Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Thinking of online bachelors, then planning master's... which degree to do?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739

    Thinking of online bachelors, then planning master's... which degree to do?

    I've been thinking of finishing my bachelor's degree through one of the online/distance learning options instead of taking classes at the university I'm currently enrolled at. The reason being that most of the universities around here only offer undergrad classes during the day. I could finish a bachelor's in planning but I would have to turn my life upside down to do it since I work full-time (and must continue to do so).

    So, my new plan is to possibly finish my bachelor's degree online then do a master's in planning at one of the local universities. University of Texas as well as Texas State University both offer graduate degrees in geography and the classes are at night, making it easier for working adults to finish their programs.

    I guess the question now is *what* undergrad degree would be best for someone wanting to enter a planning field. I have searched all over the place and there are no online bachelor's programs in planning. The closest I've found is a Geography degree and an Environmental Management degree. I have also heard that many planners do their undergrad work in Public Administration. Is this true?

    What kind of undergrad degree would you guys suggest for someone wanting to do a Masters Degree in Planning?


    EDIT: Forgot to add that I have a Certificate in GIS from Texas State University.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Check out this thread and if you have any additional questions for me after that, I would be happy to try to answer them: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=9521

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    I happen to be pursuing my Bachelor's in Environmental Resource Management with a concentration in Land Use Planning and Policy through an online degree program. That is the closest I could find. I talked about it some in this thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=9521

    And in this thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=14238

    And in this thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=12185

    And probably in a few others. I feel all talked out on the topic at the moment. But if you have any questions, let me know.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    I happen to be pursuing my Bachelor's in Environmental Resource Management with a concentration in Land Use Planning and Policy through an online degree program. That is the closest I could find. I talked about it some in this thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=9521

    And in this thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=14238

    And in this thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=12185

    And probably in a few others. I feel all talked out on the topic at the moment. But if you have any questions, let me know.
    Thanks for the link and I will definitely check it out The only problem I foresee is that the school is in California and I am a Texas resident, so the tuition may be more than I could handle financially.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Thanks for the link and I will definitely check it out The only problem I foresee is that the school is in California and I am a Texas resident, so the tuition may be more than I could handle financially.
    Because it is an online degree, the tuition is the same regardless of where you live. As things go, the tuition seems fairly reasonable to me. But you have to decide such things for yourself.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    Because it is an online degree, the tuition is the same regardless of where you live. As things go, the tuition seems fairly reasonable to me. But you have to decide such things for yourself.
    Ah, well in that case, yes, it is quite reasonable I will ask for more information on the program as it does seem very good for someone wanting to go into planning.

    Thanks for your help!

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Capital District, Albany, New York
    Posts
    74
    How close are you to finishing your bachelor's?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Quote Originally posted by RSW
    How close are you to finishing your bachelor's?
    I have about 65 hours completed so far so I'm basically halfway done. Also, I did a lot of upper-level courses earlier on and skipped many of my basics. I still have to go back and do some histories, etc.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Capital District, Albany, New York
    Posts
    74
    OK, I am just thinking it is so much better to have a degree from a traditional institution rather than from an online one. I am just thinking of how I, and I would guess many people, might perceive the validity of the degree. Even though you plan to go onto a Master's, it would be nice to have the Bachelor's you started under your belt - one never knows what can happen in life, or where life will take you (or how long things may take).

    Is there any chance of taking some online courses and having some of the credits transfer back into your Bachelor's program? Then maybe satisfying some history, etc. course requirements at some local community college that offers courses at night? And then doing everything possible to figure out how to schedule the remaining undergrad classes in with your work day?

    I'm no expert and I am not trying to put down online courses but I see a lot of value in completing the Bachelor's you've started rather than using the online method. Out of interest, have you talked to anyone in admissions at the Master's Programs you are considering in regards to how your potential for admission would be impacted by having an online degree versus a traditional one?

    Rob

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,347
    You might try to knock out those basics at ACC; I think they offer night classes. I don't know what the rules are about when you can transfer hours and such or whether your last 60 have to be at the university you graduate from or not.

    You might see if you can sub one of the graduate level classes for the undergrad equivalent. You can sometimes do this using the independent study programs.

    There are several planners floating around that have BPAs. As long as you take some background classes in planning you should be OK. Most of these programs have electives that allow you to specialize a little bit if you want, such as finance, HR, public policy or planning.

    Going BPA to Masters in Planning seems to make sense to me. I know a few former BPA students at Texas State that are getting either the MPA with planning emphasis or MAG in planning. If you're looking at the BPA to MAG transition at Texas State, it should mesh well. The new Geography chair came from the PoliSci arena, so I expect more emphasis on the public administrative aspects of the geography department.

