Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Urban Planning Grad Schools Previous Next
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Arc312
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Username: Arc312

Post Number: 1
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.11.161.238
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 3:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

so this is my first post. I've been reading this website for almost a year.

My question is this. I'm currently a sophomore @ MSU studying Social Relations/Theory, and Im interested in going to Grad School for a masters in urban planning. Can anyone offer any suggestions for good masters programs? I'm really interested in urban design/historical preservation/social activism, and I know that I want to study those issues.

Also, I know that some MUP programs want some sort of UP or Art background, something that I'm not so sure if I have room in my schedule for.
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Arc312
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Username: Arc312

Post Number: 2
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.11.161.238
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 3:51 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

PS...I'm well aware of my lack of spelling skills. They're not going to get any better any time soon...
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Ltorivia485
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Username: Ltorivia485

Post Number: 2369
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 199.74.87.131
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 4:21 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't have an art portfolio background myself. I have just taken the necessary urban studies courses and am applying to urban-related internships, such as Smart Growth America.

Check out U.S. News Graduate Rankings of Urban Planning. They are not the "big-name" schools, but it's under my impression that as long as the school is certified by the American Planning Association, they are legit. So, Michigan and Wayne State should be your starting point. University of Illinois at Chicago is another option in the Midwest too. It's all about concentration (I'm leaning toward Economic and Community Development).
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Jfried
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Username: Jfried

Post Number: 728
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.47.87.96
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 4:41 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

any planning program that is accredited by the PAB (planning accredidation board) is going to have the same core curriculum (law, methods, stats, etc.) but once you get out of the core, programs can vary widely.

do you plan on staying local? if so.....

u mich has a great urban design component to the MUP, in addition to a stand alone master of urban design. they also just added a real estate certificate program, and plan to offer a masters program in real estate if you're interested in the development side.

eastern has a good historic preservation program.

wayne is good for theory and community activism, but seems to lack on the technical "planning" side. a great benifit of this this program is have the city of detroit as your laboratory - plus the connections you'll make if you want to work in the city.

most of the true "planners" (those who deal with land use regulation, zoning, etc.) in the state come from MSU. the faculty takes a considerable amount of time introducing students to master plans, zoning ordinances, etc. - it seems like many students from the other schools have never even seen these documents.

u of d just started a master of community development program, but I haven't heard much about it.

oakland U also has a bachelors of community development at the university center in macomb.

if you want to go out of state Havard, MIT, NYU and University of Illinois-Chicago are very well respected.

(Message edited by jfried on February 25, 2006)
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Jfried
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Username: Jfried

Post Number: 729
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.47.87.96
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 4:50 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

ltorivia - I've never seen a ranking by US News and the following is posted on the APA site.
------------------------------ ------------------
Ranking
There is no list ranking planning schools. APA, AICP, ACSP, and PAB do not rank schools. Instead, students are encouraged to consider PAB accreditation in their decision of what school to attend. APA is not aware of any ranking of planning schools done by any outside vendor, such as U.S. News & World Report or The Princeton Review.
------------------------------ -------------------

arc - here is the link to a comprehensive list of accredited programs http://www.acsp.org/CareerInfo /Accredited_programs.html

and the apa link on choosing a program
http://www.planning.org/career s/#7
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Ltorivia485
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Username: Ltorivia485

Post Number: 2371
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 199.74.87.131
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 4:51 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jfried, how is Michigan's Urban Planning program?

