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Thread: Grad School Advice

  1. #1

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    Grad School Advice

    Hello,

    I could use some advice. As many threads have previously stated, you should try to go to grad school where you want to work. My first question is, what if there is no program near you that you are interested but would eventually like to return to work there? I live in DC and would like to return to work here. Do you think schools will find it strange that you want to study there but work some where completely different?

    All of the schools I am interested in are no where near D.C. For example, Univ of Michigan, Univ of Washington, Univ of Colorado at Denver, Georgia Tech, Univ of Kansas, and Buffalo. (Feel free to comment on any of these schools). I’m interested in a more physical planning program with an opportunity to take courses in Urban Design. If there is a school you think I am overlooking closer to D.C. with an emphasis on physical planning, please let me know. I know Penn has a great program but I would like some non-ivy league choices. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian psylo's avatar
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    I don't know of any others around the DC Metro area, but KU has a pretty strong program in physical planning as does CU-Denver. What I did was I visited the schools I was most interested to see what they were like and the chance to talk with the profs. At all the schools I visited the faculty was extrememly helpful, and at times very honest telling me that they didn't have anyone in that specific topic that I wanted to study.

  3. #3
    UMD-College Park has a respectable offering in physical planning and urban design. Have you considered College Park?

    http://www.arch.umd.edu/

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally posted by BIH80
    UMD-College Park has a respectable offering in physical planning and urban design. Have you considered College Park?

    http://www.arch.umd.edu/

    Yeah I did and I may take another look, but you can only pursue the Urban Design concentration if you have a background in architecture (I was a Political Science and History major) I emailed them and they suggested getting a degree in architecture and continuing on to a Master's in Urban Planning. So a total of 3 more years of school. I'm not really prepared to do that and I don't want that intensive of a degree in design, I would just like the opportunity to take a couple of courses in Urban Design. The three programs I've seen that allow you to do that, and please correct me if I'm wrong, are Univ Colorado at Denver, Univ. of Michigan, and Univ of Kansas.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by Maryt44
    Yeah I did and I may take another look, but you can only pursue the Urban Design concentration if you have a background in architecture (I was a Political Science and History major) I emailed them and they suggested getting a degree in architecture and continuing on to a Master's in Urban Planning. So a total of 3 more years of school. I'm not really prepared to do that and I don't want that intensive of a degree in design, I would just like the opportunity to take a couple of courses in Urban Design. The three programs I've seen that allow you to do that, and please correct me if I'm wrong, are Univ Colorado at Denver, Univ. of Michigan, and Univ of Kansas.
    Really, that's what they said? I wonder why. I understand for admission to a MUD but just to concentrate as part of a MUP is odd, IMO.

    Well, since you only want to take a few courses in UD, you call always concentrate in physical planning, at UMD, and take some UD as electives, unless they're strict about that too.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Don't let the Cyburbians from there hear this, but I like KSU over CU. Hey, how can you go wrong in a place like Manhattan? The UW or Buffalo would be good choices as well. Maybe it is just a bias of mine, but I tend to prefer the northern schools for planning. Perhaps it is because of the longer tradition of urbanization in the northern states.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
          Shweethaht's avatar
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    Mup

    Does anyone know anything about the program at Ball State U in Muncie, Indiana?

  8. #8
    I looked deeper into this and, yeah, only arch majors (and those permitted) can take urban design courses from the arch dept at UMD. However, the urban studies and planning dept offers "urban design for non-archs" and "readings in urban design" which I think are open to everyone. UMD isn't a bad choice for you, IMO.

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    (First post evah)

    I'm in the same boat with the design concentration issue. I've looking at Maryland, and while I don't have a B.A. in Arch., I did minor in it at the U of MN-TC. I dunno if that counts. I've heard about UMich having a design emphasis too, but it seems so big and expensive. Since I'm a Minnesota resident, I've been considering UW-Milwaukee because I've heard it has an emphasis on design and physical planning AND I would hopefully be able to get some reciprocity. Next to Minnesota, Milwaukee would be the cheapest for me. Other schools that sound interesting from a physical planning standpoint are UVA, UIUC, UNC, G-Tech, MIT, and UCB (my wild cards). Any opinions on these? I don't know where each of these stands when it comes to design and physical planning. It would be great to go to a grad school where design is "the thing." AHHHH!!! There are so many choices (and so little money)! *repeatedly bangs head on desk*

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by BIH80
    I looked deeper into this and, yeah, only arch majors (and those permitted) can take urban design courses from the arch dept at UMD. However, the urban studies and planning dept offers "urban design for non-archs" and "readings in urban design" which I think are open to everyone. UMD isn't a bad choice for you, IMO.

