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2020 ||||| Decision time: share your dilemma


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On 4/1/2020 at 2:24 PM, GradSchoolGrad said:

I recommend you talk to people at Jackson who are doing IDEV (I don't even think they graduated a full class yet... at most they have 1), and see what they have been academically focused on + where they are going. In particular international students from afflicted areas like yourself. 

Jackson has been graduating students for 10 years, and prior to being an official institute Yale was graduating students in their IR program. So the alumni network is actually much bigger than you might think, although the programs have always been small and tight-knit so it will never match SIPA's in terms of sheer volume. 

Edited by ce1234
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Go to the cheapest. If you are determined and smart your outcomes will be near identical. You can comfortably pay of 10k debt in a year if you live frugally. 80k will have an significant impact on you

Completely agree! By rule of thumb, take any school admittance with an offer below ~$40k a year of funding as a rejection. Everyone makes the same upon graduation. I work with people that have at

@EnvPolicyHopeful I want to clarify one thing. Just because you have 6 years of work experience, it doesn't mean that people in your future job (depending on what it is) will respect it. I think so

3 hours ago, ce1234 said:

Jackson has been graduating students for 10 years, and prior to being an official institute Yale was graduating students in their IR program. So the alumni network is actually much bigger than you might think, although the programs have always been small and tight-knit so it will never match SIPA's in terms of sheer volume. 

You are right... Jackson has been graduating students for 10 years, but they have been graduating students an an institute. Since April 2019, they have become a School. I was speaking to alumnus as an Institute. In all fairness, sometimes programs transition from an Institute to a School and it has been seamless. However, it is more often the case whereby the transition has mean the administration and faculty figuring out a lot of things, that includes alumni relations. 

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Hi all, thought of posting my dilemma as per Karam's format:

Coming from:
New Delhi, India. Been working as an RA across different field research studies for 2.75 years.

Deciding between: 
MA in International Economics and International Development (I-DEV) - SAIS JHU - 30% tuition waiver. 
MA in Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences (QMSS) - Columbia GSAS - no aid.
Master's in Development Practice (MDP) - UC Berkeley Rausser College of Natural Resources - 10% waiver with possibly more fee remissions by working as RA/TA.

Other factors:

  1. I-DEV at SAIS:
    Pros - Economics-intensive coursework; being in Washington DC = proximity to a multilateral and other research organizations + networking opportunities
    Con - Might be better suited to domestic students or those interested in security studies/IR/foreign policy, as opposed to I-DEV jobs
     
  2. QMSS at Columbia:
    Pros - Coursework is applied statistics and data science with a thesis component along with a practicum in data analysis; sector-agnostic transferable skills; supposedly a stepping stone to PhDs; Location; 3-year STEM OPT
    Cons - Only 9 months long so too hectic to accommodate learning new skills and maintaining a high GPA (while also job hunting and writing a thesis); works out to be unreasonably expensive; probably not very well-known to employers; high cost of living
     
  3. MDP at Cal:
    Pros - Many research centers for those interested in Development Economics, access to stellar faculty, flexibility of cross-registering in other grad schools at the university; flexibility of choosing between a capstone and a thesis in the second year; 3-year STEM OPT
    Cons - Not as many I-DEV jobs as on the east coast, not as well-known as the GSPP MPP since the program started only in 2012-13; living costs almost as high as NYC, possibly

How I'm leaning:
Probably ruling out Columbia since it's nearly impossible to graduate without taking on a high amount of debt. Would ideally like to attend Berkeley for the pros mentioned above but unsure if it's worth staying away from the east coast where the jobs availability is unquestionably higher for those in I-DEV. 

Would love to know your opinions, thank you!

Edited by policywonk12
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Hi everyone! Thanks for starting this thread. It has already been of huge help for me but I would love to read your views on my  situation.
 

Coming from:
International student from Mexico City (majored in International Relations, interested in migration and asylum policy)

Deciding between: 
MPP - UCSD GPS - Substantial funding offer. Together with my Fulbright award it amounts to a full ride (stipend and RA position)

MPP - Georgetown McCourt - Funding offer + Fulbright award covers around 80% of fees. I would have to use personal funds + debt to cover remaining fees and living expenses

MAIDP (1 year program)  - U Chicago Harris - Funding offer + Fulbright award would cover 90% of tuition. Personal funds to cover living expenses (much more affordable than the other two though)

Other factors:
Coming from Mexico City, I love big city life so Chicago and D.C. are far more exciting for me in that regard. I've heard great things about San Diego in general but poor cultural and social life are a downside. 

I want to focus on migration policy which makes SD more attractive, although Georgetown has a great international migration research center. 

