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Harvard 🇺🇸 Harvard University thread

would_be

Member
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4
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0
I began a masters in theological studies at Harvard this year, but I quickly decided I would rather be in urban planning than academia. I love cities; I am very interested in new urbanism, land use politics, zoning laws and architecture. Planning seems like a great career for me.

Here is my question: should I leave Harvard to pursue an MUP at the University of Utah? I'm from Utah so I would get in-state tuition there. Here at Harvard the tuition costs quite a bit and the living even more. The only reason to stay at Harvard (other than the fact that my religion courses are all very interesting) is that I could take 3 or 4 courses in the Graduate School of Design and then apply for some really great programs next year. I would like to move to California eventually, so I was thinking Berkeley or UCLA.

The big question for me is, would it be worth it in the long run to pay the Harvard tuition and stay here in Cambridge for my masters in order to apply for California programs next year? Or should I leave Harvard Divinity School and plan to start at the University of Utah? Would it be possible for someone with a MUP from the University of Utah to land a job in CA?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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18,313
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44
....Would it be possible for someone with a MUP from the University of Utah to land a job in CA?
I can't answer your first set of questions but here's my take on this one:

Anything is possible, but based on my experience, California cities and counties prefer grads from California schools because they are typically familiar with the state's planning, zoning and development laws, the state subdivision map act, and the ever-popular California Environmental Quality Act. Tough nut to crack if you haven't been exposed to this material by day one.

(Spoken from a grad of a California planning school with years of experience in the state.)
 

Domo-kun

Cyburbian
Messages
85
Points
4
I can't answer your main question either, unfortunately, but wanted to point out that you can cross-register for courses at MIT as well.
 

RubberStamp Man

Cyburbian
Messages
99
Points
4
I would agree with Richmond - typically places of employment 'prefer" grads from their area, whether its just b/c they are more familiar with those programs or if there are unwritten rules for hiring local grads.

Harvard name is always nice to have though wherever you go. In your situation, if you could afford it I would stay at Harvard, take courses from GSD or MIT in planning where you can and then apply to the schools you want.
 
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I would agree with Richmond - typically places of employment 'prefer" grads from their area, whether its just b/c they are more familiar with those programs or if there are unwritten rules for hiring local grads.
California has a bunch of strict environmental laws unique to the state. If you don't attend a california college, you don't get exposed to those. (Yes, I have taken lots of classes via california colleges and lived there for 7 1/2 years and have had "environmental law I & II", which covered federal and california state stuff.)
 

would_be

Member
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4
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Thanks

Thanks for the advice so far. I should mention that I really enjoy my studies, but I worry a lot about debt that goes into the 35k range before I even begin a masters in planning. If I add debt from an MUP + living expenses + delaying my entry into the work force = oi va voi! I could justify the extra debt if I were going into academia (where one's graduate school is very important for future job placement), but, from what it sounds like on the forums, going to a top 10 university in planning does not always translate into better job prospects.

Unfortunately for me, it sounds like living in California is out of the question unless I end up at a California school. Thanks for the heads up.
 
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7,657
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Thanks for the advice so far. I should mention that I really enjoy my studies, but I worry a lot about debt that goes into the 35k range before I even begin a masters in planning. If I add debt from an MUP + living expenses + delaying my entry into the work force = oi va voi! I could justify the extra debt if I were going into academia (where one's graduate school is very important for future job placement), but, from what it sounds like on the forums, going to a top 10 university in planning does not always translate into better job prospects.

Unfortunately for me, it sounds like living in California is out of the question unless I end up at a California school. Thanks for the heads up.
Not necessarily. CSU-Bakersfield has an online extension program. You can get a 4 class post-baccalaureate Certificate in Environmental Resource Management that includes 2 classes in Environmental Law. http://www.csub.edu/erm/certificate.html

:-D
 

would_be

Member
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4
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0
One more question...

If I were to finish my Masters in Theological Studies while taking at least 5 or 6 lecture courses in planning at Harvard GSD, would it be possible for me to land a job without doing a second masters in planning? Suppose I were to move back to Utah or California and complete an internship. Would that be a good route? I'm racking my brain trying to think of ways into the planning world without leaving Harvard.

Thanks for any advice.
 

RubberStamp Man

Cyburbian
Messages
99
Points
4
Maybe, depends on what your first degree was in.

Basically you need to show that you have the education qualifications for planning. If you manage to get an internship that is all the better b/c experience can go a long way to make up for decificiencies in education. Not having a degree in planning or related field will make it more difficult for you but its definately possible.

Have you spoken to planners in the Boston/Cambridge area? Try and get information interviews from both the public and private sectors to see what planning is like in practice before you make any major decisions, especially if you are in a financial crunch for further education. Ask to see any projects and see if you are wowed, negatively or positively. IMO there are many external constraints to implementing good planning.

