Smart Cities and Urban Policy Master


Read more about this programme on the school's website

Programme Description

In an increasingly global economy, metropolitan areas are basic components of economic competition and growth. Capital, labour pools, knowledge, infrastructures, and their distribution within and across geographical space play a major role in the economic development and prosperity of a metropolitan area.

As highlighted by the Economist, a report from the American think-tank Brookings Institution shows that “the world's largest 300 metropolitan economies account for 19% of the global population and almost half the world's GDP. In the past decade, incomes and jobs tended to grow faster in these urban areas than their national averages”.

Despite international competition and free mobility of inputs like assets, raw materials, and knowledge, location still plays a fundamental role as a competitive edge. As rail, port and road infrastructures were amongst the key factors when determining where to locate a new business or a new branch, scarce human resources are now part of the decision-making process.

As Joel Kotkin wrote in his book The New Geography (2012), “these changes profoundly alter the very nature of the place and its importance by de-emphasizing physical factors...and placing greater emphasis on the concentration of human skills in dense concentrations of the population”.

More resourceful than their non-metropolitan counterparts, metropolitan economies take advantage of bigger markets for good and services, have more specialized workers pools, and benefit from more advanced and reliable transportation and telecommunications services. In this context, metropolitan areas tend to be the main generators of economic prosperity and a breeding ground for innovative tech companies.

The 21st-century metropolitan regions are being transformed and are embracing new technological, urban and mobility challenges. In order to successfully fit into the metropolitan booming transformation, a lot of existing cities will have to implement an effective, sustainable and tailor-made economic strategy. Shaping new urban patterns, preserving and enhancing their environment, and striking a balance between fast rates of urbanization and people’s quality of life are among the challenges to overcome.

The Smart Cities and Urban Policy Graduate Degree provides an in-depth understanding of new and transforming metropolitan areas and their competitive environments.


Joel Kotkin, "The New Geography" (2012)

"Metro economies", The Economist - December 4, 2012

"Global MetroMonitor 2012: Slowdown, Recovery, and Interdependence" by Emilia Istrate and Carey Anne Nadeau, The Brookings Institution - November 30, 2012

Programme Description

Following the École Polytechnique’s tradition of excellence in the applied sciences, the Smart Cities and Urban Policy Graduate Degree is designed for students with a strong mathematical background and an interest in economics.

For those who wish to obtain a rigorous, in-depth knowledge of metroeconomics challenges and are looking to use their technical skills in strategy and leadership-oriented roles, this degree will provide the know-how to navigate the trends shaping the 21st metropolitan economies. The program involves applying advanced quantitative methods to the study of new and transforming metropolitan areas and their competitive environments.

Teaching is resolutely professional-oriented, relying on a combination of methodological teachings and real-world case studies to uncover the hidden trends guiding the evolution of specific market segments and business models.

Courses include high-level scientific master classes taught by faculty from École Polytechnique and our partner school Ecole des Ponts ParisTech.

The Smart Cities and Urban Policy program emphasizes hands-on, experimental learning by inviting you into with the worlds of research and industry, notably through four to six-month internships.

The professional orientation of the program is strengthened by the strong and mutual links with industrial and institutional partners from various and relevant fields: real estate, finance, energy, international organizations, and ministries. Institutions and companies such as The World Bank, SNI, EDF, and SNCF are among the program partners – to name just a few.

Programme Structure

Please note this list is indicative of the structure of the program and may be subject to change.


First term (Mid September to Mid December)

1. Three mandatory courses (3 x 4 ECTS) :

  • ECO559 - Urban Economics and Real Estate
  • ECO572 - Environmental economics and Policies in cities
  • ECO552 - Econometrics 1

2. One elective course (4 ECTS) to be chosen among:

  • ECO554 - Corporate Finance
  • ECO556 - Industrial Organization

Second term (January to March)

1. Three mandatory courses (3 x 4 ECTS) :

  • ECO567A - Environment and Local Development Economics
  • ECO567B - Traffic and Transportation systems in urban contexts
  • ECO562 - Applied Econometrics

2. One elective course to be chosen among (4 ECTS):

  • ECO564 - Economics of Energy Sectors
  • ECO583 - Business Economics

3. One elective MIE course to be chosen among (4 ECTS) :

  • MIE562 - Case Studies of Innovation
  • MIE564 - Technology-based entrepreneurship and new business creation
  • MIE569 - Sustainable Strategy and Business model

First & second terms

ECO611A and B - Lecture series in Finance and Economics

  • One Foreign language module (French language module for non-French speaking students) - 3 ECTS
  • Two modules of Humanities and French Culture - 3 ECTS
  • Sport - 2 ECTS
  • ECO512 Capstone project (4 ECTS)

