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Thread: Masters in planning or public admin?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Masters in planning or public admin?

    Hi all,

    I will be going to grad school this fall. But I need help... I have an accredited Planning degree from Eastern Michigan U. and am having trouble deciding the following:

    study for a Masters in Urban Planning
    or
    study for a Masters in Public Administration

    ??? What is the difference between the two ???

    I have an interest in downtown/economic development. Site Design and Land Use have interested me as well. Please help clarify what types of professional positions the two degrees lend themselves to, as I only have one year experience working as an assistant at a civil engineering firm. Thank you very much.

    - Jason

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    I Say.....

    Go for the MPA, since you already have a degree in planning. For the grad school money, I don't think you'll get too much more out of a masters....broaden your education.....MPA, MBA, M.A. Geography......you get the picture......Had I gotten a B.U.R.P. (snicker...he he....) degree, I woulda gone for a masters in geography.....or vice versa.....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I was in the same boat as you and have decided on the MPA, which happened to have an optional emphasis in planning. The One is spot-on in his assessment of a planning masters when you already have a BURP.

    Investigate a dual-degree. MPAs and MURPs often have some crossover classes, especially if the MURP is geared toward policy more than design. You might find that three or four extra course credits gets you a MPA and MURP.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    I too have decided to go for a Masters in admin as well. I was also considering an MA in Geography. Even though my bachelors degree in planning is not from an PAB accredited program, with an MPA I should eventually be able to land a planning or related position somewhere in this great nation. Also do a thread search on this topic, it has come up more than once before.

    Big Ups to my peeps in Michigan!!

  5. #5
    Member
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    I am considering the same

    Although not for the altruistic reason of being a better planner... I'm in Colorado and the local state university (university of co. at denver) offers both programs (MURP and MPA) and a combo (MURP-MPA) that saves a few credits. The MPA program is considerably shorter than the MURP (36 vs 52 credits) but I have a unique home situation that would lend myself to taking the shorter program.

    IMO, if you envisioned yourself being a Planning Director or designer, maybe the MURP is better for you. If you think you might branch out to local government administration or a non-profit, maybe the MPA would be better. I don't think having either will hurt in the quest to be a better all-around professional. At some point in time, it could be that your performance would eclipse any particular education that you have. On the other hand, the masters degree can be what gets you to the next pay level if you're in the government sector.

    Good luck,
    GP

  6. #6
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    Dual Degree

    Hola,

    I hope the holiday season is treating you all very well. I wanted to say that I am strongly considering a dual MPA/MURP here in Colorado (Denver). I really like the mix of possible classes and feel like the combo will give me more options down the line. In my time researching the differences between the two, it seems to me that the number of jobs out there that list a degree in planning as a requirement are much more limited than those that list an MPA.

  7. #7
         
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    Mstr's in P or PA

    Go for the MPA; there's is more lucre, more options, and a better sense of professional fulfillment in the MPA.


    Quote Originally posted by Hempdiddy
    Hi all,

    I will be going to grad school this fall. But I need help... I have an accredited Planning degree from Eastern Michigan U. and am having trouble deciding the following:

    study for a Masters in Urban Planning
    or
    study for a Masters in Public Administration

    ??? What is the difference between the two ???

    I have an interest in downtown/economic development. Site Design and Land Use have interested me as well. Please help clarify what types of professional positions the two degrees lend themselves to, as I only have one year experience working as an assistant at a civil engineering firm. Thank you very much.

    - Jason

  8. #8
    Member
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    Mpa

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I agree with the others. You probably have the basic planning skills and intellectual training necessary to get an entry level planning job, but if you want to really rise in the field, make sure you find a program that will help you build some skill in public finance, real estate finance, cost-benefit analysis, land use law, economic analysis, and other practical sub-disciplines that will give you real deliverables when you start looking for work again. I think a flexible MPA program with some disciplinary latitude will be most helpful for you.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rs695
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I agree with the others.
    I agree as well. Especially if you're in the public sector.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Depends on where you want to go... if you want to go private sector, go with planning for an MBA, if you want to go public, MPA.

    I am getting a Masters in Planning, and I have a good combination of Planning, Business, Marketing, and Public Admin classes.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    I would echo the sentiments of the previous posters. My situation was actually opposite: My bachelors degree was in Public Administration and my Masters is in Urban and Regional Planning. I think any combination of the two will prepare you well for government planning or consultant work. You have the land use & development background through your undergrad studies. The MPA is a highly versatile degree that will give you a multitude of options. It will also give you solid budgeting & management skills - two things that many planners lack.

  12. #12
    Member
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    MPA vs. MCP

    Quote Originally posted by Dashboard
    I would echo the sentiments of the previous posters. My situation was actually opposite: My bachelors degree was in Public Administration and my Masters is in Urban and Regional Planning. I think any combination of the two will prepare you well for government planning or consultant work. You have the land use & development background through your undergrad studies. The MPA is a highly versatile degree that will give you a multitude of options. It will also give you solid budgeting & management skills - two things that many planners lack.
    I have a Masters in City Planning. I think whatever degree you pursue, you should look at the quality of education, and the level of depth the specific program will take you into the fields that you are interested in. I had the opportunity to compare a top-notch MPA school with a top-notch MCP school, since I worked with students and took classes in both. It was not so much the program itself, but the academic expectations and rigors provided by the program that made a big difference. The MPA school happened to require 5 classes a semester. That meant easier classes most of the time, and focus on networking and 'leadership' development . The MCP school had harder classes that were more detailed orientated, and more in-depth, since many students took 4 classes a semester. There were many more client-based projects as well, and the focus was on applied knowledge.

    If my experience happened to be reversed b/w the MCP school and the MPA school, I would be advocating the reverse of course. This shows that you should truly investigate what the economic development related courses in each program focus on, speak with the professors or professionals teaching those courses to get a sense of what they are offering, and know the opportunities offered during your 2 years. Doing this homework will be invaluable in helping you decide what's best for your needs. It's not the title, but your accomplishments and depth/breath of knowledge that will matter in how you track your career afterwards.

    Lastly, I make a plug for Karl Seidman's "Economic Development Finace" textbook for the general student interested in ED. Does my school affiliation finally come out? I guess now it does Lastly, I went to planning school, but focused primarily on economic development courses and economics courses. Zoning, Land Use, Design? What's that?

  13. #13
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    I agree, get something different with your grad degree. If you already have planning for undergrad, PA is good if you want to work for the government.

    If you want to do development, how about a degree in Real Estate focusing on financing; that's what people who work for developers study.

    If you want to do design, how about a degree in Landscape Architecture?

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