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City/Urban, Community, and Regional Planning


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What to Expect

By planning parks, roads, buildings and highways, urban and regional planning students learn to provide a more environmentally friendly setting for future generations to live in.

David Martineau did graduate work in urban planning at Eastern Washington University in Spokane. He received his undergraduate degree in sociology. "I have long been interested in environmental issues and found that sociology provided a good foundation for doing environmental work, but it became too academic," he says.

Urban planning offered a solution. "I looked into the planning field and found that it was broad enough to allow me to utilize my sociology background, yet work on environmental matters that affect real people in the community."

Much of what students study at the graduate level is defined in terms of students' interests. Students take economics, sociology, geography, law, English, planning theory and statistics.

One of the greatest assets of most planning programs is the hands-on experience.

"The...planning program provides applied skills to our learned knowledge. There are constantly opportunities to meet with professionals," says Stephen Molloy. He studied urban planning.

Molloy says he spent 10 to 15 hours a week studying. "As you adapt from high school to university life, you learn how to study properly. It is something you pick up when you have to write three final exams in two days!"

How to Prepare

Get ready for a busy academic life. Students take an average of four to five courses a semester. That may not seem like a lot, but there are labs and hands-on experiences on top of that.

Martineau recommends that students read and write a lot as well as get involved in issues that really interest them. "Strong academic skills and assuming positions of advocacy will enhance your chances for success, but it takes a good deal of dedication and a lot of work," he says.

Take art and communication classes. Art can provide insight into spatial relationships and design. Communication will help students develop skills as speakers and organizers.

"Students wanting to prepare themselves for this field of study will find economics, quantitative methods, architecture, political science and earth science all helpful," says Denise Ransom. She did graduate work in urban planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


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