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Thread: Switch from civil-eng to urban studies undergrad, do MS/MCP grad school?

  1. #1

    Switch from civil-eng to urban studies undergrad, do MS/MCP grad school?

    Hi all, I would like your feedback on this; I am considering switching from civil engineering to urban studies, and would rather pursue a graduate program with dual degrees in Transportation Engineering & City Planning.

    I am currently a second year undergraduate in civil engineering at UC Berkeley; I have a huge interest in transportation; areas of interest include public transit planning, traffic operations, and bike & ped planning.

    I have side interests in urban planning pertaining to the livable streets movement, sustainability planning, etc. But, these are side interests, given that transportation is a huge interest of mine.

    The problem with the civil engineering curriculum for me is that given civil engineering is not just transportation, I am forced to take a lot of the other courses that are within the other emphasis in civil engineering. Even if they relate to transportation engineering somehow, they cover areas I'm not really that interested in (i.e. highway/bridge design, road maintenance).

    I can't say that I can't handle the civil engineering courseload; I can, but I spend a lot of time on all of them to the point where it's difficult for me to focus on the transport related topics (and pour in creative ideas in those courses).

    If I go into urban studies, I would be taking the civil engineering classes specific to transportation, and some urban planning courses. Given the somewhat more free time I have, if I decide to make the switch, I would devote some of it to extracurriculars related to transportation, personal research projects, going "above and beyond" in the transport courses .

    My question really is, am I really missing out on transport engineering if I make a switch from civil engineering to urban studies, and pursuing a graduate school dual degree MS/MCP (hopefully at Berkeley, again?) program?

    (Note: I have already taken about two planning courses, and am currently taking two more planning courses, in addition to a GIS class. I also am currently taking two undergrad transportation engineering related courses)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire Seacoast
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    take a look at the prerequisites for applying to the grad programs you'd like to attend--if they require an official CE undergrad degree, you should probably continue your current major. otherwise, i think switching is fine.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2010
    Location
    North Jersey
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    I'm also a potential city planning Master's student...I just graduated with a degree in Economics and sent out my applications last month.

    If I were you, I probably would stick with CE, because it could be easier to secure employment post-undergrad with CE than with Urban Studies. It gives you a second option other than going straight to grad school, and as far as I can tell, it's much easier to get a job in engineering/math/science related fields nowadays than with a degree in the liberal arts. And you can always work for a few years in something CE-related and then go back for your Master's degree later, which could also make your application more competitive. So as long as you can handle the coursework, I say you should stick to CE, or better yet, you could dbl major in CE and Urban Studies.

    If given the choice, I would much rather work in civil engineering than city planning: it's more lucrative and there are more job opportunities right now. Unfortunately my math/science skills have never been very good so I honestly envy your position! Maybe that's why I feel this way about your situation, just my two cents.

    Good luck with your studies.

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