Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated November 2010
Studying In the field
Urban planning is a general field that encompasses a variety of disciplines related to the "built environment" (or man made structures) of a city, town, or other urban area. However, closely related to urban planning are fields such as conservation, land-use planning, preservation planning, and other similar fields.
Urban planning can be studied at either a Master's or Doctoral level. Degrees typically involve experiential learning opportunities that allow students to combine their theory and learned techniques with practical-learning settings and experiences. Some programs may include internships or significant research projects designed to give students real-world experience in the field of urban planning.
Concentrations in urban planning studies may be varied and cover topics such as housing, economic development, urban policy and management, public administration, community development, architecture, education, or others.The Tufts University Department of Urban Environmental Policy and Planning has the motto of "Educating practical visionaries". The juxtaposition of this statement seems to capture the essence of studying urban planning with its emphasis on the creativity and passion needed for vision and the skills and knowledge necessary to make that vision a practical reality.
Job opportunities in the field
Career opportunities in the field of urban planning often center around government or non-profit organizations, although there are numerous opportunities in the private sector as well. The government needs good urban planners at the federal, state, and local levels in order to manage the many projects that they initiate as well as providing guidance on policies related to urban planning.
Many non-profit organizations are involved in urban planning initiatives in order to protect people, develop opportunities for economically challenged regions, protect land, open space, and water resources or a variety of other causes. In addition to non-profits, there are numerous international NGOs such as the Mercy Corps or WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) that might hire urban planning experts.
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