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Thread: Urban planning masters

  1. #1
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    Urban planning masters

    I graduated with a professional bachelor in architecture from McGill University in 1997. I am interested in pursuing post-graduate studies in urban planning- some of my interest are historic preservation, urban renewal, international development, all within the context of large urban cities. I have looked at some of the Ivy League schools: Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, but I am wondering- Is the expense worth it? Will a big name diploma make a difference in the type of job I can get afterwards, in other words is it worth paying for the reputation? Furthermore are there other universities which offer comparable degrees at more affordable rates (in Canada, the UK or France)? I'd appreciate any suggestions you may have.
    Sophie

  2. #2
    I gradauted from McGill (in Urban Systems) in 98 and am presently applying to planning schools. I'm from the states but I have the same worry about spending so much cash for a US school (this is what led me to McGill for my undergrad in the first place). I think the 'big name' will only make a difference in terms of the clout of the people you meet while at the school... I've been working the affordable housing field for several years and the name of the school doesn't seem to make a difference when we hire someone.

    I've been looking into 12-month master's degrees in the UK. The only drawback as far as I can tell is that these schools aren't accredited so it will take longer to get AICP certification if I end up going that route.

    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    "Reputation" is in the eye of the beholder. Find an accredited grad school that matches your goals. The jobs will follow. In my public sector experience, grades, experiences and recommendations mean much more than which school.

  4. #4
    I also did my undergrad at McGill (Geography 1998)
    and then a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at London School of Economics.

    I have not had any problems in terms of not going to an AICP accredited school. No one has questioned it. The difference in going to a British school is that you spend time studing a different planning system than we have in North America. For me this was valuable and I did not have trouble learning on the job here in the States. Also, in my Planning Department past work experience is as valuable as attending a good name school. Applicants without work experience are at a definite disadvantage. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Can anyone tell me of a book that might list grad schools and rank? Actually, any book that would tell me undergrad and grad rank for Planning would be great. Thanks for the help!

  6. #6
    I don't believe that planning schools have been ranked. A great resource for researching the schools, however, comes from the Assoc. of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). It's titled "Guide to Undergrad. and Grad. Educ. in Urb. and Reg. Planning" and the 11th edition (2000) is available.

    website: www.uwm.edu/Org/acsp/
    buy book: www.planning.org/

    Disclaimer: I'm not employed nor do I have a stake in this book or the agencies mentioned, rather I was given a copy by a professor and have found it to be of great benefit in my own search.

  7. #7
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    Yep. The above book helped me, though some of the student employment info was off, i found.

    There was a rating of planning schools a few years back that USC referred to (because they were ranked highly in it). Rankings don't mean as much in planning as they do for med schools-- finding a good fit is generally more important.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    I would like to caution anybody against doing a 1 year masters degree. Since it is only one year in length and the amount you learn is limited (half the classes). In the end the extra year really prepares you better. This is not say you can't learn on your own, but that raises the question why go to school?

  9. #9
    Aron Gooblar,
    Just got into LSE... we seem to be treading much the same path (McGill and all, I graduated at the same time, we must have been in classes together) so I'm wondering how you liked LSE and where you're working now. Email me when you get a chance.
    -Jessica

  10. #10
    All right, find a school that fits your needs and interests. Fine. The question still remains, are planners with Canadian degrees (for my purposes, University of British Columbia, Mcgill, and Queens) on an equal footing with planners from good schools/programs in the States? I know it's a difficult question to answer, but maybe it can be approached from this angle:

    1. What kind of profile do these programs have within the planning community? I often see comments like "You're interested in transportation? Well, MIT (or Rutgers, or wherever) is the school for you." or "VTech? I've heard they've got a great environmental (or whatever) program." What images, if any, are conjured by the Canadian schools?

    2. How are you grads of these schools faring in the American job market? Canada is a lovely place, but demographics dictate the job market is substantially larger down south, not to mention the attraction held by the good old greenback. How you doin' down dere, eh?

  11. #11
    Captain Canuck... I'm an American who did my undergrad at McGill, and no one questioned it when I came back to the States to find work. Plus I was able to support myself and take the job I really wanted when I graduated because I wasn't carrying the kind of debt it takes to go to school in the states. Seriously the best decision I've made. Good luck!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    In regards to Canadian schools I know some Canadian programs in Urban Planning (such as the University of British Columbia) are actually accredited by teh Planning Accrediation Board here in the US. What this means is that you can sit for the AICP exam here in the United States with as little as 2 years of work experience. If you go to an unacredited program in Canada you have to wait something like 4 years. For most, this is a minor consideration but something people looking into schools in Canada should consider.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I graduated in 1994 and have the last several years exploring America, both in the Army and in the civillian world. Now I am looking into going back for a masters degree in Planning. I had a dual major in Business Admin and American Studies, so I am looking for a program that has a Historical Preservation specialty. Any suggestions?

  14. #14
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    LSE- M.Sc. Regional and Urban Planning

    Hi Everyone,

    I am also a recent McGill grad (law / east asian studies), just got into LSE and wanted to know your thoughts about the programme, especially career opportunities afterwards.

    Please email me if you are willing to share your thoughts,

    Ciao,

    Patrick

  15. #15

  16. #16
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    LSE MSc Regional and Urban Planning Studies

    Quote Originally posted by Jessica Katz View post
    Aron Gooblar,
    Just got into LSE... we seem to be treading much the same path (McGill and all, I graduated at the same time, we must have been in classes together) so I'm wondering how you liked LSE and where you're working now. Email me when you get a chance.
    -Jessica

    Jessica,

    I'm going to study this program Oct this year ( 2008 ). Could you shed some light on your overall experience about LSE, the course structure and employment perspective. I understand it's not an accredited program, does it really matter based on your personal experience? I’m from Canada and I intend to come back or job hunting in the States upon finishing the Masters. Do employers in Canada recognize degrees from UK? My impression is they don’t seem quite.

    Thanks

  17. #17
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    soo i'm fresh out of high school and just wondering if you guys have any advice? i was considering going into NAIT's civil engineering technology program here in edmonton, but now i think i'm gonna apply to mcgill for urban planning. am i goin in the right direction? i really think the whole urban sprawl thing is going to be the end of us so i'd like to start helping my city get away from that as soon as possible... any comments are appreciated, thanx

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