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Hi,

I was recently admitted to the MPP at Sciences Po in the Digital, New Technology and Public Policy stream. Now I had applied to the course because I really liked the courses listed on the website, the policy lab component, and of course, Paris.

However, I have been reading up on this forum about the University, and that has left a bittersweet taste. I do not speak French, but the course I am accepted to is taught entirely in English. From the posts on the Forum, I feel that the university's career services aren't too friendly for the international students, the administration is disorganized and the job scenario is not uplifting, even though the teaching is quite good. These posts are from a few years ago, though. 

I have admits from a few US universities (still waiting on the big names). Since the tuition at Sciences Po is much lower, and there's a bunch of scholarships available from our government to students studying in France, I am conflicted. 

Anybody on the Forum with information/opinions on the university? It's like a black box at the moment, with any info I have only coming from the School's website.

 

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Hi all, I'm a Sciences-Po alumna, so I will do my best to answer your questions.  Regarding its administration, I would say that in general, the French administration sucks... They're slow, no

Hi @VeryCheesey!  You're welcome! Sure – I'm responding to your questions below.  Hmm... I'm not sure the policy lab thing would compensate for the lack of quantitative content in the courses, b

Bonjour! Sciences Po is an excellent University - if you plan a career in France or another francophile country. Especially the networks you can get into are very France- and to a lesser degree E

Bonjour!

Sciences Po is an excellent University - if you plan a career in France or another francophile country. Especially the networks you can get into are very France- and to a lesser degree EU-centric. Also: You will have to learn French quickly because English is not as common in France as in Scandinavia, the Netherlands or other European countries. Even within Paris you will frequently run into People who do not speak (or want to speak) a single word of English. 

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17 hours ago, CFGauß said:

Sciences Po is an excellent University - if you plan a career in France or another francophile country. Especially the networks you can get into are very France- and to a lesser degree EU-centric.

Does this mean that an international student looking for an International career should probably keep Sciences Po at a lower priority?

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Depends on what the other universities are and what career you are looking for. If you want a job and perspective in an international institution in a French-speaking country or which likes to hire from France (European Union), it is a safe bet to study there. It is by all means an excellent education and institution but networks do matter and if you are looking to get into an British or American dominated organization you should try to get into an American or British program that has many alumni within your dream organization. You are not trying to become an academic but are looking for a job. So, my advice (for any professional program as opposed to PhD programs) is to not only look for academic excellence but especially for a program's job placement history and alumni.

Edited by CFGauß
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@CFGauß Just as an observation, but most people I meet in international organizations with a French social science background studied at HEC or INSEAD. From what I understand, the ranking/prestige wars between the French institutions are quite severe. Do you know anything about that?

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Thanks, CFGaußthat's insightful. I am actually uncertain about a PhD (since it's a long time commitment) and hence applied for the master's to test the waters. I think I will need to make the choice between the life of an academician and a professional before I decide where to head for the coming years.

I'd be glad if you could answer ExponentialDecay's question.

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9 hours ago, ExponentialDecay said:

@CFGauß Just as an observation, but most people I meet in international organizations with a French social science background studied at HEC or INSEAD. From what I understand, the ranking/prestige wars between the French institutions are quite severe. Do you know anything about that?

INSEAD and HEC are Business Schools, so they have a different orientation but they are also excellent (I personally know some INSEAD graduates and they are stellar). Their networks are similarly strong and some grads do later work in international organizations. Sciences Po, however, is at the very top for government, policy and international relations. Many of the Sciences Po graduates go on to study at ENA and become very senior French or European administrators (fonctionnaires) or politicians.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all,

I too have a very similar choice to make as @VeryCheesey. However I got accepted to MPP programs in Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago and MPA at London School of Economics and Political Science.

Cost of the degree is the most important aspect for me, however, I am also tempted to give into the brands of LSE and Harris. Both would cost around $120,000 USD (Tuition+Living). I am from India and it is a huge burden to carry.

