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Dpt620

Choosing Between IR/Public policy programs

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As results keep rolling in, I’m slowly realizing I will have a difficult decision to make and I’m looking for some advice. I’m interested in international development, and right now I want to work for the world bank, a development consulting firm, or a smaller NGO working on development.

Finances: I have just over 40 from a Roth IRA and 25k of other investments that I am willing to use for grad school if required. I am also married, and my wife will be a teacher wherever we move, probably making around 60K.

So far I’ve gotten into 

JHU SAIS IDEV (30K a year)

very good program, more options relative to Georgetown if my interests change slightly, bigger alumni network than Georgetown MIDP

Georgetown McCourt International Development Policy (27K a year tuition and fully funded summer program

analytical program, very focused. But also small and I feel it doesn’t have a whole lot of recognition in the field. I also applied to an external scholarship (12k a year) that I won’t hear back from until April that I can only use for Georgetown. 

Michigan MPP: 21K a year 

cheapest option, though not as many options in international policy/development

Tufts MALD (no word on finances)

less analytical than SAIS and it would be nice to go to school in DC, for internship opportunities and because that means probably staying in the same place after graduation

Columbia SIPA ( no word on finances, though I don’t really want to move to NYC unless it is significantly cheaper than the rest)

still waiting on Harvard and Princeton. If I get into Princeton I’m going, and I don’t anticipate any money from Harvard so that’d put that one off the table.

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So I think there are two things to think about.

1. What you want to do: Based off that I would say you are in equal position between SAIS and MIDP, and at the end of the day it all comes down to networking. From a networking perspective, Georgetown might be the bigger mafia in town, but SFS (not McCourt) has the better name recognition. That being said, SAIS then takes the cake for job opportunities. One thing I will say is that McCourt in general isn't really that good at accommodating those that have families or are married. You would have more people in SAIS that you would be in your shoes you can relate to just by sheer number of people in the program.

2. What you think you will want to do: I like the MIDP program and the program manager a lot, but the reality is that it is rather narrow topic + a data focus. If you are 100% sure that you want to have a data focused job (and not just a data management job) in development, this is perfect for you. If you might think you may change to do other things or focus on development or international relations in an alternative way beyond just data, then SAIS gives you more flexiblity.

3. Totally agree that if you get into Princeton, you should take it. 

4. Don't count yourself out about getting money from HKS - you never know! 

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Any opinions on if the cost savings at UMICH are worth the relative difference in career opportunities?

I am leading towards SAIS, because while my primary interest is in development and analytics, I also want to one day be involved in development program management, organization, and leadership. 

other options to consider: I am not proficient in a second language, so if I go to SAIS I will have to take considerable language courses aside from the normal course load in order to meet that requirement. This might mean less opportunities for internships/elective classes relative to Georgetown. Also, my SAIS scholarship will only be renewed if I maintain a 3.4 how. Is that difficult at SAIS?

 

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Posted (edited)

Interested in how you weigh the pros and cons between SAIS and SIPA. I have also gotten into SAIS (MA) and I am expecting a decision from SIPA (MPA) in the next two weeks. Will be torn between the two (and also Duke MPP) if I get admitted. From what I've read the reviews regarding whether SIPA or SAIS is better is quite mixed.

Edited by ludile_gia

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To be honest, I don’t think either one would put you at a huge advantage over another unless you wanted to stay in NYC/DC, but like you noted, it depends who you talk to. I don’t want to live in NYC (even for two years) so for me, I’ll choose SAIS over SIPA without losing any sleep over it unless I get a scholarship offer I can’t refuse from Columbia.

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5 hours ago, ludile_gia said:

Interested in how you weigh the pros and cons between SAIS and SIPA. I have also gotten into SAIS (MA) and I am expecting a decision from SIPA (MPA) in the next two weeks. Will be torn between the two (and also Duke MPP) if I get admitted. From what I've read the reviews regarding whether SIPA or SAIS is better is quite mixed.

I looked into SIPA (granted this was like 3 years ago), and a friend who used to work at SIPA actually pulled me aside and told me not to go. I was really big on grad school community and the reality with SIPA (and Wagner for all those that are interested) is that a lot of people have their own New York City life and the community stuff really gets watered down. 

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14 hours ago, Dpt620 said:

Any opinions on if the cost savings at UMICH are worth the relative difference in career opportunities?

I am leading towards SAIS, because while my primary interest is in development and analytics, I also want to one day be involved in development program management, organization, and leadership. 

other options to consider: I am not proficient in a second language, so if I go to SAIS I will have to take considerable language courses aside from the normal course load in order to meet that requirement. This might mean less opportunities for internships/elective classes relative to Georgetown. Also, my SAIS scholarship will only be renewed if I maintain a 3.4 how. Is that difficult at SAIS?