    I saw the "urban design for non-archs" and it looked interesting. I will definitely have to give UMD another look. I really should just go there and talk to some Professors. Thanks for the help. It had been really difficult to get people's opinion on UMD. Thanks again.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally posted by BIH80
    I looked deeper into this and, yeah, only arch majors (and those permitted) can take urban design courses from the arch dept at UMD. However, the urban studies and planning dept offers "urban design for non-archs" and "readings in urban design" which I think are open to everyone. UMD isn't a bad choice for you, IMO.

    I also just noticed that in order to pursue the Certificate of Urban Design at the University of Washington you need a design background. University of Colorado also does not let you specialize in Urban Design without a design background. I still like the looks of ther physical planning program though. Hmmm. My choices are definitely narrowing.

  12. #12
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    I can see requiring some kind of design background for a Certificate in Urban Design, but for a concentration? I haven't seen any requirements like that for the M.U.P. concentrations at the schools I've looked at. As far as I know, there's an urban design-related concentration for the M.U.P. program at Washington. Lemme do a little more research on this and get back to ya, because we're basically trying to figure out the same thing! If you come across anything new, be sure to let me know via PM or something.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by Maryt44
    I also just noticed that in order to pursue the Certificate of Urban Design at the University of Washington you need a design background. University of Colorado also does not let you specialize in Urban Design without a design background. I still like the looks of ther physical planning program though. Hmmm. My choices are definitely narrowing.
    From what you say and what I've read, yeah, it seems this UD restriction is a growing trend at top planning schools. At GA Tech, though, all urban design courses are open to all planning students, which is good news. This restriction is really odd, IMO, b/c professional M.Arch programs are open to all as long as you can demostrate creativity. So, why aren't UD qualifications like that? Aren't they supposed to teach you design? It seems like the M.Arch is the ideal degree for an urban design career. Quite frankly, with this such restrictions in place, why isn't urban design just considered a subfield of arch?
    Last edited by BIH80; 19 Sep 2005 at 8:50 PM.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally posted by BIH80
    From what you say and what I've read, yeah, it seems this UD restriction is a growing trend at top planning schools. At GA Tech, though, all urban design courses are open to all planning students, which is good news. This restriction is really odd, IMO, b/c professional M.Arch programs are open to all as long as you can demostrate creativity. So, why aren't UD qualifications like that? Aren't they supposed to teach you design? It seems like the M.Arch is the ideal degree for an urban design career. Quite frankly, with this such restrictions in place, why isn't urban design just considered a subfield of arch?

    Yeah I think Georgia Tech is the most flexible. I totally agree with you that Urban Design should just be a subfield of arch if they're going to exclude non-arch people from taking classes in it. I think a lot of the ivy league schools are more flexible. No idea why that is. But it would be nice to have some more options. I'm just going to focus on trying to find a solid physical planning program. By the way, UMD doesn't have a physical planning concentration. I was sort of confused by that. The Urban Planning program is in the architecture school but their focus really seems to be policy. IMO.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally posted by pinkpoodle
    I can see requiring some kind of design background for a Certificate in Urban Design, but for a concentration? I haven't seen any requirements like that for the M.U.P. concentrations at the schools I've looked at. As far as I know, there's an urban design-related concentration for the M.U.P. program at Washington. Lemme do a little more research on this and get back to ya, because we're basically trying to figure out the same thing! If you come across anything new, be sure to let me know via PM or something.

