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Thread: Two M.U.P./M.Arch dual degree questions

  1. #1
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    Two M.U.P./M.Arch dual degree questions

    First of all, I am new to this forum and to the world of Urban Planning. I'm Eric and it's nice to make your acquaintances! I recently graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science. After coming to the conclusion that I would not make a good lawyer, I decided to explore related fields. Urban planning stood out for me! However, in my soul-searching, I have also come to the realization that a career in architecture would also be fulfilling (despite its reputation for being an overrated career path with lower pay and less creativity than expected).

    Then I found that I could combine an education in both fields by getting a dual degree: M.U.P/M.Arch. Could this be a dream come true, or a combination that will lead to significantly more debt and more time lost (not accounting for the fulfillment one receives from the gained knowledge of a good education)?

    To all of you experienced (and not so experienced) folks out there in Cyburbia, my questions are as follows:

    1. Is it worth it? That is, is it worth the extra 2-2.5 years in order to understand the fundamentals of design and construction?

    Drawing is important (even if it is not creative). There is just something fulfilling to me about using a computer program or paper/pencil to CREATE something visual--to have it take physical shape would be even more fulfilling (even if its is a drawing of a building's air conditioning system).

    2. What career opportunities would such a dual degree open up?
    That is, are there careers that combine the knowledge I would gain in design and construction with that of urban planning, and if there are, what are they? Where could I find postings on them/more information about them?

    Thank you all very much. i look forward to getting to know you!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    A dual degree program in MArch and MUP will give a you a very broad understanding of how the built environment works. You could easily work in the public sector, private sector, or for a developer. There is no better time to be in school, and the extra years working on a highly-technical degree will pay off. I predict work to pick up by the time you finish both degrees.

    A technical degree like architecture is going to be very intense. You will be spending much of your time in studio for 4-5 years, sometimes 60-70 hours a week. Juggling a second degree on top of that may weigh you down even more.

    I would recommend the following:
    1. If you haven't already, visit grad schools, speak with students and professors. Find out as much as you can about the program.
    2. GO SLOW. Don't take on more than you can handle. It may quickly lead to burnout.

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    How many years does it take to get a MArch? Adding a couple of additional years to the equation might be tough, but that is for you decide.

    If you want the opportunity to be creative, putting pen to paper, how about looking into a Masters in Urban Planning with a specialization in Urban Design.

    Working for a design firm is not always glamorous, whether it be architecture or landscape architecture (which I have done) but the times when you do get to be creative can really be rewarding. Then there are the times when you are working on construction documents, or writing specs that can be tedious, but you will find that with any job.

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    A dual degree program in MArch and MUP will give a you a very broad understanding of how the built environment works. You could easily work in the public sector, private sector, or for a developer. There is no better time to be in school, and the extra years working on a highly-technical degree will pay off. I predict work to pick up by the time you finish both degrees.

    A technical degree like architecture is going to be very intense. You will be spending much of your time in studio for 4-5 years, sometimes 60-70 hours a week. Juggling a second degree on top of that may weigh you down even more.

    I would recommend the following:
    1. If you haven't already, visit grad schools, speak with students and professors. Find out as much as you can about the program.
    2. GO SLOW. Don't take on more than you can handle. It may quickly lead to burnout.
    4-5 years in the school studio? From what I have heard from a UC Berkeley graduate adviser (via email), a dual degree would take 4-4.5 years. Is the 4 to 5 years in the studio including post-graduate work/studying for the ARE or is that inclusive of my time spent on the M.U.P.?

    By the way, thanks a million for the advice and insight.

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    Quote Originally posted by gregdogg62 View post
    If you want the opportunity to be creative, putting pen to paper, how about looking into a Masters in Urban Planning with a specialization in Urban Design..
    I will look into that!...but there is just something so fulfilling about building a BUILDING. feel free to call me crazy or naive. Ilike second guessing myself--it helps me make sure I really want to do something

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    Sorry for this, but *bump*

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Spoonsticky View post
    Sorry for this, but *bump*
    Don't ever do that again. People will get back to you as soon as they can. Just be patient.

    Check the course schedule for a dual degree program. Typically you will spend 4 years in an MArch program, taking some planning courses as electives. The last couple of semesters will be working toward the planning degree.

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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Don't ever do that again. People will get back to you as soon as they can. Just be patient.
    There is no need to be condescending.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally posted by Spoonsticky View post
    There is no need to be condescending.
    Woah buddy. I'm at work, and I check the website frequently, but I'm not at cyburbia's beck and call, and I don't demand other people to be either.

    "Bumping" into me because I won't answer soon enough is a big no-no. Be gracious, learn some etiquette. Thank people for their help, it's not that difficult. I used to be in architecture school for undergrad and currently work as a planner (two things you are interested in). I can offer advice, but I'm not going to be poked and prodded.

