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What to major in?

kailistanford

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I've been looking at these forums for a couple days now and am wondering what undergrad majors are recommended before getting a masters in urban planning? Would it be good to either major or minor in urban planning at the undergrad level where offered or would other degrees be more beneficial?
 

Hink

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I've been looking at these forums for a couple days now and am wondering what undergrad majors are recommended before getting a masters in urban planning? Would it be good to either major or minor in urban planning at the undergrad level where offered or would other degrees be more beneficial?
You are going to get a lot of different opinions. Many of us got undergraduate degrees in planning before we got our masters (me included). I would say after being out in the field for 15 years, I would probably suggest that you get an undergrad in something that provide additional value to an organization. Marketing, finance, design, drafting, GIS, etc. Once you get the master's your planning credentials are set. Depending on your long game though, you may want additional skills that you can market to a public or private organization looking for contributors.

Good luck, glad to have you.
 

kailistanford

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You are going to get a lot of different opinions. Many of us got undergraduate degrees in planning before we got our masters (me included). I would say after being out in the field for 15 years, I would probably suggest that you get an undergrad in something that provide additional value to an organization. Marketing, finance, design, drafting, GIS, etc. Once you get the master's your planning credentials are set. Depending on your long game though, you may want additional skills that you can market to a public or private organization looking for contributors.

Good luck, glad to have you.
Thank you. I've been looking at a statistical analysis or sociology. Do you have a recommendation between those two or anything similar?
 

JNA

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Several of us have Bachelor degrees in Geography.
 

DVD

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I'll second what Hink says. I've seen a range from political science to basket weaving, but if you have something solid like GIS or finance you become more valuable.
 

arcplans

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Major in the school of hard knocks with a master ddegree in a double does of dis pimpin
 

Hink

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Thank you. I've been looking at a statistical analysis or sociology. Do you have a recommendation between those two or anything similar?
Both are likely fine, if they interest you. If you pick something and end up loving it, then you have a pathway forward with that. I would say, pick what you really like and see what happens.
 

Lowland

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Thank you. I've been looking at a statistical analysis or sociology. Do you have a recommendation between those two or anything similar?
My undergrad is in sociology with a minor in geography. Ended up lucking out with a local planning job out of college and decided to forgo grad school. If I could do it again, I'd try and gain more GIS experience while in school.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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Look for something that would provide you another option career wise, if Planning does work out for you. I have a degree in Public Administration, though I didn't go into it.
 

HomerJ

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I got my undergrad in urban planning and masters in public administration. I will say the public admin degree has proven to be more versatile in terms of having a deeper pool of jobs to pursue. If you are already convinced you will pursue a masters in planning, then I would recommend focusing your undergraduate degree on developing your skills in something that can cross over in planning to help give you a competitive edge.

Working with GIS a lot is very common for entry level planners, so if you're into it there should be a lot of undergraduate programs out there that offer GIS coursework. Planning is a pretty broad field so there are a lot of potential paths to go down (e.g. math/statistics in transportation planning, law/econ in land use planning, sociology in nonprofits/affordable housing). My only real criticism of my own undergrad program in planning is that I did not feel like I walked away from the program with enough hard skills that would help me hit the ground running out of school.
 

glutton

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Hi, @kailistanford,

I graduated with a bachelor's in planning and later went to grad school for planning after a gap year. I would highly recommend not doing what I did and instead, major in something different in undergrad and pair it with a planning or urban studies minor, get a year or two of work experience in that field, and then get a master's in planning. The minor will help you get a glimpse into what planning classes are like, make you better prepared for grad school, and will get you connections with urban planning professors to write you rec letters for grad school. Having a different major will give you a different perspective to bring to grad school, as well as make you more marketable for a broader array of jobs after graduation.

Undergrad majors that pair well with a planning master's range from technical (arch, landscape arch, civil engineering, journalism, statistics, economics, GIS) to more soft subjects (sociology, history, poly sci, geography).

Since this is a common question, I also recommend checking out the 'education' flair of the R/urbanplanning subreddit.

Good luck!
 
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