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Thread: How much does it matter where I get my masters?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    How much does it matter where I get my masters?

    I'm beginning to look into graduate programs. USC, UCLA, Cal are some of the schools I'd like to go to. But if I were to get accepted I have a feeling I would not get much financial aid since I didn't qualify for undergrad, and I'd like to avoid raking up huge loans. So I'm looking into some CSU's because they're more affordable.

    So since many of you have your masters I'm really interested in what you have to say, thanks

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I will say look around the student forum a bit, and search for Master's - you will find a lot of information.

    It has been said, and I will say it too - if you can get financial assistance somewhere... go there. Where your degree is from is rarely relevant past getting a first job. Sometimes that degree can help you get your foot in the door, but as long as it is a certified school... most people will just respect the degree.

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    One thing in retrospect I would say is look for a program that would allow you to get a foot in the door in a field of planning in which you want to work, in an environment in which you would want to work ...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Graduate students tend to have more financial aid options than undergrads (like assistantships) so don't necessarily let that dissuade you from applying somewhere.

    Anyway, I'm assuming you want to work in California, so any school there should be sufficient in getting your foot in the door. Going to school outside of California then coming back to try to get a job there may be more difficult than it would be in other states though. How California does planning tends to be much more involved than other places in the country.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    One thing in retrospect I would say is look for a program that would allow you to get a foot in the door in a field of planning in which you want to work, in an environment in which you would want to work ...
    That is something I have thought about. I would like to work in the bay area so there's SJSU and Cal.

    I have talked to a graduate student before that encouraged me to apply to private schools. If anyone has gone to USC and doesn't mind sharing their financial aid experiences I'd really appreciate it, you can send me a private message.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WooTang View post
    I'm beginning to look into graduate programs. USC, UCLA, Cal are some of the schools I'd like to go to. But if I were to get accepted I have a feeling I would not get much financial aid since I didn't qualify for undergrad, and I'd like to avoid raking up huge loans. So I'm looking into some CSU's because they're more affordable.

    So since many of you have your masters I'm really interested in what you have to say, thanks
    Many threads on this board asking same thing. With the economy in the tank for several years to come, debt is to be avoided. As many here have said.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I will say look around the student forum a bit, and search for Master's - you will find a lot of information.

    It has been said, and I will say it too - if you can get financial assistance somewhere... go there. Where your degree is from is rarely relevant past getting a first job. Sometimes that degree can help you get your foot in the door, but as long as it is a certified school... most people will just respect the degree.

    Good luck.
    Certified by who? I was told that an unaccredited program is not the end of the world......or is it?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    Certified by who? I was told that an unaccredited program is not the end of the world......or is it?

    Accredited by the PAB. All accreditation means is that you have to work fewer years to take your AICP exam. Doesn't really mean anything beyond that, except perhaps to indicate that the program must be somewhat decent if it has PAB accreditation.

    As to whether a master's degree is worth it, it makes you more hire-able and you will generally be hired at a higher wage than without a master's degree.
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  9. #9
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tarf View post
    Accredited by the PAB. All accreditation means is that you have to work fewer years to take your AICP exam. Doesn't really mean anything beyond that, except perhaps to indicate that the program must be somewhat decent if it has PAB accreditation.

    As to whether a master's degree is worth it, it makes you more hire-able and you will generally be hired at a higher wage than without a master's degree.
    I disagree. PAB accreditation means that it meets the basics standards for a planning school. With the emergence of online degrees and other degrees that are not of the same quality... accreditation is important. Not the end of the world... but if you have a choice between two schools and one is accredited and one isn't... I would pick accredited every time.

    http://www.planningaccreditationboard.org/

    PAB currently has roughly 90 criteria and guidelines, supporting the following 11 standards:
    1. Mission, Goals, and Objectives
    2. Institutional Relations
    3. Academic Autonomy and Governance
    4. Curriculum
    5. Faculty Resources and Composition
    6. Teaching, Advising, and Student Services
    7. Research and Scholarly Activities
    8. Public and Professional Service
    9. Students
    10. Institutional Resources
    11. Administrative and Fair Practices

    There are roughly 40 criteria supporting the following 7 draft standards:
    1. Mission and Strategic Plan
    2. Students
    3. Faculty
    4. Curriculum and Instruction
    5. Governance
    6. Program Outcomes Assessment
    7. Progress
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I disagree. PAB accreditation means that it meets the basics standards for a planning school. With the emergence of online degrees and other degrees that are not of the same quality... accreditation is important. Not the end of the world... but if you have a choice between two schools and one is accredited and one isn't... I would pick accredited every time.

    http://www.planningaccreditationboard.org/

    PAB may be more worthwhile at the Master's level than bachelor's, but I still say it's not critical (though, that said, I did get mine from a PAB accredited university ). From a purely employ-ability standpoint, employers don't care about PAB accreditation. Though you're right (and as I did acknowledge), it does give something of an indication about the program's quality.

