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Thread: Planning programs in southern california

  1. #1
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    Planning programs in southern california

    I was wondering if anyone could spare some insight on planning schools in southern california. I really would like to attend USC because it appears to prepare its students the best for the real world. In other words, the program seems to be a lot more hands on/practical compared to UCLA's more theoretical program. (Oh, and please correct me if I'm wrong. This is just the impression I have gathered from my research.) Also, I don't hear as much about UC Irvine or Cal Poly Pomona's programs. I'm pretty new to this, so any basic information is welcome. If you've attended any of these schools, I would love to hear about your experience, job prospects after graduation, quality of professors, or any other information you'd like to share would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    If you want to stay in California, it's Cal Poly SLO (no I'm not a grad, but the people from there I've worked with and who worked for me were very good).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Future Planner's avatar
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    I'm currently a student in San Diego, so If you have any interest in San Diego I may be able to help!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    Hi Aspiring Planner,

    I'm a first year MPL at USC and I've really enjoyed it so far. I applied to UCLA, UC Irvine, and U of Washington (kind of for fun) and chose USC. My main reason was b/c they gave me a full scholarship, which I wasn't expecting at all, but there were other reasons as well. It's an expensive school but don't let that deter you from applying b/c they hand out a lot of scholarships.

    Although the core planning classes are mainly theory, they do really try to give you a "real-life" preparation in the electives. We also have to take two labs working with local cities and they offer international labs every year they really want MPLs to take (this year they're going to Beijing and Brazil). I went to a small undergrad college so a big campus was a change but I have been really impressed with how much of an effort my professors and the staff have put forth to talk with me individually, answer emails, etc. The only downside I have is that it's not in a nice area but if you live right next to campus it's ok. Otherwise there are many places to choose from, depending on how far you want to drive or ride the bus/Metro rail.

    I also highly suggest the Cal Polys at San Luis Obispo and Pomona b/c they give you a solid hands-on education from the people I know. SLO is a beautiful, friendly, laid-back little city, but not good if you like bigger cities. I also visited UC Irvine and liked it a lot, but USC has a more mature program with a lot of alumni that show up to events.

    Good luck wherever you decide to go!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MitchBaby's avatar
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    Come north to Vancouver - UBC has a great program!
    Mitchbaby: Proud to be a :canada: planner and a :canada: surfer

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    How about....

    Try:

    http://www.compton.cc.ca.us/index.html

    oh wait....on second thought, they only have a political science program......bummer.......
    Skilled Adoxographer

  7. #7
    Cyburbian notabigcitygirl's avatar
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    USC is the SmartChoice

    I am a first year student in the MPL program at USC. Having also done my undergad work in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development. I can highly recommend the program here as one of a more real world approach. Sure, there is theory in the core, but the electives are more about real world problems and relating with various city officials and consulting firms and solving their problems. One professor (who shall remain nameless because EVERYBODY knows him) said if you want to learn about zoning, go to Cal Poly; if you want to learn theory, go to UCLA; if you want to learn Planning, go to USC. He teaches at two and went to the third and lets us in on the curricula.

    The neighborhood is icky (I don't like the Big Boxy Monotonous CIty of LA), but the campus is magnificent. The only thing missing is the ivy.

  8. #8
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    Cal Poly SLO-Strengths and weaknesses of program?

    Can anyone describe in a bit more detail what are the strengths and weaknesses of the masters program at Cal Poly SLO? Thanks

  9. #9

    Strengths and Weaknesses of Cal Poly SLO

    Quote Originally posted by krkrbts
    Can anyone describe in a bit more detail what are the strengths and weaknesses of the masters program at Cal Poly SLO? Thanks
    Strengths job placement, interaction with department people (faculty, administration, undergrads and grads in same building) networking (many Cal Poly grads throughout state), interaction with planners/government officials in the field

    Weaknesses limited concentration areas

    Note: Most grads go on to work for medium sized cites or counties upon graduation. City and Regional Planning Department is within the College of Architecture of Environmental Design (Architectural Engineering, Architecture, Construction Management, Landscape Architecture, Planning). SLO can be a great place to study, but only offers amenities of a medium sized college town on central coast of California.

