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mchutchi

NPSIA or GSPIA

13 posts in this topic

Since many folks have to make a decision between NPSIA and GSPIA, I figured this could use a discussion board of its own. Hopefully ya'll will join pitch in with your own thoughts and we can all weigh the pros and cons together. I think this is a solid way to get as much relevant info into one spot so for those of us who are struggling with this choice can make the most informed one. I have messaged a few other peeps who are in this same boat and I got some really good insights. So to get the ball rolling I thought I would just paste a couple of them below:

"But, so far, I think I am leaning a bit more toward NPSIA. Both internationally and domestically, it seems to carry a more prestigious reputation... while GSPIA seems like a fantastic program as well, its relative newness compared to NPSIA just means it likely doesn't have as strong connections to the job market. And I'm using the program for its job placement opportunities rather than for academia or doctorates, so I'm looking more for a program that has really strong placement; otherwise I think they'd be on even ground. NPSIA also has CSIDS, which coincides with my research interests, as well as things like their annual Soiree to mingle with influential international relations. Both facilities seem amazing, both faculties seem quite similar.."

" Honestly, I think GSPIA and NPSIA are VERY similar. Sure, there are slight differences between the two, but in all honesty, both programs are geared towards grooming future public servants. NPSIA has the reputation, its been around since 1965 (if memory serves me correctly) compared to 2007 for GSPIA. However, some have suggested that the program itself is getting a little long in the tooth, whereas GSPIA is on the up and up. Overall, Carleton doesn't have a great reputation either. Only select programs, such as NPSIA, Architecture...have a good reputation. From what I gather, OttawaU has a better overall ranking compared to Carleton. I think its important for someone to know what they intend on doing after school career-wise. Tbh, if I wanted to work for some famous think-tank, UN, or some fancy corporate gig, I would probably stick around U of T or try to get into somewhere more prestigious because of the "name". Since I am gunning for a job within the public service, all signs suggest that the path of least resistance is either through NPSIA, or GSPIA"

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The people I've met at GAC, have mostly been NPSIA grads to be honest. I've only met a few from GSPIA. NPSIA seems to be very well regarded at GAC - all of my directors know about the program and think very highly of it. Honestly, I was more GSPIA before I got accepted to NPSIA but I think after getting accepted there it's changed my perspective. I think I would feel odd turning it down you know? I love GSPIA's wide range of faculty - their professors impress me more than the ones at NPSIA. I've also heard GSPIA has smaller class sizes which I think is beneficial for getting to know your professors/make connections for outside employment. However, I don't like the idea of doing an MRP to be honest - I'd rather do courses like at NPSIA. (The courses at NPSIA look unreal).  Also in terms of coop opportunities, I always thought GSPIA had a better, more official coop program but after working at GAC.. it's all coop students from NPSIA? Basically - GSPIA pros: faculty, smaller class sizes, more "official" coop program, good opportunities to go on embassy internships. Cons: less recognition than NPSIA ( but it's growing). NPSIA pros: awesome courses, international recognition, good placements at GAC. Cons: less diverse faculty, bigger class sizes. 

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This is a tough decision, especially since it seems that either program would be awesome. I'm heavily leaning towards NPSIA at this point in time, although I've flipflopped a lot between the two. My plan is to accept NPSIA unless I receive a much bigger funding package from GSPIA (at which point I would reconsider). NPSIA gave me a generous funding offer, though, so my guess is that NPSIA it will be! There are so many courses at NPSIA so it's no surprise that I find more that interest me there than at GSPIA. I am planning to take one or two courses at UOttawa, though - there are some that look amazing and don't have an equivalent at NPSIA (e.g. I'm really interested in immigration and diversity. UOttawa has a perfect course for that, whereas I don't see anything similar at NPSIA). I have been told by a current NPSIA student that this is possible (and the two universities websites confirm this - they have some sort of agreement that makes it relatively painless to take courses at the other institution). I like this possibility, as the profs at GSPIA are frankly more impressive to me in terms of where my interests lie. The course-based option at NPSIA is very attractive for someone like me who did an undergrad thesis and is pursuing a master's mostly to learn a lot from experienced profs and gain a wide knowledge base that will serve me in future careers.

