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MPA/MPAff/MPP programs for working in Philanthropy, Nonprofit Capacity-building, State/Local Govt


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Waiting on decisions and figured I'd use the time to gather more info. Can you help me evaluate the pros & cons of each program as they pertain to my interests? 

Applied: USC-Price MPA, UT Austin-LBJ MPAff (both DC and Austin programs), NYU-Wagner MPA, UW-Evans MPA, Brandeis-Heller MPP/Social Impact MBA dual degree, Georgetown-McCourt MPP

I'm looking for programs with

  • a strong foundation in: nonprofit management, public management, policy & data analysis, program evaluation, policy writing, fundraising, philanthropy.
  • Strong connections to philanthropy and state/local govt in my cities of interest (see below)
  • Experiential learning opportunities: fellowships/internships/research in philanthropy, nonprofit capacity-building, 
  • Professors who have social justice & anti-racist values, critiques of structural inequality & imperialism, etc

Professional goals: philanthropy, nonprofit capacity-building, state/local government-level grantmaking, policy advocacy, or international development

Supplementary interests: community-based participatory research, participatory policymaking, participatory grantmaking and budgeting, philanthropic/nonprofit policy, urban planning, land use, health equity, tax policy, China affairs

Cities I'm interested in working in: LA, San Francisco, New York, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle (currently residing)

About me:

  • 3 years out of undergrad (3.0 GPA in political science at top public university)
  • GRE: 152Q / 157 V / 4.5 AW
  • Work experience --- temped 1 year in diversity recruiting at top STEM company; 2-3 years contracting in public administration at local City government
  • involved in local community foundation, local politics, and grassroots community organizing

Thanks for any insights you can provide!

Edited by threateningkirby
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  • studious_kirby changed the title to MPA/MPAff/MPP programs for working in Philanthropy, Nonprofit Capacity-building, State/Local Govt
1 hour ago, threateningkirby said:

Waiting on decisions and figured I'd use the time to gather more info. Can you help me evaluate the pros & cons of each program as they pertain to my interests? 

Applied: USC-Price MPA, UT Austin-LBJ MPAff (both DC and Austin programs), NYU-Wagner MPA, UW-Evans MPA, Brandeis-Heller MPP/Social Impact MBA dual degree, Georgetown-McCourt MPP

I'm looking for programs with

  • a strong foundation in: nonprofit management, public management, policy & data analysis, program evaluation, policy writing, fundraising, philanthropy.
  • Strong connections to philanthropy and state/local govt in my cities of interest (see below)
  • Experiential learning opportunities: fellowships/internships/research in philanthropy, nonprofit capacity-building, 
  • Professors who have social justice & anti-racist values, critiques of structural inequality & imperialism, etc

Professional goals: philanthropy, nonprofit capacity-building, state/local government-level grantmaking, policy advocacy, or international development

Supplementary interests: community-based participatory research, participatory policymaking, participatory grantmaking and budgeting, philanthropic/nonprofit policy, urban planning, land use, health equity, tax policy, China affairs

Cities I'm interested in working in: LA, San Francisco, New York, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle (currently residing)

About me:

  • 3 years out of undergrad (3.0 GPA in political science at top public university)
  • GRE: 152Q / 157 V / 4.5 AW
  • Work experience --- temped 1 year in diversity recruiting at top STEM company; 2-3 years contracting in public administration at local City government
  • involved in local community foundation, local politics, and grassroots community organizing

Thanks for any insights you can provide!

if you care about local and non-profit, you might as well strike Georgetown MPP off your roster. They are good at Federal Powers stuff, but not the place for local/state (unless you really want to focus on DC stuff). 

I also think its interesting, that the best school for Local and Non-Profit is Duke Sanford - and that is not on your list. 

Brandeis is blah... might as well remove that off your list. I can go in detail. Bottom line, I wouldn't go to that school for free (either its MPP or MBA). 

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9 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

if you care about local and non-profit, you might as well strike Georgetown MPP off your roster. They are good at Federal Powers stuff, but not the place for local/state (unless you really want to focus on DC stuff). 

I also think its interesting, that the best school for Local and Non-Profit is Duke Sanford - and that is not on your list. 

Brandeis is blah... might as well remove that off your list. I can go in detail. Bottom line, I wouldn't go to that school for free (either its MPP or MBA). 

Thanks for your thoughts -- My main interest in Georgetown was that DC is a national & international epicenter for big philanthropy, and Georgetown has a Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership and produced some research aligning with my interests.

I didn't look into Duke Sanford because I don't really see myself living/working in North Carolina, and some advice I've gotten is that location should be one of the biggest factors in which grad schools you choose (esp. for professional programs) because the networks will be very regional? 

