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Thread: How important is accreditation?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    How important is accreditation?

    This thread, about MSLA vs. MURP in Eastern Washington brought about this point.

    Quote Originally posted by bdaleray
    FWIW, it doesn't appear that MSLA program at WSU (Washington State?) is accredited. At least, it doesn't appear in the list of accredited programs on the ASLA's website -
    (http://www.asla.org/nonmembers/educa...prog_alpha.htm)

    If it's not accredited as a first professional degree, you'll have a *much* harder time getting licensed, and potentially getting a job. YMMV.

    Having said all that, if you want to be a designer, you need a design degree. Few planning degrees give you that, so you'd probably be better of with an architecture or LA degree.
    My question to those studying, and those hiring is how important is accreditation in licensing and hiring somebody. Seems to me that just a MAster's degree (on the planning side) helps immensely. If you are hiring anybody, do you look for APA accredited degrees?

    Discuss.
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    Good question. I am attending a non-accrediated program, Minnesota State-Mankato. The program could be accrediated if it would make the effort. The program is very strong, and leans heavily on the practical side. I have a portfoilo of real-life projects, as almost class has some sort of project. But I do wonder what effect accrediation has on career prospects.

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I think accreditation has much more impact on LA than planning. There are lots of planners running around with non-PAB blessed planning degrees.

    I think lack of accreditation in LA can seriously affect your ability to get licensed. I think new LAs in Texas HAVE to posess a degree from an accredited program, but don't hold me to that.

    "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)

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I would want to know why the program is not accredited, then make a choice. Accreditation is handled by APA, and AICP is easier when you go to an accredited program. LAs need an accredited program to get their licenses. I would hire the person, not the program. But for personal professional development, I chose an accredited program.

  5. #5
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Much like Gurnee, not having an accredited degree isn't an automatic no for me, but it is much easier in the hiring decision if the candidate has the accredited 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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    Interesting responses. I believe I was told our program was unaccreditated because of our size, we only have 30-40 grad students in total, and 15-20 are actual planning students. Our department is a split department, you can get two degrees, a Masters in Urban Studies, or a Masters in Urban Planning. Because of the small department, we don't have "enough" professors that are fully focused on planning. Not sure if thats the actual reason but it's still a strong program with many alumni.

    We are actually called the "Mankato Mafia" when it comes to hiring in Minnesota, as you are more than likely to have an alum from the program on city staff. We are very competitive in Greater Minnesota, Eastern Dakotas, and Western Wisconsin. We have several alum in the suburban Twin Cities metro, but it's a bit more difficult as we are going up with HHH grads.

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    Cyburbian yesteryear's avatar
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    I've often wondered about this myself. My degree (BA Urban Studies) is not from an accredited school... but I've heard that they are actually working on becoming accredited soon, and will most likely be adding a masters program. I think the reason it wasn't before was a lot like what a previous poster said - small department, professors who also teach other subjects, etc. But my question is this - if I got the degree BEFORE the program was accredited, does that mean I have a degree from an accredited program??

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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    I'm glad to hear the the folks at Mankato feel that their program is competitive. Given the growth of the TC metro (and, frankly, outstate cities as well), Minnesota really needs to have more than one school producing qualified planners. I'm a U alumnus, and I loved the school, but it doesn't seem like the Humphrey Institute would be the best choice to produce individuals steeped in the practical ways and means of planning.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

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    Glad to see a fellow Minnesotan on here. What we are told in the Mankato program is that our program is much more practically based than the U of MN's. Now I have no way of basing that, but I have heard it from other planners I ran into during my internship last summer. But several planners and city managers said that you go to Mankato to learn practical skills, you go to HHH to learn theory. In all fairness, I am sure the U's program is a great one, but it seems like a difference in priorities. Just my .02!

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    I think accreditation has much more impact on LA than planning. There are lots of planners running around with non-PAB blessed planning degrees.

    I think lack of accreditation in LA can seriously affect your ability to get licensed. I think new LAs in Texas HAVE to posess a degree from an accredited program, but don't hold me to that.
    I can't speak to the planning part, but as a licensed LA I can tell you that graduating from an accredited program is pretty darn important.

    Of course, like all licensure laws, they vary from state to state. I did a quick check of a couple states:

    VA - No minumum educational requirements if have an accredited LA degree, 8 years of combined education & work experience if without.

    TX - I checked since Suburb Repairman mentioned it. In fact, if you started your education after 1999, ONLY graduates from accredited programs are eligable for licensure. Frankly I find that a bit surprising, but that's just me....

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    My question to those studying, and those hiring is how important is accreditation in licensing and hiring somebody. Seems to me that just a MAster's degree (on the planning side) helps immensely. If you are hiring anybody, do you look for APA accredited degrees?
    Well, I have an MCP from an unaccredited school (with a great rep). However, I worked full-time in planning while I went to grad school so I will not be too far behind the accredited folks when it comes to AICP certification. If I were hiring, accreditation would not mean much to me (except of course if they went to MIT, Harvard, etc.).

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    Quote Originally posted by bdaleray View post
    I can't speak to the planning part, but as a licensed LA I can tell you that graduating from an accredited program is pretty darn important.

    Of course, like all licensure laws, they vary from state to state. I did a quick check of a couple states:

    VA - No minumum educational requirements if have an accredited LA degree, 8 years of combined education & work experience if without.

    TX - I checked since Suburb Repairman mentioned it. In fact, if you started your education after 1999, ONLY graduates from accredited programs are eligable for licensure. Frankly I find that a bit surprising, but that's just me....
    I think the only limit for a student graduating from an accredited program in urban planning is regarding when you are eligible to thake the AICP exam. I think you have to work 2 years if you graduate from an accredited program, 3 years if you graduate from a non-accredited program.

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    Quote Originally posted by njm View post
    I'm a U alumnus, and I loved the school, but it doesn't seem like the Humphrey Institute would be the best choice to produce individuals steeped in the practical ways and means of planning.
    And why would that be? It is an interesting statement, something that would need more to back it up with. I am at the HHH and I believe that the planning program is top-notch, even thought it might be more theory/policy based. However, that is also due to the fact that it is in a Public Affairs school with a large focus on public policy. I can see how that can be quite different from a planning education in Mankato.

    I, myself, am having a tough time debating from switching from a Master in Public Policy to the Master in Urban and Regional Planning degree.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    my boss is an LA and doesn't have a clue as to which planning programs are accredited and which aren't. chances are that if your potential boss is not a planner, they won't know the difference either.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    After readingall of this it appears that the importance of accreditation differs for planning and landscape architecture.

    For landscape architecture it seems to be fairly important. You can probably get a job without a degree from an accredited program, but your advancement will be limited if you're in the typical LA practice. Still, a lot of the LA jobs are anything but typical, so it may not be all that bad.

    For planning, however, it seems like the situation is opposite. The barriers for certification are less significant, and there seems to be no real bias from potential employers.

    Thoughts? Is this a reasonable summary?

    The thing that I wonder about is the grey area of urban planning. The practicioners seem to have a preference for a design degree, but there's no certification (yet!) for urban planners. Of the ones I've know with some certification, it seems to be split between architectural license, LA license, and AICP.

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