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Many travel modelers obtained their education through one or more traditional fields of study, but were also able to extend their knowledge through on-the-job experience. Someone interested in pursuing a career in travel modeling and has enough time to plan a curriculum may benefit from this recommendation by the TRB’s Committee on Transportation Demand Forecasting and TRB’s Subcommitee on Statewide Travel Demand Forecasting.

Courses and Areas of Study

The following topics should be covered in a college program through a master’s or doctoral level curriculum for anyone wanting to fully participate in a travel modeling group immediately upon graduation from college.

The curriculum could potentially be housed in any of the following program areas

  • Civil engineering
  • Dual engineering/planning
  • Applied computer science
  • Applied mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Operations research/management science/logistics
  • Geography
  • Interdisciplinary degree program

High School

  • Core:
  • Mathematics through trigonometry
  • English, 4 years (in the US)
  • Science, 4 years (including physics and chemistry)
  • Elementary computer programming
  • Elective:
  • Additional topics in computer programming, including OOP


  • Core:
  • Calculus through differential equations
  • Linear algebra (1 semester)
  • English composition (in the US)
  • Basic and advanced statistics (2 semesters, calculus-based)
  • Computer programming, any contemporary language beyond high school-level topics (1 semester)
  • Elementary economic theory (a micro/macro sequence, 2 semesters)
  • Communications (technical writing and presentations)
  • Other program-specific requirements
  • Electives:
  • Additional coursework in computer programming, including object-oriented programming and data structures (1 or 2 semesters)
  • Database management
  • Introduction to transportation planning
  • Traffic engineering
  • Numerical analysis
  • Introduction to operations research
  • Probability theory or a course in finite mathematics that includes probability topics
  • Urban geography
  • Introduction to econometrics
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Introduction to geographic information systems (GIS)


  • Core:
  • Linear and nonlinear optimization theory
  • Intermediate geographic information systems
  • Elements of travel forecasting
  • Urban/regional development theory or introduction to regional science
  • Statistical computing
  • Transportation network models and algorithms
  • Other program-specific requirements
  • Electives:
  • Travel forecasting project(s) (includes data sources and software)
  • Traffic systems planning and operations
  • Logistics and supply chain management
  • More methods of statistical inference (including econometrics)
  • Advanced network models and algorithms
  • Artificial intelligence or machine learning
  • Project management
  • Methods of survey research
  • Human behavior
  • Choice theory
  • Advanced geographic information systems
  • Traffic flow theory
  • Geographical statistics
  • Data mining
  • Additional topics in database management
  • Thesis or dissertation
  • Additional topics (may be part of another course):
  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Transportation policy
  • Practical aspects of travel model building, including calibration and software tools