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Thread: School suggestions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian masafer's avatar
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    School suggestions

    I will be graduating with a BA in geography from the University of Chicago this year, and am looking to apply to Masters Planning programs. Topics which interest me include mass-transit, transit oriented development and green transportation alternatives. Do you know of any interesting work being done in these fields, or any other schools that would be worth considering? Schools on my list right now include NYU, Maryland, Georgia Tech and U of Florida. Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Rutgers University - top scholars (e.g. Pucher), strong GIS program, on-campus transportation research institute, Northern NJ-NYC mass transit system as your playground. There are also interdisciplinary opportunities available with NJIT, Princeton (Woodrow Wilson)and other Rutgers graduate departments (geography is strong program, for instance). Plus, being a state school they have money for research projects and TA/RA positions. In fact, I would recommend applying to state planning schools for this reason(notable exceptions include MIT, which is also a good choice - good programs, research money). Also, you should generally look at urban planning programs in areas where you would like to work afterwards(if you know this yet) for purposes of internships, connections.

    As you can probably guess, I am a student in the Rutgers MCRP program.

    (and AB'98 (geography) from U of C)

  3. #3
    I noticed Georgia Tech is on your list. Assistant Professor Larry Frank at the Georgia Institute of Technology is in charge of an interesting program there called "Smartraq". Atlanta might be an interesting laboratory for your study, given its reputation as the poster child of sprawl, intolerable traffic congestion, and its recent efforts to embrace transit.

    I noticed California is not on your list, but it is there that many of the transit oriented developments have been implemented. UC-Berkeley is one of the highest, if not the highest ranking graduate planning programs. Jerry Weitz

  4. #4
    I noticed you did not have University of Pennsylvania! As a MCP grad from this program, Im have to give it props! I am concentrating in transportation planning and realized how much I learned there! The program is run under Dr. Genie Birch but transportation planning is under Dr. Tony Tomazinis! You should definitely check it out!

    You can also get certificates in several areas of concentration! However, if money is an issue, it might sway your decision! Although lots of scholarships and grants for grad students and MCP students!

  5. #5
    UC Berkeley is not the highest ranking planning program. . . should I remind you that Penn won an award for the best city planning program?

    Berekeley is WAY tooo liberal for someone from Chicago. . . remember to stay where your interests lie! If you want to settle in Chicago, I would not suggest traveling far to do your masters work in planning! Planning is different on the east coast from the west coast. . . poicitcs are different. . . just something to keep in mind!

  6. #6
    UCLA -top scholars (eg. Soja). Good transpo pgm. Like Rutgers, it also has an inhouse transpo grp, Institute of Transportation Studies. ITS is on 4 UC Campuses, including Berkeley. And like a typical public school, it provides many opportunities for funding. For transpo, ITS offers fellowships (free $) if you study transpo. LA has a myriad of internship opportunites and UCLA hosts a session in late fall where orgs come & interview/get to know perspective internees. Everyone gets matched up some way or somehow. Even if LA's transpo system isn't the most efficient (mass transit speaking), there are still good mass transit internship opportunities. You can also go across town to USC for courses - get a good real estate education (USC's forte) and pay UCLA tuition only, or go to other UC campuses. For ex, I plan to do a summer internship in the Bay Area (maybe MUNI or BART), and then proceed to start at Berkeley for fall. My winter/spring internship will prob be in LA w/ maybe MTA or any of the numerous transit companies in greater LA. Coming from U of C (Geog AB'98) I'm all for small classes and the one good thing about studying transpo here is that it's a subspecialty (under the SPAN concentration) and it's a close knit group-both faculty & students. Lastly, the faculty here is tops, and the relationsihp w/students is casual and confident. Also-if you want to go on to work in a major city make sure you are in one (not necessarily the one you want to work in) & HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO INTERN IN ONE, esp one w/ mass transit if that's what you're into (that's why I'm going to SF hopefully), and make sure you have connections--either through the student body or faculty.

    And I'm sure you can adjust to Berkeley if you were to go there. The only differences betwn west coast, east coast, and the midwest is what you make out of it. Picking the right city to intern in is key.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian masafer's avatar
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    Thanks for everyone's help. I didn't realize there were so many maroons around here! Liberal is not a problem for me, we're not ALL crazy conservatives up here. I am primarily looking at the Eastern schools, as I am from Florida. California is a bit too far from where I am now, and recognizing the different issues there, too far from where I eventually want to be.

