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Thread: Advice on the MLA

  1. #1
    Member
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    Jul 2006
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    Seattle, WA
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    5

    Advice on the MLA

    It has been my plan for a while to go back to school to get a Masters in urban planning with a design emphasis. However, after speaking with a few people who concentrate on the design aspect of planning (and from reading posts here), it seems to be a more appropriate and marketable option for me to get an MLA instead. The passion and desire to get an MLA is there as it fits all my interests, but there's just one problem - I have no formal design training . I had a diverse liberal arts education and ended up with a psych major/econ minor degree, since then I've been working 4 years in a corporate/management environment - all of which do not help to add much creative work and materials to my admissions portfolio. I've dabbled here and there with photography and painting, but - again- no formal education in any type of design. A Summer Career Discovery program would be perfect, but unfortunately they are few and far between (Harvard, Cornell). Just wondering if anyone has feedback on any of the following:
    - What are the various educational/professional backgrounds that MLA students enter the program with?
    - Any info on the different entries and materials in portfolios?
    - Any info on the MLA at the University of Washington or University of Oregon? (haven't got around to speaking with the faculty yet).
    - Do you think any firms would let someone "shadow" them for a few days w/o any prior experience?
    I know these are a lot of open-ended questions, but any info would help! Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    Nov 2005
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    New Hampshire Seacoast
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    - What are the various educational/professional backgrounds that MLA students enter the program with?
    it's as varied as planning...my friend has a undergrad finance degree with an MLA. don't worry about having substantial background.

    - Any info on the different entries and materials in portfolios?
    i guess you're asking what to put in your portfolio? ask the schools you're applying to, and get a copy of the book "portfolio design". the head of UVA's LA/PLANNING admissions body suggested that anything visual you have created is a possible candidate, other places may not have such a wide perspective.

    - Any info on the MLA at the University of Washington or University of Oregon? (haven't got around to speaking with the faculty yet).
    no.

    - Do you think any firms would let someone "shadow" them for a few days w/o any prior experience?
    yes. if you're not asking for a paycheck, you shouldn't have any problem. did that with an architect a couple years ago.

    you don't need formal design training to go to a good design school. but you do need a good portfolio.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2006
    Location
    athens, ga
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    146
    The District hit the highlights.

    Most MLA students don't have design backgrounds, and it doesn't matter. It *does* mean that it'll be a 3-year program.

    Portfolios matter if you've got anything to show, but don't worry if you don't. If you do photography, art, or something else that's great, but if you don't make sure your application letter is good, your references are good, and you're clear on why you want to do it.

    Last I looked the MLA program at UoOregon is *not* accredited, so I wouldn't go there. The accreditation matters if you want to get licensed, so it's relatively important.

    If you want to do urban design, look for a program that has some emphasis in that area. Of course, if you want to stay in Seattle, the UofWash would be hard to beat for local connections. The building itself where the studio classes are sucks, but I visited there in between quarters, so no one was around to really see the program.

    Shadowing a firm would be a great way to start, and most would be happy to give you a day - just ask.

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