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Thread: School programs...

  1. #1
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    School programs...

    Hi,
    I have an undergrad degree from Charleston SC in Historic Preservation/Urban Planning and Art History. I was recently accepted into the University of Illinois MUPP Program for the fall and was wondering if anyone knew the reputation it has or attended it? What can I expect and what is the best way of landing a Planning job in Chicago after graduation?
    Thanks,
    megan

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I assume you mean UIUC, not UIC. Urbana Champaign's MUP program is highly ranked, and has been on the top 10 through planetizen for a few years now. Many employers, both public and private, hold the program in high regard. Alice Novak teaches at least one or two courses on historic preservation (I took one of her classes years ago and helped me to navigate through the IHPA/National Register process). It also has a larger percentage of international students and faculty, many of which come from China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and one or two from Europe.

    The program offers a broad introduction into planning, and students have focused in everything from land use planning (including long-range planning), economic development, international planning, environmental planning, social justice, and transportation planning. However, the program is much more theory-based. It is not a design program and there is little to no interaction with architecture/landscape architecture. If you are okay with that, then go for it.

    C-U is DEAD during the summer. There are summer school programs, but alot of the student population is from Chicago and some from Bloomington/Normal, Springfield, or St. Louis and they usually go home from mid May through mid-late August.

    Alot of planners in Chicago have an MUP from UIUC, so you shouldn't have too much of a problem finding work. I would recommend that you

    1. Network, network, network. The Student Planners Organization (SPO) is one way to do this.
    2. Try to pick up internshps during the year in C-U. Don't just wait until the summer. I interned with the State Water Survey, State Geological Survey, Urbana City Council, and the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, which are all on or near campus (most of these were GIS/CAD types of internships, but the skills can be transferrable). If you are interested in the non land-use/community development side of planning, you can also become involved with the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP). I think the program needs a TON of improvements, but it's one way to build up your resume.
    3. Start looking for full-time work at the beginning of the second semester of your second year. Don't wait until you graduate to start looking.

    Hope this helps-

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally posted by msepsey View post
    Hi,
    I was recently accepted into the University of Illinois MUPP Program for the fall...

    Do you mean University of Illinois at Chicago or at Urbana-Champaign? They both have Master's programs.

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    Hi

    Hi,
    Actually, I am well aware of UIUC's fame, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I have to stay in Chicago, so it's UIC... I haven't heard anything about this program and was wondering what it is like and if it's any good? Is there a chance of transferring down to UIUC later?
    Thanks,
    Megan

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally posted by msepsey View post
    Hi,
    ...so it's UIC... I haven't heard anything about this program and was wondering what it is like and if it's any good?
    I'm wondering the same thing =) I'm in the same program except i'll start attending in the Spring.

  6. #6
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    UIC MUPP

    Really?? That's awesome.. I was scared I might be the only one! Well, I should be starting this fall so I'll let you know what I think when I start. I'm wondering if you can transfer down to UIUC eventually? That'd be awesome. How different could it be if it's the same school, just different location??
    I really wanted to stay in Chicago because of the problems we are having. It seems like a crucial time to be in the city as a planner.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Go to www.urban.uiuc.edu for more info. I would recommend talking with the admissions director, preferably face to face, and explain your situation, even before you start school at UIC. The MUP program is pretty difficult to get into for starters (there are a lot of applicants from the US and overseas) and I remember as a planning undergrad that the admissions faculty are also pretty choosy when it comes to transfer graduate students.

    Msepsey, what issues are you most concerned with in Chicago (or is it Chicagoland in general)? I think its wonderful that you want to change things for the better. Keep in mind that Chicago is really the last of the old political machines, and that politics play a key role in every aspect of planning (politics also plays a huge role in the planning processes in many of the other local governments in northeastern Illinois).

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    I know.. Chicago is horrible in that regard.. however, I've been working with political figureheads since I was a teenager and hope that it might help me be able to make some changes around here (I'm an optimist.. I know).

    I'm just really concerned with the Chicago's problems... our CTA can't afford to keep up it's infrastructure... our state wasn't granted enough federal funding to upkeep the roads, and the public transit structure can't keep up with more people taking it.. it's filled to the max.

    So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get an internship with the City that will allow me some hands-on training and I will be able to be a part of the change.

    I'm thinking with the Olympics possibly coming here, how we our transit could occupy a million + more people in our city... it seems like such a stress... that and more people are taking public transportation because we have the highest gas prices in the country!

    I think it's a crucial time here and I think internships here will get me connected to the right people in the long run vs. Urbana.. Chicago has some major issues on its hands and I'd rather be there for the long haul than in urbana.. call me crazy..

    Although I wish I could attend Urbana.. I just don't know if it would give me the experience I want.. would I be bitter because these issues in Chicago are what peaked my interest in planning?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    when it comes to MUP programs, I tend to take rankings with a grain of salt, but planetizen's rankings had UIC as a top 25 program, and top 10 in economic development. Not as highly ranked as UIUC, but since you are in chicago, the neworking and internship opportunities are probably greater.

