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Thread: Is second masters degree worth it?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    Is second masters degree worth it?

    I already have a Masters degree in Urban Planning, but am now considering getting a Masters in Public Administration. I want to enhance my knowledge base in government and policy and also add to my marketability. Has anyone else done this or does anyone see real benefits in getting a second masters, particularly an MPA?

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

    A waste of time and money I think....but the entire Northeastern part of this country would disagree....it seems like everyone in the NE is either in school for a second or third masters or PhD.....



    NHPlanner Disclaimer: Yes this is a gross overgeneralization based soley on my family members hearing stories and as such should be ignored by all but the most jocular cyburbians out there.....
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I think a second master's would be a bit much, for what you end up getting out of it. Look for a certificate program designed for professionals in the biz, and that would probably get you a little more bang for the buck.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One
    NHPlanner Disclaimer: Yes this is a gross overgeneralization based soley on my family members hearing stories and as such should be ignored by all but the most jocular cyburbians out there.....
    Off-topic:
    I just like to get on your case on cost of living.

    It does seem like a lot of people in the northeast have multiple masters.....


    To the OP:

    Unless your ultimate career goals are to go into municipal administration, I wouldn't go for the MPA.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5

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    Depends on whether you want the knowledge or a credential. As a credential, it will not help much.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Wow....

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Depends on whether you want the knowledge or a credential. As a credential, it will not help much.
    Lee brings that rock solid sense to everything......and is again correct.....If I could afford the tuition and time, I would seek additional degrees for knowledge I think I would start with a Masters in History and move on to a Masters in Anthropology.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  7. #7
    Dash, if I were you I'd just get a Certificate in Public Admin. I'd specialize the certificate towards my goals, be it more involvement in administration, public policy analysis, etc.

    You all ready have a MUP, not need to go through another two years, IMO.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    I agree with forgoing the MPA. I have a BA in Planning, a Certificate in GIS, and MRP and a Certificate in Urban Policy. I think that to pursue my policy interests with an MPA would have been overkill. I do think that some municipal finance classes would be helpful, but beyond that, I think that the Planning degrees covered a lot of the bases. I think learning a specialized skill is more marketable than multiple degrees. For my next trick, I am going to become a database whiz!
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    Cyburbian jenniplans's avatar
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    I'm taking Accounting I in a few weeks. I have to take it before going for my MBA, an idea that I've floated around for a few months now. Maybe I'm bored at night, but I never took a business class in school and figure that the tools taught would help out eventually with my planning career.

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    2nd Master's Degree

    Coincidently, I currently hold a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and am considering getting a Master of City and Regional Planning / Urban Planning degree. My reasoning behind this decision is that I've found that my career has become focused increasingly on budget/finance and I'd like to move into the area of community and economic development instead.

    Any thoughts on whether this would be a worthwhile pursuit?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian AnvilPartners's avatar
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    I got the MPA after the MURPL

    I have to say it was worth it -- I went into city management, and the information I got out of both degrees made it a lot easier to do the job.

    That being said, I only stuck it out in public service for 8 years...but the two degrees came in handy when I went into industry too...

    You already know what you get with the planning degree -- the MPA is the public version of the MBA -- with both under your belt you are in a good position to provide leadership and effect some positive changes.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus
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    No because time and money debt not to mention school burn out.

    AIB Lee Nellis
    Credential worth having CFM - Certified Floodplain Manager
    or at least taking the 2 classes from EMI - NFIP and CRS.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    There is a lot of overlap in MUP and MPAs. Personally, I think it would be redundant.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have two MAs in unrelated fields, so my return to school for Planning was more of a career shift. I would agree with some of the comments that unless you want to go into public administration, a Masters may be a little overkill. A certificate may be just fine.

    I think the value of going back to school, though, is partly in what you learn and partly in the opportunities it presents. Chances to intern or use your school connections to get work (because you are a known quantity that people can vouch for) are an aspect of schooling that shouldn't be discounted. Its as much about the connections you make as the stuff you learn.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    Shifting topics a bit...

    Hate to shift the topic off of the MPA, but I had the same question regarding an MRED.

    I currently have an MUP, and have considered going back to get an MRED. I work at a real estate/economic development consulting firm and we work with a lot of developers. I am also interested in working directly for (or even as) a developer in the future.

    Would it be worth my while?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Unless you want to be a city/county manager I wouldn't do it. To stay in the planning field, I'd look at the certifiaction courses for economic development, gis, LEED, etc. Those will have a more direct impact.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Dashboard View post
    ...I want to enhance my knowledge base in government and policy and also add to my marketability. Has anyone else done this or does anyone see real benefits in getting a second masters, particularly an MPA?
    If I've said this once, I've said it a thousand times:

    Take all the drivers ed classroom courses you want, but until you get behind the wheel of a car and take it out for a good long ride, you don't know how to drive.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    If I've said this once, I've said it a thousand times:

    Take all the drivers ed classroom courses you want, but until you get behind the wheel of a car and take it out for a good long ride, you don't know how to drive.
    ^^What she said.
    I did free-lance and contract work for a few years. Learned how to do graphic design and publications layout by doing it. When the world went digital, I picked up skills along the way. Now I'm in what's essentially project management, and I took some base-level skills and ramped them up on the job.

    Colleges are not vo-tech. Sign up for two years of tuition and classes, or land yourself a training wheels job managing a small town or agency where they pay you to learn?

