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Thread: Considering masters in urban (transportation) planning

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    Considering masters in urban (transportation) planning

    I'm seriously considering applying to several graduate schools in Urban Planning for the fall of 2006. This is something I've been wanting to do ever since I got my undergrad 10 years ago. I want to go to a school with a strong transportation concentration. I understand that UC Berkeley has an excellent Transportation Planning concentration. I am also aware that Berkeley is very competitive. Other schools I'm considering are NYU & Hunter College. Ideally I'd like to keep my present job while I go to school, so schools offering part time programs are a plus. As far as my present employment is concerned I have a fair amount of geographic flexibilty. Canadian schools, are unfortunately not a realistic option. The U of M at Ann Arbor works best for me as far as maintaining my present job. The University of Minnesota also works well. I am not looking seriously at those 2 schools, because I feel that in order to get a good education in Urban Transportion Planning I need to be in a large city with a well developed mass transit network. I have a few transfer credits from Boston University Metropolitan College, but their program had very limited offerings in transportation and left me uninspired. Any suggestions would be helpful.
    benboston

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    On the Right Track

    I think you are on the right track, so to speak, although I wouldn't rule out Michigan or Minnesota because there is more to a program than being near mass transit- plus, MN is in Minneapolis where there is a fairly complex system (not as big as Boston or Chicago but still very urban).

    I would recommend that you think seriously about (1) financial aid possibilities- Berkeley will ask you to borrow lots of money while Michigan or MN probably won't and (2) do you really need this degree- not knowing what you do now its hard to say how important it is, but planning masters tend to be less important when you have 10 years experience than when you are just starting out. Having said that, the grad school life is the life for me- its the best.

    Good luck.

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    Cyburbian
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    son of a gun, I am also interested in graduate programs with emphasis on transportation planning (among other things). I am in the beginning phases of grad school searching. Are there particular schools known to be strong in transportation? What about in other areas? What are some schools' known strengths?
    Thanks,
    Alex

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    Quote Originally posted by benboston
    I'm seriously considering applying to several graduate schools in Urban Planning for the fall of 2006. This is something I've been wanting to do ever since I got my undergrad 10 years ago. I want to go to a school with a strong transportation concentration. I understand that UC Berkeley has an excellent Transportation Planning concentration. I am also aware that Berkeley is very competitive. Other schools I'm considering are NYU & Hunter College. Ideally I'd like to keep my present job while I go to school, so schools offering part time programs are a plus. As far as my present employment is concerned I have a fair amount of geographic flexibilty. Canadian schools, are unfortunately not a realistic option. The U of M at Ann Arbor works best for me as far as maintaining my present job. The University of Minnesota also works well. I am not looking seriously at those 2 schools, because I feel that in order to get a good education in Urban Transportion Planning I need to be in a large city with a well developed mass transit network. I have a few transfer credits from Boston University Metropolitan College, but their program had very limited offerings in transportation and left me uninspired. Any suggestions would be helpful.
    benboston

    Rutgers in NJ has a concentration in transportation, excellent faculty and a research center dedicated to metro transport issues. Don't know about out of state tuition but it's probably comparable to the average private program.

    NYU and Hunter are both heavily oriented to policy, and Hunter's specialty is more along the lines of community/housing planning (I'm doing the GIS certificate there, but not the planning program for that reason...)

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    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by benboston
    I'm seriously considering applying to several graduate schools in Urban Planning for the fall of 2006.
    benboston
    For transportation, I always hear about Georgia Tech, but it wasn't my area of concentration when I was in grad school. What about MIT? True, I don't think you can do part time, but if you have some experience in another area, you might be able to get a graduate assistantship and get a tuituion waiver... plus, no big move.

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    Cyburbian
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    i'm pretty sure MIT doesn't have transportation planning at all. either way, you should look through previous threads, as there's been a lot of discussion on this topic and more general school stuff over the past few years. you should find a ton of relevant info.

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    MIT definitely has transportation planning, but it's primarily under the auspices of the civil engineering department, rather than the planning department. (Most of the transportation planning faculty are jointly appointed to the two departments.) A few students each year do a three-year joint degree in transportation and planning, but the majority of planners interested in transportation simply do the MCP degree and focus their work on the transportation program. (Depending on what you want to do, it might also make sense to do the MST degree instead of the MCP.)

