First post here, hope to use some good advice
Program: PhD in Public Policy/Public Administration
Schools Applying To: UChicago Harris PhD, UGeorgia PA, Duke Public Policy PhD, Georgetown PhD Govt (joint MPP), Syracuse Maxwell Policy PhD, USC Sol Price Policy PhD
Interests: Long-term policy planning, impact of policy uncertainty, sustainability and impact of independent fiscal institutions. It would depend highly on the interests of the schools.
Undergrad Institution: University of London International Programme
Undergraduate GPA: NA, Upper second-class honours
Undergraduate Major: Economics
Graduate Institution: Top 3 Singapore University
Graduate GPA: 3.64/4
Graduate Major: Masters in Applied Economics
GRE: Q162, V161, AWA 4.0
Quantitative Courses: Graduate Econometrics (A), Topics in Advanced Econometrics (A-), Undergrad Math and Stats (Cs under the British system, but here's hoping the grad should make up for it)
Years of Work Experience: 3 years, 2 in private, 1 year doing 2 RA jobs, both in policy work.
Languages: English and Mandarin, fluent.
Work Experience: Two years in private sector that did research projects on SMEs and startups under the advisory of Ministries. One year university-affiliated policy think tank RA, working with firm data. one year policy work on research
LORs: 1 from Master's prof under whom I studied 3 modules with, a former IMF Deputy Director, and with whom I have kept regular contact. 1 from my policy think tank whom I collaborated with on scrutinizing feasbility of databases . Probably another professor from my Master's whom I know quite closely.
Concerns: Been doing a gap year to decide whether a PhD is right for me, and my Economics concentration is a concern for a broader policy PhD, but know that my math is too weak for a Econ PhD.
Also concerned about the value proposition of going to a non-top five school. I was told, even as an international student, that the more prestigious schools will help get me placed in major think tanks/academia positions better.
Also, I've yet to move out of Singapore before. I wonder if some level of East Asia expertise is an innate advantage and do I need to make the case for that in my cover letter?