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Thread: Undergrad urban planning programs in Midwest: suggestions?

  1. #1
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    Undergrad urban planning programs in Midwest: suggestions?

    Hello all,

    I know most of the topics in this forum relate to masters programs, but I was wondering if you guys could recommend me some undergraduate programs in urban planning/studies.

    Criteria:
    -In or near a major city
    -I'm from St. Louis and I'd like to eventually work here in the midwest, so a midwestern school is ideal
    -Focuses in urban design and urban community planning

    The only planning programs I know of near here are those of UMKC, Missouri State, and UIUC. I've heard UIUC's program is very theoretical rather than practical, and I haven't heard anything at all about UMKC's or Missouri State's program.

    Any suggestions or insights are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    UIUC undergrad alum here: yep, it is highly theoretical. Most of the faculty consider it a springboard into the MUP program (which is also very theoretical). You could land an entry-level job in planning with a BAUP from Urbana, but you are more lucky with a boatlaod of internships to separate yourself from the graduate students. If I did it over again, I would not have enrolled at UIUC. I would consider Iowa State and possibly Wisconsin-Madison for midwestern schools.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian MazerRackham's avatar
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    My undergrad degree from Missouri State has served me well. It is a small program and is PAB accredited. I feel I was every bit as prepared as anyone else I have run across with a Bachelors degree.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Iowa State's Planning Program is PAB accredited and ISU has 28,000 students so its fairly large. Ames is a great progressive city (in Midwest terms) with tons of stuff to do and is only 30 minutes from Des Moines (which is actually far better than anyone outside Iowa thinks). The campus is probably in the top three most beautiful campuses in the country. Look that up on any rating site - don't just take my word for it.

    I'm from a town of 4 million (actual town - not suburbs) and I loved it ISU even though I had my doubts about the "Iowa" thing. It's the best of everything so don't be discouraged by the "Iowa" thing.

    ...The only problem with the program is that is focuses on rural communities in terms of econ development, transportation, etc... so don't go there if you want to work in Manhattan doing alternative energy planning or something like that... It's great for small town, blue-collar based planning. It's a program that teaches what you need to know and how/why planning is important so the Master's isn't a necessity - at least if you want to stay in the Midwest. Tuition can get pricey if you're out of state so look for scholorships.

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys, I will strongly consider missouri state and ISU. Does anyone else have any further insights?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian lilschmidty's avatar
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    I would agree that ISU is a good choice. I received my Master's from there in Community and Regional Planning. It's one of the larger undergrad Planning schools in the nation in terms of number of students. Some of the students also received research assistantships. Many of the practicing planners in Iowa graduated from ISU. From what I understand, most students find it easy to get internships as well. If you want some more information, send me a message. I would be happy to help.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    University of Cincinnati has an interesting co-op program where you end up getting a lot of experience while you get your bachelors in planning and its accredited by the PAB. I suggest you take a look at their program - I would have applied there had I known about it when I was getting ready for my bachelors. As it is, I'm applying there for my masters.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Iowa State University!

    That is where I got my undergrad, 9 years ago. And I remember several classmates in the department from the St. Louis area. It is a great campus that offers a lot but isn't too overwhelming, an accredited program, lots of nightlife right across from campus (in Campustown), and more fun stuff just a 20-30 min. drive down south to Des Moines.

    I don't know if it is the same now, but when I was there you picked an emphasis to focus on for your Planning degree. And my emphasis was Urban Design, so I got to take some fun landscape architecture courses and drawing courses. But, the program in general is pretty theory-based.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus
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    What about Ball State ?

    Several Cyburbians are grads.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    University of Louisville or University of Cincinnati DAAP

  11. #11
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Louisville offers an M.UP degree - it is pretty policy heavy. their geography department is ramping up a masters program as well, but i dont know much about it.

    U.Kentucky has an M.Arch program that would allow you focus on Urban Design / Planning - but the masters program was brand new when i graduated so i know very little about it.

    U.Cincinnati has a program, but i know almost nothing about it - other than Michael Pride-Wells (Michael Pride now?) teaches there and she is fan-freaking-tastic. Michael was also a big advocate of community planning while in Lexington working with the lower income neighborhood groups and doing a lot of planning with them.

    as far as the cities go -

    Louisville is a surprisingly nice place. it is big enough to have lots of stuff to do, museums, a river, lots and lots and lots of bars and restaurants etc. it is small enough that it wont take you 4 hours to drive across town, even in the height of rush hour. i live there now.

    Lexington is a nice place, but is quite a bit smaller than Louisville. still a lot to do but it is quite different than Louisville. a lot of people head off to the red river gorge when the weather is nice.

    Cincinnati - ive never lived there, but i really dislike the people that i have dealt with that are from Cincinnati. probably just a personal preference but it has been pretty consistent since i moved to Lexington 10 years ago.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    http://www.clas.wayne.edu/unit-inner.asp?WebPageID=1633

    The Department of Geography & Urban Planning at Wayne State University in downtown Detroit (not as scary as one might think) has a fantastic undergraduate program in Urban Studies. It is interdisciplinary in nature, as planning programs go, and gives a very indepth exposure to the broad nature of the field of planning.

    Downtown Detroit is very cool. Despite their recent political troubles with the former Mayor, the city has done a ton to bring Detroit back revitalized. And, what better way to learn about urban planning than in a major city.

    The Department has faculty who were trained at Harvard & Cornell, which are top programs in the country.

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