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Thread: PhD v. Masters

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Batmanda's avatar
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    PhD v. Masters

    Hello!

    I am an undergrad in Urban Studies and Planning at UCSD, and I've found the urban planning/urban design questions & answers in this forum really useful.

    Something I haven't seen on here though is the difference in the urban planning/urban design world of having a PhD versus a masters. I know in some more industry-heavy field, like computer science, they put you on totally different career paths. Is that the case here? If so, what kinds of careers would be available to people with either of those degrees? How can I determine which type of degree is best for me?

    Thank you! I need all the help I can get, I'm planning on applying for next fall!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    For what it's worth, I've only met one working planner with a PhD. He didnt' even use the "Dr." or put the PhD after his name. It could have to do with the fact that after looking into it, we found out that it was from a long distance learning school.
    Back home just in time for hockey season!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I "think" I saw one program years ago that had a PhD in Urban Design (it was affiliated with an architecture school). It was geared towards research and teaching college and grad school.

    If you want to do design work, skip the urban design degree and go for an MArch or an MLA. See previous posts.

  4. #4
         
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    A master's degree in planning is a practical degree (read: If you want to be a practitioner, get a master's).

    A Ph.D. in planning is an academic degree (read: If you want to work for a research institution or teach in a university, get a Ph.D.).

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Batmanda's avatar
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    I understand the basic difference between a PhD and am masters in a general sense. My question is more of how will my options for the future go if I chose one or the other, and how what sorts of specific passions someone should have for the masters path as opposed to the PhD path. For example, if I don't want to teach at a university necessarily or sit in an office all day, should I not get the PhD?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    If you want to teach planning or research, get a PhD, otherwise, most practicing planners do not have more than a Masters. In fact, I think having a PhD and trying to get a job in professional planning would be hard since you would appear to be way over qualified.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  7. #7
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    If you want to teach planning or research, get a PhD, otherwise, most practicing planners do not have more than a Masters. In fact, I think having a PhD and trying to get a job in professional planning would be hard since you would appear to be way over qualified.
    ...and interviewers would be wondering what is it about your personality that made you unemployable in academia.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Some people find the Ph.D. useful in a consulting practice. I have seen people with doctorates who teach for a while, work for a consulting firm for a while, teach again, then go back to consulting. I don't have any evidence to back this up, but I suspect that it is only the very large consulting firms that would value the Ph.D.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Batmanda View post
    My question is more of how will my options for the future go if I chose one or the other, and how what sorts of specific passions someone should have for the masters path as opposed to the PhD path.
    The difference between a PhD and masters...a PhD writes a long disseration on a planning topic. A masters degree may requre a thesis (not quite as long or involved as a disseration) or a project to graduate. A PhD can take 4-7 years, a masters can take 2-3 years going full time. I would only get a PhD if you want to teach, want to research planning for a career or work in one of those lofty international organizations and research.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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