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Urban Planning/Preservation programs- admissions?


DC2PP
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Recent grad (August, 2010) looking into grad programs for urban planning. Originally considered MS in architecture, but in reality I'm more interested in planning/preservation issues and I have no portfolio to speak of. BA in Art History and International Affairs (double major) from GWU, undergrad GPA 3.5 (closer to 3.65 if you discount my unfortunate second semester freshmen year). Previous internships at federal govt, Smithsonian museum, preservation non profit, music label (in France). Currently in Cambodia volunteering/interning with several architecture or housing related NGOs/ snooping for potential Fulbright research topics (another discussion...). Upon returning to the States, will look into jobs/internships related to planning/preservation (although now that I'm out of undergrad, I will need to make some $) in addition to becoming more involved with local preservation groups.

So those are my stats, my question is, which programs are worth applying to? Obviously there are the top schools according to whatever list, but what are the best programs that I have reasonable shot at getting into? I'm very interested in historic preservation, but I'm a bit worried that a MA in HP would leave me with very limited job opportunities and lots of debt. I know Cornell offers a Historical Preservation Planning Program, and at Columbia you can do a 3 year HP/UP program. But I've also heard that a good planning degree is enough to allow for specialization later.

Anyone with any good advice/tips on good programs, admissions, or ways to get involved (and bolster my CV) before I start applying? I'm really just starting this process now, I haven't even taken the GREs and plan on applying for Fall 2012.

Thanks in advance!

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I think a strong portfolio helps regardless of the track you decide to take. You have plenty of time to work on one, but it might be a good idea to think about taking a class or drawing/photographing/painting/etc. when you have free time and see where it goes. From my understanding, the portfolios are more a presentation of the way you express yourself and therefore the portfolio as a whole should be representative of the way you approach free space. you can fill it with whatever you want and can organize the content any way you choose. In short, the portfolio its self should be a work of design; what goes inside helps describe the overall portfolio.

sounds like you've got some great work experience, so keep those relationships alive and ask for recommendation letters when the time comes. sounds like you're on the right track though. Good luck!

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  • 3 months later...

I would say to give Cornell a good look. The MA and PhD Historic Preservation Planning are very interested in international work, and your background in Cambodia, France, and non-profit work sounds like they might want to chat with you. I understand that their program has near to a 100% employment rate, and their worldwide network to grads of the program is tough to beat. Only 8 to 12 people get in each fall, but as they say in the NY State Lottery, you can't win if you don't play..

I start there in Fall 2011 for MA HPP, but have many years experience in preservation. Going back after a year or two off should not be a problem, as long as you can show a regular trajectory in your career that supports going there. Go visit them, or at least open a running dialogue with the head of the program now in preparation for that.. That's what they told me, and it worked. They are VERY friendly and the program is not competitive, but cooperative.

Gotta love those student loans, tho.! Total tuition for 2 years of grad school there will be about $54,000 (minus 12,000 in assistantships, etc, of course), plus all those other expenses like food, housing, books, etc.. ya gotta pay if you wanna play. Owww!

Best wishes!

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Recent grad (August, 2010) looking into grad programs for urban planning. Originally considered MS in architecture, but in reality I'm more interested in planning/preservation issues and I have no portfolio to speak of. BA in Art History and International Affairs (double major) from GWU, undergrad GPA 3.5 (closer to 3.65 if you discount my unfortunate second semester freshmen year). Previous internships at federal govt, Smithsonian museum, preservation non profit, music label (in France). Currently in Cambodia volunteering/interning with several architecture or housing related NGOs/ snooping for potential Fulbright research topics (another discussion...). Upon returning to the States, will look into jobs/internships related to planning/preservation (although now that I'm out of undergrad, I will need to make some $) in addition to becoming more involved with local preservation groups.

So those are my stats, my question is, which programs are worth applying to? Obviously there are the top schools according to whatever list, but what are the best programs that I have reasonable shot at getting into? I'm very interested in historic preservation, but I'm a bit worried that a MA in HP would leave me with very limited job opportunities and lots of debt. I know Cornell offers a Historical Preservation Planning Program, and at Columbia you can do a 3 year HP/UP program. But I've also heard that a good planning degree is enough to allow for specialization later.

Anyone with any good advice/tips on good programs, admissions, or ways to get involved (and bolster my CV) before I start applying? I'm really just starting this process now, I haven't even taken the GREs and plan on applying for Fall 2012.

Thanks in advance!

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