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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): MPP/MPA, MS-CAPP, MS DSPP, MSPPM-DA
Schools Applied To: Wagner, Humphrey (UMN), McCourt MS DSPP, Heinz Data Analytics, Harris MS-CAPP
Schools Admitted To: Humphrey ($$), Wagner, Heinz($$), McCourt ($)
Waitlisted: Harris MS-CAPP

Undergraduate institution:  top 20 private liberal arts
Undergraduate GPA:  3.53                                                                                                                                                                                

Undergraduate Majors:  Economics & Theatre 
GRE Quantitative Score:  163
GRE Verbal Score:  165
GRE AW Score:  5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  5
Years of Work Experience:  2 years directly relevant; 4 years after undergrad spent working as a technical theatre supervisor
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Schools Admitted To: Currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA working in data visualization. Did a gap year of AmeriCorps NCCC service following first year of undergrad.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Since I'm going through a career change, this was my biggest source of anxiety. I spent a lot of time conceptualizing my narrative in a cohesive, yet honest way. For me, it was much easier to nail the longer SOPs because I had time and space to tell my story. My working theory on why I got into Heinz with considerable funding and was waitlisted at Harris was because Heinz had a 1000 word essay and Harris had 300 word prompts. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Exactly what they needed to be with my unorthodox experience. One academic, my AmeriCorps supervisor, and my former theatre supervisor. I mostly went ignored in undergrad, but had a Writing for Economics professor who I knew would remember me. My AmeriCorps supervisor is a HKS alum and executive director for a large non-profit. My theatre supervisor worked with me for four years, hired me on staff after a year-long internship, and can attest to my leadership skills, technical ability, and work ethic.
Other: I definitely felt like applying for MPP programs, especially the quant-heavy ones, was a serious gamble because of my lack of directly relevant experience (other than two years of AmeriCorps service). My Harris application definitely suffered for not talking about technical theatre enough. With my successful applications, I made a strong case for how theatre lead me to this point by making me realize I wanted work that was more analytical, more meaningful, and had more potential for long-term growth.
Worth mentioning for the people nervous about proving quantitative ability: I had a C+ in undergrad calculus and a B- in Econometrics (I'm a recovering over-scheduler) that worried me a lot. I took Calc II and Linear Algebra at a community college last summer and got As in both, which I think along with my GRE scores and current data-related job proved I would be up for the quantitative-heavy MSPPM-DA and MS-DSPP programs. 

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You're right. Thanks for this comment. Gradcafe has been there for me throughout the years. It's helped me receive the Fulbright and get into my dream school on a full ride. I'll add to the thread now

To all future applicants, I hope this is as helpful to you as previous GradCafe posts were to me! Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.)  MPP, MPA, MEM (Masters of Environmental Management) Sch

@3eyes I applied for a Masters. And to be frank I think it's pretty weird to follow around everyone who has mentioned applying to American asking them to decline their offer, as you seem to be doing.

Program Applied To (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): IR/IA
Schools Applied To: American SIS, GWU Elliott, Georgetown MSFS, Georgetown SSP, Tufts Fletcher MALD
Schools Admitted To: American SIS, GWU Elliott (45% funding), Georgetown MSFS (60% funding), Georgetown SSP, Tufts Fletcher MALD (45% funding)
Schools Rejected From: none
Still Waiting: none
Undergraduate institution: Top 50 US university
Undergraduate GPA: 3.75
Undergraduate Major: International relations, French
GRE Quantitative Score: 168
GRE Verbal Score: 165
GRE AW Score: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 5
Years of Work Experience: 4 years full-time (plus some extra part-time/consulting/volunteering since graduating)
Describe Relevant Work Experience: I've been living abroad since I graduated (5 years) which I would count as relevant experience on its own. 2.5 years as a security analyst for a large INGO in West Africa, other work and consultancy positions for smaller/local NGOs in the same country. I also speak a second language fluently and am conversational in a third.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I guess they were good? Everyone on this forum talks about how you have to write distinct SOPs for every school, but to be honest mine were very similar. All of these programs pretty much emphasize the same values, have similar structures, they all have excellent professors... I obviously didn't send the same essay everywhere but that part was less important to me than people made it seem for these programs. I think my SOPs got better even within the 10 days between the first deadline (GWU on Jan 5) and the last (American on Jan 15) and I ended up looking back on my GWU SOP and wishing I had made some minor changes. So definitely start as early as possible, the editing process never ends.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Probably not the strongest part of my application. I decided to submit 3 LORs for every school (even those that only required 2) because while I knew my professional LOR would be very strong I wasn't very confident in my academic one, so I wanted to bolster my application as much as I could. I didn't do a thesis or research in college so I wasn't close to any of my professors. I had to send some awkward emails and remind people of who I was (my French professor asked for a picture of me to jog his memory... that felt awkward). I used a French professor for every application and an IR professor one of them, but neither of them shared their letters and I can't imagine they could have written especially strong ones. I asked my current boss who wrote me a lovely and very detailed LOR. I also asked a former colleague who was in a somewhat supervisory role to me for the remaining slots, and her letter was very nice but not very specific so I kind of regretted asking her afterwards.
Other: Will likely choose Georgetown MSFS. They were my first choice going in and I was surprised to have gotten the best scholarship package from them. I'll have to take out some pretty hefty loans but still within the limits of reasonable amounts for this type of degree. I'm happy I don't have to make the decision between a top school with more loans and other schools with better scholarships, I know that's a really hard choice to make.

