• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Virginia Commonwealth 🇺🇸 Virginia Commonwealth thread

passdoubt

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
13
How is VCU's master's program in Urban and Regional Planning? I don't know anything about it besides what's on their website. Does anybody know anything about its reputation? Is it more suited for an academic/theorhetical bent or does it stress practical knowledge? I'd eventually like to pursue a PhD. Would it be a good program to prepare for doctoral study, or would I have to be looking at some of the more competitive/expensive masters programs if I were taking that route?

If anybody knows anything about VCU or this program, please share.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
Id send you in the direction of Tech or Maryland.

VCU does not have a very good rep from what I can gather from coworkers.

Why do you want to get a PhD in planning? What you plan to DO with it is a big factor in what University you choose.
 

japrovo

Member
Messages
103
Points
6
Before spouting off it would probably be best to know why you want to go to Richmond from Tuscon/Philedelphia. Personal support networks can be as important as your eventual job prospects to keeping you motivated for this task. By way of full disclosure---I graduated from VCU in 99 and am now about to complete my PhD.

All that aside, if you want to pursue a PhD I would look first to master's programs that offer connections to PhD programs as well. Not necessarily because you'll go there but because your faculty is likely to give you a good tools to make the transition, whether in terms of how they teach or by their knowledge of what it takes to make the next step. The VCU program is connected to an interdisciplinary policy PhD. Others nearby like Va Tech offer planning-specific PhDs.

VCU is also an urban university and context matters. By that I mean you probably should approach this with a back up plan in mind. Does the masters programs have academic strengths or exists in a place that would be interesting for you to work in? Are their strengths in subjects that you want to carry through to a possible PhD program? VCU worked for me because I was intersted in urban issues and also for the support network issue I mentioned earlier. At the time if I'd wanted say to pursue environmental or land use planning going to Blacksburg (Va Tech) might have been a better call. Although since then its worth noting that they have expanded their offerings in Northern Virginia where they are doing really interesting work in urban issues.

Know your motivations, anticipate a long haul, and proceed with some backup plans in mind and you'll be fine. I won't say a PhD is for everyone but for some of us it’s just what we had to do.
 

passdoubt

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
13
I'm in Tucson at the U. of AZ taking classes for the winter... I go back home to Philly for a week, then back to school in Selinsgrove, PA where I'm a junior at a tiny liberal arts school. Personal support network? Hmm, I don't think I have one. I hope to do an internship this summer but who knows. I'm a sociology major. The department has about five part-time professors. It's not exactly high cotton on planning.

I'm interested in urban revitalization in the context of automobilization. I want to study and work with the way cities cope with remodeling older environments to fit the needs of people today. I want the flexibility to be able to both teach and work in the public sector.

My girlfriend plans on going to VCU medical school, so I'd like to stay close to her. It's not a must that we live together, but admittedly this is the factor that had me look at VCU.

Anyway, I gather from your response that I'm pretty much restricted to my geographic location because schools will mainly want to see local experience?
 

japrovo

Member
Messages
103
Points
6
passdoubt said:
[B Anyway, I gather from your response that I'm pretty much restricted to my geographic location because schools will mainly want to see local experience? [/B]

Not my intent...I was speaking more to what might serve your interests and in this case Richmond has a shocking amount of urban redevelopment going on for a city that has lost population and sprawled outward steadily over a number of years. Working in that context might fit your interests well. Talk to Gary Johnson who does housing and transportation planning re your specific interests.

As to admission to a PhD program, in my experience it depends on the record (skill sets, work/internship experience) you build wherever you are. Geographic diversity is actually a plus for most. I think there are some schools with reputational hang ups and they are probably the ones you would think about in any field. Most PhD programs however are more worried about whether there is someone you'll be able to work with (someone who shares your interests) on their faculty. Unlike masters degrees that is how they fund you, hitching you to faculty projects. And of course they worry whether or not you are likely to finish.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I'll offer a couple of thoughts for you. You speak of wanting the flexibility to either teach or work in the public sector. There's a catch-22 situation there. If you complete your phd and then try to get a job you find that most places will feel you are overqualified for an entry position, yet you will have no experience with which to qualify for a more senior position. On the other hand, if you get your masters and begin to work, you may soon find that you do not have the time or flexibility to go on for a phd. I'm speaking from personal experience here. I would love to get the phd and teach at some point in the future, but with the number of hours I work and scheduling of meetings, it has been impossible. I also have the complication of earning a lot more than I would teaching college.

Moving for the girlfriend is a noble idea. Consider whether you will be sacrificing your interests in doing so. If VCU has a program that interests you, then the difference between that school and another, in the long run, is negligible. If, on the other hand, you would end up studying something you do not enjoy as the price for going to VCU, think seriously about it. Either way, good luck.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
Cardinal said:


Moving for the girlfriend is a noble idea. Consider whether you will be sacrificing your interests in doing so.
When I was in grad school, there was a guy whose wife was in medical school at Brown in Providence, RI. He was a regular on the flights out from Atlanta to Providence/Boston (at least twice a month). His other option was MIT, but the tuition was so much more that he could afford to fly twice a month and still save big $$ (since his wife was also borrowing big $$ this was important to him).

I'd consider the part time program in urban planning offered by Virginia Tech in Alexandria, Virginia or the full time urban planning masters offered by the University of Maryland, College Park. Virginia Tech also offers a full time program in Blackburg, but both Alexandria and College Park are MUCH shorter drives to Richmond.
 
Top