Yes, I know about NYU (Wagner) and MIT. I probably wouldn't go to Harvard though. Check out the University of Kansas too.
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Jfried
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Username: Jfried

Post Number: 730
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.47.87.96
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 5:01 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ltorivia - Michigan's program is well respected throughout the state, and it is "Michigan" so it is known worldwide. The program, like Wayne, uses the city of Detroit as an urban laboratory, and I'm sure you've heard that they have recently opened a satalite office at the Max Fisher Building at Woodward & Mack. As I mentioned above they have a good urban design component to the MUP, and an master of urban design degree. Students graduate with a great understanding of planning history, and policy, and it seems that most graduates go into policy type jobs.

harvard, like michigan, is located in the school of architecture/design, so the program is great if you're into design.
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Ltorivia485
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Username: Ltorivia485

Post Number: 2372
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 199.74.87.131
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 12:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Jfried, I'm looking into dual-masters MPP/MURUP program at Michigan. Nice way to get the degree and still be close to home.
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Arc312
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Username: Arc312

Post Number: 4
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.11.161.238
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 12:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks JFried.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I want to stay here in MI for grad school, I'm scared that if I do leave, I won't want to come back...

I mean, as corny as this sounds, I would feel guilty if the reason I want to get into UP is because Detroit & SE MI, I'm sorry, SUCK in terms of equity and sustainable planning practices. It seems pointless to leave if all I want to do is come back.
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Jjw
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Username: Jjw

Post Number: 54
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 68.33.56.156
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 12:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

just because you go to a school in another state does not mean you can't return to work. that is not very inovative thinking for a future urban planner. princeton has a great program and so does the university of maryland.
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Ltorivia485
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Username: Ltorivia485

Post Number: 2373
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 199.74.87.131
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 12:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree, there is nothing wrong with going to school out-of-state. Now, if costs are preventing you to settle on your own, then maybe you can consider a school closer to home.
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Hamtramck_steve
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Username: Hamtramck_steve

Post Number: 2764
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.209.133.247
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 1:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If you can afford to get out of state, go now. Never, never pass up a chance to see another part of the country or world.

The academic side of the equation may not be that different between a program in the state of Michigan versus some other locale, but your day-to-day experiences will add immensely to your abilities.

You need to go where people think differently than they do here. It may suck returning here to work for a time, but than can be dealt with.
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Everyman
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Username: Everyman

Post Number: 42
Registered: 11-2005
Posted From: 24.136.14.239
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 2:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

cyburbia.org is a great resource. there is a "student lounge" there.

take advantage of it.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1194
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 70.225.112.124
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 5:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sorry Jfried, but I have to disagree with your dis on WSU. I've worked in the planning and community development fields for a few years now, and Wayne students can compete with the best of them. I'd rate WSU and U of M's programs equally.

U of M has more of a design focus which is good if you want to work at an architecture firm. It's also a good place to go if you want to do work in public policy as well. Of course the real estate concentration is for those going into development. One big problem I've noticed with U of M grads is that they can have a hard time creating real world projects. The class projects that are created an U of M seem to lean heavily towards theory and design. Financial and social realities seem to come into play after the theory and design pieces. So a beautiful project/plan is created, the presentation knocks your socks off, but what is proposed in many cases is not feasible due to social issues and/or financial limitations. In every case the financial limitations were laid out at the begining of the project. Why you'd create a project that is over budget before a single surveyor, let alone shovel is turned over, is beyond me. These pie in the sky class projects tend to spill over into the real working world as well.

As far as Wayne goes, students from that program have a very well rounded grasp of urban planning. They may not be experts in design (all though that is a component of the program), but the projects proposed by them will be within the financial limitations given for the project and the social and political issues surrounding the project will have been explored and solutions created/suggested. It is very well respected in the goverment, private and non-profit world. You'll find lots and lots of Wayne grads in all levels of those sectors. It is also a very friendly program for students who have to work full or part time. There is no way you could work and go to U of M in the MUP program.

Eastern's program specializes in Historic Preservation. The graduate program is not accredited (the undergrad is) so be aware of that.

MSU's program as stated above has a lot of people working in state and county governments. I wouldn't go as far as Jfried and say that they have the majority of the jobs. You'll find just as many WSU and U of M grads in the planning field as MSU ones.

