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Thread: Graduate/PhD 2012-2013 applications and acceptance notices: United States

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Graduate/PhD 2012-2013 applications and acceptance notices: United States

    There are a few short, specific threads for applications this year, but no all-encompassing thread. It's an annual Cyburbia tradition so it would suck not to have it this year and the more people participate, the more useful and fun it becomes. Good luck everyone!

    Last year's thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=41653

    Let me kick things off. Probably applying to these schools:

    UNC
    Rutgers
    USC
    Cornell
    Michigan
    NYU
    Harvard
    Illinois UC
    and (even though I'll join the multitudes left outside looking in) MIT

    My stats:
    Colgate University, Class of 2006,
    GPA: 3.67, Majored in Economics and History
    Expected GRE: 1350 (though could vary)

    Work Experience:
    3.5 years as research analyst advising clients like HP and 3M on issues relating to technology in the architecture, construction, signage, and real estate markets.
    2 years as research assistant engaged in geographic analysis of 19th century economic development patterns and relation between industry growth and education levels and mortality rates
    2 years as research assistant to two history professors
    Wrote honors thesis on relation between firm location and labor market patterns and the nature of community development in antebellum Lowell, Massachusetts
    1 year on local planning board

  2. #2
    I'm applying to 6 schools:

    MIT (long shot)
    Penn
    Cornell
    Michigan
    UW Seattle
    Berkeley

    I'm in my last year of undergrad, dual majoring in geology and environmental science
    GPA: 3.51
    GRE: 740 Q, 720 V, 4.0 writing

    Three department scholarships + part of a sustainability honors group
    Honors thesis on bike sharing pilot in my city
    My work experience is rather lacking - only one internship so far, in CSR

  3. #3
    Member
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    Location
    Atlanta
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    Alright, I will play. I am currently still narrowing my choices down and will apply to 5-6 schools. My schools under consideration are as follow:

    Georgia Institute of Technology
    Portland State
    University of Cincinnati
    University of Illinois, Chicago
    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    University of Michigan
    University of Oregon
    University of Washington
    University of Wisconsin
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute

    Specialties of Interest:
    Land Use/ Physical Planning
    Community Development

    Education:
    Louisiana State University - Honors College, Class of 2009
    GPA: 3.92, Majored in Political Science, Minored in Classics and Philosophy
    Completed Senior Honors Thesis: Empathy as a Political Construct

    GRE:
    660 V, 710 Q, 5 AW

    Work:
    2 Years Experience (non-planning) - Medical Communications

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Location
    Encinitas, CA
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    I'll be applying for a PhD program for the 2012/2013 school year. Sticking with a CA school - my Masters was from another state, yet I'm too engrained in CA planning (especially CEQA) to go elsewhere...


    University of California, Irvine
    University of California, Los Angeles
    University of California, Berkeley
    University of Southern California (even if I get in, I can't afford, so this is my long-shot).

    Specialties of Interest:
    Planning Policy
    Environmental Planning

    Education:
    Eastern Washington University, MURP, 2001 (GPA 3.84)
    Some State University, B.S. Natural Resources Planning (GPA 3.69)

    GRE:
    TBD - Taking Sept. 26. Wasn't required for my MURP.

    Work:
    1 Year - GIS Analyst
    10 Years - Sr. Project Manager - Urban/Environmental Planning, private sector
    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
    Member
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    Location
    chicago
    Posts
    5
    Thanks for starting.

    Tarf- I used to live in Cardiff...Such a beautiful area.

    Schools
    MIT -(Good luck to us all)
    Other Non-Ivy Institutions

    Background
    GPA: 3.4 B.S. Environmental Science
    GRE:1330/4.5
    Experience: greywater/rainwater startup (1 yr.), economic development at non-profit (current), sustainable urban design laboratory (2 yr.), environmental/design summer instructor (3 mo.), other substantial environmental/planning volunteering



    Relevant Interests
    Environmental Planning
    Community Development
    Technology

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
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    Location
    Front Range, CO
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    @Tarf

    Good luck on the PhD apps. I applied to 6 schools for PhD last year, for 2011 entry, and got into two. But, I could not get full funding so I didn't attend.