How I'm leaning:
I'm very greatful for UCSD's stellar offer, but I'm worried about it not being as "prestigious" as Georgetown or U Chicago and I wonder if it's worth it going into debt for either one. I've heard pretty disappointing things about Chicago's MAIDP from current students, but Harris could be a good platform for my career. I know UCSD should be the obvious choice, but it's simply not as exciting as D.C. for me. 


Any insights on these programs would be awesome.  Thanks in advance :)

 
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55 minutes ago, Graddygrad said:

Hi everyone! Thanks for starting this thread. It has already been of huge help for me but I would love to read your views on my  situation.
 

Coming from:
International student from Mexico City (majored in International Relations, interested in migration and asylum policy)

Deciding between: 
MPP - UCSD GPS - Substantial funding offer. Together with my Fulbright award it amounts to a full ride (stipend and RA position)

MPP - Georgetown McCourt - Funding offer + Fulbright award covers around 80% of fees. I would have to use personal funds + debt to cover remaining fees and living expenses

MAIDP (1 year program)  - U Chicago Harris - Funding offer + Fulbright award would cover 90% of tuition. Personal funds to cover living expenses (much more affordable than the other two though)

Other factors:
Coming from Mexico City, I love big city life so Chicago and D.C. are far more exciting for me in that regard. I've heard great things about San Diego in general but poor cultural and social life are a downside. 

I want to focus on migration policy which makes SD more attractive, although Georgetown has a great international migration research center. 

How I'm leaning:
I'm very greatful for UCSD's stellar offer, but I'm worried about it not being as "prestigious" as Georgetown or U Chicago and I wonder if it's worth it going into debt for either one. I've heard pretty disappointing things about Chicago's MAIDP from current students, but Harris could be a good platform for my career. I know UCSD should be the obvious choice, but it's simply not as exciting as D.C. for me. 


Any insights on these programs would be awesome.  Thanks in advance :)

 

If you are interested in international relations + migration and asylum policy, McCourt is the wrong school in Georgetown for you. Georgetown School of Foreign Services is the right school for you, and they have an amazing Migration studies certificate program there. McCourt doesn't really do well with cross border international relations related policy matters. It does do well in applying data on domestic (be it US or domestic anywhere else) issues. Also... I know this sounds silly, but a lot of the international students have complained how DC is not a big enough city for them. I have had international students from more urban areas tell me they feel like DC is basically an oversized town with too much greenery (I mean for the average American, its a real city, but for those who come from denser parts of the world - like Mexico City, DC doesn't really the "big city life"), and I'm seriously not kidding.

I cannot speak to the MAIDP program or UCSD. It also would help to know if you want to go back to Mexico or stay in the US after graduate school. I will say that I personally feel that 1 year is too short of a time to be in graduate school for policy matters. It is pretty much a massive spring and you don't get time to explore what you really like. 

Without knowing more, I would agree with you that UCSD is the right option balancing money + education opportunity (gosh you get an RA position and stipend - that is super awesome)... but if you have specific ambitions in both job type target area or desired location after grad school, that may change things towards Harris' favor.

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I'm torn between Berkeley Goldman MPP and Wagner MPA, currently looking to go into local or state government after graduation.

Case for NYU: 50% scholarship (none from Cal), girlfriend's family lives outside of NYC/have friends in NYC (vs. knowing no one in Berkeley), great local government focus, great name recognition as a university and in the field, worried about the quant at Cal.

Case for Berkeley: Always has been a dream school, everyone seems to make the cost work, strong cohort community (it feels like Wagner is a lot of professionals with their own things going on), teaches more hard skills, lots of state and local gov placement outside of the immediate area (don't think we want to live in the Bay Area or NYC long term), elite name recognition in the field and as a whole.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, obviously I'd like to keep cost down, but I've saved enough from working that cost doesn't have to be my main concern.

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13 minutes ago, SketchesOfSpain said:

I'm torn between Berkeley Goldman MPP and Wagner MPA, currently looking to go into local or state government after graduation.

Case for NYU: 50% scholarship (none from Cal), girlfriend's family lives outside of NYC/have friends in NYC (vs. knowing no one in Berkeley), great local government focus, great name recognition as a university and in the field, worried about the quant at Cal.

Case for Berkeley: Always has been a dream school, everyone seems to make the cost work, strong cohort community (it feels like Wagner is a lot of professionals with their own things going on), teaches more hard skills, lots of state and local gov placement outside of the immediate area (don't think we want to live in the Bay Area or NYC long term), elite name recognition in the field and as a whole.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, obviously I'd like to keep cost down, but I've saved enough from working that cost doesn't have to be my main concern.

