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Thread: Accredited programs versus my MPA

  1. #1
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    Accredited programs versus my MPA

    I am a graduate student studying public administration and I would really like to get into urban/city planning. I expressed this desire to one of my instructors who agreed to help me design an individualized curriculum in which I could take planning "type" courses. When I graduate, my degree will be a Master of Public Administration. My college does not have a planning program (our MPA program is excellent though...)
    Am I going to have difficulty finding a job in planning because of my degree? I have read that many employers only hire graduates from accredited planning programs. I have also heard from a few people that it would be difficult to get an AICP certification without an accredited degree. I am just trying to think ahead. I would hate to go to the effort of finding an internship, completing all the courses, and then be jobless when I graduate!
    It's not too late for me to shift gears into something else, but I would appreciate any input from those of you already in the field.
    cheers!

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I know of many people who work within the planning field with an MPA. I think you will probably be placed in more of an economic development type of place, or at least that has been my experience.

    As for the AICP. Without a planning degree you will be forced to wait for four years of experience instead of the 2 you would have needed with a graduate degree in planning.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    I would imagine that this would depend on what you want to do in the field of planning. Physical Planning might be more difficult to transition into, with economic development a closer match. But none of this is insurmountable. Experience is ultimately the most important thing. Internships and more focused skills like what software you might know often has just as much an impact as what type of degree you have.

    As Hink Planner indicated, the difference for the AICP is just the time you have to spend working before you qualify to take the exam. If you take planning related courses (especially in planning law and history) and study when the time comes you will be fine for the test. There are plenty of people who don't have an urban planning focused education who are AICP.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Nov 2005
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    In the office I work in the Zoning Department contains people with MPA degrees and the Planning Department contains people with MCP degrees. I do not know the rhyme or reason for this occurrence that is just how it all shook out.
    Satellite City Enabler

  5. #5
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Jan 2006
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    It seems as this is highly localized. At my previous home, all planners had a degree in planning. Where I now live, I am one of the few planners with a planning degree (most are public administration). It seems like one of the determining factors of this may be if there is a school nearby that offers a planning degree (at my current residence, the closest planning program is probably 150 miles away). Are you looking to stay in Omaha? You could do some online research and find out what type of degrees people have where you would like to end up. Also, you could use this as an opportunity to contact some potential internships as a way to say hello. You may want to post a few of your ideal cities and see if anyone on this site works there for more input.

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