about

MIT’s newest major provides a foundation for students to work in applied computation, data analytics, public policy, economic development, urban design, management, and planning.

In the years to come, solutions to the complex global problems, which are increasingly urban, will require an understanding of large amounts of data and a facility with analysis, visualization, sensors, and even the integration of artificial intelligence into planning and policy-making contexts in a democratic and ethical manner. At the same time, the fields of computer science and machine learning can benefit from the urgency and “hands-on” nature of the sorts of challenges presented in policy-making and urban planning contexts and can lead to democratic and ethical innovations of technology. In short: urban planners have excellent problems, and computer scientists have excellent tools.

The subjects in the major combine ethics, justice, public participation, policy, and design with statistics, data science, geospatial analysis, visualization, robotics, and machine learning to craft equitable solutions to complex urban problems.

The 11-6 degree allows undergraduates to learn the theory and practice of (1) urban planning and policy-making including ethics and justice; (2) statistics, data science, geospatial analysis, and visualization, and (3) computer science, robotics, and machine learning.

To accomplish these ends, the required subjects include core courses in both computer science and urban planning fundamentals, as well as lab and project-based courses that will help students synthesize and integrate across the two departments. On the Urban Studies and Planning side, students will also receive a grounding in the political, sociological, legal, and ethical aspects of collecting and using new information flows and new civic technologies to design and manage city resources and urban spaces around the world. They will also learn the techniques of for data visualization, applied spatial analysis, urban design, and making public policy formulation and implementation.

For the predominantly technically-minded undergraduates at MIT, working within real urban contexts and environments will expose them to:

  • fundamental and socially-relevant questions of equity, fairness, diversity, and implementation in a global context;
  • specific applications of technology and systems in environmental management, transportation, infrastructure financing, cybersecurity, provision of housing, and job creation.
  • diverse contexts in which technology is tested and used, especially at the critical intersections between government and industry; policy-making and implementation; and in both the developed and developing world.

 

Degree Requirements

 

Computer Science Requirements Urban Planning Requirements
6.0001
Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python
11.001
Introduction to Urban Design and Development
6.0002
Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science
11.007
Urban and Environmental Technology Implementation Lab
6.042
Mathematics for Computer Science
11.188
Urban Planning and Social Science Laboratory (CI-M)
6.006
Introduction to Algorithms
 
6.009
Fundamentals of Programming
 
6.031
Elements of Software Construction
 
Electives:
1x Advanced Computer Science Elective 3x Urban Science Electives
Select one of the following options:
Option 1 Option 2
6.008
Introduction to Inference
6.034
Artificial Intelligence
OR
6.036
Introduction to Machine Learning
  6.041A
Introduction to Probability I
  6.041B
Introduction to Probability II
Select one of the following courses:
6.805
Foundations of Information Policy 1
11.002
Making Public Policy
6.805
Foundations of Information Policy 1
11.011
The Art and Science of Negotiation
11.165
Urban Energy Systems and Policy
Senior Thesis/Project
Select one of the following options:
Option 1 Option 2
6.UR
Undergraduate Research in EECS
11.THT[J]
Thesis Research Design Seminar (CI-M)
6.UAR
Seminar in Undergraduate Advanced Research (CI-M)
11.THU
Undergraduate Thesis

 

11-6 COURSE PETITION PROCESS:

Students who apply for a course petition should first contact their advisor for a brief consultation. Students need to explain why the petition is necessary and how it fits into their curriculum. Advisor will evaluate the feasibility of each case and endorse a petition request to DUSP undergraduate administrator. For more specific questions, students should contact DUSP undergraduate administrator Ellen Rushman (erushman@mit.edu).

Ask a Question

Do you have questions about the major, classes, or on-going research? Want to get involved with the new major or discuss how 11-6 would prepare you for future endeavors? Listed below are volunteer faculty and staff who are eager to answer your questions, please reach out to them directly via the provided email address.

