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Hi everyone, 

I will you like your insights to help me decide which program to attend this fall. I was admitted to several schools however I have narrowed my choice to SAIS MIAR (50K scholarship and first year in Bologna), Pitt GSPIA Master in International Development (Full ride + monthly stipend), and Georgetown SFS Master in Latin American Studies (13K scholarship renewable for second year).  

I am in my last year of undergrad and my career goal is to join the USAID Foreign Service or the regular Foreign Service. I plan to focus my grad studies in development and human rights with an emphasis in Latin America because that is the region where I would like to work in the future. I also want to become fluent in Portuguese because I already know Spanish and I think that is a helpful language to do work in the region.  

I like all three programs, however there is some important differences among them. At SAIS I can spend on year in Bologna and the second one in DC, getting a great network at both sides of the Atlantic and having access to tons job/internships opportunities. Besides, SAIS has a great focus on econ and quant skills that would be really helpfu for my future career plans. In addition, is has a great language program where I could improve my Portuguese language skills. SAIS has also a great reputation and practitioners’ professors with many connections which would make easier getting job opportunities. However, of all three schools SAIS has the weakest Latin American program and also the larger class sizes (even though in Bologna classes are smaller than DC). Finally, even though I received a half tuition scholarship, I would be 100K in debt if I end going there because of the cost of living in Bologna and DC.

Similarly to SAIS, GSPIA has a good number of econ classes. Moreover, the program is really small 15-20 students which allows for a lot of one-on-one with professors. GSPIA also has a great Latin American program and I am able to take undergraduate Portuguese classes. One of the main issues I have with GSPIA is the location in Pittsburgh which can't compare to the opportunities and networking available at DC (however they offer a semester in DC which could offset the location issue to some extend). They also have the worse ranking of all three schools and is not that well known. Furthermore, most faculty is full-time with limited connection outside academia and the career center is not as strong as the others. However, financially GSPIA would be the best option because considering the cost of living in Pitt and the scholarship they offered, I won't have to take any loans.

In the case of Georgetown, its has probably the best Latin American program of all three and also great faculty with many connections. Their program is also really small with only 20-25 students. Moreover, they have an amazing career center and many networking opportunities due to the location in DC and the prestige of SFS. Besides, they also offer free Portuguese classes. The main issue with their program is that is less practical than the other schools and they don't require many econ classes (however, I could do a certificate at the SFS development program where I could improve my econ skills). Financially, Georgetown will be the worse option because I would have to borrow 112K in loans (12K more than SAIS). 

I would welcome any input to help me in my decision-making. If possible before Tuesday April 20th, because that's my deadline to make a final decision.  

Thank you!

 

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On 4/17/2021 at 2:57 PM, Jerseycub6 said:

Hi everyone, 

I will you like your insights to help me decide which program to attend this fall. I was admitted to several schools however I have narrowed my choice to SAIS MIAR (50K scholarship and first year in Bologna), Pitt GSPIA Master in International Development (Full ride + monthly stipend), and Georgetown SFS Master in Latin American Studies (13K scholarship renewable for second year).  

I am in my last year of undergrad and my career goal is to join the USAID Foreign Service or the regular Foreign Service. I plan to focus my grad studies in development and human rights with an emphasis in Latin America because that is the region where I would like to work in the future. I also want to become fluent in Portuguese because I already know Spanish and I think that is a helpful language to do work in the region.  

I like all three programs, however there is some important differences among them. At SAIS I can spend on year in Bologna and the second one in DC, getting a great network at both sides of the Atlantic and having access to tons job/internships opportunities. Besides, SAIS has a great focus on econ and quant skills that would be really helpfu for my future career plans. In addition, is has a great language program where I could improve my Portuguese language skills. SAIS has also a great reputation and practitioners’ professors with many connections which would make easier getting job opportunities. However, of all three schools SAIS has the weakest Latin American program and also the larger class sizes (even though in Bologna classes are smaller than DC). Finally, even though I received a half tuition scholarship, I would be 100K in debt if I end going there because of the cost of living in Bologna and DC.

Similarly to SAIS, GSPIA has a good number of econ classes. Moreover, the program is really small 15-20 students which allows for a lot of one-on-one with professors. GSPIA also has a great Latin American program and I am able to take undergraduate Portuguese classes. One of the main issues I have with GSPIA is the location in Pittsburgh which can't compare to the opportunities and networking available at DC (however they offer a semester in DC which could offset the location issue to some extend). They also have the worse ranking of all three schools and is not that well known. Furthermore, most faculty is full-time with limited connection outside academia and the career center is not as strong as the others. However, financially GSPIA would be the best option because considering the cost of living in Pitt and the scholarship they offered, I won't have to take any loans.

In the case of Georgetown, its has probably the best Latin American program of all three and also great faculty with many connections. Their program is also really small with only 20-25 students. Moreover, they have an amazing career center and many networking opportunities due to the location in DC and the prestige of SFS. Besides, they also offer free Portuguese classes. The main issue with their program is that is less practical than the other schools and they don't require many econ classes (however, I could do a certificate at the SFS development program where I could improve my econ skills). Financially, Georgetown will be the worse option because I would have to borrow 112K in loans (12K more than SAIS). 

I would welcome any input to help me in my decision-making. If possible before Tuesday April 20th, because that's my deadline to make a final decision.  

Thank you!

 

Thoughtful analysis, but none of what you wrote matters very much. This is an easy decision for Pitt. Have a great time in school, work the internship/Fellowship/PMF/ clearance route aggressively the entire 2 years, and take the best offer you can get upon graduation.

(Sidenote - if you want to do USAID Foreign Service, strongly suggest you get 2+ years work abroad exeprience. Peace Corps is always good for that + noncompetitive hiring status they give is key for getting into the federal government)

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