Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Concentrations

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Sep 2011
    Location
    newark nj
    Posts
    184

    Concentrations

    How important is the concentration that choose to study during my Master's?

    WiIl it limit the jobs that I'll be able to have down the road, or does it not really matter?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Encinitas, CA
    Posts
    705
    Concentrations might make you more attractive to some employers. For example, concentrating in environmental planning may make you more attractive to a firm that employs environmental planners.

    Lack of concentration doesn't hurt you, in my opinion. In the example above, you could still get employed as an environmental planner without the concentration (though you *might* be at a slight disadvantage vs. another candidate who had such specialization - but that would be rare, I would think).
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Sep 2011
    Location
    newark nj
    Posts
    184
    I heard/read that concentrating in transportation gives you a better probability to find employment than other concentrations?

    So is that just bunk or what?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Encinitas, CA
    Posts
    705
    Quote Originally posted by ddomin4360 View post
    I heard/read that concentrating in transportation gives you a better probability to find employment than other concentrations?

    So is that just bunk or what?
    Let me try to be more clear:

    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    Concentrations might make you more attractive to some employers.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Wherever
    Posts
    1,178
    A lot of people don't even end up working in their concentration area anyway. So I'd agree they're not all that important.

    Just keep in mind, a concentration could help you get employed but it could potentially pigeonhole you to a certain area of planning as well. So if you find you don't like your concentration or can't find a job in it, it might be slightly harder to move on to something else.

    I just went with the generalist approach myself. There are some schools that don't even offer specializations and mine happened to be one such school. That was honestly one of the reasons I chose it too.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,801
    I have worked in areas that were both within and outside of my concentration (called an "emphasis" where I went to school). Mine was "physical planning" but I have worked as a community planner and now as something of a combination of both physical and community (affordable housing development - I both work with the community on visioning plans and steward construction projects from inception to completion)

    I think it largely depends on the nature of what you are doing. I would expect a position like transportation planner or something dealing with environmental planning might benefit more from the technical information you learn in school, but for many others, there is more translation across areas (community planning sessions function the same way whether you are talking about economic development, redevelopment area planning or addressing a troubled intersection).
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Sep 2011
    Location
    newark nj
    Posts
    184
    Just wanted to bump this up-

    I'm considering doing International Planning as my concentration in when I start in January. I kind of want to do planning in the developing world, and then come back maybe after a few years and do planning in the US. Would I be better off with a different concentration like Environmental, Physical, etc and just see what I can do overseas with that, knowing that I'll have the education to be able to work stateside when I come back? Will International Planning pigeonhole me out of work in the US?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Wherever
    Posts
    1,178
    I know most people who have concentrations in International Planning don't end up working in it. It should provide you a general set of skills that should be applicable anywhere though. The laws and the economics may be different internationally but the planning fundamentals should remain the same.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Out West
    Posts
    9

    Meh

    The program I went to really downplayed concentrations, so it depends on where you go. Ultimately my concentration was very general - no one ever asked about it during my job hunt and I'm not currently working directly in that area. I suppose for some people who are really driven by a particular topic or more defined subfield of planning (like transportation), it might be a good thing to pursue.

    As for International Planning, that's an extremely vague term. Do you want to do super macro level planning (diplomacy, really) or do you want to use planning to break into the international development scene or do you want to get involved in the heavy urbanization issues affecting China or other middle income countries? It could mean any of those things. Find out what your program thinks IP means before you commit to it. Ultimately, I think your final thesis/project and internships matter much more than your degree's precise name in marketing yourself.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,801
    To respond to the International Planning concentration, I do think it would be worth talking to an advisor/professor about others who have pursued this and what they have ended up doing. You might also come in with a list of the kinds of things you would like to do in this arena and see if its a good match.

    As someone who has lived/worked abroad (though I was not a planner at the time) and also tried at times to get into international work, I have the following observations:
    • US Planning and International Development may address some of the same issues, but the language they use and the approaches can be quite distinct. Ideally, one benefit of the International Planning concentration is that it would help tie the two together. Spend a little time searching "international development" and you will get a sense of what I mean. They just have two separate lineages but address common issues.