There's my view on planning schools. If you do have a chance to go out of state, by all means do so. I've found one of the most helpful things for me as a planner has been getting out of Detroit and seeing how another city works. If you're dedicated to Detroit and have predetermined that you'll come back, you will.
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Ltorivia485
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Username: Ltorivia485

Post Number: 2377
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 129.105.104.234
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 5:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Bvos. I'm primarily looking at Michigan, UIC, Penn, Maryland, and NYU-Wagner for urban planning with a concentration in economic and community development.

Michigan and WSU might be backups.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1196
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 70.225.112.124
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 5:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Forgot to mention that WSU beat out U of M, Berkley, Harvard and other highly regarded programs in a competition for Jackson, MI. Here's the link to the info on that project:

http://www.culma.wayne.edu/gup /studentprojects/Creating%20Co ol-Jackson%20Paper%20Article.p df

As far as UDM's program, it's new and unaccredited so it's uncharted waters. The program has the issues of sustainability and community empowerment as main components of the program. Whether or not you'll get a job with the degree is to be seen as folks graduate from the program.
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Skulker
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Username: Skulker

Post Number: 3613
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.42.168.34
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 5:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am a little biased as my MUP is from WSU, but I have to echo Bvos sentiments.

Its all about what you want to do after you graduate and which skills you will need. I chose WSU for its practical hands on experience. I work with both schools on projects that their students are assigned.

UM students do a really good job at design and creating exciting ideas, but seem utterly clueless to real politik and finding solutions that are implementable.

WSU has a much smaller program and their presentations are not nearly as polished due to resource limitations, but tend to be very thorough from a SWOT analysis. The students, because so many of them are already employed somehow in the field, share and teach each other almost as much as the instructors on some projects.
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Leidio
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Username: Leidio

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 128.103.170.26
Posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 - 9:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Michigan, Virginia, Harvard, and Berkeley.
Michigan and Virginia are a nice middle ground
between the over-conceptual and the over-pragmatic. They are also interdisciplinary. If you're thinking of getting an MUP in order to effect real difference, avoid 2nd tier state schools for your graduate degree, then start your own practice. ;) Michigan and Berekely have good dual degree options.
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Ro_resident
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Username: Ro_resident

Post Number: 150
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.14.126.140
Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2006 - 12:31 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

First off, before deciding on a school, understand that urban planning is a multidisciplinary field. A background in economics, history, writing, and political science are helpful. But so are mathematics, drawing, GIS, and other skills.

If you want to be a practitioner, you can't go wrong with any of the schools in Michigan.

If you want to take an academic path, Harvard, MIT, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Berkley, Penn, and UM are probably your best bets.

I got my MUP from Michigan. I was very lucky--I was focused and got a very attractive financial aid package. But also note, that UM is a full time program. If you want to work and go to school, it probably won't work for you. Wayne, Eastern, or MSU would be a better fit. If you decide to stay in-state.

One last thing, planning schools aren't particularly selective, compared to other professional programs such as law. If you apply to a few schools, there is a good chance you'll get accepted to most of them.
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Tomoh
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Username: Tomoh

Post Number: 88
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.40.205.183
Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2006 - 2:37 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I know that the New Urban News recently found Michigan's planning/architecture school to be one of the top for getting hired by New Urbanist firms. I think the ideas that New Urbanism espouses will be important for redeveloping large swaths of Detroit in the future.
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Jfried
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Username: Jfried

Post Number: 731
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.190
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 2:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

tomoh - here's the link to the new urban news article

http://www.newurbannews.com/NU BestSchoolsJanFeb06.html

bvos - I in no way meant to dis wayne's program, but I stand by what I said regarding the lack of instruction in the nuts & bolts of planning. I know several people who graduated and never even opened a master plan, or zoning ordinance. but wayne definitely isn't the only school that has this problem. and like I said initially I think it's a great school overall, especially if your goal is to work in detroit.

I agree with everyone who urged Arc312 to, if possible, go to a school in another city. I would shoot for one of the big ones - NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, etc. If you are concerned with losing the time you could be putting into your career here, you can always come back and find internships over the summers.
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Jsmyers
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Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1451
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 2:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am also a UM MUP.

