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Applying for Harvard Urban Planning and HKS MPP or MPA Dual Degree


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Hi everyone,

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on a dual-degree at Harvard with the Graduate School of Design (GSD) for Urban Planning and the HKS' MPP or MPA. Seems like the GSD skills would be more niche, so perhaps getting more general policy skills through the MPP (negotiation, economics) would be a good complement. I know the MPA is more flexible but tends to produce more administrative/managerial positions than policy analysts. 

Anyone who's in the same boat or has completed the dual-degree? Is it worth the extra year to complete in exchange for having two degrees, and which program is more popular for GSD students?

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Hi @matt99,

I really like the idea of a Harvard MPP/MPA and an MUP. I'm a Harvard MBA & MPA, I have a Harvard MUP/MArch on my team, and we currently have a client applying to the MPP/MUP at Harvard. While I only took one class at the GSD (it was a case-based Economics course that used Urban Planning cases), I really enjoyed it, and have since seen the amazing success of two of my friends who graduated from GSD and now teach there. While it might be true that the MPA produces more administrative/managerial people than policy analysts (I don't know if this is actually true), you can take almost whatever classes you want as a Harvard MPA, so if you want to veer toward more policy analysis or skills-based courses such as negotiations, you can do that. As a wordsmith and advocate-type who prefers to lean into my strengths, I focused most of my MPA coursework on communication and leadership courses, such as "Public Narrative," "Arts of Communication," and "Writing for Public Policy."

I suggest you reach out to current and recent MUP/MPP students via LinkedIn to chat with them briefly and get their perspective on the dual degree. I hope that you'll be wowed by how open people are to sharing their thoughts!

Best of luck on deciding what to do next!

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  • 4 weeks later...

It depends on what you want to do with your career. I see planning as fitting with administration well, where you balance planning and implementation. With policy, you would have more quantitative analysis and planning. If you want to do more analysis then the MPP would be beneficial, if you want your planning to be implement-able then an MPA would be beneficial. 

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