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Thread: Policy oriented urban planning programs?

  1. #1
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    Policy oriented urban planning programs?

    Hi all! I'm a college senior from the Philippines, and my undergrad is Development Studies. One of my major subjects was urban development and I found a liking to it, that's why I plan on pursuing a career in Urban Planning. I'm bound to graduate in a few months and have been looking around for schools where I can take my MA in Urban Planning. However, as I was reading reviews on some programs, some of them tend to be more "design oriented" or "policy oriented". I have no background in design and would really just like to focus on policies. Could any of you recommend a school wherein their Urban Planning program is more policy oriented? Thank you so much!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Hey Carla,

    A good rule of thumb for determining whether a planning program is policy or design-oriented is what school at the university it is associated with (ie- public policy or architecture and design). That said, there are exceptions. The planning program at the University of Maryland is in the architecture school but it has a a strong policy focus. And some planning programs are not part of any school, so then you can look at the curriculum. I applied to planning school last year and am attending Rutgers in the fall. I also wanted a policy-focused program, and some of the policy-oriented schools I looked at (but not necessarily applied to) were Rutgers, U Maryland, USC, UCLA, and UNC. Hope this helps. If you aren't sure whether a school has the right focus for you, you can always email the program's director. I did that for a few schools.

  3. #3
    UC Irvine.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by 8hesaid View post
    Hey Carla,

    A good rule of thumb for determining whether a planning program is policy or design-oriented is what school at the university it is associated with (ie- public policy or architecture and design). That said, there are exceptions. The planning program at the University of Maryland is in the architecture school but it has a a strong policy focus. And some planning programs are not part of any school, so then you can look at the curriculum. I applied to planning school last year and am attending Rutgers in the fall. I also wanted a policy-focused program, and some of the policy-oriented schools I looked at (but not necessarily applied to) were Rutgers, U Maryland, USC, UCLA, and UNC. Hope this helps. If you aren't sure whether a school has the right focus for you, you can always email the program's director. I did that for a few schools.

    Thank you so much for your answer! I've been looking into Rutgers' program and I'm very interested!

  5. #5
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    look at oregan state

    I am also looking at schools right now. The University of Oregons' planning program is ran out of the department of planning, public policy, and management department and has a open curriculum that will allow you to take public policy classes and be close to people that will be working on the policy side of planning.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Are you interested in studying in the US only?

    I studies at the London School of Economics (LSE) which was very policy oriented. I received my MSc in Regional and Urban Planning Studies which I can't speak highly enough about. They also have an urbanisation and development programme which could be really interesting for you. PM me if you have any specific questions.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
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    Kind of a related question:

    If I'm mostly interested in policy issues, how different/useful is getting a Masters of Public Policy instead of a Masters of Urban Planning with a policy focus? What kind of jobs are open to one and not the other? I'm sure there are a lot of more technical planning positions that you wouldn't be able to get with an MPP, but in government (which is what I'm most interested in) I feel like there are probably some in-between positions. If I ultimately want to affect the built environment of my city in a positive way, are there certain positions for which the MPP is better than the MUP?

  8. #8
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    But....

    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    UC Irvine.
    Then you have to live in Irvine...

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    JM1998:

    A MPA is a useful degree for public-sector work (planning or non-planning). I've met some planners who have a MPA and have their AICP Certification. If you choose a planning program with a policy focus, it's likely to have many overlaps with an MPA. The difference would be (as you noted) an emphasis on the built environment (rather than all social or political).

    It's hard to generalize this topic. My best advice would be to talk to the programs you're interested in. This helped me make a decision.

    Hope this helps...

  10. #10
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    degrees across borders

    Quote Originally posted by archdav View post
    Are you interested in studying in the US only?

    I studies at the London School of Economics (LSE) which was very policy oriented. I received my MSc in Regional and Urban Planning Studies which I can't speak highly enough about. They also have an urbanisation and development programme which could be really interesting for you. PM me if you have any specific questions.

    Good luck!
    This leads into something I've been wondering about. If one where to get a graduate degree from say LSE, would he or she be constrained to working in the UK? Or if one were to study in the US, would he or she realistically only find work in the US?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by archdav View post
    JM1998:

    A MPA is a useful degree for public-sector work (planning or non-planning). I've met some planners who have a MPA and have their AICP Certification. If you choose a planning program with a policy focus, it's likely to have many overlaps with an MPA. The difference would be (as you noted) an emphasis on the built environment (rather than all social or political).

    It's hard to generalize this topic. My best advice would be to talk to the programs you're interested in. This helped me make a decision.

    Hope this helps...
    MPA is eventually a more versatile degree... many MPAs go into private consulting as well.

    Quote Originally posted by onceandfuture View post
    This leads into something I've been wondering about. If one where to get a graduate degree from say LSE, would he or she be constrained to working in the UK? Or if one were to study in the US, would he or she realistically only find work in the US?
    If you get a "global" brand, it shouldn't be a big issue, and LSE is one of the very few British universities that are well-known in America. Granted, I am not sure whether Masters in Urban Planning from the UK is regarded (I tend to think that European masters are shorter?)

  12. #12
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    Masters in Urban Planning and Policy

    University of Illinois at Chicago's degree is Master in Urban Planning and Policy. Students work across a broad spectrum of traditional planning, as well as organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including policy positions.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally posted by onceandfuture View post
    This leads into something I've been wondering about. If one where to get a graduate degree from say LSE, would he or she be constrained to working in the UK? Or if one were to study in the US, would he or she realistically only find work in the US?
    Old post, I know.

    The PD of a major city in upstate New York has a planning degree from LSE.

    For policy-oriented programs in the US, though, I think it's hard to beat Cleveland State. Their program is very much oriented towards policy and community development wonks, rather than the urban design, land use and transportation crowd.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I would say the curriculum matters. My Master's from the LSE for example touched on a range of international issues and therefore didn't really restrict one to UK planning only. If choosing a UK program look carefully and talk to the faculty. This is the best way to help you decide, but I would say places like the LSE, Cambridge and Oxford should hold some weight if you decide to return to the US as a planner.

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