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, etc.) : HKS (MPA/ID), WWS (MPA), SIPA (MPA-EPM), Georgetown (MIDP), Wagner (MPA), CIPA (MPA), Sanford (MPP), Heinz (MSPPM), Ford (MPP), LBJ (MPAff), Maxwell (MPA)

Schools Applied To:  HKS, WWS, SIPA, Georgetown, Wagner, CIPA, Sanford, Heinz, Ford, LBJ, Maxwell

Schools Admitted To:  SIPA (?), Maxwell (?), LBJ (?), CIPA (42%), Sanford (46%), Wagner (?), McCourt (49%), Ford (50%), and HKS (100% JJ/WBGSP!)

Schools Rejected From:  WWS

Still Waiting:  Heinz

Undergraduate institution:  Top public university (Argentina)

Undergraduate GPA:  3.5

Undergraduate Major:  Economics

Graduate institution:  Top University (Argentina)

Graduate GPA:  3.8

Graduate Major:  MPP

GRE Quantitative Score:  161

GRE Verbal Score:  163

GRE AW Score: 3.5

TOEFL: 105/120

Scholarship: Fulbright

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 

- 1 year as research economist at a top local economic consultancy

- 4.5 years (ongoing) at the public pension fund of my country. I have experience in the design/implementation of housing and social policies and in infrastructure investment

(Plus some extra part-time/consulting/volunteering before and after graduating)

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): While every school asks for different focus in their essays, I think that a good advice could be to structure a long Personal Statement and a maybe a Policy essay and then work with them as a draft. As I suppose happen to everyone, my essays got better in every application. So definitely start as early as possible, the editing process never ends.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I decided to submit 3 LORs for every school. As I believe that my work experience was my strength, I submitted 2 professional LORs who have supervised my work in different areas and my graduate thesis director (and professor in my economics degree).

 

 

I hope this helps! 

 
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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, etc.) :  MPP or MPP-equivalents

Schools Applied To:  LSE (MPA), GSPP (MPP), HKS (MPP), WWS (MPA), Harris (MSCAPP), Ford (MPP)

Schools Admitted To:   LSE (tbd funding, but probably none), GSPP ($), HKS (no funding), Ford ($$), Harris ($)

Schools Rejected From:  WWS

Undergraduate institution:  Top 15 university

Undergraduate GPA:  3.6-3.7

Undergraduate Major:  Economics

GRE Quantitative Score:  167

GRE Verbal Score:  162

GRE AW Score: 5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 4

Years of Work Experience: 4 years full-time

Describe Relevant Work Experience:  Worked for a federal agency for a year via a fellowship doing public health work; then worked at an urban policy think-tank for 2.5 years as a manager

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  They were okay, not amazing. I honestly didn't have a ton of time for grad school apps  so didn't put a lot of time into these, but am a decent writer and had good, specific reasons for going back to school. They could have been better if I'd edited more but they were fine enough.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Good I think! I got them from 3 supervisors at my current org, all of whom (I assume) wrote great recs. I didn't get to read them but can't imagine they wouldn't have said anything but good things.

Other: No funding at HKS is really killer. Will likely go to GSPP because of the amazing RA and TA-ship opportunities that offset the cost.

 

Edited by pubpol123
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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) IR
Schools Applied To:  SIPA, Korbel, Elliott
Schools Admitted To:  SIPA ($20k), Korbel ($20k), Elliott ($16k)
Schools Rejected From:  None
Still Waiting:  None
Undergraduate institution: BYU-Idaho
Undergraduate GPA: 3.85 
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable): No idea. 
Undergraduate Major:  Economics

Graduate Institution: London School of Economics (MSc European Studies (focus on Political Economy and Research)
Undergraduate GPA:  (high) Merit (so like 3.6-3.8 range I guess)
GRE Quantitative Score:  154  (took the exam on a whim like 4 years ago and decided to just not do it again)
GRE Verbal Score:  169
GRE AW Score:  5.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  3.5
Years of Work Experience:  2.5
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  Worked for a financial advisor writing financial news content for a year. Moved over to a software company that focuses on global financial compliance (i.e. Sanctions, AML, Fraud, etc.). During undergrad I had two internships with the State Department focused on PolEcon and Public Diplomacy. Two years a missionary in Eastern Europe. Lots of little ventures. 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Took a lot of time and had many eyes review. Strong letter.  
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Excellent from an undergrad professor and from an internship supervisor @ State department.  Both were very enthusiastic. 
Other: I was really trying to narrow down my choices before I applied based on programs I liked while still having some options. 
Decision: Pretty certain I'll attend Elliott. Stoked about a certain professor and I like their program structure more than the others. If SIPA offered me more funding I'd consider it. I think the programs are essentially equivalent for potentially going into a PhD/government... but one costs like 1/4 as much. If I were committed to Private sector I'd for sure do SIPA

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, etc.) : HKS (MPP), WWS (MPA), SIPA (MPA-DP), Fletcher (MALD), LSE (MPA), GSPP (MPP)

Schools Applied To:  HKS, WWS, SIPA, Fletcher, GSPP, LSE 

Schools Admitted To:  SIPA, Fletcher, GSPP, LSE 

Schools Rejected From:  WWS, HKS

Undergraduate institution:  Top public university 

Undergraduate GPA:  3.7

Undergraduate Major:  International Development 

GRE Quantitative Score:  157

GRE Verbal Score:  160

GRE AW Score: 5.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3.5
Years of Work Experience: 3.5
Describe Relevant Work Experience: My work experience post-college has all been with a large management consulting firm in their public sector practice. I've held roles across international development and social impact, including a few long-term projects abroad. My internships during college were with a mix of non-profits and for elected officials. 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I thought it was strong. I spent a lot of time on this and had multiple people look at it (including some involved in the admissions process and professors in similar programs). 


Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Excellent, I thought. I submitted three- one from a professor with whom I'm close, another from a client and advisor in Federal Government, and last from my direct supevisor at work. 

Other: I wasn't offered much funding at all, just $5k/year from Fletcher. I'm appealing for more from Fletcher and SIPA, but don't expect to get any aid from Berkeley nor LSE. 

Decision: I'm torn but have started to rule out Berkeley because I want a strong international development focus, and LSE because I'm unsure of the networking opportunities and not keen on having to job hunt from the UK. Still making up my mind, though. Any insights/opinions on this would be great! 

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On 3/19/2018 at 5:54 AM, doglover5 said:

Program Applied To (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): IR/IA
Schools Applied To: American SIS, GWU Elliott, Georgetown MSFS, Georgetown SSP, Tufts Fletcher MALD
Schools Admitted To: American SIS, GWU Elliott (45% funding), Georgetown MSFS (60% funding), Georgetown SSP, Tufts Fletcher MALD (45% funding)
Schools Rejected From: none
Still Waiting: none
Undergraduate institution: Top 50 US university
Undergraduate GPA: 3.75
Undergraduate Major: International relations, French
GRE Quantitative Score: 168
GRE Verbal Score: 165
GRE AW Score: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 5
Years of Work Experience: 4 years full-time (plus some extra part-time/consulting/volunteering since graduating)
Describe Relevant Work Experience: I've been living abroad since I graduated (5 years) which I would count as relevant experience on its own. 2.5 years as a security analyst for a large INGO in West Africa, other work and consultancy positions for smaller/local NGOs in the same country. I also speak a second language fluently and am conversational in a third.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I guess they were good? Everyone on this forum talks about how you have to write distinct SOPs for every school, but to be honest mine were very similar. All of these programs pretty much emphasize the same values, have similar structures, they all have excellent professors... I obviously didn't send the same essay everywhere but that part was less important to me than people made it seem for these programs. I think my SOPs got better even within the 10 days between the first deadline (GWU on Jan 5) and the last (American on Jan 15) and I ended up looking back on my GWU SOP and wishing I had made some minor changes. So definitely start as early as possible, the editing process never ends.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Probably not the strongest part of my application. I decided to submit 3 LORs for every school (even those that only required 2) because while I knew my professional LOR would be very strong I wasn't very confident in my academic one, so I wanted to bolster my application as much as I could. I didn't do a thesis or research in college so I wasn't close to any of my professors. I had to send some awkward emails and remind people of who I was (my French professor asked for a picture of me to jog his memory... that felt awkward). I used a French professor for every application and an IR professor one of them, but neither of them shared their letters and I can't imagine they could have written especially strong ones. I asked my current boss who wrote me a lovely and very detailed LOR. I also asked a former colleague who was in a somewhat supervisory role to me for the remaining slots, and her letter was very nice but not very specific so I kind of regretted asking her afterwards.
Other: Will likely choose Georgetown MSFS. They were my first choice going in and I was surprised to have gotten the best scholarship package from them. I'll have to take out some pretty hefty loans but still within the limits of reasonable amounts for this type of degree. I'm happy I don't have to make the decision between a top school with more loans and other schools with better scholarships, I know that's a really hard choice to make.

Did you apply for a Masters or PhD? If a PhD, have you turned down any of your other offers? American University SIS (IR) is my top choice, and I'm on their wait list. Can you let me know if you decide to decline their offer? Thanks, and best of luck!

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13 hours ago, 3eyes said:

Did you apply for a Masters or PhD? If a PhD, have you turned down any of your other offers? American University SIS (IR) is my top choice, and I'm on their wait list. Can you let me know if you decide to decline their offer? Thanks, and best of luck!

@3eyes I applied for a Masters. And to be frank I think it's pretty weird to follow around everyone who has mentioned applying to American asking them to decline their offer, as you seem to be doing. This is a big decision for me and I'll take the time I need to make sure I'm making the right one. 

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Past editions of this thread were incredibly helpful to me when I was going through the application process, so I thought I'd pay it forward!

Schools Applied To:  HKS (MPP), SIPA (MPA-DP), Georgetown SFS (Global Human Development), UC Berkeley (Master's in Development Practice), IHEID (Development Studies), Oxford (MPhil Development Studies)

Schools Admitted To:  HKS (no funding), SIPA ($$), Georgetown ($$), UC Berkeley (funding tbd), IHEID (no funding- but tuition is only ~$9,000 per year, so it still comes out to be a relatively affordable option), Oxford (funding tbd)

Schools Rejected From:  none

Undergraduate institution:  Top 20 private university

Undergraduate GPA:  3.9

Undergraduate Major:  Public Policy Studies & History

GRE Quantitative Score:  156

GRE Verbal Score:  169

GRE AW Score: 6

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3

Years of Work Experience: 3
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Immediately after college, I spent 2 years working in the federal practice of a big 4 consulting firm. There, I worked with a variety of international development and nonprofit clients, including USAID, some defense clients, and a few smaller nonprofits. I then received a fellowship through a US-based foundation to work at an NGO in rural India for one year. I've been working at a women's handicraft cooperative doing grant-writing, digital marketing/advocacy, and brushing up on my (previously nonexistent) Hindi. 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I spent an enormous amount of time on these, and I think this was by far the strongest part of my application. I built my SOPs around the essays I wrote for HKS (since those were due first). The first one centered on my learnings in the field in India around gender-based development, the second one focused on my experiences working at a management consulting firm and the potential for impact with public/private partnerships.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I didn't get to read them, but I think they were really strong. I had two from Professors I was very close with in undergrad, and one from my direct supervisor at my first job. 

