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Thread: Education requirements to enter the field

  1. #1
    Aug 2009
    New York City

    Education requirements to enter the field

    What are the education requirements necessary to enter urban planning? Is it possible to enter the field with a law degree or is a masters in urban plan ing absolutely necessary? Are there ways of entering the field with professional certificates or experience without the MUP. Thanks

  2. #2
    Dec 2008
    the delta
    There are numerous threads on the site about this exact topic, so some searching and you should be able to find what you are looking for.

    People on here like to think you need a Master's and they debate the merits of Ivy League school A versus amazing state school B but in reality it's all trying to pad resumes. In this specific market getting a job for people with a Master's is hard enough so trying to get one without a Master's is darn near impossible... BUT people with a Master's usually won't accept $35,000/year salary. Many people with just a Bachelor's would.

    This board is dominated by the coasts, and like pretty much everything else in our society, living on the coasts cost more, requires more travel time, smaller yards, etc. There are plenty of decent jobs that don't require a Master's - you just can't be picky. I am married and have no desire for a 30 minute commute, so I work in a small town and live 2 miles form my job. Cost of living is low so everything is great. A single person may not desire that but that's where the differences come into play. I wouldn't qualify a job in Manhattan but I would (and did) in the Midwest - and it's where I want to be and somewhere they need a planner. It's a win-win situation.

    Another factor is what your Bachelor's degree is in. People that have a BA in geography, arch, and economics don't have formal Planning training so they should get some, but many others received a BA in Planning. In that situation a Master's might not provide you with much more Planning education, but just more education in a specific subset of Planning.

    Good luck, and please, please don't worry about it too much. After reading threads about job losses, people wishing they didn't go into planning, people not making enough money in the field, etc., realize that life is too short to wonder if Rutgers or UCLA is a better school. Go to school, get your piece of paper, make some friends, and live your life in a positive way. Worry about creating good experiences you can remember for a lifetime rather than padding a piece of paper that won't matter but you'll still be paying for in 15 years anyway.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
    Aug 2007
    Back in SE Texas
    For the most part, where you go to school doesn't matter. I have a B.A. in political science and sociology from a small-state school and an M.A. in planning from a different smaller-state school in a different state. So far I have not seen where I go to school mattering in this field.

    My former director had a B.A. in environmental studies and ended up in the planning field after doing an internship with a city. She is now a director in another city. IMO, she is one of the last planners out there that could get away without having some form of planning education. The market is a lot more flooded with planning graduates now, so having at least a B.A. in planning seems to be a minimum requirement. I am a bit confused about your question about a law degree. If you had some municipal experience you could possibly parlay that into a planning position; although I am not sure why. Planning is not a very-high paying profession, and I would think a law career would be more financially rewarding.

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