    I also find it odd how many schools are accredited. For bachelor's, there are a number of programs that are not PAB accredited, but then that very same school will have PAB accreditation for it's master's program. Does that mean their bachelor's program is inferior? I don't think so...

    Though I do agree most certainly that a PAB accredited school is far better than ANY degree from the University of Pheonix
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Tarf View post

    Though I do agree most certainly that a PAB accredited school is far better than ANY degree from the University of Pheonix
    What... I am a phoenix!
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  12. #12
    I was told that most of the unemployed planners out there are from non-accredited programs. Is this true?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    There's no way to know for sure but considering most planners never even went to planning school, that's probably true.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    I was told that most of the unemployed planners out there are from non-accredited programs. Is this true?
    Employers don't care if your program was accredited. No employer looks up schools to see if they have their PAB; they care only that the degree says "planning."

    However, if your degree is in Business Finance and you're applying for a planning position, then yes they most certainly do care.

    So I'd have to say that in my opinion, PAB accreditation has no bearing on the employment status of those with planning-related degrees. Unemployment rates for those without planning degrees for those seeking such positions probably are higher (as they should be).
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  15. #15
    wow. What if the degree comes from a good school like GWU or BU?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    A "good school" means nothing if no one has ever heard of it. That's especially true when you leave the region where your school is located.

    Most people hear about schools due to their athletic program's reputations, not their academics. Then some schools have good academic reputations locally but no one has ever heard of them nationally. So you may end up paying for a name most people have never heard of. Only a handful of schools have academic reputations that are well known nationally and they tend to either be expensive and/or difficult to get into.
    Last edited by Blide; 22 Nov 2011 at 3:05 PM.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    wow. What if the degree comes from a good school like GWU or BU?
    Then your increased employ-ability is off-set by your substantial increase in student loan debt. The extra money you *might* be offered from being from a reputable school also would be completely undermined by debt. By the time that debt is paid off, your experience will matter far more than your Alma mater. Also, there's a chance you may not make extra money at all, and that the reputable school would only have marginal effects on whether they'd hire you (I'd rather hire someone with a good personality than an Ivy League or whatever degree).

    Again, just my $0.02. Others may have other opinions. I've just done enough hiring to know employers do not generally care, so long as you have a planning degree (and yes, not one from University of Phoenix, if they even offer one).
    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)

  18. #18
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    IMHO, it's not the name on the diploma, but what you want to do with it. When choosing a school, look at the programs whose strengths best fit your interests in the field. In short, look for what best fits you, not a hypothetical employer.

    If finances and geography are limitations, the focus of the program is only a minor setback. I got my MUP at SUNY Buffalo, at the time best known for its strengths in economic development and international planning, even though I was most interested in general comprehensive planning and urban design. It wasn't the best fit for me, but the school had a good reputation, it was in my backyard, and it was extremely affordable. Also, the ED focus broadened my horizons, and completely changed my perspective about how the built environment is shaped. There are grads from Cleveland State who are working as generalist planners throughout the country, even though the program is very strongly focused on community/economic development and urban policy.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  19. #19
    A couple of architects told me that if I was interested in urban design that I could bypass the M.ARch or the MLA, by getting a Masters in Urban Design.

    I only found a handful of schools that take people without a past architecture degree, as long as they have a planning degree.

    I know people say there is no substitute for a design degree (MLA, M.Arch) but how much of what these architects are telling me is true? af

    Can one find employment with just a MCP and an MUD? I am only inquiring because an MUD is only an extra year after my MCP, and it would save me a ton of money rather than getting an MCP and an M.Arch.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Manoverde

    I think you're looking at this the wrong way. It is easier for you to get a job if you get your degree from a planning program somebody's actually heard of. This usually means getting it from an accredited planning program since those are generally the ones that have a reputation. If the guy or gal reading your resume has a huge stack of new grad/ no experience resumes sitting in front of her, she's going to have to have some basis for sorting through them. Schools and degrees are as good a basis as any.

    I think that virtually every state has at least one affordable, accredited planning program at a state school.

    A Masters in Urban Design degree is normally a second professional degree. That usually means you already have a professional (accredited) degree in architecture.

  21. #21
    Well the point is that I found two urban design masters programs that take students with a professional degree in city planning as long as they took some urban design courses. I talked to their advisors and they said that they've taken students with only a planning degree.

    I just wanted to know if this was sufficient to land a job with? I just figured it would save me two extra years of school and money earning an arch degree.

    Would it look ridiculous to have just an MCP and a MUD and no M.Arch? Would it help to land a planning job better?
    Last edited by manoverde84; 27 Nov 2011 at 11:24 AM.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    Would it help to land a planning job better?
    Probably not.

  23. #23
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Stop with the PAB accreditation crap. It's not relevant--at least on the west coast. Attend a public school that is accredited.

    http://www.wascweb.org/

  24. #24
    It's not relevant, yet you advise people to earn their planning degree from an accredited state school?

  25. #25
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    It's not relevant, yet you advise people to earn their planning degree from an accredited state school?
    You're mixing up the issue of accreditation.

    I'm done here.

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