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Thread: Online MURP.... good idea at all?

  1. #1
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    Online MURP.... good idea at all?

    I am a junior in UG studying planning. I have been looking at a variety of graduate opportunities because I would like to get my masters soon. However like most people I have debt and would like to keep it limited.

    I see that U-Florida offers an online MURP. I was skeptical at first too and I read older threads about it and they were from when the program was in its infancy and people said that the lack of hands on learning would make it a waste.

    Here is my question,

    People from my school have gotten planning jobs without a masters working in both public and private sector. I have interned at these places and made a good impression. I hope to apply for a job as well as apply to grad schools when i near the end of my UG work.
    If I can work in a planning job while getting my online degree from UF, does the lack of hands on work really matter If i am getting real world hands on work all day?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I don't have a Master's degree. I had a very hard time finding work when I graduated in 2002. I chose to move to Alaska to get a high paying job in my field (cost of living was also very high). Some of my classmates had fathers whose golf buddies gave Junior a job; others were not so lucky. One of my classmates finished her master's program (in person, state school) and then had a mall job to make ends meet for two years before finding a job related to her master's degree. She said that the master's degree in no way qualified her to do her job -- it was all on-the-job training. The master's degree got her foot in the door.

    From what I have seen from the experiences of classmates and friends, having a Master's degree and little experience will help you get your foot in the door for an entry-level planning job, unless you can distinguish yourself with some good internships and networking. Nobody told me as a student and young professional that if people like you, they will help you in your career. As an introvert, that was news to me -- I guess I thought people were judged on technical ability only, which obviously isn't true. With a Bachelor's, I have had several jobs doing mapping/CAD/GIS work, tangentially related to planning. If you want to stay in planning, either make sure to get a planning-related job that will help you meet the AICP criteria, or get a master's degree, preferably both.

    I have worked hard with a bachelor's and have had a decent enough career, although it hasn't had as much responsibility and advancement as I would have liked. I have not been afforded the same types of opportunities that I have seen given to those with master's degrees. The way I see it, you could take my route, pay down some student loans, and go back to school part-time later to get your master's. Another option might be to just get your master's degree now.

    If I could go back and do it again, I would get the master's first and work on picking up additional accreditation, like CPM or PMP, that would help put me on track for management.

  3. #3
    . As an introvert, that was news to me -- I guess I thought people were judged on technical ability only, which obviously isn't true
    I learned this the hard way too. I had always thought that employers care only about your technical ability to perform on the job and that your personality can be as stand off-ish as possible. You can't let just your work speak for itself, you have to be personable to get ahead.

    I learned this when applying for jobs that you have to be a good fit too. There are plenty of qualified candidates out there, the company just wants the right fit for the office environment.

  4. #4

    Anything new?

    Reviving this thread? I'm thinking about applying for the spring term. Does anyone have any information about the online MURP? Whether or not it is a good/ bad idea?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I have a MURP from a brick-and-mortar campus, though I took two online classes (this was when online learning was still fairly new). At the time I felt strongly that the online methodology did not work as effectively as standard classrooms. While I got the information I don't feel like it gave me the interaction between professor and students that can be so important. One of the courses was Transportation Planning and one was GIS, and the subject matter did make a difference. The GIS course, which involves more technical information and rote learning, was much more effective than the Transportation Planning class, which involves more discussion and group interaction.

    Fast forward a few years and I've actually taught online and in-person undergraduate and graduate classes as an adjunct. I've now taught both courses in two semesters each, and I feel the same way I did as a student. It seems like my online students are getting the information, but the lack of interaction just leaves something to be desired. In fact, I'm not sure if I'll teach online again.

    Bottom line: ALL other things being equal, I'd probably hire someone with an online masters over someone with a bachelors, but I'd also probably hire someone with a traditional masters over someone with an online masters. I will say though that the universities involved would have a major influence on how important the online issue is. Also, note that I said all other things being equal. I think your own skills, abilities, experience and personality could easily outweigh the fact that you got your degree online, in which case the degree could be the thing that gives you an edge over someone who didn't get the masters at all.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    http://www.urbanplanningmasters.dist...ing-curriculum

    The program is PAB accredited, which is a plus. It takes three years to complete and affords coursework in a variety of areas (planning theory, statistics, ethics, law, transportation, administration, etc.). They also offer specializations if you want to move into GIS or sustainability (whatever that is). Chris Silver is the department head of this program in Florida. He was also department head at UIUC when I was earning my BUP. He's a very talented, knowledgeable academic and I think very highly of him. I agree with a previous post that the in-person discussion between professors and students enriches the learning experience. Many of my projects in college were influenced by the discussions in class, site visits/field trips, not to mention various internships. Planning is not rocket science, and there is no reason you can't learn the basics of planning from an online degree along the lines of this program. Obviously, more technical areas of our profession would require in-person learning.

    Hope this helps-
    Last edited by nrschmid; 28 Aug 2014 at 2:31 PM.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Just do it.....

    In reality, the degree will look and read just like any other masters degree. My point is, who will know, unless you start blabbing about it.... I would make a point to visit the campus, maybe for graduation to visit professors and the actual site. Not only would this be fun, but then you could relate to buildings and places when people say....hey I went there.

    but

    Yes, I think real life attendance is better for many reasons.....among them, interaction with students from architecture, landscape architecture and urban design and the constant contact with fellow students and instructors.
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    The program is PAB accredited, which is a plus.
    The on-line program does not appear to be accredited right now:

    "The on-campus master’s planning program in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) .... Now that the on-line program is underway, UF’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning will seek accreditation of the on-line program, as recommended by the PAB Executive Committee, when the on-campus program is due for reaccreditation in 2018-19."

    I am probably unfairly biased against on-line Masters programs but I feel that so much of the benefit comes from interaction with other students and professors, even if you take some of your classes online.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
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    If you have other programs you are a viable candidate for and can feasibly go to look at their faculty's credentials. I say that because everyone of my professors were career academics and never held a "real job." In that case, they did very little to help us network and only referred people to jobs that some outsider would send to their department.

    If you already have a job, the Masters from Florida will probably be icing on the cake.

    If you don't have one, most planners in the loop that would hire you would probably recognize that this program is online, and not yet accredited. Especially if you have lived in Ohio for the last couple of years and somehow got a Masters from Florida.

    Also consider the cost, Florida probably costs in the 50+ which is expensive, but not all that bad if you do not have a program in state.

    Would you get a better education in class? Probably. But with live lectures and the level of technology we have I would say the difference is marginal. I would be more concerned about the networking aspects, but again, a career academic probably won't be able to help you out in that regard even if you see him or her everyday.

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