban Science Intensive I course introduces students to their projects and the Agency and Industry mentors involved and develops team-building; students meet with various officials at the relevant agencies and industry partners, tour relevant projects and facilities, and begin to engage the community; student teams define the problem and craft a strategy to identify solutions, inventory available and needed datasets, and explore possibilities for new instrumentation and citizen engagement to support project objectives. This course involves a combination of lectures, student team project work, in-class group work, site visits, and guest speakers.

Student teams engage in projects through the integration and analysis of data, definition and testing of possible solutions, identification of implementation strategies and constraints, and recommendation of a preferred solution and implementation plan. Student teams are challenged to utilize urban informatics within the real-world constraints of city operations and development, while cognizant of political, policy, and financial considerations and issues of data privacy, validity, and transparency. In so doing, student teams will be tasked with creating innovative and replicable solutions to pressing urban problems. The end product of the Intensive sequence is intended to be the result of the integration of multiple skill sets from each student’s area of specialization in domain, discipline, and entrepreneurial/organizational leadership focus.

Electives (12 Credits)

As a student in CUSP’s graduate programs, you will further customize your education with specialized CUSP electives in data science, domain applications, and civic analytics. Students take 4 elective offerings (12 credits) in the spring and summer.

Students may take up to two (6 credits) of non-CUSP data science or domain application electives from other schools across NYU, including but not limited to the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Stern School of Business, Wagner School of Public Service, and Tisch School of the Arts.

NYU CUSP’s elective choices include:

The past decade has seen the increasing availability of very large scale data sets, arising from the rapid growth of transformative technologies such as the Internet and cellular telephones, along with the development of new and powerful computational methods to analyze such datasets. Such methods, developed in the closely related fields of machine learning, data mining, and artificial intelligence, provide a powerful set of tools for intelligent problem-solving and data-driven policy analysis. These methods have the potential to dramatically improve the public welfare by guiding policy decisions and interventions, and their incorporation into intelligent information systems will improve public services in domains ranging from medicine and public health to law enforcement and security. The LSDA course series will provide a basic introduction to large scale data analysis methods, focusing on four main problem paradigms (prediction, clustering, modeling, and detection). The first course (LSDA I) will focus on prediction (both classification and regression) and clustering (identifying underlying group structure in data), while the second course (LSDA II) will focus on probabilistic modeling using Bayesian networks and on anomaly and pattern detection. LSDA I is a prerequisite for LSDA II, as a number of concepts from classification and clustering will be used in the Bayesian networks and anomaly detection modules, and students are expected to understand these without the need for extensive review.

The objective of this course is to familiarize students with modern machine learning techniques and demonstrate how they can be effectively applied to urban data. The course is practice-oriented: concepts and techniques are motivated and illustrated by applications to urban problems and datasets. For that reason, it involves a significant programming component, with Python as the primary programming language. Topics include a variety of supervised and unsupervised learning methods, such as support vector machines, clustering algorithms, ensemble learning, Bayesian networks, Gaussian processes, and anomaly detection. Strategies for effective machine learning and discussion of the limitations of ML as well as a variety of supplementary techniques are also considered.

The course aims to provide an understanding of big data and state-of-the-art technologies to manage and process them. General topics of this course include: big data ecosystems, parallel and streaming programming model, and spatial data processing. Hands-on labs and exercises in MapReduce, Hadoop, Spark, Hive, and Pig will be offered throughout the class to bolster the knowledge learned in each module.

The complexity of the urban context – defined by a rich, interlacing network of infrastructure, systems, and process that cuts across all sectors: public,private, and non-profit – requires that any large and/or innovative technology project take into account the many factors that go into developing a feasible, viable, and desirable project scope, as well as planning and managing against it. This course will be a case-based investigation into frameworks, methods, and tools for developing the strategic perspective in which to scope, plan, and manage technology projects in the urban context. Some the methods and tools we will consider include those drawn from different schools of strategy and management. They include: BOSCARD / Project Charter, Three-Point Estimating, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), PERT, Critical Path Method, RACI Matrix, RAID Logs, MARCI Charts, Product Backlogs, Sprint Backlogs, User Stories, and Scrum Taskboards.