Have you thought about academia? IMO we need more thinkers on looking at the moral debate on planning for the benefit of the public rather than planning for the benefit of the special interest. Maybe your background in religous studies would be good here?
 

jread

Cyburbian
Messages
738
Points
20
I would transfer to MIT and get a planning master's. I couldn't imagine giving up an Ivy League education for anything. You have a long time to pay off student loans and I don't think you can put any price on a great education.
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
Anyone familiar with this program? My mom saw an ad for it in today's New York Times Education Life Section so I took a look at the website. Looks like it's basically six weeks of studio with occasional lectures and workshops. A little pricey, but not terrible. Does this look like a reasonable thing to do for someone who's thinking of graduate school in planning but doesn't have any background in the field?
 

beach_bum

Cyburbian
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3,427
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21
interesting...

This could be an interesting program and it is less expensive than trying out graduate school with tuition costs. From the info provided on the website, it seems like it would be more helpful for recent college grads looking for a career path or graduate school than seasoned professionals.

As for not have a background in the field, planners come from diverse backgrounds and bachelor degrees. My graduate program has students from all different backgrounds ranging from civil engineering to design to political science. There are very few bachelors programs in urban planning. Good luck and if you decide to go, let us all know how it is!
 

Masswich

Cyburbian
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1,303
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I know of someone who did this - it was helpful but expensive. Doesn't directly help you get a job- really more for your own good in terms of deciding if you like plannng,
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
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291
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Thanks for the replies. I'm a recent college graduate, so I do think this would likely be pretty helpful for me. As far as not having any background, I'm not worried so much about having a hard time getting into grad school or entering the field as about deciding on whether it's really something I want to pursue, so a program like this sounds like it might be a good way to test the waters.
 

Masswich

Cyburbian
Messages
1,303
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23
Just remember-it always sounds better in the academic setting than in the real world. I highly recommend an internship as a way to learn if "real" planning is really for you. Good luck.
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
Yeah, I've been trying to find a job in something related to planning so I can see what it's like. That may be a better way to go than a program like this.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,864
Points
21
I will be visiting Harvard's MLA program at the end of the fall semester. I stumbled across this club mentioned on the student forum. Can anyone offer any words of wisdom/advice regarding this club? I want to start my own design/planning firm down the road (or make partner in an established firm) and I'm very interested in an organization like this.

Thanks-
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,864
Points
21
I am planning on visiting Harvard right after Thanksgiving to see their MLA program (and possibly their MBA program). Any advice from MBA alums?
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
You probably already know this, but the GSD doesn't offer any joint degrees with the business school. Although now that I think about it, I suppose few if any schools offer a joint MLA/MBA anyway.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,864
Points
21
I'm surprised no one has brought this up yet. Try emailing the White House.:p
SCREW OUR LAME DUCK PRESIDENT!

I think it's high time the next guy in office addresses the terrible situation in our country with MBAs and MLAs and it's only going to grow worse. They have been skirting the issue for too long! Although neither candidate likes to admit it, they can't win in November without our support!!!
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,864
Points
21
You probably already know this, but the GSD doesn't offer any joint degrees with the business school. Although now that I think about it, I suppose few if any schools offer a joint MLA/MBA anyway.
UIUC has a dual degree program for an MBA + MArch. Regarding Harvard, I am just interested in both degrees. Personally, I think there is too much to learn in a 3 year MLA program that I wouldn't have time to fit in business courses. Does Harvard offer an online MBA? I was thinking about maybe attending the MBA program down the road after I finished the design degree. The other option is to do the MBA first, then the MLA, then practice landscape architecture/planning after I'm done.
 

wvhoo

Cyburbian
Messages
63
Points
4
Anyone else there? I went to the Open House at Harvard on Friday and had a great experience and had the following thoughts (if you have any other questions let me know and I can answer). These are things you probably can't get by looking at their (pretty weak website):

  • Pretty small program, 1st year students: 30, 2nd years 20
  • A large variety of backgrounds, alot of students, more than expected, with no previous work (not to mention planning) experience. Average age seemed be mid-20s
  • Cambridge has much more of a college town feel than I expected.
  • The program is much more design focused than any other I've encountered. Students have their own studio space and spend a huge chunk of time there.
  • I met about a third of the 1st years. Really friendly and easy to talk to.
  • Harvard makes you pay for everything. VPN access to software. $. Chair for studio. $$. Printing pinups. $$. I think alot of people get tuition help, though.
  • Pretty impressive presentations by students.
  • Tight community feel to students and faculty. This is a big plus for me.
  • The chair Jerold Kayden, is incredibly engaging and funny. A real personality. He's going on sabbatical next year, though.