ebj's picture
Eran Ben-Joseph
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Department Head
Eran Ben-Joseph is a Professor and Head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research and teaching areas include urban and physical design, standards and regulations, sustainable site planning technologies and urban retrofitting. He authored and co-authored the books: Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities, Regulating Place: Standards and the Shaping of Urban America, The Code of the City, RENEW Town and ReThinking a Lot. Eran worked as a city planner, urban designer and landscape architect in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States on projects including new towns and residential developments, streetscapes, stream restorations, and parks and recreation planning. He has led national and international multi-disciplinary projects in Singapore, Barcelona, Santiago, Tokyo and Washington DC among other places.
sew@mit.edu's picture
Sarah Williams
Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning
Sarah Williams is an Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning. She also is Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT's School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab works with data, maps, and mobile technologies to develop interactive design and communication strategies that expose urban policy issues to broader audiences. Trained as a Geographer (Clark University), Landscape Architect (University of Pennsylvania), and Urban Planner (MIT), Williams's work combines geographic analysis and design. Williams is most well known for her work as part of the Million Dollar Blocks team which highlighted the cost of incarceration, Digital Matatus which developed the first data set on a informal transit system searchable in Google Maps, and a more a recent project that uses social media data to understand housing vacancy and Ghost Cities in China.
ydh@mit.edu's picture
David Hsu
Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning
David is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research and teaching areas focus on how to use environmental policy and planning to shape cities to become more efficient in their use of resources, more livable, and healthier. Much of his work seeks to assist local policymakers and environmental advocates directly in the stages of policy design and implementation.
jf's picture
Joe Ferreira
Professor of Urban Information Systems and Planning
Professor Ferreira was the founding director of the Planning Department's Computer Resource Lab and is now head of Urban Information Systems. He teaches analytical methods and computer-based modeling for planning and urban management including courses involving extensive use of geographic information systems (GIS) and database management. Both Prof. Ferreira's undergraduate degree (in electrical engineering) and his PhD degree (in operations research) are from MIT. His research uses GIS and interactive spatial analysis tools to model land use, transportation, and environmental interactions and to build sustainable information infrastructures for supporting urban and regional planning. He is a past-president of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and has been principal investigator of numerous research projects studying job‐housing balance, urban performance measures, and urban information infrastructure. His current research includes the Future Urban Mobility project within the Singapore/MIT Alliance for Research and Technology where he is the SMART Research Professor of Urban Information Systems.
asevtsuk's picture
Andres Sevtsuk
Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning
Andres Sevtsuk is a Charles and Ann Spaulding Career Development Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, where he also leads the City Form Lab. His work bridges urban design with spatial analysis and urban technology. He has led various international research projects; exhibited his research at TEDx, the World Cities Summit and the Venice Biennale; and received the President’s Design Award in Singapore, International Buckminster Fuller Prize and Ron Brown/Fulbright Fellowship. Before joining MIT, Andres was an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He holds a PhD from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and an SMArchs in Architecture and Urbanism from MIT.
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Catherine D'Ignazio
Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning
Catherine D'Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial equity, particularly as they relate to space and place. D'Ignazio is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology, data literacy and civic engagement. Prior to joining DUSP, D'Ignazio was an Assistant Professor of Data Visualization and Civic Media at Emerson College in the Journalism Department, taught for seven years in the Digital + Media graduate program at Rhode Island School of Design and did freelance software development for more than ten years. She holds an MS from the MIT Media Lab, an MFA from Maine College of Art, and a BA in International Relations (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Tufts University.
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Yuan Lai
Lecturer of Urban Science and Planning
Yuan Lai is a Lecturer in Urban Science and Planning with a focus on data analytics, data visualization, and machine learning. His expertise lies at the intersection of urban information, applied data science, and urban systems. Prior to joining DUSP, Yuan was a research affiliate at NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). His work has been featured at the United Nations, Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange, NYC Media Lab, American Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, and Urban Design Forum. Yuan holds a PhD in urban systems and informatics and a MS in applied urban science and informatics from NYU CUSP, as well as a Master of Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture.
ehuntley's picture
Eric Huntley
Lecturer of Urban Science and Planning
Eric Huntley joined DUSP in August 2017 as a Technical Instructor of GIS, Data Visualization and Graphics. Huntley's work combines methods and forms of representation in novel ways to produce compelling and visually-rich narratives that draw from geography, data science, and design. He has years of GIS teaching experience and an expansive skillset that includes data visualization, GIS and spatial analysis, web mapping, urban design representation, and media production. His design work has been exhibited at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning.
jiw@mit.edu's picture
Ira Winder
Technical Instructor
Ira is an educator, researcher, and practitioner of computational methods for problem solving and conflict resolution within socio-technical systems. He is the Technical Instructor of Urban Science and Planning at MIT, where he focuses on the development of the new program for Urban Science and Planning with Computer Science. Ira also engages in joint research with the Strategic Engineering Research Group, where he works at the convergence of systems engineering, decision science, interactive simulation, and visualization. Ira's range of expertise includes Computer Science, Mathematical Modeling, City Planning, and Architectural Design. He is a Master of City Planning (MIT, 2013) and Bachelor of Science and Design (MIT, 2010).

Additional Resources

Coming soon, current student resources, alumni resources, and more.

Do you have general questions about the 11-6 major such as: is this the right major for me? How can I be involved as a faculty advisor? Feel free to reach out to any of the individual faculty or staff members above or contact the 11-6 committee at: urban-science@mit.edu