  10. #10
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    That's great news to me! Thanks so much for that information.. for some reason, I couldn't find that ranking anywhere to save my life.

    What makes an MUP program different than the others?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by msepsey View post
    That's great news to me! Thanks so much for that information.. for some reason, I couldn't find that ranking anywhere to save my life.

    What makes an MUP program different than the others?
    UIUC is not as far away as you think (about 150 miles) which is about 2 hour drive. The majority of the students come from Chicagoland, intern in Chicagoland, and end up working up there after school. SPO is very active, and usually attends the ILAPA state conference, the Regional APA conference (if it's in Illinois), and the National APA conference. Most of the clients I work with in Chicagoland have planning degrees from UIUC, Iowa State, Ball State, and a handful of geography graduates from NIU. Some of my municipal clients have told me they don't really know anything about UIC's program, but they like what UIUC has been churning out. I am serving on two committees for ILAPA and will try to find out which chapter members have a degree from UIC.

    Downtown Champaign has seen redevelopment over the past 6-7 years. There are new hotspots in the downtown along with new loft apartment buildings/condos. Green Street is constantly re-adapting as well. Hitchcock Design Group (from Chicagoland) completed the new streetscape a few years ago, and now there are more restaurant chains on that strip (including Campustown's first Starbucks, which was a big shock to the independent coffee shops on campus). C-U is large enough (100,000 during the school year) that you can still deal with infill problems like a medium sized city.

    They also have transit issues as well (I had a transportation planning internship with the Urbana City Council about 5 1/2 years ago trying to bring in a trolley system but it was tabled due to the cost). Yes, Champaign is surrounded by agricultural uses, but I think that has given me a greater appreciation for open space/prime farmland preservation, which I have applied to working with some of my clients in smaller (but growing) communities. After driving back and forth from Chicago for 4 1/2 years, the country doesn't seem as desolate as you might think. C-U is constantly changing, and I think it affords wonderful planning experiences, even if you don't plan on settling down there.

    There is also room for additional subdivisons on the outskirts of Champaign and Urbana. However, C-U's "metro" area is not big enough to support developments that are larger than a couple of hundred acres (but I don't work for any of the local governments down there anymore so things might have changed). The next largest towns are Bloomington/Normal (about 70 miles northwest) and Springfield (about 100 miles southwest) and Indianapolis (100-150 miles east) as well as a few smaller cities such as Danville, Decatur, etc.

    On a separate note, there are no standards for measuring which planning program is better than another. Planners are typically not licensed, so there are no strict criteria for courses or training.

    You might want to check out ACSP http://www.acsp.org/CareerInfo/links...ng_schools.htm

    They give a brief synopsis of all of the accredited planning programs. I think the best way to rank a program is to find out what alumni think of the program, and how their degree has helped them in the profession (or other professions). Personally, I don't care much for UIUC because it is not design-oriented and I probably should have gone to Iowa State for undergrad or even a BLA. However, it gives a broad introducton into many other areas of planning.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 28 May 2008 at 12:00 PM.

  12. #12
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    nrschmid,
    It sounds like you have a wealth of information! If you know anyone who has graduated from UIC, their feedback would greatly appreciated. Regardless of the ranking of the school, if there aren't any professionals coming out of it... why would I want to go??
    UIUC sounds great to me, but I'm pretty much stuck in Chicago and am going to try to make the best of it.. for the time being, transferring down to UIUC seems a bit of a stretch. Although it sounds like a great town to be a part of.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by msepsey View post
    nrschmid,
    If you know anyone who has graduated from UIC, their feedback would greatly appreciated.
    I wish I did, I know a handful of guys from UIC's architecture program. Next month, I will be working with one of the committees to put together a directory of sorts for ILAPA, and it should be posted through the website sometime this summer. Check to see if UIC has an MUP alumni directory, you might be able to set up informational interviews with these people.

    UIC is also a commuter school so fewer people actually live on campus, so the extracurricular involvement will be different than an actual campus town. Although, you might be able to go part-time for your masters and work a regular job if you cash-strapped (there are pros and cons to both types of schools).

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    On transferring to UIUC

    As phenomenal as UIUC's MUP program is (I'm in it!), if you're going to be in Chicago and starting your studies at UIC, you might want to finish up your degree there instead of worrying about transferring to UIUC.

    1) Transferring grad programs isn't a simple matter

    2) If you're looking to get your professional career going in The City, you'd be better off studying in the city for the sake of proximity to the issues you're interested in and agencies affecting them.

    As close as Chicago and Champaign are, they are not the same city and can't provide the same experience. I ended up in Champaign for their MLA program and will be doing a dual MLA/MUP while I'm there.

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