Overall, the program really sold me on the design aspect and closeness of the community. The other prospective students were a little quieter than I expected, but definitely opened up during day. We basically sat with the students and shat the crap for a couple hours during the afternoon. Overall, good time.
 
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Victory

Cyburbian
Messages
258
Points
10
What are the pros/cons of a design centered curriculum? With all this studio work does it essentially allow you to hit the ground running once you land a planning job?
 

wvhoo

Cyburbian
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63
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4
I have no idea if it's true, but the chair especially emphasized your "hit the ground running" fact as GSD grads are more well suited to do that than other places.

One Con I can see is that it costs more (printing a plot is like $10), is significantly more work time (depends to see if it is more difficult), and can take away from taking more classes. Pro is that you get to know your colleagues better, get some design skills you may never get, and it seems like it could be a good time.
 

Victory

Cyburbian
Messages
258
Points
10
At Penn I really felt like the school was proud and excited about their planning program and its students. It was quite clear that you would be a part of a tight knit group not only within the school of design, but just as importantly within the U Penn community at large. Did you get this feeling at Harvard? I read the "What's the Mission of Harvard's Urban Planning Program?" that was posted on their website, and it painted a picture of a rocky road to its current incarnation, which has only been around since 1994. I guess I'm a bit concerned about attending a school that relegates the planning program and its students to "second class".

Oh, and what kind of internships/jobs did the students you spoke with get? Did the majority end up in normal city planner jobs in and around boston? Do you think Harvard opens up more doors?
 

wvhoo

Cyburbian
Messages
63
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4
During the opening ceremony they had TWO urban planning students present really engaging topics.

The students seemed to really enjoy the program, and actually liked the size of the program.

They said 1/3rd go public, 1/3rd private, 1/3rd other. I think alot of the internships were everywhere. Both Harvard and MIT don't have big cores, which is good and bad.

I spent two days at Penn and the content of the classes and the general convival atmosphere is sweet. The chair was honest about the issues with the program (barely any aid, lack of research). I had great experiences with the students I actually chatted up with (mostly 2nd years), but it's definitely hipster haven, which I'm not used to.
 

Victory

Cyburbian
Messages
258
Points
10
When I was at Penn, I got the impression that the planning kids were essentially quirky geeks (which is not a bad thing), but you're right the rest of the school did seem like a hipster haven (which is not necessarily a bad thing either).

I guess what I was asking was whether or not you got the feeling that the Planning kids were seen as nothing more than "architecture lite" students by the rest of the GSD. Not taken as seriously, etc.
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
I didn't attend the open house (and am not applying to Harvard), but I did the GSD Career Discovery program this summer and got a sense from that of what the place is like. Basically, extremely design-focused, as wvhoo mentioned. I definitely did get the sense that the planning program gets a lot less attention than the architecture programs, which are much larger and clearly the focus of the school. It sounded like the structure of the planning program is also modeled very closely on the architecture programs, which basically means studio-centered with the studios eating up massive amounts of time and attention, leaving much less for other classes. Nothing wrong with studio, of course, but to me this seems suboptimal for a planning program (though it probably works perfectly well for architecture). A lot of the students do seem to really like it, though.
 

PennPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
435
Points
13
I graduated from Penn in 2005, a member of what was the largest planning class in the program's history due to over-enrollment. It was a decent time, and I'm surprised to hear the current students described as hipsterish, for my class was fairly diverse with all sorts of backgrounds.

Planning students are not taken seriously by the architects, and for understandable reasons. MArch and MLA are very intensive programs and the students more or less live in their studios, but despite the intensity of the degree, the architects have a lower average starting salary than the planners, which they must resent!

Penn was a decent time, and I graduated with minimal debt which I paid off in 18 months, and I have a good job out in Dubai. But I'd think more carefully before committing yourself to 100K debt for a MCP/MUP. The school's name is nice, but to be frank, you won't have better opportunities than someone from a planning program at a state university. Many of my classmates are still struggling with enormous student loans, and it's certainly put a crimp on their financial expectations for the foreseeable future.
 

ToPlanIsMyFuture

Cyburbian
Messages
80
Points
4
Has anyone experienced Harvard's Career Discovery program for urban planning or urban design? If yes, how was it and how different were the programs? Was it worth it? How was the application process? Any suggestions? I have no planning experience and hope to partake in the program to look more competitive for graduate admissions.
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
I did it this past summer. It's expensive, but I thought it was definitely worth it. The application process is easy and the acceptance rate is high. Not sure if it'll make you more competitive for grad school, but it'll certainly give you an opportunity to decide if that's what you want to do.

