1. Who should consider the thesis option?
The thesis option is intended for those who plan to pursue a research career, producing scholarship, as distinct from becoming a planning practitioner. Few students are admitted to this option, which requires prior evidence of strong research promise, including excellence in completing PPD297 Research Design. Each student must secure the participation of an individualized three-faculty member supervising committee.
2. What’s the comprehensive exam option?
The exam option requires that students craft a program of study that will help them prepare for a professional exam, i.e. LEED or AICP. Elements of the application, which must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by May 24 of the first year, plus other details, are set forth here:
3. What are the most distinctive pros and cons of the Planning Practicum option?
The planning practicum is a COLLABORATIVE enterprise and in that respect most closely models the actual conditions of planning practice. The client and project are pre-defined, focusing on neighborhoods, large scale development, or other broad segments of the general community. The group approach allows individuals to discover or confirm how their personal strengths and deficiencies are complemented by those of others. At the same time, team members must negotiate and continually monitor their division of labor, and how individual contributions should be credited.
4. What are the most distinctive pros and cons of the PR option?
The professional report is largely an INDIVIDUAL enterprise. Individual students must both secure a client and negotiate their deliverables, which creates the potential for a tailored experience but requires more initiative from the student.
5. Who tends to excel in either the practicum or the PR?
Both capstones allow students to utilize a variety of talents and experiences, just differently. Students who possess strong interpersonal skills may prefer the practicum, whereas self-motivated, strong writers may prefer the PR.
6. Do prospective employers prefer one type of capstone over another?
No. Employers look at quality of performance in grappling with real world problems. Both the practicum and PR provide significant opportunities to grapple with real world problems (the thesis and exam options, much less so).
7. May I complete more than one capstone?
Petitions to do so will be approved rarely. At a minimum, you will have to persuade your personal faculty advisor and the MURP program director, with additional sign offs from the PR and practicum instructors likely required.
8. What about students who study abroad?
Students who study abroad during fall or winter of their second years (e.g., through NEURUS or the Education Abroad Program) may not enroll in the community practicum. Instead, most commonly they complete the PR, with modified deadlines and special provisions for remote submissions.
9. How does Irvine’s capstone requirement compare to other programs’?
UCI’s capstone requirements are in line with peer institutions, such as UC Berkeley and UCLA.
10. When do I have to commit to a capstone?
Ideally, your commitment should be firmed up by late summer prior to the second year of classes. Under almost all circumstances, the student should be committed to a capstone by the course add-drop deadline at the end of the second week of classes. The longer before deciding, the more catch up you will have to do. (Thesis writers will already have had to complete PPD297 Research Design at the end of the first year.)
11. Where do I find the official language on the capstone requirement (aka “exit requirement”)?