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Thread: Advice about graduate school

  1. #1
    Dec 2009
    Washington DC

    Advice about graduate school

    I'm 23 and I have been out of college for a little over a year. I'm strongly considering graduate school for urban planning for the fall of 2011, as I have always been incredibly interested in the field. Under graduate wise I went to a competitive liberal arts college in the Midwest. I got a degrees in political science and history, and a minor in African Studies. I graduated cum laud, with a GPA of 3.55, and the GPA for each of my majors is above a 3.7. After college I've drifted between working on political campaigns and doing temp work. I will be taking the GRE this February. I wish to work on another campaign for most of 2010 in order to rebuild my bank account from a long period of underemployment in 2009.

    Given, this I'm considering a few things. I want to get a duel MA's, as I'm extremely interested in the political aspects of planning and development. I'm not sure if I should focus on Public Policy, or Public Administration though? I would ideally like to specialize in an area in which I could find work. Also, considering my interest in obtaining a dual degree, what school's graduate programs should I consider? Finally, I'm wondering what my odds are of getting into a graduate program which has a good reputation, yet won't bankrupt me with loans.

    I'd appreciate any advice on this matter.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Ocean to the east, land to the west
    I think you should consider one of the planning programs that has a strong policy bent, like the ones at Rutgers and Minnesota. You don't really need a dual degree to learn about what you are interested in, just the right single program.

    I don't know about financial aid at many of the other schools but I do know that Minnesota is fairly generous - plus the cities are a great laboratory for a grad student.

  3. #3
    An MPA sounds up your alley. MPPs are similar in many respects, there is some overlap in skills, but MPA is more geared toward management and finance (think City Manager), whereas MPP is more about research and analysis.

    Planning will expose you to some of those things, but if you like the idea of politics and government you should do an MPP or MPA. They are also more transferable degrees, and open up a lot of planning-like jobs, as well as government career tracks that planner types would have harder time getting into.

    There are a lot of schools that do dual degrees with MPA and some type of planning masters... mot major ones seem to have these types of programs. But I agree with Masswich, that you dont need two degrees, you just need to find the right program for you. Its not like all planning programs are the same, each one is unique, so you should try to find a planning program with a strong government-policy-political science bent... which might mean you'll be doing Urban Studies instead of planning per se... but in any case, I'd look into DC-area colleges and look at their planning programs. (U of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, George Washington, Georgetown, American U, etc.)

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