    Someone mentioned Penn. I was a bit concerned by information I found stating that they viewed work experience as a big plus. As I am planning on entering an MA program directly from undergrad, this would seem to diminish my chances. Does anyone have any insight on this?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Definately consider Penn. I am a current student in the program and entered the fall following graduation from undergrad. Work experience can be good, but is in no means required. In fact, many students who have worked for a few years after college, did so in fields entirely unrelated to planning and then decided to switch careers. Applying right out of school shows that you already know what you want to do. Penn's program is growing and this year took a large, diverse group of students from numerous educational and work backgrounds. You should seriously consider it if you are interested in studying planning in the heart of northeast megalopolis.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    I would say that if you are considering schools on the East Coast and want to do transportation apply to the following schools (from North to South):

    1) MIT
    2) Harvard
    3) Rutgers
    4) Penn
    5) Georgia Tech

    I am a alumnus of the Georgia Tech and can tell you its an excellent program with a active dual masters (available through the civil engineering department with a concentration in transportation engineering) degree program which is done by more than half of city planning students specializing in transportation.

    The advantages of Georgia Tech is that it is public and inexpensive and there is a lot of financial aid available in the form of research and teaching assistantships. The climate and cost of living is very reasonable and Georgia Tech is a urban campus, despite what some people might think. The city is a living laboratory for transportation (all modes). The city planning program is very professionaly oriented and like MIT or Harvard never forgot urban plannings roots in traditional physical planning.

  10. #10
    Does anyone have any information on the MURP program at Portland State University. I've read a lot about Portland's forward thinking in terms of planning but I've seen very little about the planning school. Any feedback would be great.

  11. #11
    I went to Portland State for the urban studies doctoral program. I believe their MURP program is very good, and Portland is a great urban and regional laboratory within which to study. I would recommend it. My only criticism is you may get out of the MURP program without a course in zoning, which I personally think is a mistake. They are in a nice new building.

  12. #12
    I am hoping to study either economic development or urban design in graduate school. I have been excepted at both Georgia Tech and UNC. Does anybody have an opinion on which school would be better to study these disciplines? Any feedback would be great.

  13. #13
    I received my master's in city planning from Georgia Tech. It is a great planning school, and since it is in the school of architecture, prospects for cross-training in architecture and urban design would be possible there. I don't know details of UNC Chapel Hill although I have the utmost admiration for that school and consider the planning program there to be in the top 3-5 in the U.S., if not the best. I don't think you'd go wrong with either choice.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Echoing Jerry's comments, I would point out that UNC does not have an architecture school (although you could take classes at NC State). One advantage of Georgia Tech is that physical planning (including urban design) is one area the College of Architecture has always focused on. I believe the new director of the Architecture program at Georgia Tech is a big advocate of smart growth policies.

  15. #15
         
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    I did a joint progam in North Carolina--MRP from UNC and MLA from NCSU (graduated from both in 1999). Chapel Hill and Raleigh are about 25-30 miles apart. The program took 4 years (normally the MLA takes 3 and the MRP takes 2). You could probably do it in less if you have a design undergrad degree.

    Unfortunately, this option is not an "official" joint degree program, like UNC's MRP-MBA, MRP-JD, and MRP-MPA programs. I had great support and cooperation between the two departments, but in order to become an "official" program, stuff needs to happen at the University-level, thus the NC Legislature probably needs to be involved. The only way that will happen is to create a great demand for the program.

    UNC DCRP may be developing some sort of Urban Design curriculum, but I'm not sure of the details.

    If you have questions, feel free to contact me:
    Juliellen Sarver Martin
    juliellen_martin@yahoo.com

  16. #16
    Along the same lines as previous questions, I am a junior at Yale considering applying to a grad program in urban planning after I graduate. I've heard good things about the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but no one has mentioned it thus far. Can anyone tell me anything, good or bad, about the program?

  17. #17
    Matt-

    I have heard that the UW-Milwaukee program is very good. They are very strong in GIS if that is something that interests you. I applied to Milwaukee and received an assistantship, however I turned it down because I am from the Milwaukee area and wanted to get away for a while. I am currently at the University of Iowa. It is a very good program with excellent facilities and some very good professors. Not much of an urban laboratory however. I would not recommend Wisconsin-Madison. Great undergrad school(where I went) however, the planning program leaves a lot to be desired. At least we have good football and basketball teams in wisconsin. I hope some of this helps.