    Anyway, one major thing I learned and wished I had known then (and you may already know this), is make sure you get with potential PhD advisors at your selected schools well before your apps are due to see if there are openings and/ or funding for your areas of research. I didn't push hard enough and 3 rejects were due to no openings for my area of study. I wished I had been a bit more aggressive in getting responses from potential advisors. Several emails and voice messages went unanswered and I shrugged it off. Some of this can be attributed to inexperience and ignorance, but I wanted to pass along some things I learned nonetheless.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Encinitas, CA
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    Quote Originally posted by smallwine View post
    Anyway, one major thing I learned and wished I had known then (and you may already know this), is make sure you get with potential PhD advisors at your selected schools well before your apps are due to see if there are openings and/ or funding for your areas of research. I didn't push hard enough and 3 rejects were due to no openings for my area of study. I wished I had been a bit more aggressive in getting responses from potential advisors. Several emails and voice messages went unanswered and I shrugged it off. Some of this can be attributed to inexperience and ignorance, but I wanted to pass along some things I learned nonetheless.

    Thanks, good advice. I actually plan on doing that - at least at the two schools I most want to attend (UCI and UCLA).

    Any advice on the proper timing for that? Is October good (applications due in January)? Should I wait closer to the application deadline?
    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)

  8. #8
    Schools
    Georgia Tech
    Temple
    Hunter
    UIC
    Portland State

    Backround
    Undergrad GPA- 3.66
    GRE-1280
    Two years of planning related work

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2011
    Location
    New Haven, CT
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    Are there any members from last year's forum or any previous year's forum who would like to share their advice? What do you wish you knew when you started the application process?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
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    Would you mind sharing how you narrowed down schools? What made you pick Michigan over Illinois? Cornell over Penn? Clemson over Auburn?

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Roy, UT
    Posts
    9
    Looking to shave down this list to 5. A few off-beat schools thrown in as well.

    Schools
    Portland St
    USC
    Utah
    Iowa
    Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Illinois Chicago
    Florida St

    Background
    B.S. Geography, Urban and Regional Planning emphasis
    3.88 GPA
    GRE: 1250, 4.5
    Senior Thesis: Correlation between TOD and Zoning in Salt Lake County, UT
    A little lacking in planning experience, but one internship in a municipal community development office and engaged in planning advocacy at undergrad university.

    Good luck to everyone!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Front Range, CO
    Posts
    32

    Tarf,

    I would make contact as soon as possible and try to contact profs at every school. It can't hurt, especially since most of the PhD programs are only taking 2-5students on average. You may actually find that one of your choice schools doesn't match up well or aren't taking PhD's in your area of interest.

    Speaking of research interest, be pretty specific and make sure it aligns with faculty research interest. This is where the early contact helps. Again, I didn't emphasis this enough in my apps.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
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    Applying to these schools...
    Georgia Tech
    University of Florida
    Florida State
    Clemson

    Education
    Undergraduate: East Carolina University
    GRE: 1070
    GPA: 3.3 (3.3 in Planning as well)
    Member of various University honoraries.
    Student Member of American Planning Society

    Relevant Experience:
    Worked on small demography project for local town
    Two Planning Practicum courses, requiring full on planning projects.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Oct 2006
    Location
    Cambridge, MA
    Posts
    53
    Quote Originally posted by MBrendanawicz View post
    Are there any members from last year's forum or any previous year's forum who would like to share their advice? What do you wish you knew when you started the application process?
    I'll share some observations about the grad school application process:

    You must simply work hard at applications, and then you must endure the stress of waiting for results. There is no getting around it. You will have to do all of this in the midst of your already busy life, and it will be stressful, and nobody around you will "get it".

