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Thread: UCI: theory vs practice

  1. #1
    May 2010
    Los Angeles, CA

    UCI: theory vs practice

    Hello all!
    I'll be applying for a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in SoCal by the end of this year (for Fall 2011 admission). The 5 ACCREDITED programs include the following: UCLA, UCI, USC, Cal Poly Pomona, and Cal Poly SLO. I know that I will be applying to UCLA, USC, and Pomona, but I am unsure as to whether I want to apply to UCI andSLO. I know SLO is a great school, but I do want to stay in the LA area (as I think I'll have to commute AND I want to hold internships while I go to school). Now, my question is really with UCI. From other posts I've read both here and on other pages, it seems UCI is very heavy on the theory and de-emphasizes the applied component of planning (since its MURP program is under to school of Social Ecology....which sounds incredibly fuzzy). Have any of you heard of this being so? I'd really like to walk away with a very well-rounded knowledge base, especially in the applied sense. If anybody can provide any feedback regarding UCI or any of the schools I mentioned, I'd greatly appreciate!!!!

  2. #2
    Feb 2010
    Placentia, CA
    UCI is a research university, and as such, does emphasize more the theory component as opposed to the practical component. I would say the same about USC and UCLA. You are not going to take classes at UCI that will teach you how to read a site plan, how to write staff reports, how to perform a plan check, etc. etc. The Polytechnic schools do take a more hands-on approach and will train you to be a practicing planner straight out of school, however, these are things you should also be learning in your internships. The UCI PSO has also been taking steps to remedy the "theory heavy" stigma by sponsoring workshops where they bring in practicing OC planners to teach many of the practical skills, and the OC section of APA may also be doing this in the future.

    Where do you want to work when finished with school? In my experience, LA graduates tend to stay in the LA area while OC planning is pretty split between UCI and Cal Poly Pomona graduates.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Feb 2007
    Playing at a movie theater near you
    I truly think your hang up is flawed. You should really ask yourself what's your end game. Design firm? Enviornmental planning? Transportation planning? Public or private sector? Each school you listed has a speciality. All programs have some theory, but as the second poster noted, the uc tends to have more theory than the csu system or USC. Choose base on faculty, program, etc over theory/real world because yes real world skills are good to learn in the classroom but you won't really learn without some ojt
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