Other: I also applied for the Payne Fellowship, and was selected as an "alternate", but I didn't ultimately get it :( 

Decision: Honestly, I am freaking out about trying to make this decision. Perhaps I was underestimating myself, but I truly had not anticipated getting in many places, let alone every single school. I thought that my (relatively) low quant score and lack of extensive field experience was going to sink me. I suppose it's a good problem to have, but its made the decision a lot harder because there are so many factors to consider. If money were no object, I would choose HKS. Buuuut since they didn't give me any funding, and I was accepted to some really strong programs elsewhere, I'm having some doubts about whether I can really justify that cost. At this point, it's difficult to say where I'm leaning, because my mind changes about five times per day! Any thoughts/insights would be much appreciated!

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8 hours ago, doglover5 said:

@3eyes I applied for a Masters. And to be frank I think it's pretty weird to follow around everyone who has mentioned applying to American asking them to decline their offer, as you seem to be doing. This is a big decision for me and I'll take the time I need to make sure I'm making the right one. 

Not meant to be mean. It is a stressful time. Best of luck in your pursuits!

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Schools Applied To:  Lbj, Indiana SPEA, Ohio State Glenn College, Mccourt

Schools Admitted to: LBJ (no funding), IU (tbd), Glenn ($$), Mccourt ($)

Schools Rejected From:  none

Undergraduate institution:  Top 50 US Uni

Undergraduate GPA:  3.49

Undergraduate Major:  Econ and International Studies

GRE Quantitative Score:  156

GRE Verbal Score:  168

GRE AW Score: 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3

Years of Work Experience: 3
Describe Relevant Work Experience: During school,  interned for a local nonprofit and at a Senator's office. After graduation, worked for 3 years at a transportation company witha few different roles, but spent a good chunk as an analyst. Also run a volunteer programs at our office. 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Because of my lower GPA and lack of experience in the public sector, I worked very hard on my SOP. I tried to connect the dots from my current situation (wanting a career change, ect) to the reasoning behind that and the relevant information in my work and in my academics/extracurriculars.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I had one prof recommend me (took three of his classes in UG, still in touch) and two of my bosses at my current company. I didn't read the lor from the prof but I did read the other two (they both sent them to me aa well as the colleges) and they were very nice and included real numbers, dates, ect

Other: I was incredibly conservative jn my school choices because I didn't think I stood a chance of admission. Now, I def wish I would've applied to more schools, esp more DC schools. 

Decision: I am having a very difficult time deciding between the cheaper school (Glenn) and the dream school (Mccourt). I've visited both and fit wise, gtown is perfect, with the math focus and the location. But is it really worth the debt and high living expenses? OSU, with in state tuition, cost of living, and funding, is so affordable (like $4k in loans for 2 years affordable). Any insight into this dilemma would be greatly appreciated!

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14 hours ago, cmp2541 said:

Past editions of this thread were incredibly helpful to me when I was going through the application process, so I thought I'd pay it forward!

Schools Applied To:  HKS (MPP), SIPA (MPA-DP), Georgetown SFS (Global Human Development), UC Berkeley (Master's in Development Practice), IHEID (Development Studies), Oxford (MPhil Development Studies)

Schools Admitted To:  HKS (no funding), SIPA ($$), Georgetown ($$), UC Berkeley (funding tbd), IHEID (no funding- but tuition is only ~$9,000 per year, so it still comes out to be a relatively affordable option), Oxford (funding tbd)

Schools Rejected From:  none

Undergraduate institution:  Top 20 private university

Undergraduate GPA:  3.9

Undergraduate Major:  Public Policy Studies & History

GRE Quantitative Score:  156

GRE Verbal Score:  169

GRE AW Score: 6

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3

Years of Work Experience: 3
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Immediately after college, I spent 2 years working in the federal practice of a big 4 consulting firm. There, I worked with a variety of international development and nonprofit clients, including USAID, some defense clients, and a few smaller nonprofits. I then received a fellowship through a US-based foundation to work at an NGO in rural India for one year. I've been working at a women's handicraft cooperative doing grant-writing, digital marketing/advocacy, and brushing up on my (previously nonexistent) Hindi. 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I spent an enormous amount of time on these, and I think this was by far the strongest part of my application. I built my SOPs around the essays I wrote for HKS (since those were due first). The first one centered on my learnings in the field in India around gender-based development, the second one focused on my experiences working at a management consulting firm and the potential for impact with public/private partnerships.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I didn't get to read them, but I think they were really strong. I had two from Professors I was very close with in undergrad, and one from my direct supervisor at my first job. 

