Producing data-driven experts in Arlington

When Antonio Brust from Argentina reviewed his options to pursue urban informatics abroad, Northeastern Universitypp The University of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) immediately stood out. “I felt that here I would have the chance to hone a comprehensive set of skills, focusing on research and policy advocacy,” he says. “I am very happy with my decision.”

It is easy to understand why. As a student, he first entered the world of big data and mastered future-focused skills such as programming, statistical analysis and data visualization. Brust’s internship at The American City Coalition in Roxbury, MA—a nonprofit organization dedicated to neighborhood renewal—showed he was ready for bigger things. His contributions earned him awards, including the prestigious Barry Bluestone “Think and Do” Award and the Outstanding Academic Performance Award. For his capstone project, he led a team of fellow students to assess cities’ ability to handle federal grant funding.

After graduating, he returned to his hometown of Buenos Aires to establish a computer lab at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella’s School of Government. There he led initiatives at the intersection between urban economics and data science. Brust also shared his expertise by teaching courses at the Universidad Di Tella and the University of Buenos Aires.

Source: Northeastern University

Arlington Advantage

With trips like Brust’s as a blueprint, CSSH is expanding its reach by bringing innovative programs to its Arlington, VA, campus. The move to the Washington DC area means more than just a geographic expansion—it’s a commitment to nurturing the next generation of data-driven social scientists in the US capital. Where better to gain experience and impact at the intersection of data, public policy and urban challenges?

Located in the National Capital Region (NCR), the Arlington campus offers Northeastern experiential opportunities in a region known for technological innovation, security, defense and politics, and an unemployment rate that is 44% lower than the national average.

The campus’ proximity to key industry players, government agencies, research institutions, think tanks, trade associations and non-governmental organizations gives students access to real projects and professional networks – such as Amazon, Booz Allen Hamilton and Capital One.

Innovative and experiential degrees

Brust’s launch pad to success, the Master of Science (MS) in Urban Informatics, is one of the programs that will launch in Arlington in the fall of 2024. This STEM-certified degree is designed to prepare a new generation of experts to navigate the technological and socioeconomic landscapes of modern cities. Students are trained to address critical social, infrastructural and environmental challenges facing urban areas in the 21st century. With 75% of the world’s population projected to live in cities by 2050, Northeastern stands out among a handful of American institutions focusing on this discipline.

“There are five basic courses – one of them is Big Data for Cities,” shares the program manager. Moira Zellner. “It builds on the data libraries provided by the Boston Area Research Initiative—a growing effort that supports projects in the city of Boston. Students get the experiential learning opportunity from this and other courses to work on actual projects. It’s this kind of experience that helps students to be placed in data analysis positions, in private consulting firms, in cities or senior government agencies, or in non-governmental organizations.”

Another STEM certified degree, the MSc in applied quantitative methods and social analysis, will also debut on Northeastern’s Arlington campus in the fall of 2024. This interdisciplinary degree emphasizes quantitative research methods and social analysis strategies, equipping students with the computational tools needed to address questions of justice, hierarchy, social organization, and social systems. They also receive advanced training in statistical analysis and research methodology.

This breadth ensures that students from all academic backgrounds can future-proof their careers. “Coming from a journalism background, I chose the program because I want to equip myself with better statistical skills, more knowledge of policy analysis, and more research experience that can make me a better data storyteller,” says student Manyun Zou, who completed a co-op at Northeastern department of construction and environmental technology as a research assistant.

To apply knowledge, students work with faculty on projects connected to centers and institutes such as the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, the Boston Area Research Initiative, the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks, and the Institute for Race and Justice. Such exposure prepares graduates to pursue a range of analytical, social science and academic careers.

All CSSH degrees include Northeastern’s signature experiential learning programs. Co-ops provide a professional experience much like an internship, but for six months, and with mentoring support and guided reflections to ensure students get the most out of the experience.

As the MS in Urban Informatics and the MS in Applied Quantitative Methods and Social Analysis are both STEM-designated, international students on F1 visas can apply to extend their optional practical training in the US for an additional 24 months beyond Standard 12 – a total of 36 months of professional development.

If you are ready to become a leader at the intersection of data and social science, learn more about joining Northeastern University’s CSSH program in Arlington, VA.

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