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Best Urban Planning Master's Programs

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Posted

This might be a bit of a long shot, but I'm currently in college and am looking to get a Master's degree in Urban Planning. There are no "US News and World" rankings for urban planning, so I was wondering if anyone here could recommend schools with good and prestigious graduate programs.

Thanks a ton!

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Posted

I was lookin at grad programs for urban planning as well (but decided against it for now). Hard to tell which ones are the best though, plus I didn't explore the whole country. The one at SUNY Albany is pretty comprehensive (allows you to concentrate it economic planning, community development, transportation, etc.). Also UMASS Amherst and Portland State seemed great as well. And of course there's Cornell and Harvard if you're a genius. I think BU has a city planning master's program. Anyway, I was planning on going to URI for Community Development (since it'd be the cheapest) until they dropped the program completely...

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Getting a handle on your specific interest in planning might help you to make your decision. I chose my graduate planning program because it was closely linked to the architecture program, which I had studied as an undergrad. I decided that after school, I wanted to get a job that incorporated planning and design. Check to see what overall school the planning program is in. Is it incorporated within a design school, a public affairs school, or is it by itself? That can help you see what focus a program may have.

After starting the planning program, I noticed that most of my planning professors had current or previous careers in research and analysis (which I hadn't expected). The experience of the professors also determines the curriculum that is taught. A larger program with more well-rounded faculty may have a broader curriculum. But, you might choose a school that has many faculty members focused on a specific area in planning that you would like to study.

Unless you're gunning for a specific job after school, I would pay less attention to the prestige of the school. Maybe US News doesn't have rankings because most employers probably don't care much about the specific school. Just make sure it's accredited. If you know you would like to remain in a specific region, choose a school in that region. If you know that you want to work in a specific planning focus, pick a school that has classes, faculty, and strong job-placement within that focus.

Job placement after graduation is pretty important. Check to see the school's record on placing recent grads into jobs. This was a really weak point of my program. I was basically on my own to find a job. Luckily, they gave me a good education and I was hired quickly. Good luck.

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Posted

Yeah, it's hard for me to recommend schools without knowing what your priorities are. No program has it all, and much of grad school is what you make of it.

I went to a school that helped me get a couple good internships in my two years there, but left a lot to be desired inside the classroom.

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Posted

I'm really looking for a program that specializes in Economic Development. I'm an econ major in college currently, and want to deal more with increasing economic wealth in inner cities. I heard Ohio State and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were good, but I'm still looking for other school specializing in this to flesh out my list.

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Posted

I'm really looking for a program that specializes in Economic Development. I'm an econ major in college currently, and want to deal more with increasing economic wealth in inner cities. I heard Ohio State and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were good, but I'm still looking for other school specializing in this to flesh out my list.

You should try Florida Atlantic University that is there major Degree so I would call it the Best Urban planning School

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Posted

I'm really looking for a program that specializes in Economic Development. I'm an econ major in college currently, and want to deal more with increasing economic wealth in inner cities. I heard Ohio State and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were good, but I'm still looking for other school specializing in this to flesh out my list.

Would a just plain Business degree count?

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Posted

I'm really looking for a program that specializes in Economic Development. I'm an econ major in college currently, and want to deal more with increasing economic wealth in inner cities. I heard Ohio State and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were good, but I'm still looking for other school specializing in this to flesh out my list.

This wasn't my specialization in the planning program at Rutgers, there is a strong Economic Development contingent in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (EJB) there. Their Public Policy Dept also offers joint MBA degree programs with the RU Business School. EJB is one of the most well-respected planning and policy schools in the country. The dean of the school, James Hughes, is an Economic Development specialist. He and several other faculty members (Clint Andrews, Bob Burchell, Julia Rubin, David Listokin, are New Jersey's foremost experts on the state's economic growth and development.

From the EJB website:

"Urban and Regional Economics

The School is home to the Center for Energy, Economic & Environmental Policy, the Center for Urban Policy Research, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute, the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute, the Rutgers Regional Report, and the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service. Faculty expertise includes environmental economics, forecasting and policy modeling, health, labor economics, regional economic analysis, regional economic development, and state and local public finance (especially issues related to local property taxation)."

I encourage you to look James Hughes up, read some of his publications (such as the July 2006 Rutgers Regional Report on New Jersey's Economy) and check out some of the recent faculty publications, and see what you think these people could offer you.

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Posted

I know that the university of michigan has a school just for architecture and urban planning.

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Yep we do. I'm an architecture major at U of M, but dabbling in urban planning classes. It's been a wonderful experience, but I still don't know too much about the extent of our U/P program. But from what I'm getting out of it, I love it.

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Posted

I've been looking into similiar programs...those that offer a focus on economic development or local economic development. Also, it depends on whether or not one is interested on the policy side of urban planning or the design part....

I found that UK schools are much better at offering international focuses with planning/urban degrees. Although the US NEWS rankings do not have urban planning...they do offer a list of 10 top schools for city management under public affairs.

These schools are (according to US NEWS--City Management):

1. University of Kansas

2. Celveland State University

3. University of Southern California

4. New York University

5. Northern Illinois University

6. University of Illinois-Chicago

7. University of N.C.--chapel hill

8. Syracuse University

9. University of Delaware

10. University of North Texas

Again, these schools are probably not the best urban planning but for those that are interested in public affairs, policy, management etc these schools fit the bill.