    Quote Originally posted by RadioAgony
    i'm pretty sure MIT doesn't have transportation planning at all. either way, you should look through previous threads, as there's been a lot of discussion on this topic and more general school stuff over the past few years. you should find a ton of relevant info.

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    At Minnesota, consider doing the civil engineering/planning dual degree program (3 yrs).

    UCLA has excellent transportation faculty and students, and LA would be an interesting place to study transportation planning.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by artemis
    MIT definitely has transportation planning, but it's primarily under the auspices of the civil engineering department, rather than the planning department. (Most of the transportation planning faculty are jointly appointed to the two departments.) A few students each year do a three-year joint degree in transportation and planning, but the majority of planners interested in transportation simply do the MCP degree and focus their work on the transportation program. (Depending on what you want to do, it might also make sense to do the MST degree instead of the MCP.)
    I just checked the MIT planning homepage, and there is no transportation concentration or specialty. I had heard that MIT had a transportation program but now I am a little confused.

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    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
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    I spoke to people at NYU and Hunter and they said that Hunter was better because NYU wasn't technical enough - they only offer 1 or 2 GIS courses. Hunter is also A LOT cheaper and is pretty reputable.

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    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by alex
    I just checked the MIT planning homepage, and there is no transportation concentration or specialty. I had heard that MIT had a transportation program but now I am a little confused.
    Maybe that's because MIT only offers four specialization areas? They have a new faculty member (I worked for him over a decade ago) who does urban transportation. His name is Chris Zegras and he's very good and co-teaches the urban transportaiton class at MIT and he is listed as a faculty member under the City Design and Development specialization (if you think about it transportation does and always will fit under city design and development as a sub speciality)

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jerseygirl
    Rutgers in NJ has a concentration in transportation, excellent faculty and a research center dedicated to metro transport issues. Don't know about out of state tuition but it's probably comparable to the average private program.

    NYU and Hunter are both heavily oriented to policy, and Hunter's specialty is more along the lines of community/housing planning (I'm doing the GIS certificate there, but not the planning program for that reason...)
    A little more on Rutgers University where I earned a BA in Urban Planning....The Rutgers University planning school http://policy.rutgers.edu/
    has 2 transportation institutes within it.

    One is dedicated to transporation's interaction with finance, economics, and social policy. http://policy.rutgers.edu:16080/vtc/

    The other focuses on public transportation research. http://www.ntionline.com/

    Also interesting for transportation students - New Jersey, a state without any major cities (Newark is largest and ranks 64th in US) - has a public transportation system that works. I use it almost every day. Plus, opportunities for planning internships and planning related part time jobs are plentiful. During my undergraduate days, I had planning jobs in New York City, Newark, and Princeton. I used commuter rail to get to each of them.

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    Quote Originally posted by alex
    I just checked the MIT planning homepage, and there is no transportation concentration or specialty. I had heard that MIT had a transportation program but now I am a little confused.
    Artemis is exactly right, MIT has a thriving urban transportation planning program (I'm in it now). It's just straddled between the Civil Engineering and DUSP departments, and isn't totally clear from the DUSP website. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about this at the MIT open house last year - even though it's not singled out as one of the official DUSP specialization areas, there are alot of great classes and alot of students in this track studying transportation planning, specifically urban public transportation planning. The two areas overlap significantly, but there's depth at MIT on both sides - the more hardcore engineering side (4-step models, network design and flows, demand modeling, ITS and technologies, transit operations and service planning, etc), and in the broader planning side (policy, economics, land use, city form, finance, management of a transit agency, etc.). As a DUSP student more interested in the planning side, I've easily filled four semesters with transportation planning related courses.

    There are a couple of ways to do it - a Master of Science in Transportation through Civil Engineering, or a Master of City Planning through DUSP. Many students do a dual-degree, where they spend usually around 5-6 semesters and come out with both degrees. The usual course is to come in as an MST or MCP first, and apply for the second degree once you're here.

    Feel free to contact me on email to talk more if you're still interested or have further questions - jantos@mit.edu

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