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Thread: Chances at CDN Planning Schools

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Chances at CDN Planning Schools

    Hello,

    I have an AA in geography from a college, a BA in geography and a certificate in Urban Studies from SFU, and I am just starting out working for my diploma in Urban Land Economics from UBC. My UDGPA was at 3.1. I am currently looking for work in Vancouver as an entry-level planner with an aim of using the one year of experience that I hope to have (from starting to work now up until next summer before starting grad school in sept 08 ([if i get in]). I was wondering what my chances are of getting into a canadian grad school, specifically UBC or U o T?

  2. #2
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    Hey GE,

    I'm also from raincity and am starting at UBC SCARP in the fall. I think it says that approx. 200 people apply every year (and only 20 or so get in) but I'm not sure if that's correct/up to date. The application is a little different from most other planning schools in that they only want a 500 word statement of interest - so you want those 500 words to be golden. Both specific (incorporate key terms) and to the point. That's terrific that you already have work experience - so write about it. Out of curiousity are you working for the City or another muncipality? Consulting?

    I know you're done with undergrad but you may want to consider taking PLAN 425, which is a 3 hour, once-a-week seminar taught by a mixed panel of profs and PhD candidates. I know a few people who have gone back and taken that course to get a feel for the school and make connections.

    PM/email me if you want more info and I'd be happy to chat.

    PS This website is a great resource if you're wanting to know more about other CIP-accredited schools in Canada:
    http://www.cip-icu.ca/English/academic/cdn_uni.htm

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for the reply oh_viola.

    I have a few months planning work from a joint university-architecture/planning firm project. However, it is my intent to garner an entry-level job in the near future to use as work experience when I apply.

    The main question I have for all you, since the majority of this forum is already in planning school and/or working correct?, is will the addition of my half-completed urban land economics diploma elevate me to a higher standing in the application process (in addition to my BA-Geog) than others?

    Thank you
    Last edited by goldeneye; 27 Apr 2007 at 4:02 PM. Reason: error

  4. #4
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    Your chances of getting into a planning school are pretty good. The chances of getting into a particular planning school may be lower. When I applied to UBC, Manitoba, and Dalhousie, with a middling undergrad GPA, I got outright rejected from UBC, accepted to Dal, and waitlisted and then accepted into Manitoba. I ended up going to Dal.

    So, if you can be flexible about which school you go to, and with your background and GPA, you probably shouldn't have too many troubles. I have heard in the past that UBC is the hardest planning school in the country to get into, but I don't have any particular sources for that.

    As for the work experience, while it wont hurt, I dont think it's required for entry into a Masters of Planning program. Its more the other way around. Most entry level municipal planning jobs I see advertised here in BC (I'm also a Vancouver resident. Well, suburban vancouver area) list having your Masters of Planning as a requirement. The private sector could be a whole different ball of wax though.

    Since it sounds like you're here in Vancouver, why not call someone at SCARP at UBC and set up an information meeting with them to talk about the application process, whether the course is a good fit for what you want to do, etc. Making a good impression in person with someone in the department certainly wont hurt your chances of getting in.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by goldeneye View post
    Hello,

    I have an AA in geography from a college, a BA in geography and a certificate in Urban Studies from SFU, and I am just starting out working for my diploma in Urban Land Economics from UBC. My UDGPA was at 3.1. I am currently looking for work in Vancouver as an entry-level planner with an aim of using the one year of experience that I hope to have (from starting to work now up until next summer before starting grad school in sept 08 ([if i get in]). I was wondering what my chances are of getting into a canadian grad school, specifically UBC or U o T?
    It seems like you already have a lot of degree and diploma credentials in fields that are closely related to planning. I'm wondering what's the main reason that you want to do a Master's in urban planning? I really don't know myself, but others have suggested that a graduate degree in urban planning basically covers what you did in your Bachelors. Whatever the case, if you do get into UBC (or other school), it might be a good idea to see if the courses you are taking now can give some advanced credits already.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
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    I don't know how strictly they adhere to this, but apparently at UofT you need a minimum B+ (3.3) average to be considered. Like I said, I don't know if this is the letter of the law - a lot of my classmates did do very well in undergrad but others seem to think they got in more for work experience than their undergrad record. It doesn't hurt to call and ask beforehand so that you don't waste the $$ if they'll reject you outright.

    With that said, I think that a program should have a student body with a diverse background, not just a certain GPA.

  7. #7
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    The rumour is that you won't get into UBC with less than a 78%, although even 80% might be pushing it. However, if you're grades are slightly under that but you have a stellar idea for a thesis, they may consider. Most of the major/larger schools in Canada seem to want a B+ or higher.

    Gah, I hate how getting into grad school is all about grades - which are so subjective. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "if you don't mind, what's your average?" It's depressing because some of the smartest and most interesting people I know probably wouldn't be able to get into somewhere like UBC or McGill because it's so competitive. Anyway, end of rant!

