Interdisciplinary Programs

Master of Urban Spatial Analytics (MUSA)

Anyone who has used GoogleEarth or MapQuest or a GPS-based navigation system or GIS software understands the power and potential of spatial analysis. A recent U.S. Department of Labor study identified geospatial analysis as one of twelve fastest growing knowledge-based professional fields. The MUSA (Master of Urban Spatial Analytics) degree is a 9-month master’s program coupling spatial analysis skills—most notably Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—with substantive knowledge in an urban content area of the student’s choosing. Full or part-time options available, the MUSA program provides a diverse, unique opportunity for those interested in using spatial analysis for research or professional activites focused on urban issues.
For more information on this program please contact the MUSA Program Director, Amy Hillier, or the MUSA Program Coordinator of Penn IUR, Laura Barron.
If you are receiving another degree and would like to earn a supplemental GIS Certificate, visit here.

Program Requirements

  • Five courses in spatial analysis and GIS
  • Two courses in a selected urban content area
  • One elective course
  • One capstone project course


Students enrolling in the MUSA program are expected to have a basic familiarity with GIS (including Esri's ArcGIS or ArcView programs) and descriptive/inferential statistics. For those who lack such background, MUSA and PennDesign offer introductory GIS and statistics courses as through the August “boot camp.”

Spatial Analysis and GIS Courses

MUSA 501 Big Data Analysis (Spatial Statistics and Data Analysis)
This course will introduce students to the calculation and use of statistical measures of spatial clustering; the use of clustering measures in regression and categorical data models; and basic techniques of data mining used to identify spatial and attribute patterns. 

MUSA 504 Business and Crime Geographics
This course will introduce students to the use of ArcGIS Business Analyst for retail market and analysis; and various GIS procedures for visualizing, analyzing, and model crime patterns.
MUSA 505 There’s an App for That (Web Mapping)
This course will build on MUSA 504 and LA 743 (above) to help students develop their desktop, smartphone, and web-based application that make use of geo-spatial data and analysis. 
MUSA 507 Applications of Urban Spatial Analysis
This course will introduce students to the use of ArcGIS and ArcGIS extensions for use in solving various urban and environmental planning problems, including police and health facility siting, land conservation and environmental overlay analysis, optimal routing, and development feasibility analysis and appraisal. 
MUSA 800 / LARP 745 Capstone Project
This course will provide the opportunity for MUSA students to develop a final capstone project bringing together mapping and spatial analysis, programing, and their urban content area. Students who do not enroll in the course, LARP 745, can complete capstones as an independent project with a faculty mentor.
CPLN 675 Land Use and Environmental Modeling
This course will introduce students to the use of GIS and spatial analysis software in understanding, modeling, and forecasting urban land use change; assessing the environmental and public service impacts of urban development; modeling hazard vulnerability; modeling runoff, stream flows, and water quality; and modeling urban air quality.
LARP 741 Modeling Geographic Space
This course will expose students to the full range and use of raster-based modeling in GIS. 
LARP 743 / CPLN 670 Geospatial Software Design
This course will introduce students to the programming in Python and related programming languages for use in building geo-spatial data models and web-based applications. 
For more course information visit Penn's register


Examples of recent student research areas include:

For more capstone projects and capstone posters, please visit the Capstone Projects page.

Recent Activity


MUSA graduates present their posters at the 2015 ESRI Conference in San Diego, CA. Penn IUR and PennDesign fund students to present their work at the event each year to gain further contacts in academia and industry. Qingyu Ma (pictured second from the left) received 3rd place in the People's Choice category for the ESRI Map Gallery competition this year. They also won ESRI's first intern hackathon.

  • Henry Bernberg's map was featured on the CartoDB site as "Map of the Week". View it here.
  • Emily Antoszky and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation launch an interactive map displaying school report cards throughout North Carolina. Learn more here.
  • Source launches new map called "Losing Ground". Explore it here.

For more news, check out the City and Regional Planning blog and see what's happening with PennDesign and MUSA Students.

To learn more about the MUSA Program, check out Penn IUR's "Learn about MUSA!" interview series, where students, alumni, and faculty share their experiences with the program.