      The avenues people have to go through to work for some international development groups (like the many UN agencies that touch on this, World Bank, US State Department, USAID, or working directly for a foreign govenrment as an international recruit) can all be very complicated and tedious and have some very specific requirements. You may want to just start poking through that material now to get on track anbd see what is involved. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be able to make sense of it all. The UN, for example, has some programs to help usher younger students into positions and groom them for a career. USAID hires directly in some specialized areas and the US State Department has an application process that, for most positions, really doesn't care what your major or grad degree is in (to be a Foreign Service Officer is a merit-based process involing many exams).

      Learn a foreign language! This is critical to working abroad for obvious reasons.

      Anywhere else you work outside of the US will require a comfortable familiarity with the metric system. Obvious, I know, but you should be practicing to comfortably move between the two systems now.


    My experience was in Uganda and the nature of international development work there was a whole different ballgame from how things are done here. Whereas when a US municipality talks of upgrades to their sewerage system, they mean upgrading pipes, making repairs, etc. In Uganda, this same activity might mean creating an undergrounded system where previously there had been open sewers and also designing and launching a public education campaign to address public health issues and show how to properly use the new system. Housing might be a similar situation. Here, affordable housing has to do with creating housing that lower income folks can afford through an approved loan process. In the developing world (depending on where you go) you may be dealing with people who have no bank accounts at all, let alone access to credit or land.

    Of course International Planning can mean more than work in the developing world. That's just where my experience lies.

    Sun Devil raises some good points about how to hone your interests and what to ask advisors about, but I would disagree that macro level planning is analagous to diplomacy. Diplomacy is managing the relations between governments and their interests and, from the US side, is a specific track within the State Department (many DOS employees do non-diplomatic work). I would call the macro level work more like "policy" in that you are seeking systemic solutions to common problems.

    I would not think that international planning experience would hurt you in returning to the US to seek work. That's just my opinion, but in my experience folks who have worked abroad (whether it be Peace Corps or the UN) are highly regarded. Working in the developing world is very challenging and requires a lot of dynamism and an ability to adjust on the fly - all skills that are valuable in almost any work situation.

    My experiences were 15 years ago and I still think about them on a regular basis - it had a huge impact on me and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #11
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,197
    The only concentration I have seen really use specifically is anything related to GIS. Other than that, well... other posters have already said it.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Sep 2011
    Location
    newark nj
    Posts
    184
    Quote Originally posted by Sun Devil View post
    The program I went to really downplayed concentrations, so it depends on where you go. Ultimately my concentration was very general - no one ever asked about it during my job hunt and I'm not currently working directly in that area. I suppose for some people who are really driven by a particular topic or more defined subfield of planning (like transportation), it might be a good thing to pursue.

    As for International Planning, that's an extremely vague term. Do you want to do super macro level planning (diplomacy, really) or do you want to use planning to break into the international development scene or do you want to get involved in the heavy urbanization issues affecting China or other middle income countries? It could mean any of those things. Find out what your program thinks IP means before you commit to it. Ultimately, I think your final thesis/project and internships matter much more than your degree's precise name in marketing yourself.
    For what it's worth this is there section online dedicated to International Planning.....

    Overview
    This concentration prepares students to effectively frame and engage with the dynamic challenges of designing and implementing plans and public policies in regional and international settings, with particular focus on urbanization and human settlement systems. Specific topics include the interplay of development and the presence and absence of political stability, social cohesion and social movements, economic equity, environmental sustainability, the spatial concentration of economic activity, interindustry linkages, technology transfer, and cross-boundary movement of people, trade, capital, and information. Students should take two of the required courses and at least four within the concentration. A graduate planning studio in regional or international planning is strongly recommended. Note that since graduate course offerings throughout the university change annually, there may be relevant courses in cognate fields (or at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton) which could be approved by one of the faculty coordinators for inclusion in the concentration. Students may also take a Directed Study relevant to their specific interests as one of the recommended courses.