    I agree with Westcoaster: give them a call and see what they're looking for in potential applicants.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    gkorstad, it may seem like I have many credentials that are the similiar to planning, but they do not replace a masters degree in planning. There is such a higher level of education available in grad schools that a traditional university educationc cannot compete with. I will definately try and get some credit from my previous education if at all possible.

    Unfortunately, I wasnt able to get a 3.3 gpa (B+), but I am just under it at 3.1. I think some people's obsession with gpas is a little much. Everyone has a unique situation and their grades are a result of that.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally posted by goldeneye View post
    I think some people's obsession with gpas is a little much. Everyone has a unique situation and their grades are a result of that.
    Yup, absolutely!

  10. #10
    (See below.)
    Last edited by Gkorstad Staegenheim; 30 Apr 2007 at 4:42 PM. Reason: Double-reply

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by goldeneye View post
    gkorstad, it may seem like I have many credentials that are the similiar to planning, but they do not replace a masters degree in planning. There is such a higher level of education available in grad schools that a traditional university educationc cannot compete with. I will definately try and get some credit from my previous education if at all possible.

    Unfortunately, I wasnt able to get a 3.3 gpa (B+), but I am just under it at 3.1. I think some people's obsession with gpas is a little much. Everyone has a unique situation and their grades are a result of that.
    Yeah, I agree that at the graduate level the standard and depth of learning would be much higher when compared with an undergraduate education. And I'm definitely not saying for you not to go for your Master's, I think it would be really beneficial for your career and personal learning. (It just seems like you would be re-learning a lot of things all over again...albeit in a different setting). And unfortunately, I don't think they have accredited one-year Master's in Urban Planning for people who have some previous academic background in it already.


    Also, at the risk of sounding like I'm contradicting myself from before, there's actually two sides of trying to get some credits from your previous education. On the one hand, it could leave room for you take other courses that you may be interested in, or help you finish off your Master's faster. On the other, if you just leave it as it is, you can possibly do better in those similar courses, since you should be relatively comfortable with the material already.

  12. #12
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    Gkortstad, I have been considering a 1 yr full-time masters degree in urban studies through SFU (local as is UBC); however, this program is not an accredited planning program, but I can get MCIP after 4 yrs of work experience compared to two years at an accredited one. Furthermore, this program takes place after work hrs from 5-9 which would allow me to work full-time while studying. Yet, there are less courses available (roughly 15 in total, compared to around 40 at SCARP) so there is a disincentive to go in that route.

    I do feel that I will be re-learning many things, which could be good because I should be able to do well in some courses, then again, whats the point if I am wasting my time and money and not learning anything in the process.

    SFU Urban Studies will be easier to get into since I know some of the professors, and the GPA requirements are lower; I just am not sure at all whether it would be worth it to take a shorter program (32 credits), possibly learn less, but be done faster.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by goldeneye View post
    ...SFU Urban Studies will be easier to get into since I know some of the professors, and the GPA requirements are lower; I just am not sure at all whether it would be worth it to take a shorter program (32 credits), possibly learn less, but be done faster.
    Yes, you've taken all these degrees surrounding urban planning already, it certaintly makes sense then to finally get that degree "IN" Urban Planning once and for all if that's what your intended career is.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Then the obvious question arises; will a Masters of Urban Studies mean the same thing as a MA/MSc in Planning to employers?

  15. #15
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    University of Manitoba is a great program with only 15 slots are available each year. The most important aspect they look for is character which is reflected in the studens.

    I find it hard to believe that Manitoba's reputation is not higher.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally posted by jkochschulte View post
    University of Manitoba is a great program with only 15 slots are available each year. The most important aspect they look for is character which is reflected in the studens.

    I find it hard to believe that Manitoba's reputation is not higher.
    If I had things to do over again, I probably would have gone with Manitoba instead of Dal. Those were the two schools I got accepted to, out of UBC, Man and Dal. Unfortunately, I got accepted to Dal first, and I wasn't very flexible at changing my plans back then.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jkochschulte View post
    University of Manitoba is a great program with only 15 slots are available each year. The most important aspect they look for is character which is reflected in the studens.

    I find it hard to believe that Manitoba's reputation is not higher.
    Hahah, hey John. Hows it goin? Quincy here. Hows good old BC treating you? You get everything figured out with your Fiance?

    Being another present Manitoba Student, it is an amazing program, very challenging, but well worth the time with a very strong core faculty. We end up with a good mix of students from accross Canada which makes a really rich learning experience.

    somthing to keep in mind.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    I looked at UM's website and I wasnt very impressed with their information; I know how superficial that sounds, but if UM wants to attract great students then they should have a well-designed website.

    Aside from that, I havent really found a desire to live in Winnipeg. The cold winters are not that appealing to me, at least in the -20 *C area.

    Ive been looking at doing some urban design classes at SFU's the City Program's Urban Design Certificate before I apply to the schools later this year and early next year.

    I am all over the place. I love to learn, but I tend to take on too much work.

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