However, with Sciences Po awarded me the Emile-Boutmy Scholarship, which covers 10,000 EUR (Out of 14,000 EUR) a year. There are also other scholarships which would award stipend to live in Paris.

I would love it if you all offer some advice to me vis-a-vis employment opportunities, prospects of doing a PhD in a good American university post the Masters and so on.

@CFGauß @ExponentialDecay

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Hi all,

I'm a Sciences-Po alumna, so I will do my best to answer your questions. 

Regarding its administration, I would say that in general, the French administration sucks... They're slow, not very polite, inefficient... However, I would say that it also depends on the person you end up interacting with. I have myself recently made a request to the Sciences-Po administration (for my grad school applications) and I was positively surprised because they responded quite quickly and delivered what I had requested on time. So, it's hard to generalize and it also depends on your reference point (e.g., if you compare to the US administration, they're definitely much lower ranked, lol... but I don't know about the Indian administration in general...). 

As for Sciences Po's reputation, needless to say that it's a top school in France, and probably n°1 in social sciences. It is also quite well-known abroad, thanks to its 400+ partner universities around the world, usually including the most prestigious ones in each of the countries where they have a partnership (e.g., most of the Ivy League schools, MIT, UC Berkeley, UChicago, etc. in the US / LSE, Oxford, Cambridge in the UK / Bocconi in Italy / Seoul National University and Yonsei University in S Korea / Peking University and Tsinghua University in China / etc.). I was myself surprised to see that a lot of foreigners here in the US know Sciences Po (many Americans don't though... I won't comment on the reasons why :p). It is mostly famous in political science and international relations, but it has strengths in other social sciences fields too (e.g., economics, history, sociology, etc.). 

If I am not mistaken, the Master's program you've got admitted into is quite recent though. So, there are (almost?) no alumni, which makes it harder to see how well they place. That said, I think it is safe to assume that you could find something good upon graduation (or even before). I guess it depends on what type of career you're aiming at, although it's probably quite open. If you have specific questions on the Master's program, you should probably try to contact the academic coordinator of the program – you can find his contact details here – and ask him your questions. Bear in mind though that this Master's program is probably much less quantitative than an MPP at, say, Chicago Harris; so, if you're considering pursuing a PhD in Public Policy, it may not be the best choice (the Master's in Economics is certainly better for such track). 

Finally, regarding the language barrier, I wouldn't be so strict about your "obligation" to learn French. It is true that the average French guy barely speaks English, but the environment at Sciences Po is very international (about 50% of the student body is international), so that shouldn't be a big problem. Plus, I've met several international students there, including a few who didn't speak French or were beginners, and they managed to live there without too much trouble. I guess though the best would be to get feedback from international students there – why don't you try to reach them out (e.g., search on a Facebook group or LinkedIn)?

Hope this helps. I'm happy to answer more specific questions if you have any. 

Edited by Cookiz
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12 minutes ago, Cookiz said:

Hi all,

I'm a Sciences-Po alumna, so I will do my best to answer your questions. 

Regarding its administration, I would say that in general, the French administration sucks... They're slow, not very polite, inefficient... However, I would say that it also depends on the person you end up interacting with. I have myself recently made a request to the Sciences-Po administration (for my grad school applications) and I was positively surprised because they responded quite quickly and delivered what I had requested on time. So, it's hard to generalize and it also depends on your reference point (e.g., if you compare to the US administration, they're definitely much lower ranked, lol... but I don't know about the Indian administration in general...). 