    What schools have you looked at and what are your interests? I think the Urban Design concentration at Washington still requires an arch background. The Preservation and Design doesn't. I'm not a hunderd percent though.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by Maryt44
    Yeah I think Georgia Tech is the most flexible. I totally agree with you that Urban Design should just be a subfield of arch if they're going to exclude non-arch people from taking classes in it. I think a lot of the ivy league schools are more flexible. No idea why that is. But it would be nice to have some more options. I'm just going to focus on trying to find a solid physical planning program. By the way, UMD doesn't have a physical planning concentration. I was sort of confused by that. The Urban Planning program is in the architecture school but their focus really seems to be policy. IMO.
    If you could get into GA Tech it would ideal, if you could afford out-of-state tuition and the move.

    About UD, yeah, it's probably an economic reason why some schools exclude people from it. But it seems like UD, arch and planning are increasingly becoming distinct fields. I'm confused why. Urban design should not be a subfield or field unto itself, IMO, it should be an integral part of both planning and arch education. There shouldn't be a middle-person between planners and archs!

    Sorry for the confusion, land use = physical = comprehensive = basic planning. The latter terms are synonymous. I disagree, while UMD's philosophy and research is geared towards smart growth, it does offer:

    Urban Planning History and Theory (required)
    Community Planning Studio (required)
    Designing For Community
    Urban Design For Non-Architects
    Readings in Urban Design
    Urban Transporation Planning

    You can also do independent study.

    IMO, as great as schools like GA Tech are, it's not worth you leaving MD for another school that's not that much better (for you).

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    Mary, check out the University of Michigan:

    http://www.tcaup.umich.edu/urp/mup_concentrations.html

    and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:

    http://www.uwm.edu/SARUP/planning/degree.htm

    These two offer urban design concentrations without the design background requirement and both have highly reputed M.U.P. programs. Don't discount the UWM because it's not a big name school. Their planning program is part of the architecture department, and the architecture graduate program there holds high ranking among the architecture community. Some of this has to spill over into their planning program and urban design concentration.

    I still can't find anything on Maryland requiring a design background for their urban design concentration (for the master's). I left them a phone message, so we'll see what happens with that.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally posted by pinkpoodle
    Mary, check out the University of Michigan:

    http://www.tcaup.umich.edu/urp/mup_concentrations.html

    and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:

    http://www.uwm.edu/SARUP/planning/degree.htm

    These two offer urban design concentrations without the design background requirement and both have highly reputed M.U.P. programs. Don't discount the UWM because it's not a big name school. Their planning program is part of the architecture department, and the architecture graduate program there holds high ranking among the architecture community. Some of this has to spill over into their planning program and urban design concentration.

    I still can't find anything on Maryland requiring a design background for their urban design concentration (for the master's). I left them a phone message, so we'll see what happens with that.

    Ok well I finally just emailed Maryland again. The first time I emailed them they said I would need a design background. This was last year sometime. I emailed them today and was told I did not need a design background. They said they had a number of students that are in the Urban Design specialization that have absolutely no design background. I'm glad to hear this but a little confused at the same time. I will definitely look into UWM. Thanks.

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    Yeah, I just got off the phone with one of the professors and she said that a design background wasn't necessary for the urban design concentration. She also said that their planning program places a lot of emphasis on design, so that's good.

    Good luck Mary!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally posted by pinkpoodle
    Yeah, I just got off the phone with one of the professors and she said that a design background wasn't necessary for the urban design concentration. She also said that their planning program places a lot of emphasis on design, so that's good.

    Good luck Mary!

    Thanks you too!

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by pinkpoodle
    I still can't find anything on Maryland requiring a design background for their urban design concentration (for the master's). I left them a phone message, so we'll see what happens with that.
    From looking at the course schedules, it seems only certain UD courses in the ARCH dept are "arch only," especially those with restricted prereqs, while others are "with permission." However, there is one that is restricted to ARCH, URPD, and ARCP.

    Have a look for yourself:

    http://www.testudo.umd.edu/ScheduleOfClasses.html

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally posted by pinkpoodle
    Yeah, I just got off the phone with one of the professors and she said that a design background wasn't necessary for the urban design concentration. She also said that their planning program places a lot of emphasis on design, so that's good.

    Good luck Mary!
    In many locations, a background in poly-sci is an advantage. In our little city, it's who you know, not what. I don't think we have ever had an actual educated planner in that office, (and the state of the city reflects that). Go for that degree wherever you can. We need more MUPs.

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