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Decisions: SAIS vs. Fletcher


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Hi everyone!

I was recently admitted to Johns Hopkins SAIS (MA) and The Fletcher School (MALD), and while after countless hours of comparing I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of each program, I still feel very stuck on which to choose. 

Within the IR framework, I’ll be concentrating in security/conflict resolution with a further focus on the Middle East. I want to use grad school as a way to open myself up to career opportunities, but want to focus on the diplomatic track, research for think tanks/UN, or even the possibility of journalism which has always been a passion. Right now, SAIS is in the lead for me because they’ve offered a very generous scholarship of $80k ($40k each year), while Fletcher has offered $50k ($25k each year). However, a serious concern with SAIS is their emphasis on economics/quant (I would have to take 4 Econ courses, a stats course, as well as a pre term math course) and I’m one of those very math-averse IR people. Fletcher on the other hand has a much more appealing curriculum, just enough Econ to give me what I need, and several professors I would really like to work with. Also, the possibility of cross registering at Harvard is another plus. However, I worry that Fletcher’s location would not be as conducive to networking, as opposed to being in DC close to think tanks, non profits, and gov agencies. Additionally, from what I’ve garnered, SAIS is slightly higher ranked/possibly a bit better name recognition. 

at the end of the day, I’m not sure what to choose: SAIS with more funding and better location, but less appealing curriculum or Fletcher with better/more flexible curriculum and more directly relevant faculty, but less central location for networking/internships/jobs

would love to hear any and all thoughts!

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Hands-down go to SAIS... Offer is great (80k scholarship from SAIS is very impressive), it’s an IR powerhouse and DC, along with NY, is the diplomatic/think tank/journalism capital of the US. Boston is a harder city to pivot into IR from, as it’s a bit far from the nuclei of international affairs. 

Edited by Mppirgradschool
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I would also recommend SAIS if your end goal is IR/think tanks. In terms of quant-heavy curriculum, I've talked to so many alums from different programs, and a common theme from them was that they wished they took more quant-heavy courses as it provides a lot of skill building opportunities. I've also heard from professors to not shy away from courses that you may not feel naturally inclined to, as it provides you with a more well rounded graduate experience. Hope this helps! 

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