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2 minutes ago, threateningkirby said:

Thanks for your thoughts -- My main interest in Georgetown was that DC is a national & international epicenter for big philanthropy, and Georgetown has a Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership and produced some research aligning with my interests.

I didn't look into Duke Sanford because I don't really see myself living/working in North Carolina, and some advice I've gotten is that location should be one of the biggest factors in which grad schools you choose (esp. for professional programs) because the networks will be very regional? 

Yes... DC is... but Georgetown MPP isn't a strong pathway to get there. Just look at the job outcomes (and its kind of already skewed because they don't report the non-reports of people who don't get jobs or jobs they don't want to advertise - like myself since I have a tech job and not a policy specific job). Phiilanthropy is not where people end up. 

Yes, you are right generally speaking with location, but Terry Sanford, I would argue is an exception to that rule - a very well known exception. People from Sanford go across the country to do non-profit and philanthropy stuff. I can explain in detail how Terry Sanford mitigates the location matter and I would say more than makes up for it. 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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I had thought about adding GWU or American U to my list because of the DC location, but their programs didn't stand out to me that much compared with the others I've researched. It might just have been fatigue though. 

Granted, I've never lived in any city other than Seattle, so I'm really just choosing based off of loose cultural impressions of these cities that I think I may like to live in.

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Just now, threateningkirby said:

I had thought about adding GWU or American U to my list because of the DC location, but their programs didn't stand out to me that much compared with the others I've researched. It might just have been fatigue though. 

Granted, I've never lived in any city other than Seattle, so I'm really just choosing based off of loose cultural impressions of these cities that I think I may like to live in.

Those programs won't really get you there either.

The three ways in is to go to a rock star program (like a U. Chicago, HKS, and etc.) or a program with focused strength on local and state stuff (Duke broadly, but local schools for regional stuff), or slog your way up through internships and work experience). However, to go through the #3 right, you want to make sure people from the program actually have a track record of going through Philanthropy. Georgetown MPP does not. Center for Public and Non-Profit Leadership is basically a cash cow to train executive on some stuff to give them a shiny certificate program ... and yes they do research to support that too. However, its not something strongly tied to McCourt MPP.

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3 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Those programs won't really get you there either.

The three ways in is to go to a rock star program (like a U. Chicago, HKS, and etc.) or a program with focused strength on local and state stuff (Duke broadly, but local schools for regional stuff), or slog your way up through internships and work experience). However, to go through the #3 right, you want to make sure people from the program actually have a track record of going through Philanthropy. Georgetown MPP does not. Center for Public and Non-Profit Leadership is basically a cash cow to train executive on some stuff to give them a shiny certificate program ... and yes they do research to support that too. However, its not something strongly tied to McCourt MPP.

How useful would you say assisting research is to getting in the door to philanthropy/local govt versus internships/work experience? I like that NYU Wagner has a ton of professional faculty, but USC for example has a plethora of centers/institutes that produce exciting research aligned with my interests and signals that faculty there may have industry connections that would be useful for me in networking. In researching all programs I applied to, one of my requirements was for them to have 1-3 centers dedicated to nonprofits, social impact/enterprise, partnerships with local govt, etc...

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13 minutes ago, threateningkirby said:

How useful would you say assisting research is to getting in the door to philanthropy/local govt versus internships/work experience? I like that NYU Wagner has a ton of professional faculty, but USC for example has a plethora of centers/institutes that produce exciting research aligned with my interests and signals that faculty there may have industry connections that would be useful for me in networking. In researching all programs I applied to, one of my requirements was for them to have 1-3 centers dedicated to nonprofits, social impact/enterprise, partnerships with local govt, etc...

It depends on how interconnected the research is with real institutions and organizations. You got some Universities whose research centers do full real deal engagement with live organizations. Others are research for the sake of show and tell (on the other extremes). Its about a. having someone reputable vouch for your work and b. networking while researching and c. on occasion build a portfolio of research excellence.

Also, your internship and work experience can have varying degrees of quality as well.

NYU Wagner has been pretty good in placement for non-profit in the NYC area. The problem with NYU is that there is next to 0 alumni and student community. It is basically a take advantage fo NYC while you can and hope the NYU brand carries you far. I don't know USC that well, so I don't want to speak to what I don't know. 

 

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If I got a job offer ($50K+) in philanthropy before hearing back from all the programs I applied to, do you think I should take the job offer instead and defer, or try to do the grad program part-time while working? I am in the interview process for 3 organizations that I'm decently excited about. And mindful that the avg salary upon graduating from many of these programs is $50-70K anyways..

 

Paying for classes, exposure to professors & new network, capstone & short-term 

VS. 