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I am opting to finish up one of the dual masters programs since the job market is crappy and I only need 21 credits more with 6 of them being work experience. I am doing the second one in Public Policy as I think it complements the community/economic development track I've pursued in the MCRP and work.

    I have a B.S. in Poli Sci/Public Admin, basically if an MPA interests you I would just take a few public management courses, find a gig in a small city/county, and learn on the job rather than sit for an MPA.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Tuition reimbursement

    Work experience is very important. Sometimes itís better to learn things from your job; during the process, you will know your focus.
    Many places offer tuition reimbursement. If you can find a decent job, then take the opportunity.

    I do agree continuous learning will make difference in the long run. I have a MURP and MPP; now I am considering to get a MS in Engineering. My agency has a tuition reimbursement program. I still need to pay part of the costs, but it helps.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Off Width's avatar
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    Second Graduate Degree???

    Quote Originally posted by perry View post
    Work experience is very important. Sometimes it’s better to learn things from your job; during the process, you will know your focus.
    Many places offer tuition reimbursement. If you can find a decent job, then take the opportunity.

    I do agree continuous learning will make difference in the long run. I have a MURP and MPP; now I am considering to get a MS in Engineering. My agency has a tuition reimbursement program. I still need to pay part of the costs, but it helps.
    I have a BA and an MA in Geography. I just finished my MPA after 2.5 years of grad school as part of a fellowship/cohort.

    Would I do it again? Was it worth it?

    I have been working in the public planning field since 1988, for medium a sized city and in two different large counties in three different states.

    My current employer offered a fellowship program where I could earn an MPA as part of a cohort of other middle managers in local government in the region. My employer paid 75% of tuition costs and I was on the hook for the rest (books, parking, food, etc.)

    I jumped at the chance for several reasons:
    • It was a competitive fellowship and only two people were chosen from our organization every 18-months - looks good on the resume...
    • Much what we do as planners consists of the bureaucratic BS that we do because, well, we work for bureaucracies! I learned how to deal with the bureaucratic BS by osmosis over the years without understanding the origins or the basis for it - some of the classes gave me a glimpse into the whys and history of how municipalities and bureaucracies operate.
    • The MPA helped me to learn about the process of the policies that drive a lot of what we do as planners. Again, something I always knew subconsciously and learned by doing over the past 20-years, but to have the theory and underpinnings spelled out - invaluable!
    • I also learned about budgeting, human resources (again, very valuable to me as a manager), and ethics (best class I had).
    • While much of this stuff is not directly applicable to my everyday job, it has expanded my skill set, made me more employable (I hope) and will help me understand a lot of the day-to-day goings - not just at work but in the world at large.
    • I got a 5% pay band increase for the degree (last raise in salary I'll see for awhile!)

    All of that being said....was it worth it? Yes. First my employer picked up most of the tab and gave me time off of work to go to school. Because I took all of my classes with the same 20 people, over the past 2.5 years I have forged relationships and created relationships that are as valuable as the degree itself.

    Would I do it again? Hummm, as a 50-year-old with two kids in high-school, it took a lot of my time away from family. I turned into the "grumpy A-hole" at the end of each semester. If this program was not all set-up for me and if I had to chose each class and make it fit into my schedule...no way.

    Will it help my career? Definitely. I feel my resume is much more well rounded....

    My .02 cents
    Last edited by Off Width; 30 Dec 2008 at 3:48 PM.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    I think it would be worthwhile...

    This is a topic of consideration for me as well. I have a BS in Planning (non PAB) and I'm working on an MS in Administration (MSA) with a concentration in Pub Admin. It's sort of an MBA/MPA hybrid. I'm considering applying to an MUP program. My current full-time job is centered around budget, finance and policy analysis.

    My MSA should definitely help me advance in pay/position in my current job field. For my purposes, a MUP would be for both knowledge and credentials as I still hope to break into a more traditional "planning job" at some point. So for me I feel like the time and effort would be worth it.

    Luckily, I've managed to work in planning related fields since finishing my BS. But the price tag for the MUP is pretty steep. With a young family and a mortgage, I have a hard time justifying spending that time and money over the 3-4 years it would take me to complete it part-time. Unless I can find a phenomenal financial aid package or fellowship that could pay for most of it (or an extremely generous, independently wealthy, private benefactor).

    So, I'll probably put the MUP on the back burner for a while longer and continue to study planning independently and taking advantage of networking with planners.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dashboard View post
    I already have a Masters degree in Urban Planning, but am now considering getting a Masters in Public Administration. I want to enhance my knowledge base in government and policy and also add to my marketability. Has anyone else done this or does anyone see real benefits in getting a second masters, particularly an MPA?
    Total waste of time in my opinion. As an MUP and a practicing planner, you probably know more about general public administration than anyone that came out of a PA program. More and more I see planners becoming city administrators/managers, not the other way around. I've never worked for a city manager that knew sh!t about planning. Therefore, there is very little to gain from getting an MPA.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally posted by BCD View post
    Coincidently, I currently hold a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and am considering getting a Master of City and Regional Planning / Urban Planning degree. My reasoning behind this decision is that I've found that my career has become focused increasingly on budget/finance and I'd like to move into the area of community and economic development instead.

    Any thoughts on whether this would be a worthwhile pursuit?
    I know this post was 2 years ago. Did you end up pursuing it? I'm in the same position as you, but it didnt seem like anyone responded to your question...except for another person who is also thinking about doing it too.

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