    You can potentially make the process immensely easier on yourself (and your referees) by narrowing down your list of schools to 3-4 rather than 6-8, but don't ask me how to do that...I ended up applying to 8.

    You will not be able to know enough about potential programs for your own satisfaction and peace of mind during this process - not from visiting the school, not from talking to professors, not from talking to practicing planners, and certainly not from reading this forum. But you should probably do all those things anyway (except maybe the latter) because it's all you have to go on.

    Nor will you be successful in your quest to assess your chances of admittance to programs, because determining that you have a "very good chance" or "only a slight chance" of being admitted to school x is not what you're looking for; what you're looking for is a guarantee that spending dozens of hours and a hundred bucks applying to school x either will or will not result in an offer of admission/moolah. And you can't know that without doing it.

    There's really not much else to say. Try to keep it sane and remember that it's not your fault you have too little time and too little capacity to assess all the options in front of you. It just is.

  15. #15
    Member
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    Roy, UT
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    9
    Quote Originally posted by jenmicah View post
    I'll share some observations about the grad school application process:

    You must simply work hard at applications, and then you must endure the stress of waiting for results. There is no getting around it. You will have to do all of this in the midst of your already busy life, and it will be stressful, and nobody around you will "get it".

    You can potentially make the process immensely easier on yourself (and your referees) by narrowing down your list of schools to 3-4 rather than 6-8, but don't ask me how to do that...I ended up applying to 8.

    You will not be able to know enough about potential programs for your own satisfaction and peace of mind during this process - not from visiting the school, not from talking to professors, not from talking to practicing planners, and certainly not from reading this forum. But you should probably do all those things anyway (except maybe the latter) because it's all you have to go on.

    Nor will you be successful in your quest to assess your chances of admittance to programs, because determining that you have a "very good chance" or "only a slight chance" of being admitted to school x is not what you're looking for; what you're looking for is a guarantee that spending dozens of hours and a hundred bucks applying to school x either will or will not result in an offer of admission/moolah. And you can't know that without doing it.

    There's really not much else to say. Try to keep it sane and remember that it's not your fault you have too little time and too little capacity to assess all the options in front of you. It just is.
    Bravo... This is the single most useful piece of advice about "the process" that I've ever heard/read. Good to know I'm not alone when I feel like I don't have enough info.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
    Registered
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    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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    397
    Quote Originally posted by MBrendanawicz View post
    Are there any members from last year's forum or any previous year's forum who would like to share their advice? What do you wish you knew when you started the application process?
    Yeah. I'd ask myself a few questions:

    1. How much is the debt going to be?

    2. Do you know what planning really is?

    3. How much is the debt going to be?

    4. Do you really want to be a planner (at a suburban public planning office, where most of 'em end up)?

    5. How much is the debt going to be?

    6. What do you want to do after you finish planning school?

    7. How much is the debt going to be?

    8. How will the school(s) help you get to where you want to be?

    9. How much is the debt going to be?

    10. Finally, is it worth it, financially?


    Good luck!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    It's been a long, long time since I did the apply for PhD thing but I was successful in getting accepted at two of the three schools where I applied. My strategy was to only apply to schools from which my major professors had received their doctorates and to get letters of recommendation from them. That, of course, presumes that you have had good relationships with your profs and want to go to those schools.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    GRE:
    TBD - Taking Sept. 26. Wasn't required for my MURP.

    Took the GRE today. Per the preliminary results (and using the old scoring system), I got:

    Verbal: 710-800
    Math: 750-800

    Anyone know scores well enough to know if that's good enough for PhD program? Granted, I know the writing portion will be key and no idea my score on that (probably 4-5). None of the programs I'm applying to indicate "minimum" scores (not that I can find anyhow).

    Edit: By the way, the range in the scores is because I took the new test, and they won't "normalize" it until November, at which point I get my actual score under the new scoring system.
    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)

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Apr 2011
    Location
    Irvine, CA
    Posts
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    I'm going for a MURP or similar masters program for next year, with my intended focus to be in environmental and/or transportation planning and design.