    Texas State public administration is trying to make more internet classes available due to lack of classroom space. They also have several undergrad classes available at night.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    You guys have made some good points. I may try to finish the traditional way if possible.

    Texas State doesn't offer much in the way of night classes for their planning degrees but a Public Administration degree would be easier to come by in the Austin Area. I know that St. Edwards University has a Public Admin. degree or two and they have a program for adult students where you can do everything in evening/weekend courses.

    I will look into these other programs and see what I can find. I just want to avoid having to drive all the way to San Marcos a few times a week (60 mile round trip), during the middle of the day, while working full-time. That just isn't feasible.

  12. #12
          roger's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2004
    Location
    austin, tx
    Posts
    118
    Definitely check out St. Edwards. They have aggressively moved into a niche by providing programs that accommodate working adults (a niche from which UT is conspicuously absent )

    I think a Bachelor's degree in Geography would be ideal for someone wanting to enter planning. If the Geography dept. at UT offers undergrad classes at night you might look into that as well.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Some online degree programs do have a bad reputation. But so do some colleges that meet in a brick and mortar environment. I took a correspondence/video course years ago and I really didn't like it. Online classes are a vast improvement over older forms of distance learning. They allow you good access to your professor and if they are from a reputable institution they are just as rigorous as a class that, in my opinion, gives you an excess of credit for warming a chair with your bottom. No, they aren't for everyone. You have to be fairly organized and a self-starter. When I began taking online classes, a high percentage of students didn't finish the class because they didn't have to show up at a set time and the professor wasn't nagging them to do their work, etc. I think that is changing but it is still a factor for some people, personality-wise. Additionally, if you have trouble with learning from reading it and have trouble expressing yourself in writing, it will be a harder row to hoe than a traditional classroom. I know people who would not be a good fit for an online program and it has nothing to do with intelligence. Some people just need some of the things provided by a traditional classroom that you don't get in an online program. I don't need those things. I need the flexibility that an online program gives me.

    The program I am in is an extension program. That means you have to get the first two years somewhere else. I think it is a good program and I have had excellent professors. CSU-Bakersfield is part of the California State University system, so it is a reputable college. But it is the youngest of the CSU campuses and I think that is why they have an excellent, cutting-edge online degree program. I imagine that prejudice against online programs will not last and it will eventually become just like brick and mortar institutions: some are more reputable than others but the lack of respectability of some is no reason to not go at all.

    However, colleges generally are increasingly coming up with alternative formats -- weekend classes, condensed classes, etc. -- to meet the needs of the lucrative "non-traditional student" market. Non-traditional students have jobs. They often pay for tuition out of their own pocket. They are motivated and not partying their butt off at some frat house. On average, they tend to be better students than the 18 to 22 year old traditional student crowd. So, yes, if you haven't really researched it thoroughly, you may well be overlooking some program in your area that is logistically feasible for you to attend.

    Also, please note that the vast majority of planning programs are Master's degrees. There are very few Bachelor's in Planning. That means most folks in planning have a degree in something else at the bachelor's level. Some "popular" majors seem to be: geography, environmental studies, GIS, and public policy/administration. However, that doesn't mean you can't get a degree in something else. My sister always told me that it doesn't matter very much what you get your Bachelor's in -- it is just a way to get your foot in the door and most folks don't work in the field that their bachelor's was intended to prepare them for. So if you expand the types of majors you are willing to consider, you may find it easier to find an alternative degree program that works for you.

    Keep the overall goal in mind -- a career in planning -- and don't get too distracted just yet with focusing on one specific means to get there.

    Additionally, you might check out California Virtual Campus, a portal that is intended to work as a one-stop catelog for ALL online classess, degrees, etc. in the state of California.

    HTH/good luck.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Not Cliff Island, Maine :(
    Posts
    589
    I'm planning on getting my master's online. Not sure in what or from where yet... but it will definitely be accredited. Right now, I'm leading towards an MS in Statistics from Colorado State University. I'd prefer economics, but I haven't found a suitable distance program for that yet. I think it's only a matter of time though. The administration folks at Colorado State said that their online program is growing by leaps and bounds and is a great revenue stream. They said they wouldn't be surprised if online students at CSU outnumbered in-person students soon.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  15. #15
    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    427
    Hey - does anyone offer master degrees without having to go to college or any other school work?

    It seems the educational system in the US is anti-lazy biased.

