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Thread: MBA + MUP for international consulting

  1. #1
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    MBA + MUP for international consulting

    Hello, I'm fresh out of my undergrad (BS in Economics) and am currently working as an English teacher in South Korea for the next year. When I return stateside in November, I hope to be able to get myself in the position for graduate school.

    I would like to do international consulting work in the areas of transportation planning and environmental sustainability, although focus is not as important, so long as I can help cities grow in positive, sustainable ways. I'm considering a dual master's program, getting a MBA and a MUP. I feel the MBA would make my skills more transferable and would allow me to build a larger network of potential contacts for work.

    What type of employment exists in this area? What exactly could I expect as my job description? Would the MBA/MUP path be a viable (and logical) option to getting into the field? And lastly, what kind of salary would I see starting out?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Transportation planning and environmental sustainability are very broad areas to pursue, and in many ways are two completely different career paths. What interests you about these two fields? An MBA generally provides a good collection of transferable skills and depending on the strength of its alumni network, will bring on board potential contacts for work. However, I don't think an MBA is going to help much with the areas you are interested in. The international planning aspect is also a curve ball.

    I would look into transportation planning programs, both here and abroad. Transportation planning is different in different countries, and you may want to consider pursuing a degree outside of the US. There is no "bank" of planning contacts that are accessible just by virtue of an MBA: networking, professional involvement, forums such as cyburbia and planetizen etc. are time tested methods to slowly build up the network.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
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    I agree they are very broad, but as it stands my interests are fairly broad. I am hoping to spend the next year or so really determining (as much as possible outside of actual practice) the area of planning in which I hope to work. The two areas I mentioned happened to be ones that I'm interested in. For transportation planning, it is in the growth of public transportation availability and the increase of ridership. For environmental sustainability it is working with local businesses on decreasing their environmental impact on the area. I really feel that a MBA would help me bridge the divide between the actual process of planning and consulting (especially with businesses), not to mention make me more marketable.

    One of my big draws to this area is that I find great satisfaction in using my critical thinking skill in conjunction with applied knowledge and research to arrive at a logical and viable conclusion. I'm just starting my planning journey, so I am still trying to discover what is out there.

    So let me rephrase. What are some possibilities for international planning consulting (in any area really)? What would be the best post-bachelor's path to prepare myself for these positions? And what kind of salary range could I expect (aka is it worth the cost of a dual degree program)?

    Thanks for your help.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I don't really know if you need a MBA. In my opinion you might as well try to participate in events that mix both planners and business student while doing a Master's in planning. There are a number of sustainable business conferences, competitions, and classes. Maybe take some business electives.

    But going after an MBA just to have the degree and the so-called "network" isn't really worth it. You can network on your own and you'll gain more valuable experience and knowledge during internships and just sitting down with somebody that is working in your areas of interest. Why waste your money and time getting what you can get free.

    The Master's in planning will give you enough credentials to get a first job or internship, the rest is up to you.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    International planning is also a very broad area of planning. Some panners in this branch of planning might go to school in the United States, either citizens or international students, and then ultimately work with grass-roots organizations, NGOs, etc. to provide basic services that are often neglected (primary and secondary education, electricity, potable water, food, etc.). However, if you really want to do transportation, environmental, or other types of planning internationally, again, I think you should look into planning programs overseas not international planning here. Make any sense?

    You mentioned two very specific areas that you want to pursue:
    1. transportation planning, it is in the growth of public transportation availability and the increase of ridership.
    2. For environmental sustainability it is working with local businesses on decreasing their environmental impact on the area.


    Yes, there are some bridges between the two areas, including a reduction in the carbon footprint. When you first said, transportation planning I assumed you meant hardcore number-crunching traffic studies, analysis, etc., most of which is done by transportation planners (or even transportation engineers). Your two areas of interest, despite some similarities, are still two very divergent career paths. I have experience in transportation and environmental planning, among others, but there is very little overlap between the two. Look into a more generalized planning program overseas that also offers some classes in green building, best management practices, etc.

    You are trying to tackle on alot of different types of planning jobs. If you go into traditional international planning, you could be just as dirt poor as the people you represent. Keep in mind it might be difficult to work at a higher-paying job without a visa abroad. Salaries are different in each country. APA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide salary information, but they are for planners usually working state-side.

    Finally, set up informational interviews with planners who do the types of work that you do. APA isn't the best resource for international firms or agencies that employ planners. However, go to the Assocation for Collegiate Schools in Planning's website. ACSP provides a manual of each PAB accredited planning program (about 150-200? schools mostly in the US, a couple in Canada, and one or two overseas). Find those schools that offer an international planning focus. Go to THOSE websites. Usually they will list resources for international organizations. Also, look into the APA equivalent in other countries, such as the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) for the UK for instance. Search through previous posts on cyburbia and planetizen for resources for international planners/working overseas.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #6
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I agree with nrschmid, look for planning schools with an international planning program or focus. An MBA is a waste of time, if you a determined to get two masters you would be better served getting the second in either a complement to planning like engineering/LA/public policy. I know a couple of people who do this type of planning work and all they have are MUPs....the difference is they focused on this area of planning in school, networked abroad and with faculty that did this type of research. Look at NGOs (organizations like the World Bank) and big international planning firms and see where those planners did their schooling.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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