    Planning on applying to a Masters program at:
    -UC Irvine
    -UCLA
    -Cal Poly Pomona
    -UC Berkeley
    -USC (just for shits and giggles, since I probably can't afford it.


    Education:
    University of California, Irvine - expected graduation March 2012
    Majors: Urban Studies/Planning, and Criminology
    Minor: Political Science
    GPA: 3.529


    GRE: July 2011
    Math- 790
    Verbal- 590
    Writing- 4

    Work/internship experience:
    -4 years retail, not really relevant
    -1 quarter (unpaid) at real estate law firm
    -current quarter at transportation/environmental engineering/planning firm (Parsons Brinkeroff)

    Research Experience:
    -1 quarter research assistance for a criminology lecturer.
    -Currently helping the Chair of the Planning, Policy and Design department with some research and data mining.
    -Helping two other PPD professors with research and surveys on LA's future Expo transit line.

    Additional stuff:
    -Taking 1 graduate MURP class this fall (Transportation and Environmental Health) with one of the PPD professors I mentioned earlier.
    -Taking an undergraduate GIS class this fall.
    -Worked with a campus green club to secure funding for an on-campus hydration station for reusable water bottles.
    -Spent one quarter with a green campus club as an "official" academic-credit intern spreading "community awareness" on saving energy and water via energy audits.





    BTW good luck everyone!!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2010
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    Front Range, CO
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    Tarf,

    I wouldn't worry too much about the GRE scores, concentrate on making PhD Advisor contacts and writing a very strong SOP.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Germany
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    I will participate in this nice tradition. I am a German student of Geography and will graduate around June next year with a Master's equivalent. GPA is hard to calculate since the grading systems are very different, however I am a pretty good student here and hopefully my letters of recommendation will confirm this if my converted GPA might not look great. I took the TOEFL a while ago and scored 117 and the GRE yesterday with ranges of Q750-800 and V640-740. I would love to pursue a Master's in Planning but I am looking out for financial aid. It does not necessarily need to be a full stipend, but I will not do it without help. There are too many free options all over Europe...

    Experiences:
    - two years as TA at a chair of Spatial Planning
    - RA position in a federal (German) scientific Planning project (5 months)
    - RA position at a Planning research institute, primarily working with GIS (4 months)
    - work student position at a federal (German) agency, working with GIS (2 months)
    - internship at a (German) regional planning agency (2 months)
    - Census Collector aka interviewer for the 2011 UK census (3 months)
    - one year studies at University College London, primarily attending planning courses

    I also applied for a stipend at the German academic exchange service. If that would work out I would automatically get all sorts of tuition and a living stipend paid. Chances are slimm though, since the US are hot with the German students.

    Since I would like to get some sort of finacial aid I dismissed any Ivy League or Californian universities in a first step. It is actually very hard to get insight into the American college system, but the Planetizen and ACSP guides have been very helpful.

    Universities I will definitely apply to:

    Georgia Tech
    Illinois
    North Carolina
    Rutgers

    Those seem very good in this field and according to the guides it is at least possible to get an assistantship.

    Other universities I would be glad to attend but still have to narrow down:

    Auburn
    Clemson
    Ohio State
    Buffalo
    Cincinnati
    Florida
    Louisville
    Virginia Tech
    Minnesota

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Sep 2011
    Location
    newark nj
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    I'll do mine too. I'm applying for graduate school-
    Gunning to start in Jan '12

    Education-

    Rutgers University, Newark January 2010
    Major: Political Science
    Minor: History
    GPA: 3.071, ~3.4 last 4 semesters and 4.0 for final semester (hopefully that push helps)

    GRE June 2011
    Total: 1230
    Q:650
    V:580
    Writing 4

    Experience:

    2 years interning with Statewide Non-Profit on Textbook issues and Energy Conservation issues
    6 months as a part time employee for same Non-Profit doing strictly Energy Issues (contract)
    9 months as a full-time employee doing strictly Energy Issues (contract)

    Where I applied to (result)

    SUNY-Albany (accepted)
    SUNY-Buffalo (accepted)
    Temple (accepted)
    Rutgers (still waiting to hear back)

    Hopefully I get in Rutgers to stay local, but I worry because I had a relatively weak undergraduate showing until the last two years. I sent them a supplementary essay explaining my short-comings in college and hop that helps too.