  10. #10
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    So.Cal Planning Programs

    Just a note about "real world" experience. Whether you go to USC or UCLA, you will get your "real world" experience in the workplace -- and this, of course, is all up to you. I am currently a second year student in the Urban Planning program at UCLA, and I have been quite happy with it. It is a very flexible, and yes, "theoretical" program. The theoretical component is taught with the strict caveat that, as with qauntitative methods and legal analyses, it is simply a tool to help you understand the complexities of the urban landscape.

    I did not apply to USC simply because I wanted to go to school in LA, and I did not want to pay the USC price tag.

    UCLA has a bevy of famous urban planning scholars, notably Brian Taylor, Ed Soja, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Stephen Commins, Vinit Mukhija and the mighty Michael Storper. Also, UCLA has the most cited urban faculty in the country. The depth and breadth of UCLA's urban planning faculty simply cannot be beat.



    Quote Originally posted by aspiring planner
    I was wondering if anyone could spare some insight on planning schools in southern california. I really would like to attend USC because it appears to prepare its students the best for the real world. In other words, the program seems to be a lot more hands on/practical compared to UCLA's more theoretical program. (Oh, and please correct me if I'm wrong. This is just the impression I have gathered from my research.) Also, I don't hear as much about UC Irvine or Cal Poly Pomona's programs. I'm pretty new to this, so any basic information is welcome. If you've attended any of these schools, I would love to hear about your experience, job prospects after graduation, quality of professors, or any other information you'd like to share would be much appreciated.

  11. #11
         
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    CA Planning Programs

    In other words, the program seems to be a lot more hands on/practical compared to UCLA's more theoretical program. (Oh, and please correct me if I'm wrong. This is just the impression I have gathered from my research.)

    I wouldn't say that USC is more hands on than UCLA. I believe that UCLA has one of the most hands on programs in the country. USC has a great program too. It also depends what concentration you are looking for. I have read some books from some UCLA professors in the Urban Planning Department and I found them to have a good balance of theory and application. Either way, USC or UCLA, you can't go wrong if you plan to stay in the LA area for a few years. After all, doing a program in the LA area you would establish yourself in that area first, so I would plan on working in that area after you graduate unless you think that you have better options.

    Also, I don't hear as much about UC Irvine or Cal Poly Pomona's programs.

    UC Irvine is the fastest growing urban planning department in the country. Probably because Irvine is growing so fast and could use the assistance! I believe that UC Irvine's program is on the rise and in due time will break the top ten list for best Urban Planning programs. The faculty to student ratio is really good. The faculty are diverse (as far as academic interests). Irvine and Orange County is tranforming so quickly and their are many challenges there to consider. Irvine is just south of LA and could still be considered part of the "LA region." It is like a "micropolis."

    Cal Poly Pomona I haven't heard much about. Though I think they offer a part-time program which could be attractive to the right candidate.

    If you plan on going into the professional planning world, I would consider the region where the school is located because most likely that is where you'll land your first job (and contacts) after graduating. So it is important that you could see yourself in that area or region for at least 5 years. Unless you plan on becoming a professor or consultant, that could take you on a different path.

    Good Luck. I live in Boston now and I will hopefully be attended either a school in the Bay Area or LA area this fall.

  12. #12
         
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    UCLA Planning

    The depth and breadth of UCLA's urban planning faculty simply cannot be beat.

    Yes, the faculty and the research at UCLA is most impressive. I definitely agree.

    How is the social planning concentration?

  13. #13
         
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    Quote Originally posted by smokety Mc smoke smo
    I did not apply to USC simply because I wanted to go to school in LA, and I did not want to pay the USC price tag.
    Then this was a bad decision on your part, to be honest. Given the greater availability of grants at USC, and big fee hikes at UCLA, most students at USC pay the same or less tuition than UCLA students.

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