Other: I also applied for the Payne Fellowship, and was selected as an "alternate", but I didn't ultimately get it :( 

Decision: Honestly, I am freaking out about trying to make this decision. Perhaps I was underestimating myself, but I truly had not anticipated getting in many places, let alone every single school. I thought that my (relatively) low quant score and lack of extensive field experience was going to sink me. I suppose it's a good problem to have, but its made the decision a lot harder because there are so many factors to consider. If money were no object, I would choose HKS. Buuuut since they didn't give me any funding, and I was accepted to some really strong programs elsewhere, I'm having some doubts about whether I can really justify that cost. At this point, it's difficult to say where I'm leaning, because my mind changes about five times per day! Any thoughts/insights would be much appreciated!

What college did they give you at Oxford?

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Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) A mix of IR programs and Latin America-focused regional studies programs. 
Schools Applied To:  Georgetown SFS MA in Latin American Studies, Vanderbilt MA in Latin American Studies, UT Austin (Dual degrees in Global Policy Studies at LBJ and LatAm Studies), SAIS, Princeton WWS, U of Chicago (Dual degree MA at the Harris School and LatAm Studies), GWU LatAm Studies  
Schools Admitted To:  All of them except Princeton! 
Schools Rejected From: Princeton WWS 
Undergraduate institution:  Unknown state school
Undergraduate GPA:  4.0 
Undergraduate Major:  Government and Spanish 
GRE Quantitative Score:  162
GRE Verbal Score:  161
GRE AW Score:  4.5 
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  4
Describe Relevant Work Experience:  Fulbright ETA and private sector work that is related to Latin America 

Ultimate Decision & Why: It's looking like it is going to be SAIS because I got an almost full tuition scholarship and I think it is the best choice for my career. 

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Updated with decisions!!!

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.): MPP/MPA
Schools Applied To: Princeton WWS, Chicago Harris, NYU Wagner, CMU Heinz, USC Price, Berkeley GSPP
Schools Admitted To (funding in parentheses): All ??  Princeton WWS (full funding, stipend), Chicago Harris ($$), NYU Wagner (zero), CMU Heinz ($$), USC Price (full funding), Berkeley GSPP (zero)
Schools Rejected From:  None
Decision: Princeton WWS for the MPA 
Still Waiting:  None
Undergraduate institution:  Top 5 public
Undergraduate GPA:  3.6
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  I would guess that it was a bit higher like a 3.7, lots of credit for independent research
Undergraduate Major:
GRE Quantitative Score:  157
GRE Verbal Score:  164
GRE AW Score:  5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  5
Years of Work Experience:  5
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Leadership position in a nonprofit organization
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Quite strong I think. Very specific about academic interests and career objectives in a fairly narrow field. I wrote about the faculty members and research centers I want to work with. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Excellent, current boss and two high ranking professors who know me personally

 

End-of-Application-Season-Reflection:

I'm stunned that I got into each school.

For a while, my top choice was my " semi-realistic" choice: Chicago Harris. I thought there was a good chance I would get in there, but I was doubtful that they would give me any money. When I was admitted with moderate funding in the Early Action round, I started feeling much better about the whole process. Princeton WWS was always my "top top" choice, but never thought about it seriously because I was sure I wouldn't get in. I focused my sights on Harris instead. So getting into WWS was a huge surprise. I feel really lucky. 

The reason I was pessimistic about WWS and my general chances for other schools is that I felt my GRE quant score was low (157) and because I lacked serious qualitative and econ-driven coursework. I was pretty explicit in my application saying that I felt I had terrific qualitative research and analysis training from undergrad but that it was really the quant side I was missing. I told the school that this was one of the core reasons I was applying to graduate school and to that school in particular. 

I think my 5 years of strong professional experience helped a lot. Also my strong recommendations from high ranking professors and my boss of 5 years. All of them know me very well personally and intellectually and speak from positions of real authority. 

I didn't apply to HKS because I assumed there was a good chance I wouldn't get in and that if I did, I wouldn't want to go there. Culturally it never felt right to me. I know many HKS grads. Some love it. But it's too large, showy and IR-oriented for me. The other "traditional" schools in this forum (SAIS, SIPA, Fletcher, Georgetown) were all too international relations-oriented and large for me. You certainly have that at WWS, but there's a very strong domestic and econ contingent too. 

I have to say, I did visit Price and I was VERY impressed. The faculty is top notch and they really seem to care about students. If I hadn't gotten into WWS, Price would have given Harris a run for its money. I thought that Price was pretty underrepresented on this forum. For those interested in domestic and local policy, I would strongly recommend people look at the school seriously. I think it can be stronger career-wise than GSPP because the school is so well connected (read: embedded)  in industry and state and municipal government across California. Of course, it is much better for people who want to make a career in California -- but that's something I (as an East Coaster) was seriously considering. Maybe one day in the future. 

One piece of advice: Try not to get too obsessive about one particular school. You never know what's going to happen and $$ and other factors like school visits can change your thinking about schools quite quickly. I spent way too much time researching and obsessing about Harris: both before and after submitting my application. I guess I don't really regret it, but I certainly didn't need to spend all of that time, especially after I submitted my app. 

I'm just so happy about WWS. It will be a fantastic fit -- culturally, academically, professionally. 

Thanks to you all on this forum for such great guidance and collective support! 