There are some other people on cyburbia who also did the program and can chime in with their perspectives. There are also a couple of earlier threads about it.
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
You can either search for them using the link above that says "Search" or page through the Student Lounge until you see something that looks relevant.
 

110chelsea

Member
Messages
20
Points
2
Hey, wvhoo.

I'm one of those student presenters you mentioned. If you still have any questions (or would like a frank evaluation) feel free to e-mail.
 

banter

Cyburbian
Messages
37
Points
2
Hi all,
I am just wrapping up my applications (finished: uc irvine, ucla, unc, MIT), and now am putting the finishing touches on my personal statement for Harvard's MUP program, which is my top choice. I was wondering if anyone could do me the favorto review and critique it?

Respond here and I can PM or email you... Thanks!
 

sky_light

Member
Messages
23
Points
2
i really wonder how "easy" it would be to cross-regsiter at harvard. I have been admitted to MIT (IDG) and some other MPP prgrams (did not apply to HKS though). Right now I see both pros and cons of going either way, but if I know that I can easily take classes at HKS, i think everything is simplified.

Is there a limit to how many classes I can take at the kennedy school each semester? Does HSK give preference to their own students, so that it is much harder for non-harvard students to take classes? my aim to work on my quantitative skills in policy analysis while in dusp...
 

torontopian

Cyburbian
Messages
74
Points
4
Cross registeration should be fairly straight-forward. The rule governing cross registeration for MIT classes at Harvard is that you must take at least half the credits each semester in your home school. I'm not aware of any preferential treatment for HKS students in registering for classes.
 

FuturePlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
76
Points
4
Hi, I was wondering if anyone else went to Harvard's Open House and what they thought about it.

A few of my rambling thoughts:
1) The MUP students, both incoming and current, seemed great. Much more collegial atmosphere than I expected (thought it'd be more hardcore Type A types); lots of interesting backgrounds; a wider age range than I expected from current undergrad to 40 year old architects.
2) I didn't get the sense of the being completely overwhelmed by the architecture students.
3) Love how each student gets his/her own studio space.
4) Size of incoming class (~35 students) seemed like a good number
5) I was at first hesitant but am now on board with the studio-style of many of the courses. And very excited about the options studios that take place all over the world
6) I like the opportunity to take courses at MIT and Harvard's other schools.

Overall, I was very impressed with the program, students, professors, and the resources at the GSD. Now, if only they gave me some financial aid...
 

snowysnowy

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Hi guys,

I just found Harvard's career discovery program recently, and I'm working on my application. I'm wondering how difficult is it to be admitted? Thanks a lot :)
 

dr220022

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Harvard MUP Open House

Hi everyone,

I wasn't able to make it to the open house - could anyone post what sort of topics came up in student presentations? I'm very curious.

thanks!
 

FuturePlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
76
Points
4
Hi everyone,

I wasn't able to make it to the open house - could anyone post what sort of topics came up in student presentations? I'm very curious.

thanks!
It's sort of a blur at this point. All the programs (MUP, MAUD, MArch, MLA, PhD, MDess, etc.) were together in the auditorium and each program had students give couple presentations. I think the MUP one was a project in the Netherlands that had to do with planning for rising ocean levels.

MUP second semester core class studio reviews were also going on, and we had the chance to sit in. The project for the semester had to with developing an area of Providence once I95 is diverted. I thought this was great to see. Each student produced a plan from a variety of perspectives. He/she gave a short presentation in front of his/her pin-ups and then the professor, the classmates, and a guest offered suggestions and critiques for the student to take into account before the final review.
 

rbolich

Member
Messages
10
Points
1
Great to hear your thoughts on the GSD Open House. I'm (most likely) going to go this Fall, but have been a tiny bit hesitant because I'd hate to pay for the flight/hostel/meals only to find out that I don't like the sounds of the program.

I'd love to hear other opinions of the Open House if anyone else has been!
 

Owego

Cyburbian
Messages
45
Points
2
Hi,

On the GSD app, it specifically asks that we only put universities that we received a degree from in our education section. It asks that we list other schools we took classes at on a separate sheet and to leave off study abroad programs all together. Should we include transcripts from our other colleges and study abroad programs or do they only want transcripts from schools where we received degrees?
 

Cismontane

Cyburbian
Messages
900
Points
17
Hi,

On the GSD app, it specifically asks that we only put universities that we received a degree from in our education section. It asks that we list other schools we took classes at on a separate sheet and to leave off study abroad programs all together. Should we include transcripts from our other colleges and study abroad programs or do they only want transcripts from schools where we received degrees?
This was many years ago for me, but, if I recall correctly, I initially did not submit transcripts for other colleges and study abroad programs and they came back to me and told me that they needed them.
 
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