  18. #18
    Can anyone give me some advice/opinions/comments on the planning programs at NYU or Rutgers. In particular, I am changing careers and am looking at these two schools in the NYC area as cheaper, part-time alternatives to Columbia. NYU appears to be the more appealing as for being right in the city and its apparent strengths in land use planning/economic development, but their recent information session was somewhat disappointing. Some people posting messages have mentioned your "gut" feeling as pretty important to your choice of a school, so I wanted to see what others' experiences and perspectives were on these schools. Thanks very much!

  19. #19
    Hi!

    I am trying to decide between the Urban Planning master program at Columbia University and U of Penn. I have been accepted at both. Could anybody give me some advice, please?

    Thank you,

    Monique

  20. #20
    Monique-I have been accepted to PENN and I plan to go there this fall. Although I am not a student I have done quite a bit of research on the program. Some observations:

    Penn is a much larger program, more profs, more students, more classes. Perhaps less attention for the individual student as a consequence? I don't know. Current students at PENN have told me that the profs are accesible, however.

    New York City is generally thought of as being a nicer city than Philly. However the PENN campus is very nice and green yet 5 minutes from downtown. Columbia is relatively far from downtown and midtown and the campus is not as beautiful I hear.

    I heard that urban planning at PENN in the early 90's had some kind of crisis. But it seems that they are fine now. They have traditionally been the GREAT planning school, more planners come from UPENN than from any other school in the US.

    To be honest however there isn't a pecking order like law schools or business schools. There is a group of stronger schools-- UPENN, Columbia, Berkeley, MIT, UCLA, Georgia Tech and a few others.

    PENN has some really nice facilities, the arts library is amazing. I'm not really acquainted with Columbia's, though.

    PENN also has a very good, PHD program one of the three or four best so it might be possible to stay on after the master's if you really like planning theory. The same is more or less true for Columbia, though.

    I've contacted some PENN students and they seem happy with their program and it sounds like the atmosphere is really nice there.

    Finally, planners don't make as much money as say MBA students so debt is harder to pay back. If one school offers much more financial aid, you should definetly take that into consideration. I hope I've helped you some. Hope to see you at PENN, this fall. If not, enjoy New York!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    In reply to Ian (if you haven't already sent in your deposit

    I think that Rutgers has by far the stronger planning program. It is also housed in the flagship state university in a state which has taken a lead in such issues as improving public transportation and preserving open space.

    NYU's urban planning program is housed in their public administration/public policy school like that of Rutgers. It is not as large either in terms of faculty or student body size, but it is in New York.

    If it comes down to a choice between the two, I'd pick the one which offers you the better financial package.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    In response to Monique's question.

    I have to agree with much of what Ryan said and simply steer you towards going to Penn.

    Columbia's planning program isn't widely recognized in planning in the United States (from what I understand they have a high proportion of foreign students and even among Americans many graduates don't go on to do traditional urban planning).

  23. #23
    Cyburbian masafer's avatar
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    I've reached the end of the process I was just starting when I created this thread seven months ago, and have decided that I'm going to Rutgers. I ended up applying to MIT, NYU, Rutgers, Penn, GA Tech and Florida. To respond to Ian's question, I was far more impressed by Rutgers than I was by NYU. NYU seemed to be more of a policy program. They only have 5 full time planning faculty, and suplement those with adjuncts. It seemed to be a great place to network, but less of a place to learn planning skills.

    Rutgers, Penn and GA Tech all impressed me. Penn dropped out because of lack of funding, though their department seemed quite good and are doing lots of interesting things. Both Rutgers and Tech gave money, and in the end it came down to the faculty. Right now, Tech only has one full time transportation faculty. They have promises to hire another before the 2002-3 year, and do alot of transportation work with the civil engineering department, without a technical background, I was a bit intimidated by the nature of those courses.
    So, Rutgers it is.

  24. #24
    I am looking for any recent graduate of UC Berkeley's Planning department to give me some advice and insight about the program.

    I am especially interested in the Housing and Community Development concentration, about which I have heard mixed reviews. Any info will be useful.

    Thanks
    Justin Horner
    Oakland, CA

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