Getting paid for FT work experience

 

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15 hours ago, studious_kirby said:

If I got a job offer ($50K+) in philanthropy before hearing back from all the programs I applied to, do you think I should take the job offer instead and defer, or try to do the grad program part-time while working? I am in the interview process for 3 organizations that I'm decently excited about. And mindful that the avg salary upon graduating from many of these programs is $50-70K anyways..

 

Paying for classes, exposure to professors & new network, capstone & short-term 

VS. 

Getting paid for FT work experience

 

Yes, the average salary is like 55K or so, but there is a huge variation within that. The variation ranges from 35K - teaching in Mississippi Delta to an extreme of 200K plus - lobbying 

That being said... what are you trying to angle yourself to do with a degree in terms of actual jobs (not interest areas - potential jobs)

Are you trying to go management? be an analyst? go international? 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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11 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Yes, the average salary is like 55K or so, but there is a huge variation within that. The variation ranges from 35K - teaching in Mississippi Delta to an extreme of 200K plus - lobbying 

That being said... what are you trying to angle yourself to do with a degree in terms of actual jobs (not interest areas - potential jobs)

Are you trying to go management? be an analyst? go international? 

My goals for the degree are: be competitive for govt jobs (grantmaking/community investments & program management, community outreach, or policy -- I have only had exposure to City-govt work in a small dept, so more exposure to diff types of govt work), program officer at a foundation, program evaluation, or nonprofit capacity-building (both domestic and international. no international experience but I speak Mandarin at an intermediate level); policy advocacy. I'm not a big quant head but want to build evaluation/data analysis skills so I can flex them if needed. I never studied abroad in undergrad but am still very curious about international affairs. 

If this feels unfocused it's because I am drawn to a lot of areas and still see a lot of different pathways that are interesting to me.

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Just now, studious_kirby said:

My goals for the degree are: be competitive for govt jobs (grantmaking/community investments & program management, community outreach, or policy -- I have only had exposure to City-govt work in a small dept, so more exposure to diff types of govt work), program officer at a foundation, program evaluation, or nonprofit capacity-building (both domestic and international. no international experience but I speak Mandarin at an intermediate level); policy advocacy. I'm not a big quant head but want to build evaluation/data analysis skills so I can flex them if needed. I never studied abroad in undergrad but am still very curious about international affairs. 

If this feels unfocused it's because I am drawn to a lot of areas and still see a lot of different pathways that are interesting to me.

Lets place this in reverse.

1. Is income post grad school something you really care about?

If the answer is no, then do what your heart desires

2. If the answer is yes - lets play this hypothetical - Below what dollar annual income level, would cross your red line in terms of expectations for post grad school job offers?

Based off your answer,  I can help you illustrate what career pathways may meet your salary goals, and then you can see if its still matches with your post-grad school considerations.

I know you are in the fishing mode (okay - interested in lots of different things). However, it is helpful to see what fish is even available to you in your career potential pond. 

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11 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Lets place this in reverse.

1. Is income post grad school something you really care about?

If the answer is no, then do what your heart desires

2. If the answer is yes - lets play this hypothetical - Below what dollar annual income level, would cross your red line in terms of expectations for post grad school job offers?

Based off your answer,  I can help you illustrate what career pathways may meet your salary goals, and then you can see if its still matches with your post-grad school considerations.

I know you are in the fishing mode (okay - interested in lots of different things). However, it is helpful to see what fish is even available to you in your career potential pond. 

Thank you! 

1. Due to the financial commitment of grad school (tuition, time/energy that I'm not making money from) I would hope to be in at least mid-level / manager roles after graduating. 

2. $55K is probably the floor of what I'd hope for in post-grad job offers? Knowing that entry-level roles are $35-55K for nonprofit (including some foundations). Ideally my post grad income is at least $60-80K (should I be aiming higher?). If I ended up in nonprofit, I'd hope to be doing nonprofit capacity-building or advocacy (higher-level systems work & movement-building); or in govt; or at a foundation.

I did just receive an invitation today to interview for a county job I applied for that has a salary band of $89-113K+, so interestingly they perceive me as qualified for that type of role already. I am in the interview processes with 4 foundations for roles ranging from $45-80K. You can see why I may be confused about my current and potential market worth based on these results. For some roles (grantmaking, events) I would not be considered entry-level. Others (fundraising/development, policy analysis, operations, evaluation, very issue-specific govt/advocacy work) I would be considered as a entry-ish level candidate (but not brand spanking new).

Edited by studious_kirby
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14 hours ago, studious_kirby said:

Thank you! 

1. Due to the financial commitment of grad school (tuition, time/energy that I'm not making money from) I would hope to be in at least mid-level / manager roles after graduating. 