COVID-19 is laying waste to local governments' finances in the state of California to a degree that will not be understood for years. (I am on a project team working for a municipality that is struggling to get its head around how bad things are already and will be in the intermediate and long terms.)

Short term, the University of California may not be able to support the programs, employees, and students. Even if your pockets are deep enough to cover your expenses, the people and resources you need may not be available. Long term, the job and role you want in a municipal government may simply not exist by the time you earn your degree.

Were I in  your position, I'd be looking at the option that is going to limit my exposure to the economic impact of COVID-19 that also offers the most opportunities to learn skills that are marketable in both the private and public sectors.

Insofar as your support network NYC, unless you run with a group of eggheads/professionals who are walking the path upon which you're embarking or are BTDTs, graduate school has the potential to put unforeseen pressure on your relationships. (There are many threads on this BB in which graduate students discuss the ups and downs of their relationships with non academics.)

If you end up at Cal, read the fine print on residency requirements, try to get a great three season jacket--which you'll be able to wear almost every day, and manage downwards your expectations of the sports teams, regardless of the score.

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12 hours ago, Sigaba said:

COVID-19 is laying waste to local governments' finances in the state of California to a degree that will not be understood for years. (I am on a project team working for a municipality that is struggling to get its head around how bad things are already and will be in the intermediate and long terms.)

Short term, the University of California may not be able to support the programs, employees, and students. Even if your pockets are deep enough to cover your expenses, the people and resources you need may not be available. Long term, the job and role you want in a municipal government may simply not exist by the time you earn your degree.

Were I in  your position, I'd be looking at the option that is going to limit my exposure to the economic impact of COVID-19 that also offers the most opportunities to learn skills that are marketable in both the private and public sectors.

Insofar as your support network NYC, unless you run with a group of eggheads/professionals who are walking the path upon which you're embarking or are BTDTs, graduate school has the potential to put unforeseen pressure on your relationships. (There are many threads on this BB in which graduate students discuss the ups and downs of their relationships with non academics.)

If you end up at Cal, read the fine print on residency requirements, try to get a great three season jacket--which you'll be able to wear almost every day, and manage downwards your expectations of the sports teams, regardless of the score.

Thank you for your help, but specifically, the candor.

You bring up an excellent point with future funding at Cal and how much money public schools are going to have to spend next year and the year after. Another excellent point is trying to gain some more in-demand skills, fortunately or unfortunately I think that is another advantage of Cal. Getting that residency for year two is going to be vital, I really hope none of that gets tinkered with. The big hope is that I could be in school for the worst of a coming recession, even if that might impact internships etc. available while in school.

As someone who works in local government, the help you're providing is the upmost importance, so thank you. And don't worry about the sports teams, I went to undergrad at a school that wins enough to get to big games, but always loses the final one, so I'm excited to root for someone for whom every win is found money.

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Hey y'all, thanks for starting the thread Karam, and for everyone's insights thus far! I'm hoping to get a little help w/ my dilemma as well...

Coming from:
Pacific Northwest, seven years removed from undergrad, looking to transition from programmatic non-profit work to research/advocacy think tank work.

Deciding between: 
MPP, Duke Sanford - 60% tuition
MPP, Michigan Ford - 25% tuition (awaiting possible scholarship reconsideration)
MSPPM DC Track, Carnegie Mellon Heinz - 85% tuition

Other factors:
CMU would boil down to essentially cost of living after applying two AmeriCorps awards, and the second year DC fellowship is almost universally paid (averaging $20k), so I'd be able to graduate w/ next-to/minimal debt. But, as time has passed, I've grown more cautious about the program - the general cohort seems to be collectively younger + more directly out of undergrad (I'm looking for a diverse cohort, w/ a variety of brought work experience), there seems to be limited flexibility to take qualitative courses within my field (social policy), the brand equity isn't nearly as hefty as the other two, + the emphasis on data analytics rigor is appealing but it seems to only be advantageous if one wanted to veer more towards being a data scientist. The difference in quant skills from CMU to the other two (both quite good) is not quite necessary for what I would like to do, + CMU seems to be mostly beneficial as a pipeline into consulting work, which is not my current desire in the slightest.

I love both of the programs at Duke + Michigan - both provide substantiative generalist coursework in social policy, have professors I'd love to work w/, strong quant, skew towards an older + more experienced cohort, + provide the applied/practical policy work experience alongside coursework that I'm looking for after having worked for a while now. 

