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Advice needed for international student: STEM v/s non-STEM for development & policy master's


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Hello, hive mind! I wanted to know the pros and cons of going for a lesser known STEM program (UC Berkeley Master's in Development Practice) v/s a better known non-STEM MPP/MPA (e.g. Harris, SIPA, etc.). I'm not eligible for most scholarships, and the chances of receiving financial aid from either school are quite slim. STEM OPT is useful for international students who could potentially accelerate their career by working with reputed organisations in the States for a few years - and help in paying off education loans a lot sooner (compared to working in my home country post-Master's). However, in terms of placements and getting a foot-in-the-door at the very least, a better known program will likely open doors for more number of opportunities. Both degrees are useful in terms of offering the flexibility to customize the degree as per one's desirable focus area. Aptitude for STEM coursework is also not an issue, even though I'm a Business and Liberal Arts major.
Welcoming guidance from anyone and everyone who has an opinion on this choice!

My background: have 2+ years experience in field research with multilaterals + US university-affiliated DevEcon research firms in a third world country - mostly in the area of poverty reduction. I wish to continue working in organizations and nonprofits but as an early career professional, I'm sector-agnostic at this point. By that, I mean that while I'd ideally like to proceed with my work in international development, I'm also open to switching to other focus areas (e.g. gender, energy) if my interests match

Thank you in advance!

Edited by policywonk12
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