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Thread: Additional education

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Additional education

    I was talking with a friend of mine from planning school this past week and she mentioned she was thinking about going back to school part-time for an additional degree. She already has a B.A. in political science and a M.U.P., so she has a solid policy foundation. She was thinking about either a M.L.A., a Master of Urban Design or a J.D. She would like something that would compliment her planning education and experience. She is currently a municipal planner. My thoughts on each degree are as follows:

    M.L.A.- I think could be useful, but not sure in what context. Would help in reviewing landscape plans, but is it worth the extra education?

    Urban Design- Useful, but limited in a municipal standpoint as municipal planners do more policy work than design work.

    J.D.- The most useful in a municipal position as much of the municipal planners work has to do with interpreting and writing ordinances. Still is it worth an additional 4 years of education?

    So what say you, collective throbbing brain of Cyburbia. What are your thoughts on additional education and these potential degrees?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Montannie's avatar
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    IMO, all of those would strike me as something that you would do to move out of working for a municipality. Most of the MLAs I've seen are working for engineering firms, most of the MUDs would be working for a planning consulting firm, and most JDs I've seen have been with planning consulting firms that focus on creating zoning documents or other regulatory things that require a solid understanding of law. Or, of course, land use lawyers. I could see doing the MUD if you wanted to work in a big city, focusing on design issues, but as I've only worked in rural/small town situations, none of those secondary degrees would seem worthwhile to me... What does she want to do with a second degree?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Montannie View post
    What does she want to do with a second degree?
    That was my first thought as well. She told me she is worried about the future of her career. She has been told by several people that the planner of the future needs to have more than just a planning degree to be successful. I told her I wasn't sure if that would be the case. Now if she wants something to parlay into another career in a similar field than a second degree may be the right thing to pursue.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    I was talking with a friend of mine from planning school this past week and she mentioned she was thinking about going back to school part-time for an additional degree. She already has a B.A. in political science and a M.U.P., so she has a solid policy foundation. She was thinking about either a M.L.A., a Master of Urban Design or a J.D. She would like something that would compliment her planning education and experience. She is currently a municipal planner. My thoughts on each degree are as follows:

    M.L.A.- I think could be useful, but not sure in what context. Would help in reviewing landscape plans, but is it worth the extra education?

    Urban Design- Useful, but limited in a municipal standpoint as municipal planners do more policy work than design work.

    J.D.- The most useful in a municipal position as much of the municipal planners work has to do with interpreting and writing ordinances. Still is it worth an additional 4 years of education?

    So what say you, collective throbbing brain of Cyburbia. What are your thoughts on additional education and these potential degrees?
    Search previous posts I wrote on landscape architecture and urban design programs. These are not programs to be taken lightly. An MLA program without a previous design degree is AT LEAST 3 years of very intensive studio work (sometimes including studio courses over the summer). An MUD alone does not have as much "buying power" unless you have an MArch to go along with it. You will also probably take the LARE or ARE a few years after school, which is multiple sections with each section taking months of study. There is so much to learn in studio and lecture that you are more likely to forget skills or just not refine them by taking longer to complete the program by going part time. When I was in architecture school in college, I put in 50-60 hours a week in studio during the semester. It's very similar for MLA and MUD programs.

    A law program is 3 very intense years + 1 year preparing for the bar exam. It requires a similar level of dedication as a design degree only in a different way. Is she 300% sure she want to put herself through any of these hells?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Search previous posts I wrote on landscape architecture and urban design programs. These are not programs to be taken lightly. An MLA program without a previous design degree is AT LEAST 3 years of very intensive studio work (sometimes including studio courses over the summer). An MUD alone does not have as much "buying power" unless you have an MArch to go along with it. You will also probably take the LARE or ARE a few years after school, which is multiple sections with each section taking months of study. There is so much to learn in studio and lecture that you are more likely to forget skills or just not refine them by taking longer to complete the program by going part time. When I was in architecture school in college, I put in 50-60 hours a week in studio during the semester. It's very similar for MLA and MUD programs.

    A law program is 3 very intense years + 1 year preparing for the bar exam. It requires a similar level of dedication as a design degree only in a different way. Is she 300% sure she want to put herself through any of these hells?
    Excellent thoughts, like always nrschmid. I told her that any of these programs would be hell for the next several years. Working full-time and going through such rigorous programs is no picnic. The planning director who was also an attorney, I was speaking about in another thread, went to law school p/t and it took him SIX years to finish. I told my friend, the only way I would consider one of these programs is if I lost my job, had no other prospects and went back to school full-time. If I was looking to go back to school I would be looking at a certificate program rather than a full-blown degree.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Gain additional skills through certification programs and short courses.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    If she is currently working as a municipal planner, I recommend she first hold on to that job as long as she can before jumping ship and going back for another degree, part time or full time. We don't know how long it will be before things start improving for planners, landscape architects, architects, etc.(probably way after things start improving for everyone else). There is no guarantee anymore on anything, especially having multiple degrees in multiple fields. The old rules regarding extra degrees + experience equalling higher pay are rapidly erroding.

    A certification program is a good way to pique her interest in other fields. I don't know if it lead into a job down the road, at least not in the near future. However, these programs might spark her interest in other areas. One alternative to landscape architecture is a master gardener program. My mom, an LCSW, finished that program a year ago, and the experience has been very intellectually and aesthetically fulfilling for her.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    As my former undergraduate State and Local Government professor (who has a J.D. and practiced law for 14 years) repeatedly said "Go to law school only if you want to practice law". That says it all. Law school is a very intensive not to mention expensive endeavor that might push your efforts and sanity to the brink. You will definitely be working eighty hour days the first year of law school writing briefs, etc. former law students told me so. I would definitely not go to law school just to get a degree that looks good on your resume, especially if you are not sure what to do with it. I knew people that did that and I sincerely disagree with their decision. Another degree, the MBA, is just as over sought and overrated. Don't go to business school unless you intend to work in the financial sector and your position requires the MBA.

    I am not familiar with the MLA or MUD degrees but I suspect they are just as hard to work for. Getting experience, even through volunteer efforts, is better than wasting time and money on another degree. I would exhaust all of my options for the degree(s) that I have before venturing into another field or degree program.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    Gain additional skills through certification programs and short courses.
    My examples are
    The NFIP class leading to the Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) and now after some experience the CRS class.

    Then there is the NIMS classes - on-line and by attendence (300 & 400) leading to being EOC staff.

    Also check out this month issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, they had an article about other certifications;
    like CPTED.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

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