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Schools Applied To:  SAIS IDEV, SIPA, Chicago-MSCAPP, HKS

Schools Admitted to: SAIS (75% funding, no IDEV), SIPA (85% funding), Chicago-MSCAPP (no funding)

Schools Rejected From:  HKS

Undergraduate institution:  Top 20 US University

Undergraduate GPA:  3.9

Undergraduate Major:  Economics

GRE Quantitative Score:  163

GRE Verbal Score:  165

GRE AW Score: 5.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 7

Years of Work Experience: 7
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Currently work in the private sector in big data and product management. On the side, I volunteer with a refugee resettlement organization and a city councilman as a policy researcher. I would like to transition from the private sector into international development leveraging my big data and product management skills.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I think my private sector background, particularly since it specializes in the "hot" trend of the moment, big data and product management, helped me stand out. My challenge was being able to use the SOP to show both my interest in international development (which began in college after working with a non-profit in India), my practical skills around data analytics and technology, and my desire to merge the two.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I got LORs that backed up three aspects of my application: interest in international affairs/devt, professional aptitude/leadership, and academic strength. I only read one LOR from the refugee resettlement organization's volunteer coordinator and it was super sweet and really attested to my dedication while volunteering. For professional aptitude/leadership, I got a LOR from my former manager at my company. For academic strength, I got a LOR from my economics professor who could speak about my quantitative skills and my interest in int'l devt (I wrote a thesis on women's empowerment in India that he supervised and loved).

Other: I applied to all besides HKS early and I really recommend doing that! Because of the rolling early decision deadlines, I was able to stagger my application work so I could focus on each school for a month. And applying early also meant that if I didn't get in to any schools, I still had the regular cycle to consider. My application to HKS was a last-minute one; I'm glad I did it but I think more time to really think through my SOPs would have helped. At the same time, I wasn't completely convinced that HKS was the school for me, which might have also hindered my application.

Decision: I'm leaning towards SIPA given the financial situation and the fact that I didn't get into IDEV at SAIS. SIPA's curriculum, though slightly overwhelming, seems more flexible than SAIS's and SIPA seems to have more of a focus on technology than SAIS. Given that I have a lot of experience in data analytics and I'm looking to transition to international development, Chicago didn't seem like it would fill in the gaps for me, and the lack of funding didn't help. I'm looking forward to visiting SAIS and SIPA in two weeks!

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On 4/1/2018 at 8:55 AM, jxw said:

Schools Applied To:  SAIS IDEV, SIPA, Chicago-MSCAPP, HKS

Schools Admitted to: SAIS (75% funding, no IDEV), SIPA (85% funding), Chicago-MSCAPP (no funding)

Schools Rejected From:  HKS

Undergraduate institution:  Top 20 US University

Undergraduate GPA:  3.9

Undergraduate Major:  Economics

GRE Quantitative Score:  163

GRE Verbal Score:  165

GRE AW Score: 5.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 7

Years of Work Experience: 7
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Currently work in the private sector in big data and product management. On the side, I volunteer with a refugee resettlement organization and a city councilman as a policy researcher. I would like to transition from the private sector into international development leveraging my big data and product management skills.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I think my private sector background, particularly since it specializes in the "hot" trend of the moment, big data and product management, helped me stand out. My challenge was being able to use the SOP to show both my interest in international development (which began in college after working with a non-profit in India), my practical skills around data analytics and technology, and my desire to merge the two.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): I got LORs that backed up three aspects of my application: interest in international affairs/devt, professional aptitude/leadership, and academic strength. I only read one LOR from the refugee resettlement organization's volunteer coordinator and it was super sweet and really attested to my dedication while volunteering. For professional aptitude/leadership, I got a LOR from my former manager at my company. For academic strength, I got a LOR from my economics professor who could speak about my quantitative skills and my interest in int'l devt (I wrote a thesis on women's empowerment in India that he supervised and loved).

Other: I applied to all besides HKS early and I really recommend doing that! Because of the rolling early decision deadlines, I was able to stagger my application work so I could focus on each school for a month. And applying early also meant that if I didn't get in to any schools, I still had the regular cycle to consider. My application to HKS was a last-minute one; I'm glad I did it but I think more time to really think through my SOPs would have helped. At the same time, I wasn't completely convinced that HKS was the school for me, which might have also hindered my application.

Decision: I'm leaning towards SIPA given the financial situation and the fact that I didn't get into IDEV at SAIS. SIPA's curriculum, though slightly overwhelming, seems more flexible than SAIS's and SIPA seems to have more of a focus on technology than SAIS. Given that I have a lot of experience in data analytics and I'm looking to transition to international development, Chicago didn't seem like it would fill in the gaps for me, and the lack of funding didn't help. I'm looking forward to visiting SAIS and SIPA in two weeks!

I thought I read on HKS's Admissions Blog (a post from 2016 I think) that they do not do rolling admission; has this changed? Anyone know what their policy is now/if there is a benefit to applying as early as possible?

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4 hours ago, PHL City Planner said:

I thought I read on HKS's Admissions Blog (a post from 2016 I think) that they do not do rolling admission; has this changed? Anyone know what their policy is now/if there is a benefit to applying as early as possible?

Hey @PHL City Planner, I believe HKS does not do rolling admissions or early decision. I was really referring more to applying early to SIPA, SAIS and Chicago.

