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Thread: Certificates in planning/urban design with a Master's degree?

  1. #1
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    Certificates in planning/urban design with a Master's degree?

    Hello

    I'm just beginning to become quite interested in the field of planning but sort of realized this a little later than what would have been ideal in life. I'm enroute to completing an MSc. in Resource Management and am wondering if anyone has done a certificate or diploma (e.g. not a full degree - planning is fascinating to me but I don't know if I can do another two years of grad school) to accompany a non-planning degree, and have managed to secure employment in the planning/design world as a result of it? Or put in another way would doing these types of certificate/diploma programs be worthwhile to get into some aspect of the field or are they purely for interest's sake? Does anyone have some recommendations of these types of certificate/diploma programs I could look into? Something that would at least allow me to work part time would be preferable but if it's not possible I can set aside a year for studies (I have been fortunate enough to work throughout my Master's degree).

    Thanks for any advice

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I'm a bit unclear as to what you want to accomplish with a planning degree / certificate that you can't already do with a resource management degree. You're probably already better equipped than most trained planners to deal with environmental planning. So unless your interests are far removed from environmental planning, I'm not seeing how additional education in planning is really necessary.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I'm not a big fan of certificates in general. It might add more weight than a planning minor to your MSc. in Resource Management. What type of design interests you?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    thanks for the fast responses! My degree and thesis are very strongly rooted in the sciences along with some education in resource/project management so there was very little exposure to the social sciences, policy or design. I am particularly interested in landscape architecture and design (ie park design, stormwater/drainage management, designing of greenways in urban areas, revitalizing concrete jungles with sustainable greenspace, the ever pervasive "sustainable development" buzzword, etc.) as it ties in with my interests and education (BSc. and MSc. in environmental science/resource management). Unfortunately short of a few GIS courses my education never covered the design aspect of these concepts, only the scientific and I don't want to spend the rest of my career doing environmental impact assessments or project management.

    Yes, certifications haven't been all that useful to me yet. I spent $4k and a year of part time studies getting a water resource management cert. (non-professional, just purely educational) and it hasn't translated into anything tangibly useful in terms of employment, but it was genuinely interesting and relevant to my field. At the same time short of pursuing another Master's degree I'm not sure what other options I would have which would strengthen me as a candidate to do the sort of work that I was describing above.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    At the same time short of pursuing another Master's degree I'm not sure what other options I would have which would strengthen me as a candidate to do the sort of work that I was describing above.

    There are many people who share your interests and want a quick and easy way to learn those skill sets. Most planning specializations have a mixture of policy, research, and analysis skills, and some of them have very technical aspects. BUT design work sits on the far end of the spectrum and crosses into architecture, landscape architecture, etc. I currently do both design and non-design planning. The majority of skills needed to do design work are extremely technical. I understand you don't to do a whole new degree but a certificate program doesn't cut it. I would recommend a Masters in Landscape Architecture, which is 2-3 years.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I'm thinking additional education may not be necessary for what you want to do. I believe it's more a matter of working for a place that deals in the things you're interested in. Sure, you may not be doing the technical design work but your skill set can contribute in other ways.

    In all honesty, I think you're overestimating the value of the policy and social science aspect of planning education. The stuff may be interesting but it's probably not all that relevant to your day to day job. Then the design stuff to me is an all or nothing type deal. I learned a lot about design in school but the most I can ever hope to do with it is try to codify it into an ordinance; I don't have the technical skills to do much more than that. So in that regard, if you want to do technical design work, I'll agree that you probably need a landscape architecture degree.

  7. #7
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    The honesty is appreciated. In that case I think it's just not in the cards, the time and monetary (three year graduate degree) commitment is far too long and I probably misunderstood what I wanted to do with regards to design so I am dropping that entirely.
    What about land use planning though? Any thoughts on say, something like this (http://extension.ucdavis.edu/unit/en...ntal_planning/) to add onto my existing credentials (MSc. environmental resource management / BSc. environmental science). I do realize this will in no way automatically qualify me for any sort of planning or even planning technician position, but I do hope that down the line as I gather more experience I could transition into a managerial role that oversees some of those functions, and I am surmising that having a land use planning certificate would help cover that ground academically down the road. Let me know if I am grossly mistaken or am misunderstanding how this profession - and/or its associated functions operate! I'm also not planning to compete in an already airtight job market so hopefully I won't ruffle any feathers by asking - my career options will still be in the environmental services field, but would want to one day slowly bridge into community and environmental planning without having to go through the rigors of another graduate degree.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    klaw -- Your entrance into urban planning may come via alternative means. I'm thinking you may want to look for a job in a stormwater department. The city for which I work has a small stormwater department, consisting of a stormwater coordinator (master's degree in biology) and a project manager (bachelor's degree in environmental science). Both of them work very closely with the other staff planner and me; they also work with Codes and our staff landscape architects daily. I'm confident that either of them could easily step in and do my job if necessary. My experience with stormwater folks has been that they get plenty of on-the-job training and have very diverse educational backgrounds ranging from biology to resource management to engineering. Have you considered this route?

  9. #9
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    Hi reimaginethis - I have thought of simply trying to focus my efforts on joining a city department and then gaining experience in land use planning there - stormwater management would be one of the types of jobs I could do within a city planning office (albeit it sounds like a very specialized and rare field - does every city have a team that is dedicated to working on this?). I would think this is the sort of situation where a certificate in land use planning would come in very handy. If I am already with the right department and I would want to transition to a land use planning role that certificate could be my foot in the door?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Who does storm water really depends on the jurisdiction. Around here it's actually the public works department that deals with it and planning usually isn't involved. So in that situation, a planning certificate probably wouldn't help since it's engineers doing it.

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