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Thread: Political science = planner?

  1. #1
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    Political science = planner?

    I'm thinking of going back to school to get my Masters in Planning. HOwever, I wonder if I could just use by BA in PoliSci to get into this field. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    sure.

    My undergrad was History, and in my MUP program at The University of Michigan there were also Math, English, Civial Engineering, Architecture, Enviromental Science, Political Science, etc.

    Remember....Planning is a very political field and many people use Poli Sci undergrads as a stepping stone to Public Policy and Planning and Municpal Management.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Definitely, my BA was in Japanese and Media Arts and I had no problem with my Masters in Planning. Most planning graduates come from a wide variety of undergraduate studies.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Of course. Me undergrad degree is in public administration. I did an internship in economic development, spent the next year and ahalf in the Army, and then spent another six months looking for a job before going to grad school in geography. Ironically, as soon as I was admitted I did line up a job.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    My undergrad degree is in Political Science and I've found it extremely useful to my planning career.If your degree is from a good enough school you may not need to get a graduate planning degree to find a job.

  6. #6

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    Depends on where and the job market. My outdated experience is that some regions perfer a Masters Degree. Other regions have stronger undergraduate planning programs.

    Directly from poli-sci to planning? If you get a bridging position like a "Planning Technician" or, better yet, an internship. Again, some regions demand some familiarity with planning law, practice, and lingo.

    My undergraduate degree was Political Science, with a Planning Masters from UVA.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I think what is most critical are a) the specific classes you took and b) the major/minor combo.

    I'm majoring in Geography and minoring in Political Science.

    Other acceptable fields for majoring/minoring IMO would include Architecture, Sociology, History, Political Science/Public Admin, Geography, Planning, Urban Studies, and Economics.

    I'm also taking as many classes as I can that relate to my planning interest. For expample: Local Gov't, Social Problems, Land Use Planning, etc.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    planning is political, really? lol

    the beauty, to me anyway, about planning is that it's a mix of so many different principles and sciences and yes, arts too

    just about anything makes a good base education for planning - architecture, landscape architecture, geography, law, economics, sociology/psychology, english lit (my assistant is an english major graduate; but that can be problematic too, see my post about that in another thread, lol) history, and of course political science - i just contracted with a geologist who also has her MURP

    i would strongly suggest, though, that you do go to graduate school and meanwhile get into internships or staff positions to work your way up through the ranks - that's where all the learning takes place for what they don't teach you at planning school and by being lower in the food chain, you can watch and learn without being fired for it -

    for me, i was in a planning program in the Landscape Architecture school at hte College of Environemtnal Science and Forestry at Syracuse Univeristy (we have the longest college name) but i only have my BS - i have "gotten away" with not having my master's but i'm really the last generation that can do that, being 40 yrs old - i am considering getting my MPA after my comp plan is finished next year to round out my career...

    good luck!

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm thinking that I do need to get a masters in planning as my polisci degree was pretty general due to my lack of focus and direction at the time.

    Does anybody else think I can get by without going back to school? Someone mentioned planning technician as a possible foot in the door. Are these positions common as I haven't seen them under city gov't job descriptions?

  10. #10
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by silverthorne
    Does anybody else think I can get by without going back to school? Someone mentioned planning technician as a possible foot in the door. Are these positions common as I haven't seen them under city gov't job descriptions?
    like i said in my post - you might be able to work your way up through the ranks of a department, but it would be alot less of a clawing to get there if you had your master's

    one method might be to get a job as a planning assistant, a staff planner, then get that organization to pay for your master's, even if it's just giving you the itme to go to the class(es)

    by planning technician, i think what is meant is a planning position that is more entry-level

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    I am also a political science major who is considering Urban Planning or grad school! The only difference is I just graduated this past May, so I'm out in the real world now. Anyone have any advice on entry level jobs or internships in the Washington DC area?