    Required Courses
    34:970:609 Social Policy in Developing Nations
    34:970:644 International Economic Development
    34:970:645 Regional Development
    34:970:660 Major Debates in International Development

    Recommended Courses
    34:970:577 Immigration Policy and Public Health
    34:970:557 International Transport Policy and Planning
    34:970:581 Gender and International Development
    34:970:582 Contemporary Issues in Women’s Health
    34:970:585 Tourism Planning
    34:970:608 Human Rights, Health and Violence
    34:970:646 Global Restructuring
    34:970:652 Regional Economic Analysis
    34:832:514 Culture and Health
    16:450:508 Environmental Problems in Developing Countries
    16:450:509 Human Geographical problems of Developing Countries
    16:016:501 Current Issues in the Study of Africa
    16:220:606 Seminar in International Economics
    16:070:545 Anthropology of Development
    16:790:561 Political Economy of Latin America
    22:553:607 International Business in Emerging and Developing Economies
    22:553:616 Current Issues in International Business

    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    To respond to the International Planning concentration, I do think it would be worth talking to an advisor/professor about others who have pursued this and what they have ended up doing. You might also come in with a list of the kinds of things you would like to do in this arena and see if its a good match.

    As someone who has lived/worked abroad (though I was not a planner at the time) and also tried at times to get into international work, I have the following observations:
    • US Planning and International Development may address some of the same issues, but the language they use and the approaches can be quite distinct. Ideally, one benefit of the International Planning concentration is that it would help tie the two together. Spend a little time searching "international development" and you will get a sense of what I mean. They just have two separate lineages but address common issues.

      The avenues people have to go through to work for some international development groups (like the many UN agencies that touch on this, World Bank, US State Department, USAID, or working directly for a foreign govenrment as an international recruit) can all be very complicated and tedious and have some very specific requirements. You may want to just start poking through that material now to get on track anbd see what is involved. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be able to make sense of it all. The UN, for example, has some programs to help usher younger students into positions and groom them for a career. USAID hires directly in some specialized areas and the US State Department has an application process that, for most positions, really doesn't care what your major or grad degree is in (to be a Foreign Service Officer is a merit-based process involing many exams).

      Learn a foreign language! This is critical to working abroad for obvious reasons.

      Anywhere else you work outside of the US will require a comfortable familiarity with the metric system. Obvious, I know, but you should be practicing to comfortably move between the two systems now.


    My experience was in Uganda and the nature of international development work there was a whole different ballgame from how things are done here. Whereas when a US municipality talks of upgrades to their sewerage system, they mean upgrading pipes, making repairs, etc. In Uganda, this same activity might mean creating an undergrounded system where previously there had been open sewers and also designing and launching a public education campaign to address public health issues and show how to properly use the new system. Housing might be a similar situation. Here, affordable housing has to do with creating housing that lower income folks can afford through an approved loan process. In the developing world (depending on where you go) you may be dealing with people who have no bank accounts at all, let alone access to credit or land.

    Of course International Planning can mean more than work in the developing world. That's just where my experience lies.

    Sun Devil raises some good points about how to hone your interests and what to ask advisors about, but I would disagree that macro level planning is analagous to diplomacy. Diplomacy is managing the relations between governments and their interests and, from the US side, is a specific track within the State Department (many DOS employees do non-diplomatic work). I would call the macro level work more like "policy" in that you are seeking systemic solutions to common problems.

    I would not think that international planning experience would hurt you in returning to the US to seek work. That's just my opinion, but in my experience folks who have worked abroad (whether it be Peace Corps or the UN) are highly regarded. Working in the developing world is very challenging and requires a lot of dynamism and an ability to adjust on the fly - all skills that are valuable in almost any work situation.

    My experiences were 15 years ago and I still think about them on a regular basis - it had a huge impact on me and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
    That's kind of what I thought. Which is great and kind of what I'm hoping for. I want to help places get started with things like sewers etc. If anything your post has only served to strengthen my desire to do this.

    Thank you.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 9
    Last post: 07 Oct 2013, 7:13 AM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last post: 02 Aug 2013, 12:31 PM
  3. Practicality of concentrations
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 17
    Last post: 01 May 2013, 9:45 PM
  4. Concentrations need help?
    Student Commons
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 10 Nov 2006, 1:58 PM
  5. Concentrations/job fields
    Student Commons
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 05 Jan 2006, 4:52 PM