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Program Applied To: MPA/MPP
Schools Applied To: HKS, SIPA, Wagner, WWS
Schools Admitted To: SIPA ($), Wagner

Schools Rejected From: HKS, WWS
Undergraduate institution:  BU
Undergraduate GPA:  3.46
Undergraduate Major:  Psychology
GRE Quantitative Score:  159
GRE Verbal Score:  169
GRE AW Score:  5.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  4.5
Years of Work Experience:  4.5

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 Years P/T neoropsych research on Autism and other disabilities as an undergraduate; summer internship in children's psychiatric ward and 9-month internship at a hospital school in London that supported kids with disabilities; 1.5 years in cancer research management post-grad; now 3 years working in fundraising, communications, and advocacy at a nonprofit that provides services for people with disabilities (mental and intellectual/developmental)

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc)Definitely strong. I framed my reason for going back to school well:  that after working in research, direct care, and nonprofit administration for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, I realized that even the most groundbreaking research and effective treatments couldn't curtail the fallout of indifferent, inadequate policymaking. 

My goal is to create policy that better serves people with disabilities, who aside from needing access to affordable and effective healthcare (duh, amirite?) also need someone pulling for them in talks about transportation, supported employment, and- of great interest to me- political engagement.

I launched an initiative at my nonprofit to train people with disabilities and the staff that support them in civic participation/voting, and I really want to expand it citywide by partnering with local government and nonprofits, wherever I end up for school. My experience has been pretty varied, but it has all been in support of the same population.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Very, very strong. My direct supervisor wrote a letter for me that was extremely specific to what I want to do in school (voter advocacy, supporting people with disabilities through policy). The CEO of my org wrote a letter that he actually had me read first that was absolutely glowing. And one of my lit. professors from BU wrote me what I have high confidence was a strong letter about my abilities as a student.

Decision: SIPA all the way!

I have family in Queens so I can live there for free; my current job in Boston has offered to allow me to work PT/remotewhich (along with the workstudy I got) will cover my cost of living and help me pay down some of my debt as I go. The $$$ SIPA offered me was a big surprise, but even so I've petitioned to get more so we'll see what happens. And my big brother offered to help me pay for school so I won't end up taking out more in loans than I'd make in my first year's salary after graduating. Basically all the stars have aligned to allow me to go to my dream school, and I'm very happy about it :) 

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2 hours ago, yellina122 said:

Program Applied To: MPA/MPP
Schools Applied To: HKS, SIPA, Wagner, WWS
Schools Admitted To: SIPA ($), Wagner

Schools Rejected From: HKS, WWS
Undergraduate institution:  BU
Undergraduate GPA:  3.46
Undergraduate Major:  Psychology
GRE Quantitative Score:  159
GRE Verbal Score:  169
GRE AW Score:  5.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  4.5
Years of Work Experience:  4.5

Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 Years P/T neoropsych research on Autism and other disabilities as an undergraduate; summer internship in children's psychiatric ward and 9-month internship at a hospital school in London that supported kids with disabilities; 1.5 years in cancer research management post-grad; now 3 years working in fundraising, communications, and advocacy at a nonprofit that provides services for people with disabilities (mental and intellectual/developmental)

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc)Definitely strong. I framed my reason for going back to school well:  that after working in research, direct care, and nonprofit administration for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, I realized that even the most groundbreaking research and effective treatments couldn't curtail the fallout of indifferent, inadequate policymaking. 

My goal is to create policy that better serves people with disabilities, who aside from needing access to affordable and effective healthcare (duh, amirite?) also need someone pulling for them in talks about transportation, supported employment, and- of great interest to me- political engagement.

I launched an initiative at my nonprofit to train people with disabilities and the staff that support them in civic participation/voting, and I really want to expand it citywide by partnering with local government and nonprofits, wherever I end up for school. My experience has been pretty varied, but it has all been in support of the same population.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Very, very strong. My direct supervisor wrote a letter for me that was extremely specific to what I want to do in school (voter advocacy, supporting people with disabilities through policy). The CEO of my org wrote a letter that he actually had me read first that was absolutely glowing. And one of my lit. professors from BU wrote me what I have high confidence was a strong letter about my abilities as a student.

Decision: SIPA all the way!

I have family in Queens so I can live there for free; my current job in Boston has offered to allow me to work PT/remotewhich (along with the workstudy I got) will cover my cost of living and help me pay down some of my debt as I go. The $$$ SIPA offered me was a big surprise, but even so I've petitioned to get more so we'll see what happens. And my big brother offered to help me pay for school so I won't end up taking out more in loans than I'd make in my first year's salary after graduating. Basically all the stars have aligned to allow me to go to my dream school, and I'm very happy about it :) 

Congrats and congrats on the SIPA funding! Hope even more comes your way!

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On 3/11/2018 at 2:21 PM, The Fatal Eggs said:

