Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Masters in environmental design: the right choice?

  1. #1
    Aug 2010

    Masters in environmental design: the right choice?


    I am hoping some of you can help shed some light on a major career transition I am thinking of making.

    After many years of struggling to succeed in a creative industry (animation/media design) I currently have a mundane office job in natural gas marketing which nevertheless draws a steady paycheck with benefits. I have recently been accepted into the Masters of Environmental Design (MEDes) program at my local University, (U of Calgary, Alberta), and really want to take the opportunity but am also quite scared to do so for a variety of reasons.

    I can afford to do it (it will likely mean walking away from my current job) but after years of the aforementioned creative industry struggles I need to know there will be a market for my skills upon graduating. The reason I keep bringing up the whole creative aspect of my past and projecting it onto this opportunity is that I have an obvious tendency to be drawn to these endeavors and want to make sure I am being pragmatic about this decision.

    My interest in the EVDes is not fly by night as I have researched it deeply and I would really enjoy coming up with designed human space; specifically urban design. I am confident in my base skills (creative/drafting skills) and am sure I will find the program interesting. I am also aware that it is not all "drawing pictures" and of course that is a very good thing IMO since I need this to be viable as a choice and not just an interesting but possibly unmarketable specialization.

    So I have rambled a bit here...it's just that I am really confused. I do online research and some say the market is terrible, some say it is strong. Some say the work is fun but the pay is low and some say they make quite a bit. Some say the design orientated degrees are always less appreciated in relation to Architecture degrees but perhaps more fulfilling. And then there are all the degree variations; MUD, MA, MLA, MUP...

    Anyway my primary concerns are:

    Will this education (not with-standing the current economic woes) be welcomed in the Canadian/North American job market?

    Is the EVDes considered a “fluffy” or artsy post grad degree in relation to the more "bankable" technical education of the certifiable Architecture degrees and thus less marketable? What sort of entry roles would an EVDes grad begin in? What focus should I take in I do enter; they offer: ecological design, urban systems design, technological systems design, human and cultural systems design

    ...basically should I take the course or "don't quit your day job."

    Many thanks to all who may help, I realize a am a bit long winded so thanks for making it thru.

  2. #2
    Aug 2010
    Here is a link to the program synopsis for reference:


    Thank you

  3. #3

    Hope this helps

    I've applied to the MEDes program also and have struggled with some of the same questions you have.

    I have already taken Urban Planning (waterloo) and Architectural Tech (sheridan) so I have a little bit of industry experience. I understand where you are coming from with the "fluffy" term. This program is highly interdisciplinary but I think that is where it's strength comes from. You're exposed to more disciples and design practices.

    The job market completely depends on where you are applying (city, province, state, country) and what you are applying to. You mentioned Urban Design and I have gained some junior experience in this field. There are jobs out there but you have to be willing to move for them or search a little harder. But trust me they are there. I gained site planning and urban design skills at an engineering firm not an architecture/design firm. So it helps to look outside of the box.

    I've read about MEDes grads working in Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. Just do a google search for "MEDes program university of calgary". That is how I found some grads online (and your post). So they are working in some amazing junior to senior roles.

    I'm not sure what you decided. In my books it's better to try than not to try at all. Even if you leave your job another will be waiting for you somewhere.

    I'm applying to this degree to get the graduate level experience needed for Urban design work, to be competitive and to blend my academic backgrounds. I hope I get accepted.

    I wish you luck in your decisions.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Aug 2005
    in a meeting
    I think a MLA is better

  5. #5
    I was going to apply to MLA at Toronto, Guelph, Winnipeg but didn't. Are you taking or have you taken MLA @luckless pedestrian?

    If I don't get into UCalgary I'm applying to MLA programs for next year.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Masters in environmental planning
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 06 Apr 2011, 5:33 PM
  2. Replies: 6
    Last post: 02 Sep 2010, 6:06 AM
  3. Replies: 2
    Last post: 07 Nov 2008, 2:42 AM
  4. Replies: 6
    Last post: 14 Apr 2007, 3:08 PM
  5. Replies: 3
    Last post: 01 Nov 2005, 10:02 AM