Good Masters Programs in Urban Planning?
August 19, 2012 11:05 PM   Subscribe

What are some good MA programs in Urban planning in the US? With emphasis on working from the architectural side on large scale developments, particularly in relation to tourism.

I am trying to help a friend find information on US Masters Programs in urban/master planning with an emphasis on tourism projects. She is a Mexican architect working in Mexico City with a few years of experience in the field and now wants some theoretical knowledge to help her work on large-scale projects.
posted by pynchonesque to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think your question is flawed. A Masters in Urban Planning is its own degree (MUP); it's not a MA. A cursory search of the webs reveals a few links.

I got my MLA at UPenn; their program is great. The biggest problem is that to my knowledge, none of these programs focus on tourism-related projects - most tourism projects aren't about urbanism... They're about escape, spectacle, the opposite of everyday life (which most people experience in an urban location). Get a good degree at a good school, and that's one possible first step to becoming a good planner.

One other thing to note, If you work as a planner for 4 years (3 years w/grad degree), you can still become a certified planner (AICP) without a planning degree. In my experience though, a lot of architects need additional education to think more in terms of the fabric of the built environment (the field) rather than heroic built objects (the points in the field).
posted by Kronur at 2:13 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: Planetizen and Cyburbia are the two online spots that I would recommend for urban planning info.

In particular, Planetizen publishes a guide to North American planning programs; and Cyburbia has forums that see some pretty active use, including some forums for grad school and applicants.
posted by andrewesque at 4:32 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

For example, here's Planetizen's list of top ten planning departments. You can order their full guide here.
posted by Forktine at 6:04 AM on August 20, 2012

Best answer: My MUP program (U. Michigan) was housed alongside the college of architecture. Some other UP programs will live with public policy. It sounds like your friend probably wants to make sure she winds up at one like the former.

Your friend might also want to look into urban design programs instead of urban planning. The focus will be on the middle ground between individual buildings and citywide planning, but with plenty of exposure both to the MUP and MArch sides of the house.

MUP programs tend to vary considerably when it comes to theory vs. practice. In general, the bigger name universities focus on theory, while less prestigious programs focus on more of the practice of planning (zoning and such).
posted by pjaust at 7:03 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As mentioned, there are no MA programs in urban planning. They will be MUP (Urban Planning), MCP (City Planning), MRP (Regional Planning), or some variant.

Is your friend interested in learning about tourism policy, environmental justice, economic development theory, or something like that? Then a planning program is probably a good idea. Otherwise, she probably wants urban design.

Generally, university departments are organized into schools/colleges. If she wants to study policy, then look for departments that are housing within schools that focus on social science or humanities. If she wants to focus on design, look for programs that are in the same school as art and architecture.

Another way is to find some faculty that are doing work similar to the kind she wants to do and choose the school in that way. This is a little more legwork but probably worth it. A search in Google Scholar for articles related to her interests should turn up some names.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:36 AM on August 20, 2012

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