Purely speaking, Michigan would be my easy choice, if finances weren't key... the professors are top-notch + have impressed me the most, there are multiple research centers I would be ecstatic to work w/, their grad career services seems the most exceptional of the three, it would be most ideal for personal reasons, has the strongest alumni network + prestige, and would allow me to work most aptly on my focus area (poverty alleviation + housing/homelessness) via close opportunities in Detroit. Internship + other opportunities would be less ideal in Durham, and may require uprooting for a bit which isn't ideal financially. Also, I have general concerns about going from Portland to Durham (seems to be trending towards a possible portland of the south trajectory, not necessarily in a good way, I'm largely tired of living in such a city). That being said, accessibility to the research triangle is very appealing + being able to take coursework in Raleigh/Chapel Hill presents an exciting potential opportunity.

So, that being said - there is currently a large gap in funding between the two (and those two to CMU), and I'm awaiting renegotiation responses. The main issue is that Michigan said that they will not be able to notify students until AFTER the 4/15 deadline as to whether their funding will be increased, but in those cases the most frequent instance is increasing by 25% tuition. So, funding could potentially be 50% at Michigan, but that is a big ? up until after an acceptance decision has to be made. Also, on the funding note - Michigan seems to be the best of the three at presenting increased $$$ once you have started through GSIs, RAships, + other opportunities; so the $$$ question seems to be more fluid there. I guess all this to say - I'm struggling to decide between minimal cost at a school I'm not passionate about, middle $$ at a program I like, + a more confusing possible cost at a program I love. So, any advice re: duke vs. michigan, and if I'd be stupid to pass up graduating nearly debt-free at CMU vs. taking on debt for a policy masters at one of these schools. Any help is super appreciated!

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I got admitted into American's SIS program (with a pretty generous stipend + graduate assistantship) as well as the GW's Elliott School with no word of funding/financial aid thus far. I really want to try negotiating with GW - does anyone have experience on this? Should I email them or call? I'm also on the waitlist for a similarly ranked school. Would be happy to provide any extra info via PM. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, knut6133 said:

Coming from:
Pacific Northwest, seven years removed from undergrad, looking to transition from programmatic non-profit work to research/advocacy think tank work.

Deciding between: 
MPP, Duke Sanford - 60% tuition
MPP, Michigan Ford - 25% tuition (awaiting possible scholarship reconsideration)
MSPPM DC Track, Carnegie Mellon Heinz - 85% tuition

Other factors:
CMU would boil down to essentially cost of living after applying two AmeriCorps awards, and the second year DC fellowship is almost universally paid (averaging $20k), so I'd be able to graduate w/ next-to/minimal debt. But, as time has passed, I've grown more cautious about the program - the general cohort seems to be collectively younger + more directly out of undergrad (I'm looking for a diverse cohort, w/ a variety of brought work experience), there seems to be limited flexibility to take qualitative courses within my field (social policy), the brand equity isn't nearly as hefty as the other two, + the emphasis on data analytics rigor is appealing but it seems to only be advantageous if one wanted to veer more towards being a data scientist. The difference in quant skills from CMU to the other two (both quite good) is not quite necessary for what I would like to do, + CMU seems to be mostly beneficial as a pipeline into consulting work, which is not my current desire in the slightest.

I love both of the programs at Duke + Michigan - both provide substantiative generalist coursework in social policy, have professors I'd love to work w/, strong quant, skew towards an older + more experienced cohort, + provide the applied/practical policy work experience alongside coursework that I'm looking for after having worked for a while now. 

Purely speaking, Michigan would be my easy choice, if finances weren't key... the professors are top-notch + have impressed me the most, there are multiple research centers I would be ecstatic to work w/, their grad career services seems the most exceptional of the three, it would be most ideal for personal reasons, has the strongest alumni network + prestige, and would allow me to work most aptly on my focus area (poverty alleviation + housing/homelessness) via close opportunities in Detroit. Internship + other opportunities would be less ideal in Durham, and may require uprooting for a bit which isn't ideal financially. Also, I have general concerns about going from Portland to Durham (seems to be trending towards a possible portland of the south trajectory, not necessarily in a good way, I'm largely tired of living in such a city). That being said, accessibility to the research triangle is very appealing + being able to take coursework in Raleigh/Chapel Hill presents an exciting potential opportunity.

So, that being said - there is currently a large gap in funding between the two (and those two to CMU), and I'm awaiting renegotiation responses. The main issue is that Michigan said that they will not be able to notify students until AFTER the 4/15 deadline as to whether their funding will be increased, but in those cases the most frequent instance is increasing by 25% tuition. So, funding could potentially be 50% at Michigan, but that is a big ? up until after an acceptance decision has to be made. Also, on the funding note - Michigan seems to be the best of the three at presenting increased $$$ once you have started through GSIs, RAships, + other opportunities; so the $$$ question seems to be more fluid there. I guess all this to say - I'm struggling to decide between minimal cost at a school I'm not passionate about, middle $$ at a program I like, + a more confusing possible cost at a program I love. So, any advice re: duke vs. michigan, and if I'd be stupid to pass up graduating nearly debt-free at CMU vs. taking on debt for a policy masters at one of these schools. Any help is super appreciated!

