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Berkeley vs. Ford vs. Wagner

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Hi! Looking for opinions about MPP/MPA options at the Goldman School, the Ford School, and at NYU Wagner. Would love to hear different pros/cons!

About me:

  • Have been working in affordable housing in Pittsburgh for about four years, and would hope to continue housing policy work in grad school
  • Ideally looking for a cohort of smart, experienced peers to gain insights from
  • Likely want to return to local government after graduation
  • Looking for a "meaty" program (i.e. rigorous)
  • I went to Wagner's open house and didn't necessarily love it (seemed like they were really trying to sell a brand w/o much depth), but liked how it was housed alongside the MUP program 
  • Moneywise -- Goldman (0, but could be cheaper if I teach/establish CA residency), Ford ($), Wagner ($)
  • Don't have a strong preference to end up anywhere in particular, but would likely be on either of the coasts following graduation

Any insights would be appreciated!

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Have to disagree with woolscarves.  Ford seems like the best fit exactly because of cost of living.  You're talking about a difference of $20k for school alone + maybe another $30-40k for difference in cost of living between Ann Arbor and either Berkeley or NYC.  That's $50-60k more debt that you'll have for a degree that is worth as much as Ford, with a marginally easier time getting a job on either the West or East coast.

Ford is every bit as good an education as Berkeley or Wagner - some people would say even better.  The difference certainly wouldn't be worth $50k to me.  And the Ford network is plenty strong in policy circles nationwide.  You may not have such an entrenched network as you would with Goldman/West or Wagner/East, but those networks are only for a leg up, it's not like a key to a locked door.

I tell people that the networks can help, but they only make life easier.  You can get almost any job you want from any of the top 10-15 policy schools.  You may just have to take a little more initiative if the network isn't as strong.

Edited by 3dender
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Cost-wise, I can’t really give you advice, but your combo of interests in housing policy, local government, and a meaty program sounds like Berkeley to me! I’m considering Goldman as well and it looks like a lot of grads end up in local government in CA (apparently they love GSPP grads), but of course that’s my biased view since I am not considering Wagner or Ford. Any of those sound like great choices, especially with funding.

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Have you looked at the work the Furman Center does at Wagner on housing policy? Being a research assistant there would put you in a smaller group of smart, experienced peers and would give you a chance to do more rigorous work than you might find in some of your classes. And Wagner had great connections throughout local government in NYC.

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