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Pitt GSPIA vs DU Korbel vs UCSD GPS (MPP) coming down to the wire!!


HBLB

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Im am looking at IR and policy policy masters and looking to work as a government analyst, private sector (consulting or political risk) or at an  NGO. I eventually want to earn a policy oriented or political science PHD 5 to 10 years down the road. I was accepted to Pittsburgh (GSPIA, MIPA security and intelligence), Denver (Korbel, MIS), and UCSD (GPS, MPP). My aid situation is as follows:                                                            DU-Korbel 30k (15k a year but still the most expensive)                                        Pitt-GSPIA 28k (14k a year and the cheapest school and cheapest living costs)                                                              UCSD-GPS (no aid awarded but instate tuition for second year makes it cheaper than DU)                                                           I like all the programs, especially DU and Pitt, but I will know more when I visit UCSDs student day tomorrow. Trying to decide if the prestige of DU is worth the cost vs the east coast location of Pitt vs the dream location and quant heavy program of UCSD. I know I probably cant go wrong with any of these schools but I gotta decide by the 15th of April. I also have about a year of graduate research experience, a graduate certificate in National Security and Intelligence, and a paper publication and conference presentation under my belt. Any insight on the schools and the decision is welecome!!

Edited by HBLB
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We're in somewhat similar boats, you and I. I'm debating between Pitt and AU, but I did apply to DU. For my purposes, DU and AU would have cost about the same, so it was easy to cut out Denver. I think we're looking at about the same cost differences between the schools though. Same amount for Pitt, and my AU cost roughly the same as your DU.

Some of the advice I received from a polisci professor is that if your plan is to go into academia, what school you start off at might not make that big of a difference (assuming you do an MA now, and then follow up with a PhD later). If you're trying to get into a policy career, the same source said that prestige and location would be the priorities. Pitt is close enough to D.C. that you could drive there, but I wouldn't realistically expect to make that trip often while you're taking classes. (It's maybe a 4hr trip one way, but that gets old fast). But it's a lot easier and cheaper to get there than from Denver. Pitt has a semester in D.C. program that might make up some of the difference, but I understand DU is also part of it.

I liked DU when I looked at it, but even after 20k/yr in financial aid it felt overpriced (again, comparing it to AU). They do a great job with marketing, but remember to focus on the actual cost without getting hung up on the aid amount. I don't know anything about UCSD, and I'm mostly coming from a regional perspective, but I get the impression that it becomes more relevant to stay on the west coast if you're interested in, say, Asian affairs. I'd tend to agree that quantitative skills are important, but for better or worse, networking is still important in international affairs so there is a benefit to being close to the area you and others want to work in. It's a tricky decision to be sure.

Did you make it to the open house at Pitt? Academically, what are you trying to focus on?

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Also, consulting/political risk is pretty much what I'm going for.  For the record, If I wanted to go academic, I think I'd pick Pitt since it vibes well with my research interests. But that's not exactly my goal.

Edited by wolnosc
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I ruled out UCSD because it didnt quite fit with my interests. I was able to negotiate with DU for more $ and I got tuiton down to around 50%. Basically Pitt would be 20k less than DU when it comes down to it but I liked the flexibility and the fact that you take more classes at DU than Pitt.While political risk or consulting would be a top job prospect for me, I'm not sure if Pitt or DU are great choices for this. I made it to the open house and liked many of the students although they didn't have as much experience as the admitted students I saw at UCSD. Security studies is more of my passion and academic background but I'm not sure how far that goes if you dont want a federal government job. If you have any thoughts on how to get into political risk stuff I would definitely like to hear your thinking. It sounds like your thinking AU, but best of luck and maybe I will see you at Pitt.

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It's a close call for me.  AU has been my gold standard, but it comes at a premium. It's hard to argue with Pitt at 40% the cost. Admittedly, my plan for Pitt would depend on a cert as a roundabout way of getting the regional studies component that's already the main focus at AU. But I'm definitely concerned about building a skillset, which the security/intel component would provide. I didn't even think to negotiate with DU, but I couldn't get AU to budge.

For $20k, I'd be comfortable choosing DU over Pitt for their reputation. I don't think you can go wrong with either school if security is your focus and it just comes down to fit. Denver seems pretty flexible from talking to them and I think you could pivot into Intl Affairs from Intl Security without much trouble if you decide that aligns better with your career goals. But, I think security is their real strength.

Personally, I'd stay open to the private sector for political risk. There are a lot of intl business/investment applications that would make use of it. And there's obviously a large place for it in security and intel (which is how I justify Pitt). I would think there's a high demand for security consultation in general, and there are a lot of private security firms. I don't know what consulting would look like in international politics, but lobbying is another option. Good luck to you too, and stay in touch.

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Thanks for the advice, I choose the more flexible Masters of International Studies at DU over the International Security degree because I already have a grad certificate in national security and intelligence plus a intelligence studies conference presentation, albeit not from a top school. If you do choose Pitt, definitely get on one of the FBI working groups as soon as possible fall semester. You basically do a student led project doing research for the FBI field office in Pittsburgh.

It is arguably Pittsburghs greatest strength and has some great practical research skills involved. Best of luck at whatever school you choose. I really liked AUs programs but I was unsure about entering the DC rat race and financial aid opportunities. Best of luck on political risk. It's been one of my career aspirations since as an undergraduate business major I was dumbfounded at how political risk considerations played no part in business case studies in developing countries. Let me know what you choose, I'll probably post my decision by tomorrow. 

Edited by HBLB
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