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Thread: a little advice needed

  1. #1
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    a little advice needed

    I am currently a senior at Southwest Texas State University (becoming Texas State University) and am working an internship. Though my degree will be in urban & regional planning, I'm discovering a fondness for city management activities. I still want to work in planning, but I'm not sure about how to go about choosing a Master's program. I would like to find a Master of Public Administration program that has emphasis in planning. If that's not possible, would I be insane to get a Master's in both Planning and Public Administration?

    I really enjoy planning in smaller towns. In many cases, the Planning director serves as a community development director that addresses issues beyond what is intensely covered in my degree (CDBG, economic development, etc.). Also, in some cases a planning director may double-dip as an Assistant City Manager. I see myself eventually working as a City Manager, so I want to ensure that I am qualified for that responsibility.

    I'm trying to stay in the South-Central Texas area so I can continue working full-time in my current city while a attend school at night. I'm looking at University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Incarnate Word and returning to Southwest Texas to get my Master's. I could sure use some advice, especially regarding these three programs.

    Thanks for your advice.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    An MPA is great especially in the small town realm. My MPA certainly helps in the managment of the department's budgets and personnel (IMHO too many planning schools dont teach you how to be an effective manager).

    I can't say that a double masters will be particularly beneficial though, speaking as an employer, one or the other is fine.

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    I'd go with the MPA - I think that will help you much more with the City management side.

  4. #4
    UW-Milwaukee has (or had) a Joint Masters program in Planning and Public Admin, there were some overlapping courses so I think you could graduate in 2.5 or 3 years. Maybe a local college has something similar, or you could always talk to some department heads and see if you could do some type of a crossover program.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I suggest the MPA. I'm contemplating it myself.

    If you have an undergrad degree in planning, 2 more years of course work and a thesis is not going to round out your knowledge base that much more.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    You are very correct in your assessment. In small towns, the planning and community development functions are often found together. Whether the planning director also functions as assistant city manager tends to depend on where you are. It is not too common in the midwest, but I have seen it more on teh west coast, especially in Oregon.

    I would agree with the others who said get one master's degree. If you want to go into city management, you will need the MPA. If you want to do planning, you might get the planning degree or the MPA, as long as you do have an undergraduate planning degree.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Im thinking of an MPA myself, seems wiser working for a small local gov than a masters in planning
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I didn't go directly into grad school because I wasn't exactly sure I wanted a masters in planning, and now I'm glad I waited. After working in the field a few years I've found that a MPA might be more beneficial to my career in the long run. I plan on starting in fall of 2004 - Just waiting for the future Mrs. biscuit to finish her MBA.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    MPA should work well with your goals.

    Rock on SWT- I will never call it Texas State as San Marcos and I think upon getting the new degree with the new name I shall burn it in protest! (Maybe not, if the other one gets ruined at least I'll have a back up).
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    thanks everyone!

    Thanks for everyone's advice on getting an MPA. University of Texas at San Antonio offers a MPA with some emphasis in planning, plus it allows for elective grad classes. After talking to my professors and hearing from all of ya'll, I'm going with the MPA.

    Habanero- Calling SWT Texas State will take some getting used to. I was leaning in support of the name change, but I really just wanted the whole issue to go away. I was getting REALLY tired of hearing about it every day in the quad. At least it's resolved now and we can move on to more important things, like actually marketing how awesome our school is!

    Again, thanks for everyone's help.

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