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Thread: Urban planning grad school rankings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Feb 2004
    Chicago, IL

    Urban planning grad school rankings

    I subscribe to U.S. News and World Report and they have an annual issue ranking different grad school programs. Seeing as though there are so many different ones, they naturally focus on the most popular, med schools, MBAs, etc. So I'm interested in knowing if there are any books or websites that rank graduate programs in planning. I think this would be helpful in deciding on a graduate program, though of course these lists only tell so much and where a degree came from may not be the most important thing.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Ocean to the east, land to the west

    Gorman Report

    There used to be a book called the Gorman Report that ranked Planning schools among other fields. I think it might be on the web somewhere now but probably isn't free.

    I generally think the rankings don't really tell the whole story since (1) so many disciplines converge on planning, so some schools are not even listed in the rankings and (2) so much of what you get out of planning school is what you make of it, making school rankings a little silly.

    I think there are clearly a top 10 or so, a top tier (roughly equal to the PAB accredited schools) and a second rank, but any of these will work if you pay attention and network. Whenever I have hired someone their graduate education has been a secondary factor.

  3. #3
    Mar 2004
    New York, New York

    planning defies ranking

    I suspect these rankings aren't terribly accurate. For one thing, Gourman comes out only once every few years. For another, planning as a field resists ranking. Numerous planning professionals have told me that if your goal is to work locally, in a particular region, in local government or privately, in a specific region, your best bet is probably the closest good accredited state program. Their alums and community contacts will have the best connections in that particular region.

    This being said, I think there's a handful of international-profile programs (Berkeley, MIT, maybe Penn, plus a handful of functionally specialized programs like Harvard GSD and KSG, respectively, USC or Cal Poly, that serve as magnets for people who want to get specialized planning credentials in one aspect of practice or another). These programs would probably be helpful to you if your goal is to get consulting, real estate and international development agency positions, or specialized positions through joint degrees in areas like project management, environmental engineering/design, urban design, architecture, conflict management or transportation.

  4. #4
    Dec 2007
    San Francisco, Mumbai

    grad degree advice

    I will be starting law school next fall and am considering a joint degree in a discipline related to urban planning. I know nothing about how different programs compare. You mention that certain programs are known for a particular emphasis. Can you give me some idea of what programs have particular strengths?

    Also, what are the advantages/disadvantages to an urban planning degree compared to a degree in geography or another related discipline?

    Thank you!

  5. #5
    Dec 2004
    Ithaca, NY
    For what it is worth, Planetizan has begun publishing an annual ranking of planning programs - it is mostly useful for the diversity of profiles of different schools, and planning programs within specific geographies. I am not sure how much water it carries beyond that...

  6. #6
    Oct 2007
    Cambridge, MA
    The planetizen book doesn't say anything about individual programs that a thorough research of school websites wouldn't yield. But then again, I found the admission stats helpful in setting realistic expectations. I'd say you can do worse with the 25 bucks you spend on the book; as to the rankings, take them for what they are worth.

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