    In addition, I am very close to the American Planning Association building. Anyone have any suggestions on how I can learn more about this? Its something I am very interested in, but I am wondering about what grad schools look for in candidates.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally posted by silverthorne
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm thinking that I do need to get a masters in planning as my polisci degree was pretty general due to my lack of focus and direction at the time.

    Does anybody else think I can get by without going back to school? Someone mentioned planning technician as a possible foot in the door. Are these positions common as I haven't seen them under city gov't job descriptions?
    Let's look at it from an employer's perspective, even with entry level planning postions, you probably will be competing with people with urban studies undergraduate degrees or even master level candidates. If it was your job to narrow down this selection field of candidates, who would you pick? My favorite tactic, the foot in the door. If you have a means to accomplish this and actually form a foundation for a planning career without the schooling, more power to ya. I have had plenty of coworkers with no relevant planning degrees and they still have been competent workers, I emphasize the competent part. However, I'm a strong proponent for having your studies within planning, both undergraduate and masters. The planning profession is getting watered down for the sake of being interdisciplinary. My advice, get your masters and do a workstudy with a local planning agency during that time, this sets the stage if you want to end up working in the area you studied and also as practical work experience on your resume if you go elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally posted by acchhhoooo
    Let's look at it from an employer's perspective, even with entry level planning postions, you probably will be competing with people with urban studies undergraduate degrees or even master level candidates. If it was your job to narrow down this selection field of candidates, who would you pick? My favorite tactic, the foot in the door. If you have a means to accomplish this and actually form a foundation for a planning career without the schooling, more power to ya. I have had plenty of coworkers with no relevant planning degrees and they still have been competent workers, I emphasize the competent part. However, I'm a strong proponent for having your studies within planning, both undergraduate and masters. The planning profession is getting watered down for the sake of being interdisciplinary. My advice, get your masters and do a workstudy with a local planning agency during that time, this sets the stage if you want to end up working in the area you studied and also as practical work experience on your resume if you go elsewhere.
    Of course you would want the more qualified candidate. But how does one get into grad school or learn more about the profession after graduating with a different degree? How exclusive are grad schools for planning?

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    I do not have a Master's Degree (I am in the process of going back to get it) and have been in the field for 7 years. Based on my experience, it would be possible to get a different position, however, if I were up against anyone with experience AND a Master's they would be the preferred applicant. I think it depends on what you want to do. I am not sure I want a Directors position right ow, now do I want to go into the pivate sector. I enjoy what I am doing and there is very little that I learned in school that I use on a daily basis.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dima Del Sol
    Of course you would want the more qualified candidate. But how does one get into grad school or learn more about the profession after graduating with a different degree? How exclusive are grad schools for planning?
    Go to the following website, planning.org, under heading job/careers go to careers. They have a decent general explanation on what planners do and how planners are trained.


    You need some pre-requisites and you typically have to take the GRE. The pre-requisites are normally flexible and you can take em in addition to normal requirements if accepted. If you have a BA, there is a good chance you have already taken these pre-requisites. The competiveness of entry will vary between schools but I don't think where you get your masters is very important at ALL within our profession. My personal experience, it was easy getting in, i'm not that impressive on paper with regards to GPA or GRE score but it was good enough. So if you wanna a masters in planning, nothing should stop you. Having a degree in poli-science (i think most people think of this as a degree relating to planning) should make it easier for you, as opposed to someone with a degree in theatre.

    It sounds like you are fresh out of school and not directly using your poli degree. If you are not confident with your GRE or GPA, obtain another degree in urban studies (would take a year), get a high GPA that last year and you instantly become more attractive to graduate schools, if you meet the minimum test score requirements.

    In conclusion, take the GRE and start sending in applications and I bet you will surprise yourself with how many programs will accept you.

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    Hey man, I appreciate all the support! And I should start studying for the GRE's, as I am thinking of applying next year. What advice do you have for places to study or work until then?