  23. #23
    Still narrowing down the list, but here are my top schools right now:

    Rutgers
    UPenn
    Georgia Tech
    Cornell
    UMass-Amherst or University of Southern Maine (mainly since I'd love to stay in New England, and they seem like affordable options)

    I'm definitely also interested in MIT and Tufts, but worried about there might not be enough financial aid to attend.

    My interests:

    Sustainable transportation planning, smart growth, green housing development

    Background: Two years working for an airline (in a non-planning capacity), two planning internships during undergrad.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
    Registered
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    Cambridge, MA
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    Quote Originally posted by Boston Blueberry View post
    Still narrowing down the list, but here are my top schools right now:

    Rutgers
    UPenn
    Georgia Tech
    Cornell
    UMass-Amherst or University of Southern Maine (mainly since I'd love to stay in New England, and they seem like affordable options)

    I'm definitely also interested in MIT and Tufts, but worried about there might not be enough financial aid to attend.

    My interests:

    Sustainable transportation planning, smart growth, green housing development

    Background: Two years working for an airline (in a non-planning capacity), two planning internships during undergrad.
    If you're willing to consider Penn, you should definitely consider MIT. I'm pretty sure MIT gives more aid than Penn (I'm in MIT's program, but I saw all the posts last year about people's aid packages at Penn). A good chunk of incoming students to MIT got 50% RA-ships + 50% stipends, a whole bunch more got 25% fellowships, a few got 50% fellowships (no research requirement) and about 1/4 of the incoming class got nothing. All aid packages are guaranteed for 2 years, and after your first year you can apply for more aid. That said, things do change year to year.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Sep 2011
    Location
    New Haven, CT
    Posts
    61
    Quote Originally posted by MSahimi View post
    I'm going for a MURP or similar masters program for next year, with my intended focus to be in environmental and/or transportation planning and design.

    Planning on applying to a Masters program at:
    -UC Irvine
    -UCLA
    -Cal Poly Pomona
    -UC Berkeley
    -USC (just for shits and giggles, since I probably can't afford it.


    Education:
    University of California, Irvine - expected graduation March 2012
    Majors: Urban Studies/Planning, and Criminology
    Minor: Political Science
    GPA: 3.529


    GRE: July 2011
    Math- 790
    Verbal- 590
    Writing- 4

    Work/internship experience:
    -4 years retail, not really relevant
    -1 quarter (unpaid) at real estate law firm
    -current quarter at transportation/environmental engineering/planning firm (Parsons Brinkeroff)

    Research Experience:
    -1 quarter research assistance for a criminology lecturer.
    -Currently helping the Chair of the Planning, Policy and Design department with some research and data mining.
    -Helping two other PPD professors with research and surveys on LA's future Expo transit line.

    Additional stuff:
    -Taking 1 graduate MURP class this fall (Transportation and Environmental Health) with one of the PPD professors I mentioned earlier.
    -Taking an undergraduate GIS class this fall.
    -Worked with a campus green club to secure funding for an on-campus hydration station for reusable water bottles.
    -Spent one quarter with a green campus club as an "official" academic-credit intern spreading "community awareness" on saving energy and water via energy audits.





    BTW good luck everyone!!
    I wouldn't give up hope on affording USC. USC appears to be somewhat generous in offering stipends and scholarships. Your GPA and GRE appear to be above average and, for an undergrad, you have great experience. And it sounds like you'll have great recommendations from your professors. Just put your best foot forward and take a leap of faith.

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