Program Applied To: quant focused MPA/MPP programs (is there even a difference?)
Schools Applied To:  Harris, SAIS, SIPA, GW
Schools Admitted To:  Harris MACRM ($), SAIS IDEV ($$$), SIPA MPADP (0), GW (0)
Schools Rejected From:  none
Still Waiting:  none
Undergraduate institution: T20 LAC, international student
Undergraduate GPA:  3.5
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  ??
Undergraduate Major:  Economics and a fun liberal arts major
GRE Quantitative Score:  160
GRE Verbal Score:  166
GRE AW Score:  5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  3
Years of Work Experience:  3
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 1 year as economics RA in institutional economics, IO work the last two years
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  I started by introducing the policy area I'm interested in with some anecdote about my work or personal life, then I talked about why that policy area is important for international economic development and the direction I see it going in in the future. At that point I also talked about where I see instrument design in that area going based on my work experiences and how that influences my career plans post-MA in terms of what kind of organization I want to work at in what capacity. In the space remaining I talked about why [school X], but the idea was to show fit throughout the essay rather than to tack on "oh btw I find Prof Y super fascinating and want to be a member of student org Z" at the end. Because my programs had wildly differing word counts, prompts, and supplemental essay requirements, I ended up writing a separate SOP for each school. I estimate that ~2/3 of each SOP is unique to each school. I found that, once I got all my ideas out and organized in a 1000-word monster doc, customizing the SOP wasn't difficult at all, and each consecutive one was better than the last. But I had a pretty well-formed idea of where I'm going in this career when I went in.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc):  2 from undergrad advisers, 1 from current boss. I realized too late that someone with my amount of work experience is supposed to have 2 work, 1 academic >.< I suspect my LORs were pretty strong, but if I did the process again, I'd pick different people and I'd have my application mostly ready by the time I contacted them. It's really important to give your recommenders a brief for the points their letter should emphasize so that it reinforces the narrative you're creating in your application. The best I could do for mine was a resume and an abstract of my SOP.
Other: I pulled out of applying for the HKS MPAID at the last minute because I didn't feel like I was competitive enough and now I'm majorly regretting it. SAIS was my first choice out of this batch, but the MPAID would've been my firstest choice. I'm contemplating asking SAIS to defer and trying again next year, this time with HKS/WWS/Yale. I also regret not talking to my colleagues about my process more, because it turns out that everyone is super excited to get me in touch with alumni/professors/admissions offices. I think I would've benefitted a lot from shopping my application around for opinions - and I didn't even post in the chances thread! Additionally, through the process of coming up with my SOP and now, thinking about where to go for grad school has made me think that I haven't learned everything I can from my current situation. I feel like I need to hone in better on what policy I want to do and develop some basic networking skills in order to take full advantage of this generous opportunity I now have. But overall I'm happy and I see my funded offers as proof of readiness for the field, because from where I sit, being able to construct a compelling narrative for why your program warrants scarce public funds is 90% of the job.

I have the same regrets as you! Didn't apply for HKS thinking I have no chance, but looking back, should've given it a shot. Didn't apply to Yale because of how new the program was, fearing lack of alumni connections, however its possible that I would've received good funding if accepted. Oh well, what's done is done. 

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Schools Applied To:  American University, George Mason, Georgetown

Schools Admitted to: American (no $), George Mason (no $)

Schools Waitlisted:  Georgetown

Undergraduate institution:  private liberal arts school

Undergraduate GPA:  2.77

Undergraduate Major:  International Relations

GRE Quantitative Score:  138 (so embarrassing to type that out)

GRE Verbal Score:  148

GRE AW Score: 4

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 6

Years of Work Experience: 6

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Currently, I work as a paralegal. I have campaign experience as well as internship experience in US government..

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): One from a professor I have assisted with a publication at the graduate level. The other was from my supervisor who had me write a draft of the letter I wanted and she edited and submitted. The second is from a State Representative I have worked closely with over the years and served as a mentor.

Other: I had abysmal GRE's, but I wrote a very compelling SOP as well as an application addendum detailing personal hardship that accounted for my low UGPA. I also have a year's worth of graduate coursework (finishing a certificate in May) with a 4.0 GPA so I am assuming that helped.

Decision: I am definitely leaning towards American but if I get off the waitlist to Georgetown, I'll absolutely go there. It's my dream program.

Edited by kayemeh
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Updating with full results/decision! Lurked around Gradcafe for almost a year, thankful for all of the information I received from it. If you have any questions, especially if you are straight out of undergrad like myself, feel free to message me! 

Program Applied To: (MPA, MPP, IR, etc.) : 4 MPPs/1 MPA
Schools Applied To:  Harris, Heinz, Sanford, La Follette, Loyola
Schools Admitted To:  Harris (15k), Heinz (40%), Sanford (9k), La Follette (full tuition+stipend), Loyola (20k)
Schools Rejected From:  
Still Waiting:  
Undergraduate institution:  Small, 2nd tier state university
Undergraduate GPA:  3.8
Last 60 hours of Undergraduate GPA (if applicable):  3.9ish
Undergraduate Major:  Economics
GRE Quantitative Score: 158
GRE Verbal Score:  162
GRE AW Score: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable):  0
Years of Work Experience:  0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Internship for regional planning group doing economic studies, internship for US Senator's state office, research assistant in my school's state policy research center
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc):  Fairly strong I think, although I think your SOP is probably naturally weaker straight out of undergrad. Discussed how this degree would help me in my desired career path, etc. The usual stuff. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very strong. 2 econ faculty at my undergrad institution who I have worked closely with on research projects who could speak to my academic ability, and one from the internship coordinator at the Senator's office
Other: My biggest strengths were definitely: 1. being an econ major 2. keeping a high gpa while doing internships during the semester and being a starting student athlete 3. extremely relevant internships 4. LORs, especially from my professors. I applied right out of undergrad and told myself that if I was going to have to take on a lot of debt I would wait and work a few years, I think this is a good strategy for anyone looking at MPPs. You can get in out of undergrad with good grades and relevant internships, and there is definitely the possibility for funding. However, if you have those things+a couple years of work experience, you definitely have a better shot at funding. Definitely the fact that I developed close relationships with faculty who advised me throughout the entire process really strengthened my applications. 

Decision: La Follette. Harris was always my top choice but the opportunity to work as a research assistant with a faculty in my area of policy interest as well as graduate with no debt was impossible to pass up. Harris definitely provides a broader alumni network, but graduating with no debt will offer me a lot more freedom than if I were to take out 60-80k in loans. 

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