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Thread: Getting foot in the door: Online masters in planning or civil engineering schools? Dual degree?

  1. #1
    Jul 2012
    Arlington, TX

    Getting foot in the door: Online masters in planning or civil engineering schools? Dual degree?

    Hello All,

    I have a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Minor in Urban Planning. I am finding it difficult to qualify for jobs in my area or the east coast (willing to relocate to VA, MD, PA). Most jobs seem to want experience or a Masters Degree. I am not sure how to get my foot in the door to get the experience. I have been looking to get my masters, but I would prefer to get a dual degree in Planning and Civil Engineering (transportation focus). My dilemma is that my husband and I are trying to relocate to the east coast and have no idea when it will happen, so I am looking for an online degree. Does anyone know of an online dual degree or an online program for either degree? THANKS IN ADVANCE

  2. #2
    Dec 2006
    I remember an online planning degree, or maybe a certificate, from the Ohio State. An online engineering degree? That sounds very scary.
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  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    Respectable online masters degrees in civil engineering (and planning, for that matter) are a bit difficult to come by. The only online civil program I've heard of through a reputable brick & mortar university is from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I think they have a pretty decent urban planning program as well through some kind of partnership with Rutgers, but I'm not sure. Likewise, I don't know about dual degree programs, though I think they might have something since they have a PhD in Infrastructure Planning available on-campus. I'll leave that to you to research.

    It also happens to be on the east coast if you happen to relocate to the NY metro area.

    Let us know what you find, as I think it might be useful to others.

    Moderator note:
    also, I'm going to rename this thread to be a bit more descriptive so folks can search the topic in the future.


    EDIT: if you do pursue an online degree, I'd recommend a couple of things: (1) ask them whether anything about the degree will identify it as an online degree versus a regular degree, and (2) ask a few employers and firms around the region of the university about their perceptions of the program. That can give you an idea of whether you will gain useful value & knowledge with the degree. I, for one, view online degrees in design-related professions with a bit of skepticism. I tend to believe there are some things that are best learned through studio courses and direct in-person guidance from an experienced professor & your peers. I've seen some programs that are primarily online for all of the analytical/theory classes, except for maybe a semester or two that require you to attend design courses in-person. I think the Ohio State course might have been set-up that way.
    Last edited by Suburb Repairman; 20 Jul 2012 at 4:37 PM.

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  4. #4
    May 2012
    I agree that an online degree, even if you can find one, won't do much to distinguish you other than making you nominally qualified in a "check-the-box" kind of way. A couple things to try: 1) Apply for jobs even if they say that want masters instead of bachelors. If you can get in the door to meet them you can hopefully impress them enough that you're deficiency in education / experience may not matter.
    2) Go on lots of informational interviews / network. Might be tough if you're not in the area where you want to live but email and phone calls could be a start. Often jobs exist that aren't posted.
    3) Maybe you could get an unrelated job and do something planning-related on the side as a volunteer to gain experience; e.g., you could join the local zoning board if the town has one.
    4) Have you looked only for planning jobs in the traditional sense? If so, broadening your conception of what you can do with your degree might help finding a job that even if not ideal is at least in the same ballpark.

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