University of Maryland has a strong program too!

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Posted

Those rankings really refer to MPA (Pub. Admin) programs, not planning programs. UNC-CH has an outstanding reputation and several leading scholars in ED.

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Yes, I would agree with most of the comments made above. I attend UM's MUP program for several reasons. Ironically, we get a lot of "flak" from the architecture students, but the integration of both programs (and especially the flexibility to design your course load towards specific interests) was great. I've mixed in a ton of design and studio courses (as I concentrated in Urban Design) from the MUD and MArch programs.

However, I initially applied to Uill(UC), UTexas Austin, UWash, NYU(Wagner), Gtech, and Ohio State. It came down to UM and UT based on specific interests (urban design, econ dev, policy, etc.), professors (for Michigan it was well published faculty that inlcude Fishman, Kelbaugh, Strickland, etc.) and their strengths.

I believe it is esstential to know what you want to study. I think it's hard to make an apples to apples comparison w/ planning programs. So I approached it from a "what are my needs and desires to learn what material." The choice gets easier in my mind after that.

Another caveat, is that I had a strong interest in real estate development as well and it's relationship to urban design and form. Michigan as well as some other strong Urb Pln programs have started certificate programs in conjunction with their MUP degrees. I'm now at USC's MRED (Lusk) which is quite a full blown RED program (really an MBA program in sheeps clothing), similar to Columbia's, Cornells, and MIT's.

Ted

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Posted

Job placement after graduation is pretty important. Check to see the school's record on placing recent grads into jobs. This was a really weak point of my program. I was basically on my own to find a job. Luckily, they gave me a good education and I was hired quickly. Good luck.

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I'm pleased to announce that the Planetizen 2007 Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is now available. The Guide features a list of the top schools in urban planning, along with rankings by specialty.

Details about the Guide, along with a list of the top 10 schools, is available at:

http://www.planetizen.com/topschools

The full guide and rankings is available for purchase at:

http://www.planetizen.com/guide

Christian Peralta, Managing Editor

Planetizen - www.planetizen.com

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Posted

With out a doubt UNC-Chapel Hill

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Posted

Just how bad or not so meaningful is getting a related degree such as an MPA with concentration in Urban and Economic Development, or a Geography/GIS degree that has a similar concentration? And are these different when talking about a Masters vs. the 4 year undergraduate version? I am personally in the predicament of being too far away from the nearest school to offer an actual Urban Planning degree, but have several of the MPA and GIS w/ concentration options available for a Masters.

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Just how bad or not so meaningful is getting a related degree such as an MPA with concentration in Urban and Economic Development, or a Geography/GIS degree that has a similar concentration? And are these different when talking about a Masters vs. the 4 year undergraduate version? I am personally in the predicament of being too far away from the nearest school to offer an actual Urban Planning degree, but have several of the MPA and GIS w/ concentration options available for a Masters.

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^ Thank you. I prepared for an architecture career from childhood, and ultimately got out of it after 3 years of school because it was just slightly "off", I really wanted to design the whole city, not a single building, structure, etc.. So I guess that means I am interested in policy and shaping development from a public perspective, probably more so than working for a particular firm and representing only their concerns. I do like to get my hands dirty and be creative, though, so hopefully I won't be wishing I was on the other side of the table occasionally if I wind up in a city planning office. Any advice for a middle of the roader?

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Does anyone know how hard it is to get into USC's MRED program? I'm applying to get in and want to see what mychances (if any) are.

Thanks!

(New guy)

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^ Thank you. I prepared for an architecture career from childhood, and ultimately got out of it after 3 years of school because it was just slightly "off", I really wanted to design the whole city, not a single building, structure, etc.. So I guess that means I am interested in policy and shaping development from a public perspective, probably more so than working for a particular firm and representing only their concerns. I do like to get my hands dirty and be creative, though, so hopefully I won't be wishing I was on the other side of the table occasionally if I wind up in a city planning office. Any advice for a middle of the roader?

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Does anyone know how hard it is to get into USC's MRED program? I'm applying to get in and want to see what mychances (if any) are.

Thanks!

(New guy)

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I applied and got into USC's urban planning program. It's a very strong program, and its reputation is respected throughout the country. I went out to visit and really liked the faculty members I met there. The 2 biggest problems I had with USC, though, were (1) they offered virtually no financial aid, which sucks b/c it's an expensive school, and (2) I wasn't ready at the time to live so far away. All of my fam and most of my friends are on the East Coast.

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Planning is such a multidisciplinary field that almost any background is helpful and looks good on your application. I applied while still in college, working on a B.A. in American history. My GPA and test scores were pretty good, but not terribly impressive. Strangely the man in the SPPD admissions office who I spoke with seemed to care more about those test/GPA stats than anyone I spoke with at other schools.

My advice, don't stress out about scores, etc. Just have a strong application. Have GOOD scores, a GOOD GPA. I think a 1200 GRE score with excellent references and statement go much farther than a 1500 GRE with a less interesting statement. Explain the relevance of your work experience in your personal statement. Like I said, I was a History major. That doesn't seem relevant, but in one of my History seminars we wrote a plan to develop a small series of national historic sites in the Southeastern U.S. , so I discussed the value of that project in my statement.

Application time suuuuucks, but I believe that if you are capable of demonstrating that you are reasonably bright, well-rounded, and have a desire and passion to enter the field, you'll have no problem getting into most of the schools you want to go to.

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