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Thread: Best urban planning schools

  1. #1
         
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    Best urban planning schools

    I understand that the answer to the question, Which are the best urban planning schools is not an easy one, but I am looking for some kind of guidance. I am newly interested in the field, but the end of my senior year at Colby College is approaching rapidly. I have been looking into a few programs that I have heard of through word-of-mouth (i.e. UNC, Buffalo, Cornell,...) but I really don't have any good way of narrowing down the list of the rest of the schools. I don't have a particular path or specification in mind at the moment, so I'm interested in the most general programs. Is there any sort of publication that tries to sort these all out? And if not, how did you decide on the school you did? Any advice would be most appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Glasshouse's avatar
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    I didn't attend an urban planning school, but when I selected the college I went to, I walked around campus and checked out the chic's first........very important.

    Something about not being able to write.

    Bob

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Merlin
    ...how did you decide on the school you did? Any advice would be most appreciated.
    UNC-CH. It was the most affordable at the time. I also considered MIT (mega-$$$) and Rutgers. Rutgers nearly made the cut until I learned that the faculty members I wanted to work with were primarily involved in research rather than teaching.

    I also visited UNC, since I had never been to North Carolina. If you can visit some of the schools and talk to faculty, current students, and alumni (especially those that live in your area), you may find that very helpful.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Have a glance through the threads in the Student Lounge.....this is a topic that has been covered many times.

    The program that is the best fit for you is not necessarily the "best" school. Do some research, and pick a program that meets YOUR needs.

    Good luck!
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Belle's avatar
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    I found these questions (collective gasp, a helpful page from our friends at APA!) to be useful when I was considering programs. Also consider size of the incoming planning class and the entire program. Finally, cost is probably the most important factor; as people here can attest, planning is not a particularly lucrative career, so don't spend too much on your education! Good luck!

    (All that said, I graduated from Clemson [a generalist program] in May, and I would highly recommend it.)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Some thoughts

    Overall, I think there are three factors to consider- (1) does the school make it onto a generally accepted list of good planning schools (PAB accreditation is one factor, reputation overall is another); (2) is the school located in a place you'd be interested in living, at least for a few years, because getting your first job is easier if you're willing to network in that area (note- I did not end up where I went to school, but that was kind of a fluke) and (3) how much money do they generally have to give out in aid (look for the big state schools to have more money than private schools overall).

    Don't get sucked in by the "top ten" mentality- unless you have your own funds and/or want to work overseas. I'd say you can stick with a "top 25" or "top 50" and be fine if you work at school and intern, etc.

    It will really help if you intern or such before you start school- so you have a sense that planning is really something you want to do- lots of people with planning degrees end up deciding they want to do something else and have to go back to school again for an MBA or such.


    Quote Originally posted by Merlin
    I understand that the answer to the question, Which are the best urban planning schools is not an easy one, but I am looking for some kind of guidance. I am newly interested in the field, but the end of my senior year at Colby College is approaching rapidly. I have been looking into a few programs that I have heard of through word-of-mouth (i.e. UNC, Buffalo, Cornell,...) but I really don't have any good way of narrowing down the list of the rest of the schools. I don't have a particular path or specification in mind at the moment, so I'm interested in the most general programs. Is there any sort of publication that tries to sort these all out? And if not, how did you decide on the school you did? Any advice would be most appreciated.

  7. #7
    See the ACSP Guide to Planning Education which provides a profile of each accredited planning school. This can help in comparing schools. See http://www.acsp.org

  8. #8
    Member JasonLB's avatar
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    and do make sure to visit and talk to students

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I agree with the line of thought above...don't get caught up in some rating system of the "best" planning schools. There are good generalist programs out there...and Clemson is a good one (yes I went there), but it is likely that your first job will be in the same area you go to school in, from my experience.

    I have hired and fired and am never all that intrigued by the grad school name.

    Bottom line: a solid accredited schol that offers and provides excellent internship opportunities will serve you well.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    MIT, Cornell, Rutgers, Harvard, Berkeley, and UNC Chapel Hill all have excellent planning programs.

    MIT, while very expensive, excels in International Development Planning (many graduates of this specialization comprise a strong percentage of the workforce at the UN, World Bank, etc.) and is probably the most well integrated program for real estate development and planning policy.

    Harvard has a strong physical design orientation - you must know and/or be willing to learn how to draw. And while policy and finance courses are available at Harvard, there's an overwhelming emphasis on the studio courses; you are required to take at least one every semester.

    Cornell's program excels in the area of resource management.

    Berkeley, along with MIT, is one of the most sought after planning programs and is very much like the MIT program.

    Rutgers and UNC Chapel Hill are great generalist programs.

    While you've got time, you should probably starting visiting schools or at least start researching.
    Last edited by schristmas; 28 Dec 2004 at 9:48 PM. Reason: size

  11. #11
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    Be practical

    You'll want a school that will offer you an excellent chance at a great internship, which will be as important as your schooling; most people seem to get their job through their internship, or use it as their first resume line when seeking to become an "entry level" planner.

    Therefore, a program like University of Illinois at Chicago, which has transportation planning, community development and physical planning is a good choice. it's a good program and the only planning school for all of Chicago. It's also affordable - experience shows that those graduating from Harvard or Berkely, while admirable, are getting the sma ejobs as those graduating from Hunter College, Buffalo or UIC.

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