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    Quote Originally posted by Dima Del Sol
    Hey man, I appreciate all the support! And I should start studying for the GRE's, as I am thinking of applying next year. What advice do you have for places to study or work until then?
    Wow, your floating about eh? I'll tell you more about my circumstances leading to planning. I graduated with a psychology degree and it was a crap degree for jobs. After a few odds and ends, I went back to school, a friend had told me about urban planning. I still wasn't quite sure what planning was but I registered for urban study courses. I had a great advisor from the urban studies program and a year later, I had an undergraduate degree in urban studies which later turned into a masters. The field is amazing because of its magnitude. Read through the different forums and it is almost impossible to conceptulize what planning is. You have the technical yo-yo's in current planning talking legalese and someone in community development talking about quality of life issues in urban core areas.

    I work for cities as a current planner (yo-yo) and probably will stick to working for municipalities. Knowing the rules also allows you to bend the rules if you switch sides. I lub planning. The profession has solidified my career path, so I no longer worry about how I'm going to make money for the rest of my life. I also find it very fulfilling with a touch of annoying and a dab of stress.

    If you are taking the next year off, register for a couple urban studies courses. Go down to the local planning department and see if they have any positions open. Paid or non-paid, you are looking for exposure. It is usually easier to get internships if you are registered for classes. Some places will not allow volunteers, because of union regulations. Obviously, you would like to get paid while you are doing this, but you may have to bite the bullet if you can't find that. Personal experience, if a place likes you, they find ways to compensate you.

    What I would actually do, take the next year off to backpack through central-south America, go to Europe, Asia or Australia. Avoid Canada. I think this should be a prerequisite for all planners, to get a sense of place from a variety of perspectives.

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    Quote Originally posted by acchhhoooo
    Lots of good advice

    Yeah, I'm definitely "floating" right now, but I love it, DC is a great city and I needed to just take things easy a bit. I am interviewing at a real estate company right now, so that may lead to some good exposure, but I'm not sure if I want to devote a lot of my time to a company that works with retail grocery stores...

    I'm working part time at a pub downtown, and I think what I want to do is save some money, take a couple classes, and travel or live abroad at some point next year. I make decent money at the pub, enough to pay the bills, so if I can get another job or an internship somewhere I think that'd be cool. I'm not too worried about grad school right now, thats a couple years down the line. For anyone in college and wondering about what they're gonna do, don't stress about it, just live in a fun place and you'll be fine - there's no rush.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    This thread has been very ecouraging for me as well. I got my Bachelor's degree in Planning (from non-accredited program) about 2 years ago. It is essentially a geography degree with an emphasis in planning. I received a very good foundation in planning principles. I haven't been able to land a planning position yet, but I have very been fortunate to gain some really valuable experience in planning related areas.

    Competition for these entry-level jobs is stiff. I've interviewed for 3 or 4 planning jobs which, i feel now, I would have had a better shot at if I had a Master's. So I am applying to a graduate planning program and a geography graduate program. Hopfully I'll get acepted into one of them and be able to work on the degree at night.

    I have begun to see that it takes a combination of factors to get an entry level job in planning. And they seem to have to come together just right to get the kind of job you want.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian dankrzyz's avatar
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    Polisci background...

    My bachelor's degree is in Political Science from the Univ of North Texas... master's in Planning from the Univ of Texas at Austin. I think a polisci background is very valuable in the field of planning. As many of the other posts have mentioned, planning is such a varied field that people from so many backgrounds have something to contribute, and experience/interest in politics, government, or public policy is certainly high on that list.


    Quote Originally posted by silverthorne
    I'm thinking of going back to school to get my Masters in Planning. HOwever, I wonder if I could just use by BA in PoliSci to get into this field. What do you think?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yes

    Quote Originally posted by silverthorne
    I'm thinking of going back to school to get my Masters in Planning. HOwever, I wonder if I could just use by BA in PoliSci to get into this field. What do you think?
    I've worked with people fresh out of janitorial school, so sure you can be a
    planner Just send in your applications for the entry level jobs.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  22. #22
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Jobs here in New England would typically require a planning degree. Poli Sci is a great start though, in fact I minored in it for my degree.
    "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

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