Dalhousie or UBC? Urban Design


Hey Guys,

For someone looking to become an Urban Designer/Planner, what program is better or more recognized? The Bachelor of Community Design at Dalhousie, or the Bachelor of Environmental Design at UBC?


Apr 29, 14 1:23 am

It would help if you specify what you mean by Urban Designer/Planner. From what little I know, urban design falls much more on the "architecture" side of things than urban planning. I've been taught by several architects who went the M.Arch route and got a fancy postgrad degree in urban design afterward, but they basically practice architecture.

Apr 29, 14 11:31 am

Those are two very different degrees- the Bachelor of Community Design at Dalhousie would put you on the route to being an urban planner, whereas the Bachelor of Environmental Design at UBC would put you more on the route of being an architect (although many students with a BEDs degree do branch out from there and do urban design or planning Master degrees). I'd suggest doing a bit more research into various schools that offer design programs and what those programs are. 

Apr 29, 14 4:40 pm

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the responses. I kind of had Urban Designer/Planner as the same thing, but I guess I'm talking more of an Urban Planner. I'll post some links right here as examples of the kind of work I would want to be doing. Would one need to actually get a M.Arch or be licensed as an architect to be doing this kind of work? Because that isn't really my goal.

May 2, 14 2:30 am

Yes, those links you posted would most likely be done primarily by urban designers, rather than urban planners (though, of course, the two are inseparable and would inevitably work together). Planning is typically more rules-based, text-heavy, and less physical. The distinction is important -- I'd do some reading on that before going much further.

Though, honestly, if getting a Masters isn't your goal, pick an entirely different route. To do that kind of work, you will need a Masters' degree, possibly multiple of them, and years of experience.

Urban design is a BFD in design schools right now, and urban designer jobs are scarce and incredibly competitive. There's basically no chance with just a Bachelor's -- you'd most likely be looking at a double Masters' program, either combining a degree in architecture or landscape architecture with a degree in planning (i.e. Berkeley), or a post-Masters' second Masters program in urban design specifically (i.e. UBC's new Masters of Urban Design program, which begins this fall). It's a long, grueling, hyper-competitive road.

May 2, 14 3:35 am

Thanks for that response royc, really helpful. 

Dalhousie offers the chance to double major in Urban Design Studies and Environment, Sustainability, and Society. Would that, coupled with something like UBC/s Masters of Urban Design, give me a chance?

May 5, 14 2:54 pm

The double major program at Dalhousie would give you the opportunity to branch out - however, as royc said, it would likely mean less actual design work in your future. If you do want to do more design, I think getting a Master degree is inevitable, just because of the market today. However, that doesn't mean you need to get a M.Arch! There are other Master design programs. Dalhousie offers a Master of Urban Planning and UBC offers a Master of Urban Design (as does UofT and I'm sure other Canadian schools). Alternatively, if you JUST want to do an undergraduate degree, try to find one that has co-op terms built into it. Having work experience and connections when you graduate is invaluable after any level of study. 

May 6, 14 2:07 pm

Thoughts on someone with an MUP degree and 5+ years experience as a transportation planner trying to shift into urban design career? Try for one of the post prof MUD degrees??

Mar 1, 15 6:48 pm

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