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Top 6 International Courses to Study Smart Cities

Can a course help you get smart with smart cities? Universities, both online and offline, are impacting the smart city evolution with some game changing courses for the new-age student.
BY Navleen Kaur |   16-02-2015

Smart is as smart does, and what better way to experience ‘smart’ than to picture the utopian visions of the rhetoric now so popular and almost on the verge of becoming an Indian reality: Smart Cities. The trend, although not very new, is certainly catching on. As stakeholders continue to look for avenues to establish their niche in this sector, universities believe that students shall form the focal point of all innovation and advancement henceforth. With numerous courses being offered around the world, we find out what it means to be able to study ‘smart cities’, and how can you do that.

What in the world are smart cities?

Imagine a city that talks to you, thinks for you, guides you and  makes you happy just because you are living in it. These smart cities are germinating all over the world. Wouldn’t it be something to be able to understand a smart city or even design one?


What are these courses and what do they offer?

In a country like India, the need for such cities is apparent. But perhaps there isn’t much bandwidth for beginning things from scratch. Perhaps, there is a need for smarter cities, as Jerry Hultin said in his session on One Globe Conference 2014. Smarter cities are the ones that can be reimagined, refashioned and redesigned so that they encapsulate and recycle the resources from existing infrastructure.

The Future is Smarter Cities

One way to ensure the success of smart cities in the Jerry Hultin way is to equip the new generation with the right set of skills for a smooth implementation of this dynamic concept. Hence, these courses:

1. Masters degree course on Smart Cities and Urban Analytics by UCL (CASA)

This course offered by the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis of the University College London, “is unique in its focus on the core challenges relating to the infrastructure of smart cities, from their operational functions and planning through to management and control. The programme reflects the changes that technology is making to the operation of, and our understanding of, the city, and gives students the technical skills and quantitative social science needed to understand the cities of the present and of the future

Duration of the course

1 year full time course

Who can apply?

Normally a minimum of a second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Candidates who hold a professional or other qualification obtained by written examinations and approved by UCL together with at least three years of appropriate professional experience may also be admitted.

Application deadline

31 July 2015

For more information, please visit the university website.

2. Short Professional Education Program on ‘Beyond Smart Cities’ by MIT

This course will focus on understanding the complexities of cities through the use of Big Data Urban Analytics and the design of New Urban Systems for high-density cities such as systems for mobility, energy, food, and living/working. The design of these systems must be resilient, scalable, and reconfigurable. This course moves beyond Smart Cities by focusing on disruptive innovations in technology, design, planning, policy, and strategies that can bring dramatic improvements in urban livability and sustainability.

Duration of the course

June 8-10, 2015

Who should attend?

This program is designed for executives, business unit leaders and managers, financial investors and entrepreneurs, engineers/designers, and urban planners from companies focused on the built environment, personal mobility and transit, energy, IT infrastructure, food, and Smart Cities development.

This program is also designed for government leaders charged with new urban economic development, design of new cities, and urban innovation districts or zones. This course is open to government leaders in the U.S. and internationally.

Application Deadline

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

For early registrations, please visit the official course website.

3. MOOC on ‘Technicity’ by the Ohio State University on Coursera

According to the Technicity course description,absorbing, studying and understanding the role of technology from a critical viewpoint allows us to generate creative ideas for improving our cities.

This course begins by examining how our cities are changing. It then jumps into how technology is used to engage support the public in decision-making and the creative ways in which people are using technology to improve their cities. Students will examine tools for analyzing the city.Then they will move into exploring the fascinating waysin which cities are using real-time, technology. Students will hear from technological innovators and thought leaders about all of these topics. They will get to engage around a topic that most interests them to create a project in their own city.

Duration of Course

8 weeks of study (March 4, 2015 - April 28, 2015)

Who can apply?

While there are no specific academic prerequisites to take this course, is is targeted towards students at an upper undergraduate or graduate level of education. This course is accessible to non-technical students.

Application Deadline

The course is free and can be enrolled into anytime

Find more information on the course page.

4. MSc Energy for Smart Cities by European universities through KIC InnoEnergy

MSc Energy for Smart Cities addresses internationally-oriented and entrepreneurial engineering students who wish to implement modern energy technologies for end-users of the electrical value chain: citizens, companies and cities. Graduates of this custom-developed programme will be truly multi-disciplinary smart city experts: well qualified to work in industry or research, or to take on policy-making roles in energy issues related to secure, sustainable urban living and working.

Duration of course

2 years

Who can apply?

MSc Energy for Smart Cities is targeted at BSc students in mechanical or electrical engineering, or with a related science degree, from internationally recognised universities.

Application Deadline

Application period 1 – January 7th – February 22nd 2015

Application period 2 – March 1st – April 26th

For more information, please visit the course website.

5. MOOC on Introduction to Metrics for Smart Cities by IEEEx on edX

Besides understanding the importance of a Smart City and its classifications, course-takers will learn to identify the impact of using metrics to measure its performance. A very important skill to develop is how to classify a metric and to identify its units or measure. The main focus of this course is to develop participants’ basic knowledge of a Smart City by being able to identify the parameters involved in its creation. Participants will also be able to define and establish the necessary metrics to measure the performance of a Smart City.

Duration of course

4 weeks, starting from 23 March, 2015

Who should apply?

Recommended for students in their last year of urbanism, architecture, or information technology studies, as well as professionals interested in Smart Cities wishing to learn and measure their development.

Application Deadline

None. It is a free course and can be taken  anytime, online.

This online course can be taken free or for a minimum fee (if the participants wish to pursue a verified certificate). Learn all about this course here.


Cover image courtesy: CC

To read about five of the best smart cities in the world, click here.



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