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Thread: BA Political Science going to MA in Urban Planning, tips?

  1. #1
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    BA Political Science going to MA in Urban Planning, tips?

    Greetings!

    I am getting close to acquiring my bachelors degree in Political Science and have been contemplating on the subject of my future choices. I realize, by now, that getting a good (or even any) job with Bachelors in Polisci is close to impossible and have been planning on getting a Masters in Political Science. However, just today I've stumbled upon a Masters program in my college on Urban Planning and have realized that this is where I should go. I've been interested in city development as a hobby for around four years now, I'm familiar with a lot of the aspects of urban development, city zoning etc. but, surprisingly, haven't thought about a career in Urban Planning until now because I've always thought of it as more of a hobby.

    I am extremely new to this field and don't really know anything about it career-wise and if I understand correctly there are the following subfields available:
    land use, environmental planning, housing, community development, economic development, historic preservation, international development, urban design, transportation planning, or geographic information systems

    I would appreciate absolutely any advice/tip on which of these fields are in demand and which provide better financial rewards? Or at least point me in the direction where to look for answers to these questions.

    Naturally my strategy is to pinpoint the field with the best ratio of job availability to higher pay and throw in my interest, although from the first look on it I'm interested in all of these.

    Thanks a lot in advance to anyone who may reply. Even if you're in the similar situation, perhaps we could share the progress of our expansion of the knowledge.

    P.S. Great forum, I'm very glad to have found it.

  2. #2
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    One more question. Is being multilingual a significant benefit in this field?

    I am fluent in Russian, Ukrainian and English, and will reach fluency in German by the time I'm in the job market, will that have any significant impact on my opportunities? I suspect that knowing Spanish would benefit one greatly.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    John,

    You will find candidates for masters in urban planning come from a variety of backgrounds, including political science (search previous threads on that topic). As far as finding your specific interest in planning, a few ideas or suggestions are getting an internship at a local planning office or start reading some books or articles about those topics and see what ones you are more interested in. Classes in a master's program are varied and you can learn a little about alot of topics having to do with planning. Planning is not a high earning potential career on its own, but pair it with a law degree or a real estate development program you might earn more than the average planner. Planners are planners because they love it, not because you can make alot of money or have political power. Before you commit to a masters degree try working in the field for a couple of years in a lower level planning job, or doing a few internships. And if you find you love planning and don't mind that you wont ever make high $$$, than make sure you go to a master's program that won't put you in the poor house, because afterall, no one cares where you got your masters, just that you have one during the job hunt! Best of Luck!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I have a degree in political science and I got into planning after being unhappy/bored in an MPA program.

    I've been sucessful (IMO) in finding jobs where management and development of public policy is required. I don't think my political science degree has helped me be a better planner, except that perhaps I learned to write well and analyze public policy.

    The one skill that I wished I had picked up (rather than focusing on policy planning) would be design. My masters is in planning from a college of architecture and if I had had any sense, I would have spent some time in landscape architecture classes and architecture classes. A significant amount of my time as a municpal planner is conducting design reviews. This is not a skill that you can pick up easily -- it takes years of practice. Many of the best planners have both design and policy skills and I believe you need both skills to be successful in the planning profession.

    Hope that helps.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    John,

    You will find candidates for masters in urban planning come from a variety of backgrounds, including political science (search previous threads on that topic). As far as finding your specific interest in planning, a few ideas or suggestions are getting an internship at a local planning office or start reading some books or articles about those topics and see what ones you are more interested in. Classes in a master's program are varied and you can learn a little about alot of topics having to do with planning. Planning is not a high earning potential career on its own, but pair it with a law degree or a real estate development program you might earn more than the average planner. Planners are planners because they love it, not because you can make alot of money or have political power. Before you commit to a masters degree try working in the field for a couple of years in a lower level planning job, or doing a few internships. And if you find you love planning and don't mind that you wont ever make high $$$, than make sure you go to a master's program that won't put you in the poor house, because afterall, no one cares where you got your masters, just that you have one during the job hunt! Best of Luck!
    Thanks for your reply.

    I don't intend to wait between college and graduate school because it seems to me that it would be a waste of time, particularly when economy isn't doing great. Plus, I don't have any loans to repay, Uncle Sam paid for my education. I've narrowed down my options down to Urban Planning and a Law School, but since I hate everything about lawyers, I think I'm left with just one choice. I'm going to read up on everything about Urban Planning obviously so I can choose which area is best for me. I definitely intend to stay in New York City and don't know, at least for now, on how to search for what type of planners are most in demand around here.

    I have a general idea of what I'd like to do, which is mostly research and analysis type of work. Which field would that put me in? Working on history of the local or national demographics and its future prospects, is something that I think I'll do well at.

    Regarding the pay, I don't expect to become a rich man, but I don't want to be below middle class either. From what I'm reading it provides a comfortable middle-class salary.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    I have a degree in political science and I got into planning after being unhappy/bored in an MPA program.

    I've been sucessful (IMO) in finding jobs where management and development of public policy is required. I don't think my political science degree has helped me be a better planner, except that perhaps I learned to write well and analyze public policy.

    The one skill that I wished I had picked up (rather than focusing on policy planning) would be design. My masters is in planning from a college of architecture and if I had had any sense, I would have spent some time in landscape architecture classes and architecture classes. A significant amount of my time as a municpal planner is conducting design reviews. This is not a skill that you can pick up easily -- it takes years of practice. Many of the best planners have both design and policy skills and I believe you need both skills to be successful in the planning profession.

    Hope that helps.
    Thanks for your input. I'm overall disappointed in Political Science altogether, to sum it up I would describe it as vague non-applicable nonsense. That's one of the reasons why I began searching for a career that accepts polisci majors and offers something one can actually apply in the real world.

    I'll take note of your suggestion regarding design, I'll take a couple of courses in that.

  7. #7
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    I'm considering taking two intensive courses in Spanish language, would that help me in any significant way while job hunting in NYC?

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