Sounds like you have great options, congratulations!

I would not go to Michigan unless you can get a significant increase in financial aid. Even at 50% aid, it's still going to be >$50,000 more expensive (in tuition alone; Ann Arbor also has a higher cost of living as well) than the other two which will feel miserable in the long-term. It does seem like a great fit for you, but coming out with that much debt will severely limit the jobs you feel like you can take.

I go to Heinz right now (albeit in the Data Analytics track, not DC) and Duke was my second choice after I visited and talked with current students and their head of admissions, so maybe a bit of useful thoughts.

I love Heinz and am extremely glad I chose it, but I also would have been thrilled to go to Duke. Here are a couple quick thoughts I have to respond to your concerns/perceptions of the two schools:

  • Consulting placement is almost exactly the same at the two schools. It's right around 30%, so I wouldn't let that make or break your decision either way.
  • The DC track curriculum has at most 1 semester's worth of technical classes more than you would have at any other school. See the curriculum here: https://www.heinz.cmu.edu/heinz-shared/_files/img/student-handbooks/msdc-2019-2020-student-handbook.pdf. You would take R at any policy school worth anything, so don't count that. The Database and IT elective are each only half-semester long, so combined it's only one semester.
  • I love both Pittsburgh and the Durham area. Both have a lot going on, are affordable, and didn't feel pretentious.
  • I got along better with the Duke students, they were less stressed out and seemed to be more relaxed with one another.
  • I think you would have a tough time with your first year at CMU but love your second year. The first year is extremely challenging especially if you come in not thrilled with your choice, the curriculum isn't particularly flexible, and the stress culture of CMU (and by extension, Heinz) is very real. You're right that there are a lot of folks in the DC program with ~0-3 years of work experience who are trying to transition from colleges that don't have DC connections to working there. But, I know people love their second year as they get to work their fellowship, make money, and take more policy-focused classes.
  • The school networks from both are surprisingly good. Duke obviously has a gigantic footprint there (both Sanford and from the school at large), but CMU places well there and the alumni are very active about trying to keep in touch.

To summarize my thoughts:

  • Duke seems like a fantastic fit for you, as I think I might've chosen it if I wasn't so focused on the data elements. That being said, I also don't want to end up in DC so that didn't factor into my decision.
  • I don't think you'll hate CMU as much as you think, especially if you think of it as one intense year that's not that fun, followed by a second year that's equally as intense but you're getting to actually live and work in DC.
  • Think about how much you value your experiences now vs. freedom for the future. $60,000 in debt will easily turn into over $100,000 total by the time you've paid it off. That's a significant burden to take on. That being said, going to a school that you think you're going to be miserable at for two years in the prime of your life is ALSO a significant burden.

Hope this wasn't too scatterbrained (I just finished two online tests). If there's anything else I can help provide clarity on or anything you want to ask, please let me know and I'm more than happy to help. You've got a lot of great options and I'm excited for you!

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14 hours ago, rubyrosey2626 said:

I got admitted into American's SIS program (with a pretty generous stipend + graduate assistantship) as well as the GW's Elliott School with no word of funding/financial aid thus far. I really want to try negotiating with GW - does anyone have experience on this? Should I email them or call? I'm also on the waitlist for a similarly ranked school. Would be happy to provide any extra info via PM. 

 

 

I would try hard to negotiate with GW Elliot School and leverage the American SIS program. When I used to work in IR, Always met tons and tons of Elliot school people, but only on occasion met American SIS folks. Bottom line, Elliot has extensively more connections and street cred (subjective opinion, but it is what I clearly saw in my time in IR). 

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16 hours ago, knut6133 said:

Hey y'all, thanks for starting the thread Karam, and for everyone's insights thus far! I'm hoping to get a little help w/ my dilemma as well...

Coming from:
Pacific Northwest, seven years removed from undergrad, looking to transition from programmatic non-profit work to research/advocacy think tank work.

Deciding between: 
MPP, Duke Sanford - 60% tuition
MPP, Michigan Ford - 25% tuition (awaiting possible scholarship reconsideration)
MSPPM DC Track, Carnegie Mellon Heinz - 85% tuition

Other factors:
CMU would boil down to essentially cost of living after applying two AmeriCorps awards, and the second year DC fellowship is almost universally paid (averaging $20k), so I'd be able to graduate w/ next-to/minimal debt. But, as time has passed, I've grown more cautious about the program - the general cohort seems to be collectively younger + more directly out of undergrad (I'm looking for a diverse cohort, w/ a variety of brought work experience), there seems to be limited flexibility to take qualitative courses within my field (social policy), the brand equity isn't nearly as hefty as the other two, + the emphasis on data analytics rigor is appealing but it seems to only be advantageous if one wanted to veer more towards being a data scientist. The difference in quant skills from CMU to the other two (both quite good) is not quite necessary for what I would like to do, + CMU seems to be mostly beneficial as a pipeline into consulting work, which is not my current desire in the slightest.