As for Sciences Po's reputation, needless to say that it's a top school in France, and probably n°1 in social sciences. It is also quite well-known abroad, thanks to its 400+ partner universities around the world, usually including the most prestigious ones in each of the countries where they have a partnership (e.g., most of the Ivy League schools, MIT, UC Berkeley, UChicago, etc. in the US / LSE, Oxford, Cambridge in the UK / Bocconi in Italy / Seoul National University and Yonsei University in S Korea / Peking University and Tsinghua University in China / etc.). I was myself surprised to see that a lot of foreigners here in the US know Sciences Po (many Americans don't though... I won't comment on the reasons why :p). It is mostly famous in political science and international relations, but it has strengths in other social sciences fields too (e.g., economics, history, sociology, etc.). 

If I am not mistaken, the Master's program you've got admitted into is quite recent though. So, there are (almost?) no alumni, which makes it harder to see how well they place. That said, I think it is safe to assume that you could find something good upon graduation (or even before). I guess it depends on what type of career you're aiming at, although it's probably quite open. If you have specific questions on the Master's program, you should probably try to contact the academic coordinator of the program – you can find his contact details here – and ask him your questions. Bear in mind though that this Master's program is probably much less quantitative than an MPP at, say, Chicago Harris; so, if you're considering pursuing a PhD in Public Policy, it may not be the best choice (the Master's in Economics is certainly better for such track). 

Finally, regarding the language barrier, I wouldn't be so strict about your "obligation" to learn French. It is true that the average French guy barely speaks English, but the environment at Sciences Po is very international (about 50% of the student body is international), so that shouldn't be a big problem. Plus, I've met several international students there, including a few who didn't speak French or were beginners, and they managed to live there without too much trouble. I guess though the best would be to get feedback from international students there – why don't you try to reach them out (e.g., search on a Facebook group or LinkedIn)?

Hope this helps. I'm happy to answer more specific questions if you have any. 

Thanks @Cookiz I'm very happy to have heard from an alumni. As you suggested, I shall talk to someone who has done the program to know their inputs on employment and doing a PhD at US University. 

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You're welcome! And, again, I don't think that the MPP at Sciences Po would prepare would well for a PhD, regardless of its field. If you plan to pursue a PhD, you should rather think about doing one of the MRes there. For a PhD in Public Policy, the Master's in Economics is definitely a stronger signal and a better preparation, but it is quite quantitative and the program is similar to the ones taught in the first two years of a typical PhD program in Economics in the US/UK (with the three graduate sequences of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics), so be aware of that. 

Edited by Cookiz
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Hi @Cookiz ! Thanks for your inputs. I had a few quick questions that I'll be glad if you could answer.

So given my financial condition and the three admits that I have (all without funding at the moment), Sciences Po seems like the only one I can afford without a huge financial burden. Moreover, I applied to the university because it was one of the few schools that had a concentration for my area of interest (Digital, New Technology, and Public Policy). The course structure, as you mentioned, isn't very quantitative, but the courses they do offer seem comprehensive. I have also taken a few Sciences Po classes online, they seem very theory-oriented, but provide great clarity on the topics. Also, the faculty indicated that the Policy lab component might compensate for the lack of quantitative focus in the curriculum.

So my question is this: Is it wise to pick Sciences Po over, say the average universities at USA if it's cheaper? For instance, I have an admit from Minnesota (likely would be funded too), but the program isn't as aligned with my interest as the one at Sciences Po. The other admit at Harris is probably way out of my budget.

I was also asked by the advisor at Sciences Po if I'd be willing to pursue a PhD at the institute. I said yes, but I don't know if the PhD is of much use if it's not quantitative. Do you have any info about this?

 

Thanks for your help!

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I studied abroad at Sciences Po (a.k.a Sciences Pipo, i.e. “Sciences bullsh*t”) for one semester and I have a lot of friends that go/graduated from the school. 

It really depends on the MA and your career goals. Be careful though, really few people (even in the field, how surprising?) know about it in the US and would assume it to be a tier 3 school, which it is definitely not.

 

 

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@L'Enfant why do you choose to mention the particular name?

Also, why does it matter what people in the US think? Most international organizations are based out of Europe anyway. If the University is reputed there, why would anyone in the US matter?

