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Thread: MIT's urban planning program

  1. #1

    MIT's urban planning program

    Everyone raves about MIT's planning department. Realistically, what type of students should one expect to have as a cohort and how difficult is it to gain admission. I don't want to be in a program that is beyond my means, intelligence etc. At the same time, I want to know what I am up against. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    What I'd like to know is what kinds of job does the typical graduate of MIT's program have? Surely not an ordinary $35,000 a year Planner I job in Anytown, USA.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    What I'd like to know is what kinds of job does the typical graduate of MIT's program have? Surely not an ordinary $35,000 a year Planner I job in Anytown, USA.
    The most recent Planetizen guide shows that 61% of recent MIT planning alums are working in the private and non-profit sectors with the remainder in the public sector. I would venture to guess that most of those listed in the public sector are working for larger cities, possibly with redevelopment and economic development agencies.

  4. #4

    Range of jobs, Mostly in large cities

    I graduated recently and would agree about the split between non-profit, private and public (though this is city, state and federal level- and not all in planning).

    For locations, I would say the majority of my class who are working full -time (not the folks who finshed the MCP and are in PhD programs) are in Boston, NYC, San Francisco and Chicago. Other classes may be different though.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by urbanliz View post
    I graduated recently and would agree about the split between non-profit, private and public (though this is city, state and federal level- and not all in planning).

    For locations, I would say the majority of my class who are working full -time (not the folks who finshed the MCP and are in PhD programs) are in Boston, NYC, San Francisco and Chicago. Other classes may be different though.


    I guess what I'm getting at it is...........i wanted to know exactly what recent MIT grads were doing because it would seem a bit, ahem, wasteful to attend the program at MIT if you're going to end up working the same $35,000 Planner I job that you could've gotten with a degree from any number of much cheaper, lesser known programs at various state schools across the country.

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I think that there are 2 answers to the "is it wasteful?" question:

    1. Yes, it is, if you plan to go to a community and burrow into their system for a long time. But if you plan to move around a bit in your career, esp. around the country, it does help open some doors, esp. earlier in the career (later you'll be judged as much by your job performance as your training.)

    2. The quality of an education and the part it places in your personal satisfaction should be a factor as well. Yes, it is not the least expensive option but I think MIT is a great place to spend some time and learn about the world in general. How much that is worth to you depends on a number of factors, most importantly that the other options are. By the way, I am not saying that going to a big name school is any better than going to the smaller local one. All I am saying is that education for some is about more than technical training.

    Generally I see MIT grads all over the place - local government, consulting, the state, etc. I generally have a high regard for them, although I am not big on "reputation" of schools. I just think MIT is generally a good place to go to planning school.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by Masswich View post
    I think that there are 2 answers to the "is it wasteful?" question:

    1. Yes, it is, if you plan to go to a community and burrow into their system for a long time. But if you plan to move around a bit in your career, esp. around the country, it does help open some doors, esp. earlier in the career (later you'll be judged as much by your job performance as your training.)

    Yeah that's what I meant..............I figured that people who were in planning programs at schools like MIT, Harvard, Cornell, NYU, etc. were not people who would go on to become regular ol Joe Blow City Planners, but rather people who would become highly mobile in their planning careers.........the kind of people who, upon graduation, find a planning job at an NGO in Africa somewhere or something, I don't know, you know?

    But I do agree - education is about more than technical training. And I'm at the point now as an undergrad about to head to grad school - do I want to become an "ordinary" planner? I think it'd be a great job to have and one that would satisfy me.....but another part of me kind of wants to do something more.....but I don't know exactly what. But I do know that my planning education is not going to be about simply recieving technical training.........I do want to learn more. I'd love to study abroad and see how planning works in other countries. I'd love to be exposed to as many different cultures and ideas as possible, sure.........so no, I don't disagree with you at all.

  8. #8
    Amazing how no one answered my question.

    Maybe I should clarify "type." How old are the students; how much work experience do they have and from where; what are their undergraduate degrees in; are they good in math/stats and the typical number crunching that MIT is known for; what specializations are they most interested in; where are they from etc.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian planr's avatar
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    Starting my 2nd year in the MCP program come September [assuming you are referring to the MCP program and not the PhD]...

    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    Amazing how no one answered my question.

    Maybe I should clarify "type." How old are the students;
    If I had to guess, I would say the average age is about 26 with a standard deviation of about 2... maybe 2-3 (of 70ish) fresh out of undergrad and perhaps double that on the far side of 30.

    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    how much work experience do they have and from where;
    Ranges from zero to an accomplished and reasonably well-known (so I'm told, it's not my field) architect from Latin America. Backgrounds vary wildly and a good number have nothing to do with planning or architecture

    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    what are their undergraduate degrees in
    As mentioned above, background experience varies wildly. Pulling from the Facebook profiles of a few of closest classmates, (+1 for me) and we have:

    Global Studies (Arizona State)
    Mathematics (Princeton)
    Chinese Language and Literature (UW-Madison)
    Sociology (Kenyon College)
    Political Science, Chinese (Swarthmore)
    Architecture, Civil Engineering (UC-Berkeley)
    Urban Studies (Swarthmore)
    History, Political Science (UM-Twin Cities)


    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    are they good in math/stats and the typical number crunching that MIT is known for;
    No... at least not compared to MIT's more well-known disciplines (hard sciences, engineering, economics, Sloan MBA, etc)


    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    what specializations are they most interested in;
    Again... interests vary widely. If you use the four main program groups (IDG, CDD, HCED, EPP) as being most interested in specializations, my class breakdown is roughly this

    CDD - 35%
    IDG - 25%
    HCED - 20%
    EPP - 15%

    As you'll note, there is a remainder... those 5% are like me who have eschewed the normally boundaries and wander around aimlessly... or with a purpose like me (transportation and infrastructure)

    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    where are they from etc.
    Originally... born and raised... pretty much everywhere.

    If you look at places of residence/employment immediately prior to coming to MIT, there are high concentrations in SF, NYC, DC, LA, and Boston
    "Try to be in two incredibly successful bands. If not, that's okay." -- Words to live by, courtesy of Dave Grohl

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