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Thread: Choosing the right degrees?

  1. #1

    Choosing the right degrees?

    Hi, I just recently decided that a career in planning is something that I think I would enjoy, but here's where the questions start.. I plan on starting the University of Phoenix (online school) soon and getting my bachelors of arts in information technology (since I also have a big interest in computers) and then after that getting my masters in urban and regional planning.

    At the moment, i'm thinking of Eastern Washington University in Spokane (which will probably end up changing.. haha), which offers a Master of Urban & Regional Planning and also a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning. I was wondering if it's a better idea just to get my Associates, then get a BAURP and then a MURP (or if it's required to get a MURP? I really don't know much about college..), or to do my original plan.

    I was thinking it would be nice to have both, that way it's not like im a "one trick pony" (or whatever that expression is) and have something to fall back on if I don't like one or the other. Would employers like me more if I have a bachelors AND a masters, or would they just see the masters and not care about the bachelors?

    Anyways, sorry if this is rambling and not making any sense (let me know if I was vague on anything), but i'm typing this as it's coming! Any help is appreciated. Thanks
    Last edited by Rezn0r; 11 Aug 2006 at 8:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
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    Very difficult question to answer in a thread and you won't like this but it all depends.

    You basically have 2 options for the planning career:
    1. BA in IT then MURP
    2. BAURP (possibly with a minor or electives in IT)

    You can still get your MURP after your BAURP but you won't need it, unless there is something you would like to further investigate in planning academically. Ideally then you would become a specialist in whatever you research in your grad studies but this does not always happen. Think about the same question you pose but different discipline: is it better to get just my bachelors of engineering or my bachelors and masters? You don't need the latter to practice professionally as a engineer but if you did your masters in the "structural rigidity of carbon alloys up to 2 atmospheres below sea level" you would then have some 'expertise' in that type of engineering and perhaps specialise in that aspect professionally, and hence may be more attractive to an oil rig construction company than a general structural engineer with just an undergrad (all other things being equal of course). However, academic programs in planning are not as cut and dry.

    Graduate degrees in planning are offered to provide those whom have studied a different subject an attractive alternative to get into planning - i.e. if you have a bachelors in fine arts, you may be less inclined to do another bachelors in planning. It also offers you the opportunity to combine your other expertise with planning. For IT, you may be more inclined to spealise in GIS planning applications. If you already have an undergrad in planning then a grad in planning offers you the opportunity for more in depth research into an area of interest and possibly more stimulating seminar sessions with your peers (as they are at the graduate level). Grad programs in planning tend to cover the same basics as undergrad programs (they have to if they want to be a recognized planning school by the american planning association) but usually have higher standards in other academic aspects, such as writing and research. A prof grading a graduate level paper will likely expect a lot more than an undergrad paper on the same topic.

    Also consider how long you can afford to be in school. If not very long and you are itching to get into the work force I would recommend getting your undergrad in planning and then take IT courses as a minor or part of your elective offerings. This may satisfy your interest in both disciplines and possibly make you more attractive to employers if you are able to incorporate both disciplines in your line of work (but your interest and ability to do that is really only up to you). But you will have the least exposure to course work and thus the least amount of specialist knowledge in both.

    If you are more academically inclined and enjoy the school life then consider getting your undergrad in planning or IT and then grad in planning.

    All things being equal, a grad degree is usually more preferable than just an undergrad, the preface to this sentence is very important b/c depending on the job your education will not likely carry the most weight.

    Its also probably a good idea to take courses in both and go to a few Council and committee meetings in your local muniicipality to get a sense of what land use planning is all about before you progress too far in your education plan - you would hate to be in your 4th year and decide this isn't for you. Also, planning is very broad and there are many, many other types of planning work not associated with development approvals or even land use so keep an open mind as to what is out there.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

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