  16. #16
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,347
    I completely forgot about St. Edwards! That might be a really good option for you.

    Texas State does have some satelite classes held in Austin. Some of them meet at one of the Round Rock high schools (they are building a campus in Round Rock in the next couple of years) and in Austin. I know you can earn a MPA scheduling classes exclusively at the two Austin sites. Public Administration utilizes the Austin meeting places a lot since many of the professors live up there and there is a space shortage on the San Marcos campus. I know the MPA program tries to tailor itself more for working adults, but I don't know much about the undergrad. I'm not sure, but I think they offer a lot of undergrad PA classes as well in Austin. Both UT and Texas State need to do a better job in offering undergrad evening classes.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    Both UT and Texas State need to do a better job in offering undergrad evening classes.
    Isn't that the truth!!!

    Well, I looked into St. Edwards and while their program is great, it is way too expensive for me. They charge over $530.00 per credit hour! How in the hell do people afford to go there?

    I'm going to write UT's grad school and ask what online universities they will accept degrees from when students apply to their grad program. There are many PA degrees online from accredited institutions (such as U. of Phoenix), so I will see what my options are.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    skating on thin ice
    Posts
    6,958
    Quote Originally posted by teshadoh
    Hey - does anyone offer master degrees without having to go to college or any other school work?

    It seems the educational system in the US is anti-lazy biased.
    From what i understand degrees are readily available from any school and for any profession in nigeria. Your spam blocker must be too good.

    Me I have a PHD in molecular physics from MIT, a MBA from Harvard and a PHD from the London School of Economics and it is not helping me get a high paying job.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Moderator note:
    EDIT: Sorry if this takes the thread off topic. I'll split it if it generates enough response.


    I think this will change over time, but I think on-line degrees have a stigma attached to them, as if they are inferior to traditional programs. I am not sure if this is just a local perception, any thoughts?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    739
    Update:

    After lots of searching, I found an online degree at an accredited school, right here in Texas. I've talked to the director of the program on the phone and it sounds like it's going to fit my needs very well. It's a BAAS where you take many different courses depending on the direction you're going with your career. I plan on taking geography, public administration and sociology courses. Once I'm done, it's on to graduate school for a Masters in Planning

    Planned Undergraduate Program:

    - Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences - Liberal Arts Concentration


    Planned Graduate Program:

    - Master of Science in Community & Regional Planning

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2002
    Location
    The Basement
    Posts
    86
    I think an undergrad degree in Public Administration is a good way to go prior to beginning a Master's program in Planning. That is the route that I took. I feel that the public administration background provided me with a more in-depth look into local government - both the management and the political side. Planning programs do not necessarily hit the full range of how government works - something that planners need to be familiar with. In my opinion, the public administration/planning combo makes for a well-rounded planning education.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Not Cliff Island, Maine :(
    Posts
    589
    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    I think this will change over time, but I think on-line degrees have a stigma attached to them, as if they are inferior to traditional programs. I am not sure if this is just a local perception, any thoughts?
    That perception does exist. But I do think it is changing, especially as more and more major universities are offering their programs through a distance program. Major universities are just realizing the untapped demand out there. As more and more people want to work and go to school at the same time... and the technologoy is now here to facilitate it, more and more major schools are getting into it. Those that get into it now will reap huge benefits. Places that have no "real" campus have been the sole beneficiaries of this market, but it is changing.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by Breed
    That perception does exist. But I do think it is changing, especially as more and more major universities are offering their programs through a distance program. Major universities are just realizing the untapped demand out there. As more and more people want to work and go to school at the same time... and the technologoy is now here to facilitate it, more and more major schools are getting into it. Those that get into it now will reap huge benefits. Places that have no "real" campus have been the sole beneficiaries of this market, but it is changing.
    When I began taking online classes, you usually had to have midterms and finals proctored. And attend an orientation at the campus. And possibly buy your books on campus. Now, there are a number of programs for hosting online classrooms, built in calendars, schedules, secure online quizes, secure online midterms and finals, etc. I think it is becoming more common to be able to sign up and pay for your class online, order your textbooks online, and the whole shebang. As gas prices go up, I think this type of "telecommuting" to class will be seen as more and more of a viable alternative.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 9
    Last post: 15 Aug 2012, 12:31 PM
  2. Replies: 15
    Last post: 09 May 2011, 5:18 PM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last post: 14 Oct 2010, 5:32 PM
  4. Job with bachelors degree?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 17
    Last post: 21 Feb 2010, 1:36 AM
  5. Replies: 11
    Last post: 01 Nov 2007, 2:49 PM