 

Real talk. That second language + GPA requirement is actually no joke. I know people who were at SAIS who actually didn't see their wives for 2 years (except at night to sleep) because they were hiding in the library making sure they were sufficiently proficient + made GPA. The downside with that is taking all that time to do that takes away time from networking. 

As for the Ford school - ya there strength is domestic policy, not so much international. I have actually never met any Ford person who was international focused (I am sure they are out there).

So I think to spell out your options.

SAIS - best fit but moderate risk + high work load pressures

MIDP - path of least resistance but concerns about program size + network + narrow focus

SIPA - honestly... depending on finances, this might not be a bad option. If hypothetically they match finances to SAIS / MIDP + you are married so probably don't care too too much about robust grad school community. 

Ford School - I view this as opportunity to get a broad general MPP education, but not really be in an international development community per se (at least a big one + powerful one). HOWEVER! I mean there is something to be said about just staying sane (avoiding SAIS pressures). 

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On 3/7/2020 at 12:33 PM, Dpt620 said:

As results keep rolling in, I’m slowly realizing I will have a difficult decision to make and I’m looking for some advice. I’m interested in international development, and right now I want to work for the world bank, a development consulting firm, or a smaller NGO working on development.

Finances: I have just over 40 from a Roth IRA and 25k of other investments that I am willing to use for grad school if required. I am also married, and my wife will be a teacher wherever we move, probably making around 60K.

So far I’ve gotten into 

JHU SAIS IDEV (30K a year)

very good program, more options relative to Georgetown if my interests change slightly, bigger alumni network than Georgetown MIDP

Georgetown McCourt International Development Policy (27K a year tuition and fully funded summer program

analytical program, very focused. But also small and I feel it doesn’t have a whole lot of recognition in the field. I also applied to an external scholarship (12k a year) that I won’t hear back from until April that I can only use for Georgetown. 

Michigan MPP: 21K a year 

cheapest option, though not as many options in international policy/development

Tufts MALD (no word on finances)

less analytical than SAIS and it would be nice to go to school in DC, for internship opportunities and because that means probably staying in the same place after graduation

Columbia SIPA ( no word on finances, though I don’t really want to move to NYC unless it is significantly cheaper than the rest)

still waiting on Harvard and Princeton. If I get into Princeton I’m going, and I don’t anticipate any money from Harvard so that’d put that one off the table.

Hi @Dpt620, was curious to see if you're leaning a particular way yet. I'm between SAIS IDEV, SIPA MIA, HKS MPP, and McCourt MPP, and was wondering what your thoughts were. I'm considering a similar career path (albeit I'm inexperienced in the sector, so not entirely certain). I'm prioritizing SAIS and HKS of the four as of now. 

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, graduate2020 said:

Hi @Dpt620, was curious to see if you're leaning a particular way yet. I'm between SAIS IDEV, SIPA MIA, HKS MPP, and McCourt MPP, and was wondering what your thoughts were. I'm considering a similar career path (albeit I'm inexperienced in the sector, so not entirely certain). I'm prioritizing SAIS and HKS of the four as of now. 

@graduate2020

From the superficial examination, it seems like JHU SAIS makes the most sense as they are giving you the most scholarship and very generally speaking, it isn't that much of a brand or opportunity loss vs. HKS if they are giving you no scholarship. 

That beign said, what exactly is your
A: specific career path interest (details do matter)

B: how much flexibility do you care for (as in if you realize you don't like you can pivot)

C : How much does networking matter to you? 

D : Does the language requirement bother you?

Edited by GradSchoolGrad

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12 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

@graduate2020

From the superficial examination, it seems like JHU SAIS makes the most sense as they are giving you the most scholarship and very generally speaking, it isn't that much of a brand or opportunity loss vs. HKS if they are giving you no scholarship. 

That beign said, what exactly is your
A: specific career path interest (details do matter)

B: how much flexibility do you care for (as in if you realize you don't like you can pivot)

C : How much does networking matter to you? 

D : Does the language requirement bother you?

Thank you for your helpful insights! I'll pm you but here are some general thoughts: I'm not sure about A (which makes it more difficult, I know). I'm looking into international development and diplomacy, but I'm honestly not experienced in the area, so still in the exploring stages. And that brings me to B: I would prefer some flexibility in terms of the program and electives and so on. C. Networking and reputation/prestige matter quite a lot to me, but it's harder to quantify. Since I have very little network in this field from prior work, I need to build my network from the ground up. D. The language requirement is actually a big plus for me, I think. I want to make sure that I can increase my fluency from proficient French and/or pick up another language (I am considering foreign services potentially, so want to keep this option open). Thank you again! 

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