I love both of the programs at Duke + Michigan - both provide substantiative generalist coursework in social policy, have professors I'd love to work w/, strong quant, skew towards an older + more experienced cohort, + provide the applied/practical policy work experience alongside coursework that I'm looking for after having worked for a while now. 

Purely speaking, Michigan would be my easy choice, if finances weren't key... the professors are top-notch + have impressed me the most, there are multiple research centers I would be ecstatic to work w/, their grad career services seems the most exceptional of the three, it would be most ideal for personal reasons, has the strongest alumni network + prestige, and would allow me to work most aptly on my focus area (poverty alleviation + housing/homelessness) via close opportunities in Detroit. Internship + other opportunities would be less ideal in Durham, and may require uprooting for a bit which isn't ideal financially. Also, I have general concerns about going from Portland to Durham (seems to be trending towards a possible portland of the south trajectory, not necessarily in a good way, I'm largely tired of living in such a city). That being said, accessibility to the research triangle is very appealing + being able to take coursework in Raleigh/Chapel Hill presents an exciting potential opportunity.

So, that being said - there is currently a large gap in funding between the two (and those two to CMU), and I'm awaiting renegotiation responses. The main issue is that Michigan said that they will not be able to notify students until AFTER the 4/15 deadline as to whether their funding will be increased, but in those cases the most frequent instance is increasing by 25% tuition. So, funding could potentially be 50% at Michigan, but that is a big ? up until after an acceptance decision has to be made. Also, on the funding note - Michigan seems to be the best of the three at presenting increased $$$ once you have started through GSIs, RAships, + other opportunities; so the $$$ question seems to be more fluid there. I guess all this to say - I'm struggling to decide between minimal cost at a school I'm not passionate about, middle $$ at a program I like, + a more confusing possible cost at a program I love. So, any advice re: duke vs. michigan, and if I'd be stupid to pass up graduating nearly debt-free at CMU vs. taking on debt for a policy masters at one of these schools. Any help is super appreciated!

From a pure academic perspective, I think it is a no-brainer that you pick CMU. You sound like a guy who likes Quant + the DC experience at CMU is really top notch + awesome scholarship. I honestly enjoyed every single CMU MPP and MSPPM that I have worked with. I appreciate how innovative and forward leaning they are + great confidence in talking about data - super impressed.

I will say from academic environment perspective, I think Duke has a much strong community. By that I mean, every CMU Heinz person I have ever met that did the DC option spoke to me about how they really had to map out their own journey based on their policy interest. Yes, they make friends and there is a DC community bonding, but the feedback I have been given is that they don't know their class really well. Every person I talked to that went to Sanford really appreciated the super friendly and community oriented dynamic present. 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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Hi all,

Long-time lurker here, would love to get some advice from you all since I am going crazy towards the deadlines.

About me: coming from Asia, worked in an MNC for over 5 years in business roles, strong in marketing management and strategy with some experience in sustainability, advocacy and investment; My interests lie in philanthropy, impact investment and international development. Would like to work in foundations/ impact investing or international organizations like the UN driving public-private partnerships after the MPA degree, ideally in the US or Europe

Choosing between: LSE, NYU Wagner, Columbia SIPA. None provided funding.

I personally prefer SIPA and Wagner since I love their curriculums plus I really want to live in NYC. SIPA is of course a tier higher and more internationally oriented, but it’s also crazy expensive. Unless they come back with some money, I might go for Wagner (~30k difference, can anyone confirm?) since paying so much for a public sector degree doesn't make sense to me and also because Wagner offered me an assistantship (good opportunity but doesn’t help much with tuition). And I already have solid work experience (in the private sector), perhaps I could still manage without the Ivy League brand?

However, I can’t shake off the fact that Wagner does not have a strong reputation outside the US. I would love to stay and work in NYC but this is extremely hard as a foreigner. Am I being irresponsible to pay tons of money just for the sake of living in NYC and learning what I love? Then there is LSE, a top-notch in the field with great reputation globally and promising career outcome. It’s also 45k cheaper than Wagner considering the lower living expenses in London. Problem is that I don't find their curriculum very interesting and I don’t prefer quant heavy/ theoretical nature nor the UK teaching style. I already have a quant background and would like to work on other skills instead in grad school. I have also lived briefly in Europe before so moving to London is not particularly exciting compared to the US.

