Schools/Programs Applying To: Programs that will help me develop data analytic skills in the context of public policy analysis. The ones I've identified so far are:
1) University of Chicago - Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MS-CAPP)
2) Georgetown University - Master of Science in Data Science for Public Policy (MS-DSPP)
3) Carnegie Mellon University - Master of Science in Public Policy and Management: Data Analytics (MS-PPM: DA)
4) New York University - Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Social Science Research
5) LSE - Master of Science in Applied Social Data Science
Undergraduate Institution: Top 15 school
Undergraduate GPA: 3.9 out of 4.3 (and 3.8 out of 4.0); graduated summa cum laude
Undergraduate Major: Double major in Economics and Statistics
GRE Quantitative Score: 168
GRE Verbal Score: 165
GRE AW Score: 5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2 (and 2.5 when I apply)
Years of Work Experience: 2 years (2.5 when I apply)
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Worked at an economic consulting company. The job doesn't particularly have a policy focus, but I think it helped me strengthen my research and analytic skills, which I hope to transfer to the Master's program. That includes creating and cleaning datasets (in Stata and R) and conducting econometric analysis to estimate the economic impact of certain actions. After my freshman year of college, I interned with an think tank based in India where we assessed the program effects of community-led menstrual hygiene initiative. This happened five years ago, but remains a very positive experience (I even got co-author credit on the report).
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Not yet written and honestly, I'm still trying to find "my story." One hand, I'm thinking of discussing my internship with a think tank back in 2014, but I'm afraid that experience occurred too long ago. On the other hand, I'm thinking of talking about my senior research project, which was related to public policy (I won an award from my school for the finished product). The experience sparked my interest in this type of research, but I remember feeling restricted/held back by the by limited data available to me. I soon came to appreciate the power of rigorous data analysis when I started working at my economic consulting job. I know
Strength of LORs (be honest, describe the process, etc): Two from professors who supervised my senior research project and one from my supervisor at my current job. I expect that my academic references will be positive and will attest to my interest in public policy, but they might be lacking in anecdotal information since I didn't work with them all that closely. I expect my professional reference to be more specific, since my supervisor can testify to my interest in working with data as well was positive personality traits (leadership abilities, organization skills, etc.)
Questions I have:
- I've only identified a handful of programs that marry public policy and data analysis. Are there other educational opportunities (full-time and on-campus) that I ought to be considering?
- Does my work experience seem strong enough to demonstrate my interest in public policy? I'm nervous that the only truly public policy work I can point to is my senior research project and my 2014 internship.
- I'm still on the fence about applying to traditional MPP/MPA programs (places such as HKS, WWS, Ford, Sanford, etc.) because I'm not sure how rigorous their technical training. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?
- Another reason that I am undecided about MPP programs is that I'm an international student and feel somewhat concerned that job opportunities with this degree might be limited (i.e., might require citizenship, security clearance, etc.)