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Thread: Are degrees in Urban Planning and Geography (separately) redundant?

  1. #1
    Jun 2006
    I'm currently headed down the route of double majoring in Urban Planning and Geography, with a certificate in GIS. One of the reasons I'm doing the double major is because the GIS certificate courses and some of the courses in the urban planning degree overlap with geography (the academic adviser never mentioned that certain courses won't count because of "double count" or what have you).

    By the end of my senior year or when I hope to master, I won't go looking for a career in geography unless its GIS. So is there a point to doing the geography degree concurrently with urban planning? If I don't do the geography degree I'll most likely switch to a BA in Digital Visualization, which is basically any major from the following: (Arch., land. arch, urban planning, int. design, ind. design, etc.). They take your first two years as if you were just learning one of those majors and then later you can switch to the BA (its main intent was to help those who didn't make it to upper division in their respective degree program). Basically 2 years tagged on, learning archicad, autocad, among others.

    What would you do?

    Option 1:
    BS in Urban Planning
    BS in Geography (remember, some courses overlap)
    Certificate in GIS
    Master in Urban and Environmental Planning

    Option 2:
    BS in Urban Planning
    BA in Digital Visualization
    Certificate in GIS
    Master in Urban and Environmental Planning

    Someone also said on another site that it may be best to get one degree, then get a job, and come back to go after other degrees that you didn't get to. Considering ASU's tuition (is it one of the cheapest in the country for a university?), its very possible to do. I don't know...I guess I'm just confused about whether a major in geography would be redundant to take with urban planning and GIS.

    If you want to compare geography and urban planning, scroll the list in this link.

    And here is the BA program: link

    Sorry about the double post. I edited the first post and it won't let me do it again.

    I did some more research, and it turns out the BA in Design Visualization is extreme hardcore computer graphics courses geared more towards graphic designers. There is another choice in The Built Environment version of the same BA.

    Here are all the courses for everything in the BA:


    It seems like geography makes more sense to take than these, to be honest. Maybe there are other technology specializations (not programming..besides GIS...but more like autocad where it isn't extreme like the Design Visualization).

    Sorry for these long posts. I appreciate your thoughts.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 29 May 2007 at 10:07 AM. Reason: double reply

  2. #2
    Dec 2006
    What do you want to do with your degree(s)?

    Low tuition does not equal quality, especially if you spend more time taking courses that may or may not prepare you for your ideal job after school.

    My advice is to find people who do what you want to do, and for you to find out how they got there. This forum and good old-fashioned networking will help.

    Is the ASU program new? Is it accredited? My initial impression was that the website spewed forth a laundry list of courses with no course descriptions, let alone links to individual course sites where you could see the syllabi, reading material, previous projects, etc.

    I earned at least 4 internships in college through my GIS skills (which I taught myself). I don't do much of GIS anymore in my planning job (and I don't miss it). GIS was my foot in the door. IMO, students with planning and/or geography degrees can work as planners. I think planners are more well rounded, though.

  3. #3
    It really does depend on what you'd like to do, but allow me to offer my insights as a grad student in Planning with a Geography background and an academic leaning:

    Geography means "GIS" in the eyes of most employers. If you enjoy GIS and geotechniques, I *STRONGLY* advise you to pick up that Geography degree either on its own or in tandem with the Planning degree. It is widely believed that ASU will take the top Geography Department ranking from Penn State this year. One of your professors, Dr. Soe Win Myint--whom I had the pleasure of having him as an advisor before he left OU to go to ASU--is rapidly being recognized as the guru of Remote Sensing. ASU is also has an excellent urban lab and a solid GIS curriculum. Essentially, a degree in Geography (particularly a B.S.) from ASU carries a lot of weight in the geospatial field.

    The traditional route to a Planning career is to major in something at least partially-relevant to Planning and then to get your advanced degree in the discipline (typically it's an MRCP, occasionally an M.S. or M.A.). IMHO, this produces the most well-rounded Planners. If you were to follow this model you'd get your B.S. in Geography and then pick up your Master's in Planning either at ASU or somewhere else. I would *NOT* advise taking time off or going into the workforce. It's been my experience in speaking with employers at conferences that an advanced degree is becoming the benchmark by which Planners are measured, and many students with undergraduate degrees are going to find themselves thoroughly unsatisfied with the job offers they receive.

    In short, if you're not in a major hurry, consider getting the B.S. in Geography (or at least making that your primary concern and consider the Planning B.A. a freebie) and then continue on to an accredited Planning graduate program.

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