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Thread: Chances of admission: dual masters public admin/planning

  1. #1
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    Chances of admission: dual masters public admin/planning

    Hi everyone!

    So I'm new here and discovered this great resource! So here's the deal: I graduated in '06 from UC Irvine with a Psychology degree and currently work full time at the University supervising roughly 30 undergraduates. I've been looking at various Masters programs and became interested in USC's joint masters in Public Administration/Planning. As a career I'd like to get involved in transportation management. The issue is this: while I have lots of management and relevant research experience in Public Admin I have ZERO experience in planning(but I'm a big public transportation enthusiast and see it as a definite career area). So what do you all think, do I have a shot to get into the dual degree program at USC despite the lack of experience in planning? My education stats: 3.82 overall, 4.00 major, 1350 GRE(Q = 760, V = 590, Writing = 4.5).

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    I don't think you need any planning experience to get into planning school. You should express your interest in the profession in your essays, have people mention it in their recommendations, and go up there and meet some of the professors. I got my Master's as a career change and had no prior experience.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I wonder who they would take if it came to a decision between someone with experience in the field and a planning undergrad degree (but from a less prestigous school) vs. yourself (no professional experience but great academic background, although a non-related degree)?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I agree that your background and experience should not have an impact on your application. This is what the essay is for: to explain your interest in planning. Afterall, they are not hiring you to work as a planner, just admitting you to a program to be trained as one.

    I applied to planning grad school with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and an MA in Folklore, so if that's any indication, you should be golden...

    With your academic performance and a well written and passionate essay, I don't see there being any problem. I think you'll be a great candidate.

    Good luck!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Hmmm, so where does that leave people who do have a background in planning, both academically and professionally? There must be some advantage when applying in having this experience? I sincerely hope that as a geography grad (BA), and with one year of planning experience and a few coursese of urban land economics I am considered ahead of anyone with a different background, regardless of their GPA and/or professional experience. Otherwise, what was the point of taking a geography major during my undergraduate career?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I agree that your background and experience should not have an impact on your application. This is what the essay is for: to explain your interest in planning. Afterall, they are not hiring you to work as a planner, just admitting you to a program to be trained as one.

    Good luck!
    I partly agree with this. I think that your background and experience in almost any career field should not have an impact on your application, provided that you have a solid resume and letter of intent, accompanied by references, a high GRE score (where applicable) and possibly samples of schoolwork or professional work. On the otherhand, I think that a professional background in planning plays a very big role in the application process, and even more so if you already have a degree from an accredited planning program. IMHO, I think this planning training and professional experience says to the admissions director that you (1) have a very good idea of WHAT you specifically want out of the program, (2) more likely to succeed in the courses based on your past experience and schooling, (3) can contribute your own unique experience to your planning students, staff, and faculty.

    Goldeneye, I agree that you have an advantage with your geography degree, extra coursework, and planning experience over some applicants with none of these qualities (keep up the good work ) However, I would also watch out: there might be many applicants with a planning degree(s) and several years of planning experience applying, too.

    Finally, like any career field, some academic programs will be much more selective than others, despite your experience or success in high school/college.

    Hope this helps-

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