From talking to a few GSPIA and NPSIA students (so this is just anecdotal) I have heard:

1. Both programs are awesome for preparing for a career in government/international policy and are well-connected, although NPSIA a bit more so through its alumni network. Co-ops for both are great.

2. Ones doesn't have to specialize at NPSIA and can take courses across specializations, which means that there are TONNES of courses to pick from. GSPIA has more required courses that everyone takes together.

3. There are plenty of funding opps in both programs (either through entrance funding or funding that one can apply to in first year).

4. Class size is much smaller at GSPIA than NPSIA. NPSIA let in 120 students for Fall 2016, which is more than its usual 90 or so. Not clear if this was a one-off, or is part of a trend of increasing the size of the program.

5. Students from both programs do a good job of complaining about their program and believing the other is better, but there doesn't appear to be a clear forerunner.

As a side note for those having trouble making decisions between options that are different but attractive in their own way (including myself!), this might be helpful: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/519264798/decisions-decisions-decisions. I'd already watched all these TED talks, but the show brings up some new points that are relevant, I feel.

 

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What about the fact that GSPIA offers the possibility of an internship at a Canadian embassy abroad? As far as I know, NPSIA doesn't have an official internship program. At this point, this is the only thing that could swing me away from NPSIA. It has been so hard to get any work experience so I am really pulled to any kind of outside of the classroom stuff. What do ya'll think about this?

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21 minutes ago, mchutchi said:

What about the fact that GSPIA offers the possibility of an internship at a Canadian embassy abroad? As far as I know, NPSIA doesn't have an official internship program. At this point, this is the only thing that could swing me away from NPSIA. It has been so hard to get any work experience so I am really pulled to any kind of outside of the classroom stuff. What do ya'll think about this?

Considering that their various internships are either unpaid or not 100% covered by funding, while eye-opening, I feel an internship would be too big of a financial burden if money's a concern. Also, both programs have what seem to be pretty good co-op options which are not only paid but can provide just as many networking benefits as an internship. If you had the funds on your own and wanted to work specifically in an embassy, I'd say go for it, but 'internship' can be a pretty dirty word.

I'm leaning now toward NPSIA because they've given me better funding and I like the specialization I've been placed in more than GSPIA's, but I'm going to go view both campuses this week and make a decision after then.

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Posted (edited)

I'm wondering which program is better in terms of co-op options and placements. Most folks seem to pair them up equally in this respect. 

Edited by mchutchi

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I don't find myself as impressed with NPSIA's faculty vs. GSPIA's. It's because I am drawn to both - I like NPSIA's course offerings, course-based option, specialization and its reputation. But I don't like the increase in class sizes and the smaller, less diverse faculty. This will be a hard decision - it feels weird to decline an offer from NPSIA.

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18 hours ago, mchutchi said:

I'm wondering which program is better in terms of co-op options and placements. Most folks seem to pair them up equally in this respect. 

I feel uOttawa has better coop placements - their coop program is one of the best and is very official. 

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Thought this was helpful - from another forum, posted by @Hopeful2017

I just wanted to give some perspective on the GSPIA/NPSIA debate. Since I currently work at GAC, I've been getting the perspective from both directors, current and past students at GSPIA and NPSIA.

Here is what I've gathered from them all - the good and the bad:

GSPIA

- They have been admitting too many students into the program and can't provide the unique opportunities they are being praised for to them all now. For example, my friend told me only 20-30 students this year got coops out of 90. 

