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Thread: Pratt Vs. NYU Wagner

  1. #1
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    Pratt Vs. NYU Wagner

    I've been really killing myself over this decision, so I'm seeking some outside help here...

    The financial end: I got some assistance to go to Pratt, but even with that assistance, it's still more expensive than Wagner. Both schools are expensive enough that I'm wondering if I should try again next year with more schools and hope for more aid.

    I'm open to changing my mind in grad school, but right now my primary interests are economic development and transportation. I just want to get the basic skills I need to do any type of planning in a setting with students who are interested in using planning for positive social change.

    Wagner's International Development program looks great, and NYU has more resources in general. Pratt has an incredible Community Development concentration with deep ties to the community and frequent chances to work on real projects with real clients. I also understand that their physical planning/urban design side is a little more developed, but they don't have much in the way of a transportation program.

    Anyone familiar with these two programs and want to help me out? I've done a lot of research, but it just doesn't seem like there is much out there as far as objective rankings of planning programs.

  2. #2
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    Hi there!

    As a current student of the planning program at Pratt, I can confirm that the Community Development concentration here is very well developed. You have the option of chosing from a wide range of courses, 1, 2 and 3 credits, that are related to community development and community-based planning.
    Nearly all our studios (which are a heavy component of the program) are for real-world clients. You will certainly engage directly with diverse communities if you chose to study at Pratt. In your very first semester here, you'll take a course called "Fundamentals of Planning", which includes a mini-studio as well as a broader introduction to the field of planning. Subsequently, you have two more studios to complete before being eligible for graduation.
    The students are drawn to the program because of their commitment to social change, and indeed, this is the emphasis of the program and the "mission" of the faculty (if you could call it that).
    I am focussing on urban design/physical planning, this concentration is in fact the reason I came to Pratt. Of all NYC area schools (including Rutgers), none has a concentration in this area that is as solid as Pratt's. NYU, Hunter and Rutgers don't even feature any courses in the area of urban design/physical planning (I don't know about Columbia, though they are generally a real-estate minded program I hear).
    The focus consists of courses in GIS, a course in Physical Planning/Site Design (which will expose students to the proces of designing a site plan for a specific site, as well as a solid body of literature on the subject). Additionally, you are allowed to take courses at the Architecture program; courses such as "Open Space Design" taught by renowned landscape architect Signe Nielsen. James Corner (Field Operations, designer of the High Line) also teaches here. In my experience, you will also have the option of focussing on urban design topics during your studios to the extent that you desire. NYU, for all I know, offers a degree in public policy with a few land use courses thrown in for good measure- why they call it a Master of Urban Planning is beyond me. (I will say that the facilities of NYU can't be matched. )
    As for transportation, we do have a set of courses you can take in that area. In addition to the broad and comprehensive introduction to the area taught in "Transportation Planning", you can take courses such as "Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning" and "Transportation Equity", the latter having a heavy social justice component, reflecting Pratt's concern with social justice in general.
    By the way, the professor that teaches "Transportation Planning" at Pratt, also teaches the same course at NYU. I am not able to tell you about how well-developed the Transportation Planning concentration is at NYU, hopefully other students will pitch in here.
    Because our program is taught during the evening hours, you have the option of interning during the day. Many students have and are interning for NYC DOT and are working on exciting projects. I intern with a smaller firm that does transportation planning, urban planning and urban design myself, where I am involved in many projects involving bicycle infrastructure.

    Overall, I'd say that Pratt would be a good choice if you have an interest in Transportation Planning or in Urban Design/Physical Planning, and if you are interested in learning how planning can be a tool used to achieve positive social change.

    Hope this helps! (I'm sorry if I sound a little harsh on NYU's program-- I'm hoping a current NYU student will pitch in and give you their perspective on their program).

  3. #3
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    This actually affirms everything I already really liked about Pratt...in fact, I don't think I know anyone who's gone there who had any issues with it (other than the fact that it's very expensive).

    I'm not sure if it's just how the website is arranged, but I could only find the one basic transportation planning class when I was doing my research, so it's helpful to know that there are more classes on transportation that what I had found.

  4. #4
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    I don't know why cyburbia won't let me edit this response but will let me edit all of my others, so I'll just make a new post.

    If there's anyone from Wagner out there who can give me some pointers about the program (i.e. has it been a great experience for you? has it given you the planning skills you need? what has been most frustrating?) It would really help me out. I'm leaning on going there now based on actually being interested in those policy/management/finance classes, price, convenience, and a few other factors, but I still know way more about Pratt's program because I have a number of friends who've gone there and loved it.

    I did appeal to Pratt to maybe get more fin. aid, but it's a total shot in the dark. I would really need it to go there, though.

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