There is still the hope of getting a scholarship from the government of my home country but I won't find out until the summer.

Any thoughts will be highly appreciated!

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I’m a current sipa student  and wanted to put out some points for anyone trying to decide on schools right now. First I would absolutely not count on job statistics from the last couple years and look more at the numbers and experiences of students graduating during the last recession. Most students I know had their summer internships or post grad jobs canceled or delayed and if we’re honest who knows what type of economy you will be graduating into in two years.


Second I would not take on debt to attend SIPA (or really any MPA program) next year. One of the major reasons to go to an Ivy League grad school is for the networking opportunities and so many are already canceled or deferred going into the fall (and there’s also the major possibility fall classes would be online). A big plus of sipa is all the opportunities that come along with living in NYC, however many of those are canceled into the fall as well (UN conferences, Columbia networking events, ect)  I would seriously consider how upset you’d be if what happened this school year would happen to you next year and how much tuition you would be willing to pay out of pocket if it did, because we might have a second wave next winter too.

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13 hours ago, Mpadreamer said:

Hi all,

Long-time lurker here, would love to get some advice from you all since I am going crazy towards the deadlines.

About me: coming from Asia, worked in an MNC for over 5 years in business roles, strong in marketing management and strategy with some experience in sustainability, advocacy and investment; My interests lie in philanthropy, impact investment and international development. Would like to work in foundations/ impact investing or international organizations like the UN driving public-private partnerships after the MPA degree, ideally in the US or Europe

Choosing between: LSE, NYU Wagner, Columbia SIPA. None provided funding.

I personally prefer SIPA and Wagner since I love their curriculums plus I really want to live in NYC. SIPA is of course a tier higher and more internationally oriented, but it’s also crazy expensive. Unless they come back with some money, I might go for Wagner (~30k difference, can anyone confirm?) since paying so much for a public sector degree doesn't make sense to me and also because Wagner offered me an assistantship (good opportunity but doesn’t help much with tuition). And I already have solid work experience (in the private sector), perhaps I could still manage without the Ivy League brand?

However, I can’t shake off the fact that Wagner does not have a strong reputation outside the US. I would love to stay and work in NYC but this is extremely hard as a foreigner. Am I being irresponsible to pay tons of money just for the sake of living in NYC and learning what I love? Then there is LSE, a top-notch in the field with great reputation globally and promising career outcome. It’s also 45k cheaper than Wagner considering the lower living expenses in London. Problem is that I don't find their curriculum very interesting and I don’t prefer quant heavy/ theoretical nature nor the UK teaching style. I already have a quant background and would like to work on other skills instead in grad school. I have also lived briefly in Europe before so moving to London is not particularly exciting compared to the US.

There is still the hope of getting a scholarship from the government of my home country but I won't find out until the summer.

Any thoughts will be highly appreciated!

I worked with organizations from Asia before, and I appreciate how school brand seems to matter more in Asia comparatively than the US. I recommend you think about 2 things.

1. Your actual school experience. Both NYU and SIPA have a school experience that is centered around living in NYC. There isn't exactly a strong student community since everyone lives their NYC life. However... I think with New York, you will be so busy, that you won't have that much time to focus on community stuff anyone. I think an opportunity to make your mark is based upon the organizations you work with while you are at Wagner, it looks like you already have pathway with your assistantship. If you can say you worked with a prestigious organization, that might mean just as much, if not more than the Columbia recognition. 

2. Rent in New York will likely be lower once this corona thing dies down (around July or so) or whenever they stop doing online classes. So the expenses of living In NYC may end up not being as bad at you once thought it would be. 

3. I don't now LSE's program that well, so I can't speak to it. 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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Thanks to everyone in this thread! It’s really helpful. 
 

Coming from US, but recently served in the peace corps until a month or so ago. 
 

Deciding btwn 

American SIS (coverdell, 29k) 

GW (in off waitlist, no word on funding yet)

SAIS MAIAA (2 hrs bologna, awaiting reconsideration)

Fletcher (15k/yr)

Waitlisted at Georgetown but probably not getting in nor would I get funding I believe. 
 

Leaning toward

it’s btwn SAIS and Fletcher for me. The MAIA program is cheaper than the standard MA program. I would spend both years in Bologna so the cost of living is less. MAIA would require a fewer Econ courses and is a create your own MA while also doing a thesis/research paper. This is attractive to me because as someone who isn’t 1000% what they want to do and as someone who has multiple interests it would allow me to gain more knowledge in different areas while still finding an in depth focus area. I want to get up to speed on the different sectors I could work in in order to have a more complete education entering the work force as I am not coming from an IR background. being in bologna is a big plus as I am not really interested in working within the US, and being abroad for two more years establishes me an international and the career events SAIS offers would open more doors for me to work abroad. That said I would have the option to transfer to DC if I desired. Based on the open house, SAIS feels like  they’re a little more interesting in helping you find what you want to do. 
 

