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Thread: Grad programs for transit consulting

  1. #1
    May 2012
    Richmond, VA

    Grad programs for transit consulting

    Hi all,

    I'm yet another member of my generation who worked hard to get a "good job", got it, and realized that I had accomplished someone else's goals instead of setting my own. I graduated from a good state school (UF) last year with degrees in math and finance, a 3.88 GPA, and 800Q/590V/4.5W GRE scores. I did research on the housing market with a fairly well-known urban economist, but I don't have my name on any publications. Since graduating, I've been working as an analyst at a major financial institution.

    My current job is prestigious and high-paying, but it's not my passion. I spend my free time reading about transportation and urban planning, playing city sim games, and trying to evangelize smarter planning to anyone who will listen. Specifically, I'm interested in transit planning. After a ton of pondering, I've decided I want to become a transit consultant. I think I'd much prefer the life of a private consultant to that of a city government employee.

    I've just started looking at grad programs that could help me along this path, with the intent of applying this fall/winter and starting in summer/fall of 2013. MIT, Berkeley, and Georgia Tech interest me the most when I consider opportunities, prestige, and location. However, I have no idea if my credentials would get me into any of those schools. Any thoughts on whether I'm looking at the right range of schools? Are there any programs that I should be looking at closer that would be a good match for my background and goals? And finally, any advice on how to make myself a more attractive candidate between now and when I apply?

    Thanks for your help!!

  2. #2
    Oct 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    When I working as a transit/transportation planning consultant there were several people within my firm who had graduated from the MST program at MIT and the MSCE Transportation program at Berkeley. It also seemed the other "prestigious" transportation/transit consulting shops (not sure if I can/should name them on here) had a lot of grads from these programs. However, by no means are these the only schools that will allow you to break into the field. I worked with people from a variety of different schools (University of Toronto, University of Washington, Cal Poly, UCIrvine, University of Arizona, Georgia Tech) and programs (mainly MCP/MUP/MCRP, MSCE, and MST, but also some folks with degrees in economics or business).

    Prestige should be a minor factor in your selection process; instead you should focus on the "fit" of the program and the location. Depending on your interests and goals, you should decide whether a masters in planning with a concentration in transportation or a more specialized MSCE or MST is right for you. The latter two options will definitely equip you with quantitative methods that you may not pick up in a planning program (thus making you more attractive to consulting firms). All of the schools you mentioned also have dual degree programs that allow you to pursue a MCP and MSCE/MST simultaneously, so that could definitely be worth looking in to. I believe Cal Poly, UCI, Portland State,
    Texas A&M, and Minnesota have similar programs. Planning programs (that I know of) that have very strong transportation concentrations that you did not mention include Rutgers, UNC, UCLA, USC (disclaimer: I'm a current USC MPL student), and Texas.

    Your stats look solid and your quantitative background will definitely help you meet the prerequisites for MSCE and MST programs if you decide to go that route in addition to allowing you to take more quant heavy transportation planning, engineering, and operations courses.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    Just to offer some insight on Rutgers. The Voorhees Transportation Center is aligned with the E.J. Bloustein Planning School. VTC is very well known transportation policy research organization in the country. Plus New Brunswick has NJ Transit trains/buses that can get you to NYC and Philadelphia in under an hour to explore their transportation systems. http://policy.rutgers.edu/vtc/

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