 

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I had a relatively good experience with the school, although I was expecting more “challenging” classes. Some professors were only teaching to add a bullet point on their resume and the class content had no relationship to the class title. 

The school has been notorious for “formatting” the political elite despite tremendous efforts to increase diversity. Thus why people in France call it “the school of BS”. Although I personally called BS when there were less than 2 working outlets per classroom.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really good school. Prospective students just need to understand it will not have the same notoriety as US schools. 

 

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Hi @VeryCheesey

You're welcome! Sure – I'm responding to your questions below. 

Hmm... I'm not sure the policy lab thing would compensate for the lack of quantitative content in the courses, but I may well be wrong given that they've restructured many programs and created new "departments/schools" within the university after I graduated. 

I guess the answer to the question about whether it is "wise to pick Sciences Po over" an "average" US university depends on 1) what are you professional goals, 2) how much you value enjoying the course content vs the signal your degree/school will provide you, and 3) how heavy the financial burden would be for you if you wanted to go to a US university without funding. 
I would personally think it is important to be happy in the program you are choosing. Plus, if it is substantially cheaper (we're talking about differences in several thousands of dollars!) and it has anyway a strong signal on the job market, it is a very good option. One important question then is whether you think there's a high probability that you would want to pursue a PhD program with substantial quantitative contents (e.g., Public Policy) afterwards. If so, that's a very important factor and I wouldn't go for the MPP at Sciences Po (unless you're fine with a low-ranked PhD program). But I am still unclear about what is your current "ultimate career goal" (?) – if you could specify that (assuming you have an idea), that would help. 
As for the question from the Sciences-Po advisor you talked to, did he make any comments when you said you'd like to do a PhD afterwards? So you said "yes" but what field(s) are you considering? Because as far as I know, Sciences Po doesn't offer any PhD program in Public Policy! It only has PhD programs in Economics, Sociology, History, Law, and Political Science, and I *think* these programs only admit students with the relevant training (i.e., they usually did a research masters before entering the program, because as you may or may not know, in France, the PhD program is only 3 years and it basically corresponds to the last 3 years of a typical PhD program in the US). That said, you could also do a research masters (2 years) after an MPP at Sciences Po and then apply for a PhD program in France (3 years). That would basically be equivalent to directly applying to a PhD program in the US (5 years). But here again, whether to choose a French (or more broadly a European) program over a US one depends partly on your career objectives and location preferences. Anyway, I *think* there is no such thing as a PhD program in Public Policy in any French university... so you would need to find another field if you'd like to pursue your doctoral studies in France. 

I'd also like to chime in regarding @L'Enfant's comments about 1) "Sciences Pipo", 2) the fact that Sciences Po is not very well-known in the US, and 3) the thing about "formatting the political élite" : 
1) It is true that a lot of people say that about Sciences Po. The reason is that Sciences Po has been criticized for providing its students with a too broad set of knowledge, with no specific strengths in a given field. So, basically, Sciences-Po students can (pretend they can) talk about almost everything, but when it comes to getting to details, they lack knowledge. So, it's too general. I, however, do not completely agree with that. First, I'd say that it depends on which masters you end up choosing (a few do prepare well its students very well for the job market in the sectors they're supposed to prepare them for – e.g., the Master in Finance & Strategy has strong placements). Second, I tend to think that it's mostly people from outside the school who say that (because they have a complex of inferiority or what)...
2) I guess it depends... For schools that have a partnership with Sciences Po, I was surprised to see that some students (especially those majoring in a social science field) do know about it. For example, I have myself been surprised that a graduate from Harvard and a current student at UChicago knew about it. However, these are both international students. I think the average American student doesn't know, but (although I didn't want to talk about that...) honestly, what does the average American know about other countries' schools, even the most prestigious ones (apart from Oxford and Cambridge maybe)? lol... Moreover, as VeryCheesey said, whether or not Sciences Po is well-known in the US is relevant only if you plan to work in a US firm/organization or something. 
3) Finally, a last point about "formatting the political élite": people should stop with that... It's false that the majority of Sciences Po students end up in politics or public administration – as a matter of fact, more than 3/4 of Sciences Po's Master's graduates go to work in the private sector...!!! 

