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Nanyang Technological Universitie's one year masters in IR or Security Studies vs the two year degrees at National University Singapore

I'm interested in how the schools and programs are viewed by academics and employers and in how well they translate across borders. Part of the reason why I ask is because I am quite cost sensitive by temperament, and at this point in time a PhD program really could be in play down the line. But I also don't want to be short sighted when investing in my education and cut myself off from the things I'll need to move forward, for the sake of saving money right now. Thoughts would be greatly appreciated

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  • 2 months later...

I preface this by saying that my reply will neither answer your questions about NUS or NTU nor how their programs are perceived. I will, however, address the possibility of venturing into a PhD program in the future and I hope this response will help inform your decision.

I noticed that the location of your post is from Maryland, so I gather you might be located within the United States. This response might be appropriate if so. My response comes with two caveats (1) I can only speak from the POV of applying to programs within the US, and (2) If you did your undergraduate degree outside of the US, you should consult with a faculty member at your institution who knows the American system well to get more advice. I can't help you there.

If you are concerned over the cost of attending graduate school and are certain that you would like to pursue a PhD, then I highly recommend just applying directly to a PhD program, skipping the MA/MPP process. I had the same concerns a year ago when I was trying to figure out which type of programs to apply to. At that time, I consulted with my undergrad thesis advisor and she recommended that I go straight into a PhD program if that was my end goal. I recommend the same to you. It'll save you a ton of money as most (if not all) programs fully fund their PhD students. You should expect to get some form of stipend in exchange for TA or RA duties, and maybe even a fellowship should you get accepted. If you get accepted but don't get full funding, this might be a red flag. That said, should you get funding, it'll typically cover your living expenses for the duration of your course of study.

If you decide to do a PhD after your masters, the PhD program might or might not accept credit from your masters. They might even require you to complete the masters program that comes together with the PhD. This makes for an even longer graduate school time commitment (MA + PhD years). Typically, you'll be able to earn the masters along the way on your PhD journey; and if you decide that the PhD life isn't for you, you are always welcome to leave after obtaining your masters (for free)! 

Your other option would be applying to a masters program first. It's typically expensive. Some programs provide partial funding, which might help alleviate the financial burden. However, unless your undergraduate GPA isn't strong enough, I would recommend applying directly to PhD programs if your goal is to not spend as much. All in all, doing a masters prior to your PhD is not only a financial cost but also a time cost.

Contrary to what I just mentioned, a reason you might want to consider the MA program before applying to PhD programs is ranking. Top PhD programs tend to have stronger job placement records. As a result, a solid MA program prior to the PhD might give you an "in" to a higher ranked program due to a number of reasons (recommenders from your MA program knowing people on the application committee, some exposure to/traceable record of graduate coursework, etc.) as compared to applying straight out of undergrad. This is not to say that people don't get into top programs out of their undergraduate studies. A lot do, and if that person happens to be you in the next application cycle, then more power to you.

To attempt to at least touch on the Singapore bit: While faculty at the program I am currently at know faculty at NUS and NTU, other programs might not. Someone else more knowledgeable on this forum might be able to help you with that.

I hope this helped to clear the air a bit about cost.

Edited by polisciallday
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  • 2 weeks later...

FWIW, NUS has built a great group of folks who are pretty visible/active, at least in IR/comparative. I don't know anything about their MA or Ph.D programs, but at least some of the faculty there would be quite well-known in the US. 

(Also, fwiw, I am at a US department and have no affiliation with NUS)

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