- They have dropped the ball on some embassy internships for students 

- Students frustrated with the administration 

- French mandatory master's course can be difficult 

- Less recognition from GAC, NPSIA still leads in terms of the director's I've talked to 

- More theoretical? And less options for electives 

- Awesome profs, conferences, round-tables but course load so heavy you hardly have time to attend 

- Econ heavy in the first semester 

 

NPSIA

- Econ requirement can be annoying 

- More people being admitted to the program as well - but it looks like this is the same at GSPIA 

-Lots of people from NPSIA at GAC - a lot of recognition there 

- Coop opportunities - some say there has been less, but I see so many coop students at GAC from NPSIA, and only a few from GSPIA. 

- NPSIA seems a bit more applied 

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I can confirm that I was told by a GSPIA student (who is graduating in a few months) that co-op is only guaranteed for top students (he said about the top half of the class). He did however say that there are other job listings and jobs through profs, so it's pretty easy to find opportunities. I think the same would apply to NPSIA - there's possibility to find things outside of the official co-op program.

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2 minutes ago, JV-K said:

I can confirm that I was told by a GSPIA student (who is graduating in a few months) that co-op is only guaranteed for top students (he said about the top half of the class). He did however say that there are other job listings and jobs through profs, so it's pretty easy to find opportunities. I think the same would apply to NPSIA - there's possibility to find things outside of the official co-op program.

 

I just hope that people who are choosing GSPIA over NPSIA for their "better coop opportunities" ( like I was ), realize that GSPIA coop placements aren't that abundant either. You will have to work hard at either school for a good coop placement. However, when I search people on LinkedIn who have gone to NPSIA, they all seem to have amazing work experiences. NPSIA does have more recognition at GAC, if that is what you're looking to get into. Here is what someone from GAC, who went to NPSIA told me last night which I think is important. I'm looking for more of a practical, applied master's - not super theory heavy. 

"The two programs are quite different. I attended NPSIA but also spent a lot of time deciding between the two programs. GSPIA has a larger number of mandatory courses that NPSIA, and also has a mandatory thesis option. At NPSIA, 90% of student do a course-based masters (no MRP or thesis). This makes the NPSIA program faster to complete (as quick as 12months) and more professionally oriented (for public service). For example, some of my courses had a short final paper (5 pages) to mirror the concise writing needed in govt. GSPIA is tailored to people wanting a career in academia. It is also a bilingual program with courses taught in both languages (though NPSIA also requires a second language to graduate, just not necessarily French, and does not teach in French). So it depends what your goals are, how quickly u want to finish etc.

GSPIA also offers an innovative Embassy internship program if I remember correctly where u can intern abroad. So it depends what u are looking for. In regards to NPSIA streams, they really do not matter so don't stress if you didn't get into the stream you wanted. For example, once in, you can choose to take no courses in your stream or all electives in your stream. It's very flexible in case you find halfway through you prefer a different stream. The only real difference is that students get 'priority' when registering for courses in their chosen streams, but it is not hard to get into a course outside your stream.

With that said, I really loved my experience at NPSIA. It was more middle or right leaning on the political spectrum then my undergraduate education at uOttawa in development, which was very left leaning, but in the end this variety gave me a more balanced perspective on international issues. I also found the program rigorous and challenging. It really made me think more critically. And with the name recognition that NPSIA has in the field of international affairs, particularly at GAC, it immediately connects you to many alumni in high places."

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What is turning me away from GSPIA is that you get 10 courses, seminar and an MRP. Six of those 10 courses are mandatory, seemingly dry courses ( research methods, micro, macro, ethics). And you can only pick four electives that you are interested in... that doesn't seem like a lot in my opinion, then you're off to work on an MRP for a large chunk of your time there. My friend is in first year and she had to submit her topic a month ago. I think the variety of courses at NPSIA is appealing, you can really get a taste of everything - international trade, international security, global health, internet governance, terrorism, etc. 

For embassy internships, my friend also said the administration dropped the ball on her and a lot of other students internships. She said a lot of students just seem stressed and see it as something they just want completed at this point. I want to enjoy my experience at grad school, not being so stressed and flustered all the time and "trying to get it over with". 

My two cents. 

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Officially accepted NPSIA this morning :) No going back now!!!

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