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    Well there's no point in arguing with you, but it would suffice to say that in neither post was I wasn't trying to be rude or disturb you personally. I can see how you could have taken it that way, so I am sorry for the misunderstanding. The bump was not for my second question to you, which I can see you understood it to be, but simply for the thread in general. Rather than simply go to the thread directly from my bookmarks right now, I should have seen that it had not moved from the first page of the topic menu. In the other forum I participate in, a day is long enough for a thread to be wiped from the first page. In my experience, many people who graciously peruse the forum to answer others' questions only have the time and motivation to answer those that have had the most recent activity. I will be more mindful of the way things are here at cyburbia.

    Nevertheless, I would appreciate any other advice you would have when you find the time. I have already looked into how long it would take and what kind of syllabus I should expect from each respective Master's curriculum. However, I have found little information on what a combined curriculum would look like or feel like. I emailed a few academic advisers and only one got back to me with a brief reply...with few details and a link to a website I had already explored thoroughly. Such a dual degree program is formally offered by most schools that offer both Masters' individually. However, I have found little information on the particular dual degree. I am just curious about what its like when they are taken in tandem. I could (and have) just guess. But beyond visiting schools (which is expensive and something I plan on doing as soon as I have time during the week when their advisers are in their offices and money), I was looking for some personal experience.

    Four years seems a bit longer than most of the programs I have looked into for M.Arch. Most say 3-3.5. Should I be wary of this projection?

    Thank you for dealing with my long-winded response.

  11. #11
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    Which schools offer a dual-degree program in 3 to 3.5 years? An MArch can be completed in 3.5 years in "some" programs, a dual degree will always take longer.

    Two things:
    1. Technical degrees (architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, etc.) typically have a track system at the graduate level. Incoming graduate students with a previous degree in the same field (and in certain cases degrees in other technical fields or previous work experience) may be in Track "A". This track might take 2 to 2 1/2 years depending on the program, not always including a dual degree option. Incoming graduate students with a previous degree in any other field will be in Track "B", which may take 3 to 4 1/2 years, depending on the program (not always including a dual degree option). The first year or two of a Track "B" might include introductory courses in studio, architectural history, drawing, etc.

    I specifically included "previous work experience". You don't need to have the degree to enroll in this accelerated track if you can demonstrate proficiency based on past work. In my case, I started in architecture, finished my undergrad in planning, currently work as an urban planner/urban designer alongside landscape architects, and will be pursuing an MLA (Masters of Landscape Architecture) in a few years. My planning degree is non-design, but I have worked on a lot of projects as a designer, and I am elligble for the accelerated track at UGA if I chose to enroll in that MLA program

    2. Is the graduate degree accredited by the Natonal Architecture Accrediation Board (NAAB)? You can complete an MSArch, which is non-accredited masters, in a shorter amount of time. However, you may not be ellgible to sit for the state licensing exam if you do not have a professional degree. Undergraduate architecture students also have a few options when it comes to professional degrees: they can enroll in an accredited 5 year Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) program after which they can practice and later become elligble to take the Architect Registeration Exam (ARE). Undergrads can also enroll in a 4+2 program: a four year pre-professional Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (BAArch) or Bachelors of Science in Architecture (BSArch) and then complete an MArch (you can also teach at the collegiate level with the MArch).

    Almost all dual degree programs (architecture or engineering or planning or landscape architecture, etc.) typically require the applicant to apply separately to both programs. Some schools have more overlap in the coursework, and other programs have two different workloads. Dual degree programs that have one technical and one non-technical degree will typically set up the course schedule to finish the technical degree first. That's why, a dual degree with planning will take an extra year to finish. Many people are very supportive of dual degree programs with course overlap. However, I also see merit in tackling on two different degrees at the same time with less overlap, especially if you want to work in two distant but related career fields.

    I don't know how serious you are regarding design. Another option might be to pursue a Masters in Urban Planning (MUP) with a Masters in Urban Design (MUD). See previous posts on this topic.

    Other links:
    http://www.naab.org
    http://www.acsp.org

    Hope this helps-

  12. #12
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    The University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning states pretty clearly on their website that their dual M.Arch/MUP degree program is only 3 years/84 credits.

    And I know first hand (though I only have an MUP), several of my fellow classmates at U of M's TCAUP did dual degrees (Arch, Law, MBA, Social Work, MPA, Civil Eng., Landscape Arch, etc).

    Good luck, Spoonsticky!
    Last edited by mendelman; 19 Dec 2008 at 10:07 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

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    thanks mendelman and nschmid!

    If I wanted to pursue a dual degree at Berkeley going through their Track "C" equivalent--which is for those who have a BA in an unrelated discipline, their adviser said it would take 4-4.5 years. Their track "A" is for B.Archs and track "B" is for those with a related technical degree already under their belt.

    I see that the amount of time will vary depending which institution i plan on going to.

    nrschmid, what do you do/what is your job title/what industry do you work for?

    mendelman, what about your old classmates go into who got their dual degrees in MUP and MArch? Do you know what their job titles are now? Did they work longer hours per week than you on school projects at school?

    Sorry if I am being too nosy. Feel free to answer as vaguely as you would like (or as explicitly).

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    I work for a consulting firm as a land use planner/urban designer.