2. $55K is probably the floor of what I'd hope for in post-grad job offers? Knowing that entry-level roles are $35-55K for nonprofit (including some foundations). Ideally my post grad income is at least $60-80K (should I be aiming higher?). If I ended up in nonprofit, I'd hope to be doing nonprofit capacity-building or advocacy (higher-level systems work & movement-building); or in govt; or at a foundation.

I did just receive an invitation today to interview for a county job I applied for that has a salary band of $89-113K+, so interestingly they perceive me as qualified for that type of role already. I am in the interview processes with 4 foundations for roles ranging from $45-80K. You can see why I may be confused about my current and potential market worth based on these results. For some roles (grantmaking, events) I would not be considered entry-level. Others (fundraising/development, policy analysis, operations, evaluation, very issue-specific govt/advocacy work) I would be considered as a entry-ish level candidate (but not brand spanking new).

So here is the deal about "hitting a wall". There are lots off different types fo walls, and you need to figure out what matters to you. Given the supply and demand issues of city/state government (especially in high income areas), you could possibly ride the wave till retirement making 6 figures in local and state government ex major urban areas. However, you would be type cast as a local and state government guy and your wall would be the limitations of your knowledge base and network to transition. You could also slog your way up to different things but that would take years (so like half a decade to a decade).

As for foundations, you can incrementally move up as well. It is however obviously less lucrative. Your wall would be being stuck in foundation land due to the limitation of your knowledge and network.

The true strength of grad school is the base of knowledge and the associated network that comes with it (both your classmates and alumni base). In the short term, it is a one time super booster for you pivot career areas however you want. You can easily pivot to something that currently isn't accessible to you, at least at a higher prestige and scale of responsibility. This does not necessarily translate into immediate post graduate pay though because oftentimes in public service - the more prestigious something else, the less you get paid because of supply and demand. Example - new FBI agents can get paid less than new suburban cops. 

This is why, I recommend you think about what accessible jobs naturally fit you best post-graduate school that normally wouldn't be applicable to you now with earnings in mind.

So, without completely knowing you, and I'm shooting in the dark, I'm gonna mention some ideas with salaries based on DC area.

1. Government consulting - 90K to 120K 

2. Competitive Federal employee - starting 70K to 80K. The Presidential Merit Fellowship is a good one without a lot of domestic opportunitiies

3. Project/Program manager for a non-profit housing developer - 70K to 90K 

4. Big City Urban Development Policy Advisor / Analyst - 75K

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  • 1 year later...
On 2/3/2021 at 3:45 PM, studious_kirby said:

Waiting on decisions and figured I'd use the time to gather more info. Can you help me evaluate the pros & cons of each program as they pertain to my interests? 

Applied: USC-Price MPA, UT Austin-LBJ MPAff (both DC and Austin programs), NYU-Wagner MPA, UW-Evans MPA, Brandeis-Heller MPP/Social Impact MBA dual degree, Georgetown-McCourt MPP

I'm looking for programs with

  • a strong foundation in: nonprofit management, public management, policy & data analysis, program evaluation, policy writing, fundraising, philanthropy.
  • Strong connections to philanthropy and state/local govt in my cities of interest (see below)
  • Experiential learning opportunities: fellowships/internships/research in philanthropy, nonprofit capacity-building, 
  • Professors who have social justice & anti-racist values, critiques of structural inequality & imperialism, etc

Professional goals: philanthropy, nonprofit capacity-building, state/local government-level grantmaking, policy advocacy, or international development

Supplementary interests: community-based participatory research, participatory policymaking, participatory grantmaking and budgeting, philanthropic/nonprofit policy, urban planning, land use, health equity, tax policy, China affairs

Cities I'm interested in working in: LA, San Francisco, New York, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle (currently residing)

About me:

  • 3 years out of undergrad (3.0 GPA in political science at top public university)
  • GRE: 152Q / 157 V / 4.5 AW
  • Work experience --- temped 1 year in diversity recruiting at top STEM company; 2-3 years contracting in public administration at local City government
  • involved in local community foundation, local politics, and grassroots community organizing

Thanks for any insights you can provide!

Although you specifically mentioned MPP programs and the like, I would say the leader in non-profit executive management is Yale SOM. In fact, SOM was not a traditional MBA school until the 1980s, and has an institutional and historical conflation as a cradle to executive leadership within the non-profit world. Now, the fairly recent Jackson School has an international focus, so it might be compatible to your career goals. But something to think about...

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13 hours ago, pepperminticecream said:

Would love to hear your thoughts on Brandeis - I was accepted into their dual program with an almost full ride - so curious about ur thoughts.thx!

Do not waste your time there period (unless you are doing something very regionally focused). When even the people they advertise as success stories on their career page underleveled in their job after grad school graduation, that is a huge warning sign.

Also, I never saw and still don’t see Heller people in the competitive professional or academic policy spaces. 
 

 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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