The forums have helped me incredibly as I've been planning my applications for Fall 09, so first: thanks everyone! Between here and Planetizen, I've (hopefully!) narrowed my search to a few programs. That said, I still have a few specific questions that I hope the collective can help me with.
A bit of background: I majored in History at Yale, 3.6 GPA (though closer to 3.9 in my final two years), haven't taken the GRE yet. I worked for the City of New York for a year and am currently in my second year with a well-respected planning and real estate consulting firm.
I want to study housing issues, most likely related to affordable housing, urban renewal and reconstruction. After a few years in the private sector, I've realized that I'm much more interested in policy and public interest work than working with private developers. I'm also thinking about continuing for a PhD, and am as much interested in urban history as current practice.
My questions: It seems like MIT, UCLA and Berkeley are the best programs for my extremely particular and peculiar interests. Are there any others that should be on my horizon? I'm also considerably to the left-wing within the field, so Penn planning seems to be a bit too close to Wharton for my interests. Is that true, or am I just jaded and skeptical?
Also, I'm considering applying to a few international schools as well. LSE, UCL and Cambridge seemed to pop up on here occasionally, but does anyone have any more specific ideas about these programs or suggestions about programs on the continent? Do they offer any advantage over top American programs if I want to work abroad after graduation?