Hope this helps. 

Edited by Cookiz
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  • 2 years later...
On 2/7/2018 at 2:38 AM, VeryCheesey said:

Hi,

I was recently admitted to the MPP at Sciences Po in the Digital, New Technology and Public Policy stream. Now I had applied to the course because I really liked the courses listed on the website, the policy lab component, and of course, Paris.

However, I have been reading up on this forum about the University, and that has left a bittersweet taste. I do not speak French, but the course I am accepted to is taught entirely in English. From the posts on the Forum, I feel that the university's career services aren't too friendly for the international students, the administration is disorganized and the job scenario is not uplifting, even though the teaching is quite good. These posts are from a few years ago, though. 

I have admits from a few US universities (still waiting on the big names). Since the tuition at Sciences Po is much lower, and there's a bunch of scholarships available from our government to students studying in France, I am conflicted. 

Anybody on the Forum with information/opinions on the university? It's like a black box at the moment, with any info I have only coming from the School's website.

 

I am embarrassed to say that I never knew what Sciences Po was until I started actively posting on this forum (after graduation and over 8 years in the policy space - including international related policy).

Bottom line, outside of academic + super international spaces, no one the US knows what Science Po is - even though in the policy space. Probably not really applicable to you coming from India... but those are my two thoughts.

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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Hi

I am planning to apply at Sciences Po next year but have confusion about the major differences between the Public Policy and International Relations. From what I've inferred, PP is more quantitative in nature than IR. One disadvantage I have is a lack of background in the field, both academic and professional and hence am unsure if I should even apply in the first place.

I did bachelor's in engineering and have been working as a data science engineer for more than a year now.

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2 hours ago, aatrip said:

Hi

I am planning to apply at Sciences Po next year but have confusion about the major differences between the Public Policy and International Relations. From what I've inferred, PP is more quantitative in nature than IR. One disadvantage I have is a lack of background in the field, both academic and professional and hence am unsure if I should even apply in the first place.

I did bachelor's in engineering and have been working as a data science engineer for more than a year now.

I am originally from France, and students don't usually get any work experience before graduating (and I mean: they barely work part-time jobs). You should'nt be discriminated on that basis. if you have a really good academic record, that should be enough (just an opinion, but that's a cultural factor you may want to know).

 

Edit: I have no idea regarding the change of field. You should ask them.

 

Edited by Rubies
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On 10/13/2020 at 10:05 PM, Rubies said:

I am originally from France, and students don't usually get any work experience before graduating (and I mean: they barely work part-time jobs). You should'nt be discriminated on that basis. if you have a really good academic record, that should be enough (just an opinion, but that's a cultural factor you may want to know).

 

Edit: I have no idea regarding the change of field. You should ask them.

 

Oh! Thanks!

Academically, I think I have a strong profile so I am leaning on that mostly, especially considering the change in field. 

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  • 4 months later...

Resurrecting this thread - what is everyone’s opinion of the Sciences Po / Columbia SIPA dual degree? Given how affordable Sciences Po is, it would be more cost effective than a two year degree at SIPA.
 

Does completing your second year at SIPA outweigh the concerns about Sciences Po’s career support, or would it be too challenging to secure a strong internship placement over the summer? Would it not matter if Sciences Po is less well known in the US if I could lean on SIPA’s reputation? Any thoughts on integrating back into SIPA’s community my second year?

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I also applied to that program, have you heard back from them yet? As I'm also only an applicant I can't really speak to the concerns you raised, but hopefully we can revive this thread a little bit and someone will be able to!

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