So, Fletcher School at Tufts University has been my dream school for some time now. I got admitted into MALD and want to specialise in Development Economics but also take a few classes in Social Entreprenurship and International Political Economy. The flexibility of the MALD degree allows me to do that. I am particularly drawn to the cross registration option with Harvard and would love to take Social Entrepreneurship classes at Harvard Business School and also build some contacts.
My problem is funding. I have received funding of $24k for two years (12k per year) from Fletcher. Still, the tuition plus living cost comes up to $117k. My relative is lending $67,000 and I have to take a loan of $ 50,000. I come from a middle class family in India. After the MALD degree, I am eligible for 1 year OPT in USA as an international student but after that it is the dreaded H1B lottery and purely depends on chance. I cannot pay off such a high debt earning in my local currency.
I also have an offer from Austalian National University (ANU) in Canberra, ranked among top 25 universities in the world by QS rankings, for a Master in International and Development Economics. While not terribly cheap, the total cost is $ 40k less than Fletcher. Australia also allows international students guaranteed stay for 2 years after the degree and it is easy to stay on afterwards till debt is paid off. I have applied for a few full and partial scholarships for ANU but the results have not yet been declared.
However, Fletcher has always been my “dream school” and I wasn’t so happy as I am now for a long time until I got the Fletcher offer letter. My head says ANU but my heart says Fletcher. I like that I can take a few IPE and Social Entrepreneurship classes along with Development Economics at Fletcher as opposed to pure Development Economics at ANU. However, the ANU degree is highly quantitative, comparable to MPA/ID level of Econ and Maths at Harvard, and I have heard that such a degree has better scope at IFIs and development consulting, and better prospects than an IR degree with specialisation in Development.
I have the following doubts:
1) Is Fletcher School worth a debt of $ 50k plus interest and then repayment of $ 67k to my relative? The chances of further scholarship at Fletcher seem slim.
2) Is the name Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) misleading to employers in the development sector outside USA? I ask this because Fletcher does not mention specialisation pursued on its transcripts.
3) To former and current Fletcher students: I know the cross registration option with Harvard exists on paper but how easy is it to actually take classes at Harvard Business School or Harvard Kennedy School and form some useful contacts? Is it worth going to Fletcher for this reason?
4) Is it better to go to Fletcher or ANU? I want to work in development consulting or an IFI but some part of me also wants start a Social Entreprise in future and I cannot help but think the broader education in USA will help me in this.
The ANU curriculum goes very deep into a narrow subject area while the Fletcher curriculum seems to go superficialy across a range of disciplines. At least, that is my impression.
Note: Harvard Kennedy School and SAIS are beyond my budget without fellowships so I did not apply.
@Kaneisha and @ExponentialDecay would highly appreciate your inputs. Thanks!