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Thread: Math undergraduate degree?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Math undergraduate degree?

    I've finally decided to get out of engineering, but I've known I've been in the wrong place for a long time. I'd like to switch to math because (among other reasons) most of the classes I've taken will apply to that degree. My boss is arguing that I should take a history degree and then (since I have an interest in it) consider a urban planning master.

    If I decide to go into urban planning, would it be better to have a Batchelor in math or in some easier subject like history?

  2. #2
    If you already have lots of hours in Math, stick with that. There are lots of planning jobs that can utilize strong math skills.

    You can get into a graduate planning program with either a math or history degree.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    What about an undergrad in actuarial sciences?

    Would be useful as a planner to understand and be able to manipulate demographics and stats.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    If I went into math, I would focus on statistics. I forgot to mention that. My current job is at a statistical agency, so I thought that might be helpful to use as experience as well.

    I don't have a lot of hours in math exactly, just some calculus. More than I'd need for a history degree. I'm mainly thinking of my science. I had to take 15 hours of science for engineering, and they were grueling, but I'm done with them now. Math also requires 15 hours. I'm not sure about the other LAS degrees (like history) but I doubt they require that much.

  5. #5
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Go with statistics, that may even get you out of some of that sort of course work in your Masters program. Make sure you learn how to explain regression to a City Council.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Most master's programs don't care what your undergrad degree is in, so long as you have one. That specialization can help you head in a particular direction with your career, though. History would tend to take you in a different direction than statistics. Which (of the two, or of anything else) is more interesting to you? Don't be afraid of taking a few more courses than the minimum you need to graduate, whether it may be because the topic interests you or whether it is because you want to change your major to something else. The majority of students don't finish in four years. As Ohio said, though, math (especially statistics) can be a very good planning background.

  7. #7
    maudit anglais
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    Just throwing something out Jordanb, but have you thought about getting into transportation modelling? A math undergrad degree could be useful, and would probably allow you to get into a Masters in Transportation Planning program. Northwestern apparently has a good rep.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I never seriously considered a math degree. But I was inducted into Mu Alpha Theta (a college level math honor society) when I was 16 and in 11th grade. I had NO CLUE in high school how unusually good I was in math nor how valuable that is. Nearly 17 years later, I did a little review and CLEPed Algebra, scoring in the 80th percentile (or better -- I can't remember exaclty), to complete my Associate's Degree. That fall, I got waivered into Statistics based on my 17 year old SAT scores.

    Math is an awesome skill to have and it can be hard to study later if you get married, have kids, and are going to school while working. Every math heavy class I take is an easy A because I have a solid background. Hydrology is all mathematical modeling, some GIS classes require a good grasp of math, and a lot of people who can supposedly work the formulas don't understand the concepts well enough to make good decisions about what data to use, etc. So a lot of stuff that can be relevant to what planners do can be pretty math intensive -- and most folks are ill equipped to do well at such things. I think if you went into planning and went into something supposedly not math heavy, it would make you better able to talk to the engineers and people like that -- folks seem to be The Bane of a lot of planners lives.

    I was a history major for a time. My husband is presently a history major. If you have a serious interest in history, you are probably reading "for fun" stuff that is way beyond most of what you would be exposed to at the undergrad level. But most folks don't do math "for fun". Your knowledge of history is likely to grow simply out of interest in it, whether you take classes in it or not. Your knowledge of math is unlikely to grow much without rigorous study. I would suggest you go for the statistics degree.

    "just my 2 cents/ hope that helps"

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