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Thread: MCP coupled with sustainable design certificate?

  1. #1

    MCP coupled with sustainable design certificate?

    Since I've made up my mind to go ahead with an MCP regardless of the poor job market, I was wondering if getting an extra certificate Certificate in Sustainable Building Design & Construction from a local architect school nearby where I am going for an MCP would help at all?

    Courses include Site Design, Landscaping and Site-Water Issues, Energy Modeling, Environmental Systems.

    What do you guys think? Is it worth coupling it with a Masters in City Planning?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    If the planning profession is already in bad shape and will take several MORE years to recover, I don't think ANY certificate from ANY program is going to make you more marketable. No work means no work. Again, it's not a question of which courses you take in what order, what matters is where you go to school for what degree, and that may not even mean planning. I am seriously planning on going back to school in the Fall of 2012 for an MBA and then go into a completely different unrelated career, which I won't discuss on here. I might continue to do planning as a fun hobby but time will tell.

    This certificate program seems more geared to architects and landscape architects, who already have previous coursework/training in conventional site design, landscaping, etc., and who want to learn different approaches to conventional design and construction. It couldn't hurt you the non-design planning student, but I doubt you are going to learn all about site design, plant material, or environmental systems. If you are bringing more to the table, you may appear more marketable BUT the employer will also expect you to deliver on these extras. In this case, you are bringing more design skills to the table. Do you have what it takes to compete against the architects, engineers, and landscape architects? (rhetorical question).

    Not every firm or agency openly welcomes sustainability, so this could also backfire. It doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue, if that is what you want to do, but when you apply for jobs, you don't HAVE to bring out all the tools in your toolbox.

    Hope this helps-
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  3. #3

    excellent advice..

    But what surprises me is that Planning programs seem to encompass so much that one could get into a variety of fields; real estate development, real estate banking, private engineering or architecture firms, public sector administration, non-profit work, public finance and budgeting. I mean I know of planner who do IT because of all of their GIS courses.

    The certificate just looks like something I would want to take if I decide to get into urban design. I want to bring some design courses to the table along with an MCP.

    It's not necessarily to be more marketable but it is to enter more design/architecture markets.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    If you want to do a mixture of design and planning I would find a dual masters program where you pursue an MArch and an MUP or an MLA and an MUP. It's a given that the MArch and MLA programs will give you enough about design, starting at designing rooms and walls to building to master plans (I'm greatly exaggerating here). Since you don't have a design background, there are no shortcuts in architecture/landscape architecture school. In most programs you will earn the design degree first followed by an extra 2-4 semesters of the MUP.

    Going back to your OP, you asked if the certificate would "help [you] at all." I think you need to elaborate on this. Would this "design" certificate pique your interest/curiosity in design or are you seriously considering entering design/architecture markets. From your previous posts, you seem to have curiosities and fascinations about many aspects of planning, but you struggle to hone in one track or another. I think you are overreaching in terms of your expectations as a worker, whether it is a planner or an architect or something else. I don't like boundaries myself and I have done work in related professions without additional training, although that came with time and luck (and almost all of it was on the job).

    I would discuss your concerns with admissions officers at the schools you are interested. Again, we can't predict the "magic combination" of courses or tracks that will make you more marketable. Personally, I find the more marketable workers are those who are self-aware of their personal capabilities and limitations, who think outside of the box (on occasion), who listen to others' advice, but in the end have enough self confidence and discipline to take charge and move forward in their careers on their own.

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

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    An advisor tried to sell me on a masters in sustainable design but I was wondering if it's a real design degree? That's why I wanted to do a certificate first and possibly transfer those credits toward a masters. But yeah I should think about just doing the M.Arch along with the MCP.

  6. #6
    nrschmid clear your pm box, I wanted to send you a message.

  7. #7
    I'll go out on a limb here.... Educational certificates are nearly worthless in our line of work. Professional certificates (e.g. CEM) are different, but educational certificates are merely another product to buy from a university that has virtually no value in our job market, as compared to the "very little" value of the full degree.

  8. #8
    CEM? Also does that include going for the dual masters in Sus. Design?

    nrschmid said that there is no shortcut for design, that one just has to go for the M.Arch. Does this include the Sustainable Design Masters? Is it also worthless?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    An advisor tried to sell me on a masters in sustainable design but I was wondering if it's a real design degree?
    A real design degree is either an M. Arch, B. Arch, MLA, or BLA.

    Anything else is well..a fraud.

    Sustainable design master's? WTF is that? Seriously? What is it? What skill do you gain that a course or 2 can't teach? Even better, what skill do you gain that you don't learn working in the field. The degree sounds like a crock of crap and you are just drinking the kool-aid your professor handed to you and spiked it with the idea that it is the next "pop-rocks".

    Don't be gullible. Do some research on degrees.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I cleared out some of my inbox so you can resend.