The growing use of data-centric technologies is transforming criminal justice in the United States. These technologies affect the scale and nature of collected data, enable the detection of discriminatory patterns of policing, and influence bail recommendations for pretrial detainees, among other things. Modern computational and statistical methods offer the promise of increased efficiency, equity, and transparency, but their use raises complex legal, social, and ethical questions. In this course, we will discuss the application of techniques from machine learning and statistics to a variety of criminal justice issues, analyze recent court decisions, and examine the relationships between law, public policy, and data. The course will involve readings and class discussion, short assignments, and a data-intensive semester-long project. The course will also feature guest speakers who work in the criminal justice domain. Students should have basic knowledge of statistics, programming, and supervised machine learning, but no prior knowledge of the criminal justice system will be assumed.

This course is designed to address timely issues in one of the informatics disciplines, broadly grouped into data collection and management, data integration and visualization, and data analytics. The course is a survey of the latest applications of the field of urban informatics, selected based on current projects and research undertaken at the Center for Urban Science and Progress. It combines lectures, guest speakers, and hands-on application of informatics using urban datasets. The course is divided into three components, including data collection and management as it relates to the specialization of the course, discipline-specific skills in areas of big data, and application of the informatics. Students will work directly with actual datasets on current, real-world city problems in various urban domains, as well as applications to theoretical problem sets.

Visualization and visual analytics systems help people explore and explain data by allowing the creation of both static and interactive visual representations. A basic premise of visualization is that visual information can be processed at a much higher rate than raw numbers and text. Well-designed visualizations substitute perception for cognition, freeing up limited cognitive/memory resources for higher-level problems. This course aims to provide a broad understanding of the principals and designs behind data visualization. General topics include state-of-the-art techniques in both information visualization and scientific visualization, and the design of interactive/web-based visualization systems. Hands on experience will be provided through popular frameworks such as matplotlib, VTK and D3.js.

Remote sensing technologies are becoming increasingly available at better resolution levels and lower costs. This course will provide an overview of some of the most common technologies in the areas of imagery, video, sound, and hyperspectral data that can be facilitated through smart phones or other readily accessible means. Students will be given a formal introduction to the aforementioned four areas and then be afforded an opportunity for hands on training in data collection and data analysis. In the course will have the opportunity to work in small groups to investigate an urban problem of interest to them at a site of their choosing. The teams will use these new learned technologies in tandem with other publicly accessible data (either formally available or also collected by the researchers) to investigate a working hypothesis about their chosen urban problem for their site.


CUSP-GX 5005/5006 - Urban Science Intensive I/II

During the 6 credit, two course Capstone Program, you will work in a multidisciplinary environment with a city agency or industry partner to address a current urban challenge in a particular domain, such as transit, public health, or environmental sustainability. You will play an important role in the project, working with other researchers — and even entrepreneurs — to unlock the potential in big data to make your city better.

Capstone projects may be part of larger, ongoing NYU-CUSP research efforts involving city agencies and NYU‑CUSP industry partners, self-contained projects involving agencies and industry partners, or more entrepreneurial in focus and content, where you and a team of students will work on developing a new solution derived from your analysis.

You can view previous capstone projects here.


As part of the co-curricular education at CUSP, students have the opportunity to participate in an immersion program in one of the leading smart cities around the world. This mini-course targets the global perspective on “urban” skills needed to link data science with the public good. Students travel to different cities around world to work on actual urban challenges using the analytics skills developed during the program. In the Data Dive, the host city provides their data sets and a specific urban problem; students bring their expertise to answer the questions and solve the problems using informatics techniques.