Third term (April to July)

Research project or internship at a company (ECO591) (20 ECTS)


First semester

Coursework topics include:

  • Training in geographical information systems
  • Urban Economic
  • Housing Economics
  • Economics of land use
  • Real estate finance
  • The spatial dimension of public policies: urban planning
  • Energy, environment, and sustainability
  • Urban growth in developing countries
  • Discrete Choice Econometric
  • Transportation Economics
  • Regulation of transportation
  • Climate change and the future of cities
  • Housing credit
  • Economic geography and aggregation of cities
  • Network economics with applications to cities and transportation systems
  • Big data
  • One Foreign language module (French language module for non-speaking students)
  • One module of Humanities and French Culture
  • Sport
  • Company visits.

Second semester

A research or industrial internship lasting at least 6 months.

Career Outcomes

The Smart Cities and Urban Policy program is tailored for students who intend to embark upon careers as executives, in the public and private sector. The program provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to gain to succeed in their career paths.

Different career paths are available upon degree completion:

  • Managerial positions in various industries such as transportation, energy, environment, commercial real estate, urban and infrastructure management and services.
  • Economic advisory positions in local, regional, governmental and international institutions.
  • Consultancy positions, in which case the market knowledge gained from the program will be invaluable.

Application requirements and deadlines

Applicants must hold or expect to hold a Bachelor's degree in Economics, Mathematics, Civil Engineering and/or Transportation Studies, or "Diplôme d'ingénieur" prior to the beginning of the program.

English Language requirements

Applicants must demonstrate full English-language proficiency. The tests that we accept are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ibt) and the following Cambridge General English Tests: First (FCE), Advanced (CAE) and Proficiency (CPE).

The minimum scores required are:

  • TOEFL IBT 90
  • IELTS 6.5
  • Cambridge Test - First (FCE) Grade B - 176

Scores must date no earlier than two years prior to the start of the program.

List of supporting documents needed

No paper copies are needed for the admission review process. If you are admitted, you may be required to submit official or certified hard copies before the start of the program. Supporting documents include:

  • Scanned copies of transcripts of all previous post-secondary education (including exchange programmes and programmes you did not complete)
  • Official document or letter from your university explaining the grading and ranking system
  • For completed programs: scanned copies of degrees
  • For programs still in progress: certificate of enrolment by your home university stating the title of the expected degree and date of completion. This document must prove that you are at least in your final year of undergraduate studies.
  • Personal Statement. Minimum: approx. 700 words, in French or English. Please use the form provided in the online application system.
  • Contact details for two referees (Names, positions & emails). A letter of recommendation form will be sent directly to them.
  • CV or resume, without any biographical gaps, maximum: 2 pages, in French or English;
  • Copy of passport (or ID card for European students)
  • Copy of TOEFL/IELTS (taken less than 2 years before)

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are €12,000 per academic year.

Health Insurance

Please note that registration with a health insurance scheme is compulsory in France when you enrol at a Higher Education Institution.

If you come from any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and are already registered with a national health insurance provider, you must apply for the European health insurance card. This card is free and will give you access to state-provided healthcare during your stay in France under the same conditions and at the same cost as nationals.

Students from Quebec are exempt from joining the French Student Social Security upon presentation of Form #SE401Q106.

Room & Board

Ecole Polytechnique is pleased to provide accommodation on campus for all graduate degree students given that they request it within the timeframe.

The rent is 617 euros per month (including housing insurance). You will also be required to pay a security deposit of 617 euros upon arrival. All residences are equipped with a shared-kitchen but you may also have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at our university restaurant from Monday to Saturday. A lunch meal costs approximately 2 to 4 euros thanks to our student discount rate. Monthly expenses for meals usually range from 200 to 350 euros.

Financial aid

Students receive assistance from the Housing Office to apply for the French National Housing Benefit "CAF". Students usually obtain a financial aid of 150-200 euros per month.

All our students receive the ISIC card (International Student Identity Card) automatically and for free. They gain preferential and discounted access to over 150,000 products, services, and experiences relevant to all aspects of student life.

Additional scholarship opportunities can be found at CampusFrance website (e.g. French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development for international students). Please note that the French scholarship "CROUS" is not compatible with our degree.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

École Polytechnique is a leading French institute which combines top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its curriculum promotes a culture of excel ... Read More

École Polytechnique is a leading French institute which combines top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its curriculum promotes a culture of excellence with a strong emphasis on science, anchored in humanist traditions. The school produces socially responsible professionals who excel in leading complex and innovative projects which address current and future challenges facing our society. Read Less