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Thread: Urban economics

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
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    Urban economics

    I have looked online, but I have not been able to get a definitive answer on what educational path one takes to get into Urban Economics.

    Does this require a Masters in Economics? PHD? Or are the topics of Urban Economics covered in Urban Planning?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I remember taking an urban economics class in my undergrad, but I would imagine this would be better covered by an economics dept. or some kind of interdisciplinary degree between economics and planning.
    Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Doberman View post
    I have looked online, but I have not been able to get a definitive answer on what educational path one takes to get into Urban Economics.

    Does this require a Masters in Economics? PHD? Or are the topics of Urban Economics covered in Urban Planning?
    This is a very small field and IMHO you have to carve your own path. As a master's you can likely work for a MPO or firm or maybe if you are lucky a Uni. To do anything to make a name for yourself you'll need a PhD. E-mail a couple names you recognize and - keep it short - ask them is it worth it. Pedestrian-ecological benefits-human health- modern fads (NU) need some help with good creative econ. Good luck.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    The few I know have a background in applied economics. I would look around and see what people working studied. YOu could reach out to them and ask how they got to where they are. Most people like to talk about themselves and are willing to talk to an aspiring economist. As mentioned it is a small field and I would guess those in it did not set out to be in the field unless the have a PhD.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  5. #5
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Doberman View post
    I have looked online, but I have not been able to get a definitive answer on what educational path one takes to get into Urban Economics.

    Does this require a Masters in Economics? PHD? Or are the topics of Urban Economics covered in Urban Planning?
    I agree with the other posters that it is a relatively small field and I would imagine many of the folks that work in it didn't actually set out to do so and they probably sort of fell into it.

    FWIW, where I went to graduate school (Wayne State University in Detroit) there were actually a handful of classes offered covering urban economic issues, labor, and economic revitalization theory. At Wayne State the MUP students also have the opportunity to get a graduate certificate in economics or do a duel program and also get a full masters in economics, either path gives you an exposure to modeling and econometrics as well as the policy and theory sides of things.

    I would imagine that there are similar programs and opportunities at other universities that are in similar large urban locations and those might be sources of more information.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  6. #6
    Urban planning is a special focus of planning on urban issues. Likewise, urban economics is a special focus of economics. As a planner, you should have a basic understanding of economic principles and theory, but you will spend more time on applied research methods that, at a certain point, are so white-washed and generalized in their approach that they aren't really good representations of what economists employ in their work.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jwhitty's avatar
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    A Masters is a one year research project, culminating in a long paper. A PhD is a three year research project, culminating in a book. You are also expected to get pubs during the PhD, and that is when you would quantify yourself as a ________(fill in the blank) researcher.

    A terminal degree in the planning discipline is really cool because you can do almost anything. You can be an urban, regional, development, planner, researcher, theoretician, practitioner, economist, scientist. It all depends on your research, You can seek to challenge the HOS Theorem and call yourself a regional economist with a background in regional planning, You can and try and best O'Sullivan, and call yourself an urban economist. What you will never be, is an urban sociologist. You can still challenge the Chicago school, but you won't have the sociological cannon and training to call yourself a sociologist, same goes with anthropology, geography. An economist could argue that there is a pure path to being an economist, but there is no cannon, and the field is simply dissolving into a kind of complex mathy based sociology, but shoot, econ is using QUAL nowadays!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by jwhitty View post
    A Masters is a one year research project, culminating in a long paper. A PhD is a three year research project, culminating in a book. You are also expected to get pubs during the PhD, and that is when you would quantify yourself as a ________(fill in the blank) researcher.

    A terminal degree in the planning discipline is really cool because you can do almost anything. You can be an urban, regional, development, planner, researcher, theoretician, practitioner, economist, scientist. It all depends on your research, You can seek to challenge the HOS Theorem and call yourself a regional economist with a background in regional planning, You can and try and best O'Sullivan, and call yourself an urban economist. What you will never be, is an urban sociologist. You can still challenge the Chicago school, but you won't have the sociological cannon and training to call yourself a sociologist, same goes with anthropology, geography. An economist could argue that there is a pure path to being an economist, but there is no cannon, and the field is simply dissolving into a kind of complex mathy based sociology, but shoot, econ is using QUAL nowadays!
    I don't think you really know what you're talking about. The length of time involved in a masters or PhD program is highly variable, and not all programs (even among PhDs) actually involve producing original research.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jwhitty's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I don't think you really know what you're talking about. The length of time involved in a masters or PhD program is highly variable, and not all programs (even among PhDs) actually involve producing original research.
    I think your confusion is coming from the conflation of research equating to study.

    One year for a thesis and three years for a dissertation is the response I received from my committee chair when I asked what for the difference was between a thesis and a dissertation, and it seemed to be the consensus with my other committee members and those professors who signed letters on my behalf to get into the VT's MURP and PGG programs. Most masters programs I looked at were in the range of 36+/- to 48+/- credit hours, and doctorate programs ranged from 36-90 credit hours. So yeah, the time will vary before you are awarded the degree, but the actual research (including writing the chapters) is generally going to take a certain amount of time. It is also true that many universities have maximum time lengths for study, and they do cut funding to make it real.

    I can understand a masters program that has an exam component for the capstone in place of a practicum or paper, but I have never heard of a doctorate (either in philosophy or educational) being awarded without a capstone that contributes new research to the field. Even practicums entail new knowledge and the use of research protocol.

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