Fletcher on the other hand tugs at me a bit bc I have heard great things about the Fletcher community. The areas I would go into I am really interested in (human security and conflict resolution). I know if I went to Fletcher I would be fine and happy, whereas Bologna feels like a risk reward. The one thing I’ve gathered from this forum is that Fletcher is better if you know exactly what you want, and I’m not 100% (I’ll probably try to the NGO/Public/IGO) route). The panels I have seen for Fletcher tend to reflect this (most answers were “do you own research or “once you know well help you”). Their career panel also seemed slightly more domestic/government focused. The amount of networking opportunities is less than SAIS Europe (and the sais opportunities are more interesting to me)  

 

Currently Fletcher and SAIS cost the same. Once I heard about funding from SAIS that might change things. It’s hard for me to evaluate GW without knowing aid. Americans curriculum just doesn’t do it for me.  I probably won’t have to borrow for cost of living unless I live in DC. I also have lived in DC before and moving back isn’t a huge draw (though I do like dc). 
 

 

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On 4/13/2020 at 12:50 PM, GradSchoolGrad said:

I worked with organizations from Asia before, and I appreciate how school brand seems to matter more in Asia comparatively than the US. I recommend you think about 2 things.

1. Your actual school experience. Both NYU and SIPA have a school experience that is centered around living in NYC. There isn't exactly a strong student community since everyone lives their NYC life. However... I think with New York, you will be so busy, that you won't have that much time to focus on community stuff anyone. I think an opportunity to make your mark is based upon the organizations you work with while you are at Wagner, it looks like you already have pathway with your assistantship. If you can say you worked with a prestigious organization, that might mean just as much, if not more than the Columbia recognition. 

2. Rent in New York will likely be lower once this corona thing dies down (around July or so) or whenever they stop doing online classes. So the expenses of living In NYC may end up not being as bad at you once thought it would be. 

3. I don't now LSE's program that well, so I can't speak to it. 

That was helpful, thanks so much for chiming in!

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18 hours ago, Karam2022 said:

Hey everyone,

How does the current COVID-19 dilemma affect your decision making? I heard some school might be delaying their semester. 

People going to programs in which their value more experience based and less academic based I know are deferring because they don't want to miss out on one semester of experiences. 

Also, in a similar vein, for people that do seek to start this fall, are taking into possible better experiences into lower standing just because of the possibility of online school in the fall. 

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21 hours ago, Karam2022 said:

Hey everyone,

How does the current COVID-19 dilemma affect your decision making? I heard some school might be delaying their semester. 

I'm having a hard time because I am still waiting to hear back from one school locally that I applied to, but the other school I got accepted to would require me to move. Technically the out of state school would be cheaper, ultimately (since it's public vs private), but I'm worried about moving to a new location when there's a possibility to not get the chance to meet new people and network in person. However, I've put off grad school for a few years now and I feel, for me, I need to go this fall. I am not wanting to stay much longer at my job as it's not relevant to public service and feels superfluous somewhat, and the job market is not going to be good. I also know that some people are considering full online programs at this point but I'm not sure if that would work for me. 

Anyone else in a similar situation of debating moving during all of this? 

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2 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

People going to programs in which their value more experience based and less academic based I know are deferring because they don't want to miss out on one semester of experiences. 

Also, in a similar vein, for people that do seek to start this fall, are taking into possible better experiences into lower standing just because of the possibility of online school in the fall. 

I don't understand your last sentence - what do you mean by "taking into possible better experiences into lower standing"? 

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23 hours ago, Karam2022 said:

Hey everyone,

How does the current COVID-19 dilemma affect your decision making? I heard some school might be delaying their semester. 

Goldman announced yesterday that they were delaying their commitment deadline to 4/30, pushed back from 4/15. Interesting to see how different schools are coping with the uncertainty. 

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I worry that I'm settling a bit.

I didn't apply to all of the schools I was interested in. In fact, I didn't apply to many schools. Only 3 PhD programs for Genetics/Genomics.

I applied later and simply didn't have the timing.

I got an interview at Baylor College of Medicine but no offer (Genetics and Genomics) and got an offer from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics).

I just fear that I'm settling on UAB although I think it's a GREAT program. Not a big name program but most of the faculty went to big name schools and have amazing accolades.

I just don't want to think I could have gotten into a school like UCSC or Johns Hopkins or University of Washington (all 3 are dreams) and I didn't because I didn't even try.

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