    Additional info:
    http://www.land8lounge.com/profile/Nick22

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    Quote Originally posted by Spoonsticky View post
    I will look into that!...but there is just something so fulfilling about building a BUILDING. feel free to call me crazy or naive. Ilike second guessing myself--it helps me make sure I really want to do something
    There is nothing more satisfying than having your design work constructed, and I would think a building would be the ultimate expression of this. With any job, the firm you eventually work for will have the final say on how satisfying your work life is.

    Architectural schools normally have close relationships with local firms. Maybe talk to the the department and see if they could put you in touch with some firms that are pure building design and others that lean towards urban design, check out the offices to see what you would be doing on a daily basis, and this might help make your decision. During undergrad, we would always visit firms on school trips and it really helped me to decide which direction I wanted to go after school.

  16. #16
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Spoonsticky View post
    mendelman, what about your old classmates go into who got their dual degrees in MUP and MArch? Do you know what their job titles are now?
    Sorry, I don't know any of the current titles or even where they are.
    Did they work longer hours per week than you on school projects at school?
    Probably, but they had an extra year to make up the time. And many of the dual degrees (particularly M.Arch/MUP) had several overlap classes that reduced their overall "work" requirements.

    If I had been a better student, I would have considered a dual JD/MUP degree, but instead my wife got the JD and we can just be a powerhouse couple instead.

    Good luck with Berkeley!
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

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    would one reccomend applying for the MUP program and then trying to get into the MArch program or vice versa? Which is harder to get into?

    Any ideas on how to build a porfolio--the school's webpages are very nondescript when explaining what the want in them (i know for a reason), but I don't want to look like an idiot sending them something they really weren't looking for.

    I know MUP programs don't require sending them a portfolio, but is there anything I could do to be more competitive?

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    Quote Originally posted by Spoonsticky View post
    would one reccomend applying for the MUP program and then trying to get into the MArch program or vice versa? Which is harder to get into?

    Any ideas on how to build a porfolio--the school's webpages are very nondescript when explaining what the want in them (i know for a reason), but I don't want to look like an idiot sending them something they really weren't looking for.

    I know MUP programs don't require sending them a portfolio, but is there anything I could do to be more competitive?
    You typically have to apply to each program separately. The same goes for most dual degree programs. Competitiveness depends on the school you are applying to.

    There are few options to building a portfolio. You can create a simple one in Microsoft Word, or go more elaborate using Adobe Illustrator, InDesign combined with Acrobat. They can be done on the internet using Dreamweaver, HTML, or Flash. They can also be stand-alone CDs (I created mine in Flash and took it off my own domain for proprietary reasons).

    You can also create them by hand. Sometimes this adds a more personal touch. See previous posts.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 07 Jan 2009 at 2:21 PM.
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    what items did you include?

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    Search previous posts. Include items that you think are of significance, preferably those that demonstrate your artistic/design talents since you are applying to an MArch program. If you don't have these, either create your own projects using traditional media (sketches, drawings, paintings, maps, etc.) or include other samples of your work, even if they are writing samples. Contact the MArch program with further questions regarding the portfolio. Each program is different.

    If you don't have design samples, I think you are going to have to beef up your letter of intent: you need to convince the admissions officers that you have the determination, drive, and the propensity to learn. Not every MArch program requires a portfolio because many students do not have previous experience. However, EVERY architecture JOB will require one, so it is imperative that start building up the portfolio starting your first semester in school.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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    thanks again, nrschmid. You are quite a valuable resource.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    Do you plan on working in an arch firm or as an urban planner?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    Ultimately planner and landscape architect.

    I am going to work for a few more years in planning/urban design before going back to school for an MLA. I would really like return to the public sector to gain more experience in non-design areas in current planning, economic development, affordable housing, and historic preservation before grad school. As a consultant, the majority of my current clients are public sector (and some developers) so any public sector experience almost always boosts my credibility as a consultant. I have AICP under my belt, all I need is LEED-AP before going back to school.

    After I am done with graduate school, I plan on returning to consulting in a design firm as a senior planner, bringing my previous public and private sector experience in the areas I mentioned plus completed work in environmental planning, grant writing, Sketchup Illustration, GIS/GPS, survey writing, grant writing, surveying, pro-bono, expert-witness, professional involvement...IN ADDITION to taking on new responsibilities in landscape architecture, such as site design (residential subdivisions, mixed use, parks and trails, plazas and squares, zoo design, riverwalks, streetscapes, coastal planning, natural areas, campus planning, yadda yadda yadda) renderings, construction documentation, construction observation, etc. I would like to work for a design firm, preferably a large planning/LA firm like EDAW, Sasaki, etc. If I were to work for an architecture firm, it would have to have a separate sizeable landscape architecture and planning divisions (I am through with being a one-man show).

    I am also interested in the business side of a firm and would like to go back to school at a later date to earn an MBA. I would also like to teach as an adjunct professor of landscape architecture and planning, and possibly serve on CLARB (Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards) in addition to doing volunteer work with APA and ASLA.

    Yes, I have no life
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