    Manoverde, as a would-be planner you have to look at the bigger picture (and just use some common sense). If we are all saying that an architecture or a landscape architecture degree (and possibly an engineering degree) is the only reputable educational tool then those are the options. Ask yourself, does a certificate fit this mold? No. Does a Masters in Sustainable Design fit this mold? No. Does a Masters in Urban Design fit this mold? No. Does a Masters in Urban Planning with a design emphasis fit this mold? No. Does a studio or two fit this mold. No.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I have a graduate certificate in Historic Preservation in addition to my masters and it really doesn't qualify me to do much in HP, but it does give me a leg up on those issues as they come about in my job and I can put it on my resume. The field of Sustainable Design is so new that I'm not sure what it would do for you in this job market.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  12. #12
    Well then the best thing to do is to do a dual masters with an M.Arch/MCP.


    If there is no short cut then there is no short cut. So be it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Not every firm or agency openly welcomes sustainability, so this could also backfire. It doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue, if that is what you want to do, but when you apply for jobs, you don't HAVE to bring out all the tools in your toolbox.
    Just to add to this. I don't think I'd even put the word sustainability on a resume unless I actually knew for a fact the agency was trying to promote it. The term is so loaded in some places that it could very well cost you a job.

    Also I would agree with everyone here, if you want to do design, go with an M.Arch or MLA. All these random interdisciplinary degrees that keep popping up seem kind of iffy as to whether they'd actually help you since the degrees haven't even had a chance to develop a reputation. I'd imagine employers prefer degrees that they're actually familiar with.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    Well then the best thing to do is to do a dual masters with an M.Arch/MCP.


    If there is no short cut then there is no short cut. So be it.
    It's not necessarily to be more marketable but it is to enter more design/architecture markets.

    Then just get an architecture degree and scrap planning if you just want to do design. Why reinvent the wheel?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  15. #15
    Are planning and architecture/design just that different from each other that one shouldn't even get a dual masters in both?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Planning primarily focuses on policy while the others focus on physical design. So the question then becomes where do your interests lie? If they fall somewhere in between, the dual major route could be beneficial.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    Are planning and architecture/design just that different from each other that one shouldn't even get a dual masters in both?
    They are completely different beasts. Planning focuses on policy and "bigger picture" issues when it comes to the design realm. Architecture focuses on project by project context with attention to detail of a singular building or project, while sometimes addressing the adjacent neighborhood or surrounding areas, but most times, just addressing the singular project or client's needs.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    Planning primarily focuses on policy while the others focus on physical design. So the question then becomes where do your interests lie? If they fall somewhere in between, the dual major route could be beneficial.
    Definitely somewhere in between.

    Also, is there a lot of overlap between an MPA and Planning? It seems like there is.

    Considering the diverse number of courses planners take, how are planners not qualified for a lot of jobs out there unrelated to planning?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    One course or two courses does not make for an occupation. You can't take an elective course in lighting or bridge design and expect to understand circuitry or structural loads. Most of the general public still does not understand what we do, and for good reason. Because we are still a relatively new profession, versus architecture (which has been around for a few hundred years) and engineering (which has been around for several thousand years). As such, we are not taken as seriously (from a professional expert) point of view as architects and engineers. That could change, but I think it will still take several decades.

    By default, more people are likely to hire people whose occupations they are more familiar with. A planner with a few courses in economics and statistics could probably qualify for an entry-level statistician job. However, an employer would prefer someone with an actual degree or two in statistics.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  20. #20
    For such an interesting field of study, it seems like it's not that much of a lucrative pay off. Again, I am not worried about the salary after college, but the level of horror stories you guys dish out is making me think twice.

    The only other option I have at the moment is an MPA. I'd rather not do that but each time I post about the planning field I get nothing but horror stories about how bad it is for the profession and now not to mention that it's not even respected?

    I'm still going to go for it because I really am enjoying the independent stuff I've been researching/studying about it,

    It may not be lucrative but hey you gotta do what you like, right? Or is the market that bad that isn't even worth doing what you like anymore?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    The job prospects for an MPA versus a planner aren't a whole lot different at the moment.

    In this economy, there's very few degrees that significantly increase job chances after school outside of health care and possibly some engineering fields.

  22. #22
    That's good to know because I want to stick to planning. The MPA seemed like it would send me to paper pushing purgatory in some local public sector job.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    That's good to know because I want to stick to planning. The MPA seemed like it would send me to paper pushing purgatory in some local public sector job.
    A most public sector jobs aren't? Even planning jobs in both private/public involve "paper" pushing. What do you expect to do in planning?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  24. #24
    I thought that with planning there would some "design" aspect to it.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Planners make sure a design conforms to their ordinances but don't necessarily do design work themselves. Then zoning (and form based codes) are a way to influence the look of an area but planners have little direct control over how the final product will ultimately look.

    Most planners aren't directly involved in design. Most normally just help set the rules that everyone has to abide by in regards to development.

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