Masters Matter: Dr. Rich Crepeau and Hannah Williams, Geography

Dr. Rich Crepeau, associate professor of community and regional planning, and first-year graduate student Hannah Williams discuss the Master of Arts in geography, as well as the planning certificate at Appalachian State University. These programs are housed in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Geography and Planning.


  • Rich Crepeau: My name is Rich Crepeau and I am an associate professor of community and regional planning.

    Hannah Williams: My name is Hannah Williams and I am a first year graduate student in the department of geography and planning.

    RC: We are in the Rankin Science West building on the third floor. We occupy all of the third floor and a majority of the second floor.

    HW: I do a variety of research. I work with Dr. Elizabeth Shay another planning professor here in the department. We are researching elder friendly communities and ways that elders can age in place.

    RC: Our planning program here is unusual because the larger framework is that you can concentrate in planning and get a Master’s in Geography. You can concentrate in Human Geography, GIS or Planning. That all can happen and you are still coming at it as a geographer. At the same time we also have a graduate certificate program. Someone could come here after already receiving a master’s that has nothing to do with planning or they can be on campus earning a degree and supplement that degree with a graduate certificate in planning. Planning, aside from being applied geography, is an applied version of a number of different disciplines. We have had people getting a master’s degree in public history and historic restoration then they come and get a graduate certificate in planning. What it does in those sort of circumstances is provide them with the practical tools and the practical knowledge about process and about analysis. It would make them more effective sociologists or a more effective historic preservationists. At the graduate level the two options if you want to pursue planning are to get our master of art and geography with a planning concentration or you can get our graduate planning certificate. It is the same in terms of core coursework, but of course with the graduate certificate you don't have to complete as many credit hours to make that happen. One of the things that we are fortunate to have is a wide and active alumni network. Most of our alumni work in the private sector either in an engineering and design firm or they work in the public sector which is usually in a city or a county planning office. Most of our alumni work in the public sector which is extremely beneficial if you are either doing an internship or pursuing the possibility of an internship. They are very welcoming and supportive in providing internship opportunities. Outside of that they are always looking for Appalachian graduates. So when you find yourself on the job market we have a very wide and enthusiastic alumni network.

    HW: I have a good relationship with all of my professors on this faculty hallway. It seems like the doors are always open to sit and talk about your research interests, career interests or even ask for advising on any step of the way. When I got my internship this summer in the city of Lenoir Planning Department, I came to Dr. Crepeau to ask him how to go about getting the academic credit for the summertime internship. He walked me through the whole process. One of the main reasons that I chose this program was because of the internship track that they have. Most master's programs are two years and require a thesis. I was interested in pursuing research at the school, but I was also interested in expanding my professional skills. The internship track here really appealed to me. Appalachian also an excellent value and was a great way to graduate debt-free.

    RC: If you are a graduate student considering our program I think one of the things that we value the most in our department are the relationships that we have with our students, both academic and professional. One of the things that has surprised me the most since being here is that those relationships continue well beyond graduation.