GET MORE DEGREES! On getting a dual degree in architecture and planning at MIT

My split identity: Jane Jacobs + le Corbusier

My split identity: Jane Jacobs + le Corbusier

So, lately it seems that people from both my architecture and planning lives are interested in what’s happening on the other side. Given the many questions I’ve received lately on my foray into simultaneous dual degree land, I thought it might be useful to do a little Q & A with myself (which I hope is not too presumptuous)…

Why get an M.Arch and MCP?

I always suspected I didn’t want to be an architect in the traditional sense, and my work experience confirmed that. Yet here I am in architecture school, and while I don’t want to be a city planner either, I realized that maybe expanding into the planning realm could get me a little closer to what I might want to do in the future. I’m not sure exactly what that is, but it somehow exists in the space between architecture and planning; thinking and working at multiple scales, designing systems that respond to broad problems and issues, and trying to understand how something as complex as a city or region really works.

How long does it take?

For me, starting on the architecture side, adding a planning degree doesn’t add any extra time; I just allot all of my electives towards planning classes. This is made easier by the fact that I have a BS Arch and was able to waive a number of introductory architecture classes.

Is it hard?

Well, grad school is hard. But being able to balance my interests, even under a difficult workload, is easier than spending all of my time on something that isn’t individually fulfilling. So maybe it is harder, but I’m getting more out of it.

What else is great about pursuing a dual degree?

I’m just recently starting to feel like a part of both communities, and spanning that gap has been really fun and interesting. Doing the degrees at the same time, as opposed to consecutively, really allows me to exist in that exciting and occasionally overwhelming between-space.

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