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Thread: Will a bachelorís degree in urban studies get me into urban planning?

  1. #1
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    Will a bachelorís degree in urban studies get me into urban planning?

    If I get accepted this year, Iím transferring from community college to university, taking Urban Studies at York University. However, I wonder if taking this program will get me a job as an urban planner. Perhaps I need a Masterís degree in urban planning to supplement my degree?

    Is a bachelorís degree in urban studies a useful program, or is it one of those useless majors that get you nowhere (e.g. English, Music)?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Sure.....

    In good times, just about any degree will get you into a planning position. Right now it likely won't be enough with so much competition. Plus, the word Urban could be a turn off for rural employers out there.
    Skilled Adoxographer

  3. #3
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    I see what you mean.

  4. #4
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    As a graduate of an urban studies program, I can say that it's not impossible to land a planning position with just an undergraduate degree in urban studies. I did it, and many of my classmates did too. However, if you think that your bachelor's degree is going to be the end of the line for your planning education, it's imperative to gain some planning experience from internships to show that you know or at least have the appetite for the technical aspects of the profession, such as dealing with maps and GIS--things you may not be taught at a more theory-based urban studies program.

    I also agree with the previous poster that the economy has changed and a master's degree has become that much more important for being a competitive job candidate. If you can get a master's in the future, I'd suggest that you go for it.

    Lastly, I don't believe that an urban studies degree is necessarily a useless one. And I believe most practitioners will agree. An urban studies degree is pretty versatile in that allows you go into fields such as public health, community development, education, social work, architecture, or law (with further education for some of these, of course). The types of electives you choose and the internship experiences you gain will be important for proving you're a good fit for jobs in these fields. As a planner, a background in urban studies informs your understanding of planning practices. Subdividing a lot is a lot more than a new line on a parcel map; it could be a barometer of economic forces (investors) or changing urban form (densification), etc. Understanding the underlying ramifications beyond the technical is important. It separates planners from the engineers, haha.

    Best of luck to you.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Urban studies is a branch of sociology. Some planning programs might require a general sociology course or two as a requirement towards a degree. My father is an urban historian, although he has a bachelors, masters, and PhD in American History and chose to focus on urban history/studies. Personally, I don't consider urban studies as a planning degree.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I have an Urban Studies undergraduate degree with a GIS certificate offered through the Urban Studies program. Can I get a planning job in Seattle without a Masters degree? No. But can I get a job at any of the other cities in the I-5 cooridoor up here in the Pacific Northwest? Yes.

    At my internship last summer I worked in one of those other cities. The short range planners had bachelors degrees while the long range planners had advanced degrees. Seems logical.

    I have come to learn the City of Seattle is a major employer of the Evans School (I'll be a first year in the Fall). So come 2012 the City of Seattle will be an option for me. Right now it is not an option.

    As others have stated, it all depends on time and place. But an advanced degree will not hurt. Plus who wants to work right? Stay in school, it's easier
    Master of Public Administration - 2012
    Concentration: Metropolitan and Regional Policy
    Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs
    University of Washington, Seattle, WA

  7. #7
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    you probably can but to get full acredidation as a planner you need a recognized planning degree, at least in canada you do

  8. #8
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    I don't think its impossible, however I would try to supplement your new undergrad degree with possibly a masters in urban planning in the future. The reason I say this is due to competition, but also due to the fact that some planner jobs require you to be a registered planner, which you typically require a planning degree for.

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