Please remember that the Master of Urban Planning program at U of M is a small (about 50 students per year) program that is right next to a huge architecture school.

I lot of the comments about us having a hard time being connected to reality, there is a tiny bit of truth in that. But I fear that a lot of that perception comes from the MUD and architecture programs.

For example, the annual Charrette is dominated by the MUDs (post-graduate design program) and MAs. In the one I participated in, all of my classmates were irritated at the general disregard for reality.

Arc312, based on what you say your current education and experience is, I would say that you would enjoy the Michigan program a lot.

I also have a lot of respect for the WSU program as well. I'm sure that UDM and MSU have there strengths too, but I'm not familiar with the grad programs.

If I were you, I would try to get a meeting with a MSU planning faculty member. I would send a polite and professional (but brief) email to one of them asking for a few minutes of their time.

http://www.ssc.msu.edu/%7Eurp/ fsdirectory/index.htm#fac

Based on your interests, Dr. June Thomas Manning may be who you want to talk to. She is a Michigan grad, and I've heard her speak at both UofM and WSU events.

http://www.msu.edu/user/thomas j/

I would also suggest that you take whatever electives you can in a way that will prepare you for a grad program in Urban Planning. What that means depends on your interests and what is available. When I was in engineering school getting a BSME, I took transportation planning courses and an architectural history course. You have a lot more available to you at MSU, especially considering that they have an undergrad program.

Good luck.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1199
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.238.170.38
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 2:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jfried,

If WSU grads you met had never opened a Master Plan or a Zoning Ordinance, then they didn't do much of the course work. In the required introductory classes students look at master plans and zoning ordinances. The law class, of course, goes over them and discusses them to the point that you never want to see one again (or at least take a good break from them for a while)!

Of course the problems with WSU grads mentioned above is probably as frequent as U of M students not being able to create projects in reality. I've met plenty of very good U of M planners, but its those ones who can't comprehend the financial limits of a project that just baffle me.
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Arc312
Member
Username: Arc312

Post Number: 5
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.11.161.238
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 3:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks to everyone for helping me out. I've already made appointment(s) with the UP program here. What they (along with my own non-up faculty advisor) has been telling me to go out of state.

Now that I have more of a feel for what the different programs here in MI offer, I have a better understanding about what to ask.

So, UP grads, where did you go to grad school, and how do you think it helped/hurt you?
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Jsmyers
Member
Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1454
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 - 4:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

$$$ <- one reason to consider staying in state.

I was very Happy with U of M. In some ways I wish I would have considered Detroit (So I could live in Detroit), but my concentration would have had to be different.
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Themapman
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Username: Themapman

Post Number: 233
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 130.126.204.73
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 5:27 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am currently in the MUP program at Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While the location isn't quite like UI-Chicago, the program is top-notch, the faculty are great, and living is cheap. We do extensive work in East St. Louis, so if you ever get homesick, that helps. There are also a lot of opportunities to get funding. My concentration is in Community & Economic Development. The program is well-connected as well, our job fair had tons of national firms. We're right in the middle between Indy, St. Louis and Chicago, so there are plenty of big-city urban opportunities. I chose U of I over Penn, Rutgers, and UWash, for financial and program considerations.

Ultimately where you go won't matter once you've been working 2-3 years; the only time it makes a big difference is worth your first job. My only other advice is to consider where you want to work before you go; if you want to work in the private sector you'll want a program with a heavier design component, for the public sector you'll want a heavier policy component.
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Jsmyers
Member
Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1457
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 209.131.7.68
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 6:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

I was very Happy with U of M. In some ways I wish I would have considered Detroit (So I could live in Detroit), but my concentration would have had to be different.




Opps. I meant I wish I would have considered WSU.

The reason I didn't was that they do not have design (architecture) in the same college. Not a very good criteria in retrospect.

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