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MPP chances for UG Student with No Work Experience


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Hey Guys,

I am going into my senior year at a top liberal arts program and I am going to be graduating with a degree in Political Philosophy. I look to apply to top MPP programs straight from undergrad. I also intend on going to law school either in conjunction with/ or after the MPP. My GPA is a 3.55 and I intend on taking the GRE in August. My primary concern is that I will have no post-undergraduate when I apply and I know these programs strongly emphasize (though don't require) these experiences. However, I do have a pretty strong undergraduate resume.

-Work in the University Development Department and raised thousands of dollars for the University endowment (one of the largest in the world)

-Did independent research with one of my professors in Urban Development and Economic Policy

-Serve as President of my pre-law Fraternity

-Served as a Chief of Staff intern for the Student Government

-Worked under a Health Care Lobbyist for a large health care corporation

-Worked as an intern one of America's largest hospitals legal affairs and Corporate Human resources department

-Did a Judicial Clerkship under a Circuit Court Justice

-Was a Legislative Aide/Intern for a US Congressman

-Worked as a Youth Volunteer with Troubled Youths + Did volunteer work in downtown Detroit

-Inducted into both Phi Sigma Theta and Sigma Alpha Phi Honors Societies

Should I even apply or wait and work? My Dream Schools would be either Ford (Michigan) or Harris (Chicago). I also intend on applying to Maryland, Duke, Penn, Syracuse, Lehigh (They've been emailing me a lot). I know I have little chance at Kennedy but that would be amazing as well.

Thanks for your opinions and sorry for the long-winded post,

Joe

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Work experience is desired, but definitely not essential. Don't count out Kennedy just yet. A lot of people get into Kennedy and Harris straight from undergrad. Definitely mention your JD/MPP aspirations when you apply to Kennedy (from what I hear, it loves its joint degree grads). If you can construct a convincing argument that would justify to the respective committees that you would benefit from a policy degree without prior experience, then I think you have a good chance at any of the above schools. Your GPA might be a bit low for the top programs, so ace the GREs and you'll be fine. Remember, it's essential that you demonstrate (in your SOP) what you want to do with the MPP. Best of luck on your GRE!

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I was looking at the same thing, although I decided just to go with a MPA first. Both law schools and mpp/mpa degrees like people with experience because, for one, it gives the school confidence that the student actually knows the field they think they want to go into and all the ups and downs of that particular career. If you have experience and are extremely certain about why you want to get a JD/MPP and what field you want to go into, then I think you are solid.

On the flip side, I took off some time before going back to get my masters and I would highly recommend it. There is a lot to learn from being "on your own" and working full time that you just can't get from a text book.

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I was looking at the same thing, although I decided just to go with a MPA first. Both law schools and mpp/mpa degrees like people with experience because, for one, it gives the school confidence that the student actually knows the field they think they want to go into and all the ups and downs of that particular career. If you have experience and are extremely certain about why you want to get a JD/MPP and what field you want to go into, then I think you are solid.

On the flip side, I took off some time before going back to get my masters and I would highly recommend it. There is a lot to learn from being "on your own" and working full time that you just can't get from a text book.

I couldn't agree with matcha more. There is so much you can gain by not going to grad school right away and 1) working full time, 2) being on your own and 3) just taking your time off textbooks instead. I also think that MPP/MPA programs (joint degree options especially) are such a huge investment (of your time, money and efforts) that you really should take some time to make the decision. It makes sense to get some experience before to figure out that this is exactly what you want to do with your life. It also makes sense to move on with your personal life before commiting to school for so long (in case of the join degree option). Given the debt you might have after finishing the program (a joint degree especially), I think it is very unlikely that you will want to go back to school again (perhaps PH.D). Of course, there are some lucky individuals who get full funding and/or are sponsored by various institutions/parents etc. I still think that for the vast majority, graduate school is a serious investment.

None of this, however, means you can't get into a great program with no experience. After all, you do have some impressive work experience (though not full time post graduation employment). I know that some people (especially those with Public Service fellowshis) go straight from undergrad. But even they usually complete their internships in the summer between they senior year and the first year of grad school.

Good luck with the decision.

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Hey Guys,

I am going into my senior year at a top liberal arts program and I am going to be graduating with a degree in Political Philosophy. I look to apply to top MPP programs straight from undergrad. I also intend on going to law school either in conjunction with/ or after the MPP. My GPA is a 3.55 and I intend on taking the GRE in August. My primary concern is that I will have no post-undergraduate when I apply and I know these programs strongly emphasize (though don't require) these experiences. However, I do have a pretty strong undergraduate resume.

-Work in the University Development Department and raised thousands of dollars for the University endowment (one of the largest in the world)

-Did independent research with one of my professors in Urban Development and Economic Policy

-Serve as President of my pre-law Fraternity

-Served as a Chief of Staff intern for the Student Government

-Worked under a Health Care Lobbyist for a large health care corporation

-Worked as an intern one of America's largest hospitals legal affairs and Corporate Human resources department

-Did a Judicial Clerkship under a Circuit Court Justice

-Was a Legislative Aide/Intern for a US Congressman

-Worked as a Youth Volunteer with Troubled Youths + Did volunteer work in downtown Detroit

-Inducted into both Phi Sigma Theta and Sigma Alpha Phi Honors Societies

Should I even apply or wait and work? My Dream Schools would be either Ford (Michigan) or Harris (Chicago). I also intend on applying to Maryland, Duke, Penn, Syracuse, Lehigh (They've been emailing me a lot). I know I have little chance at Kennedy but that would be amazing as well.

Thanks for your opinions and sorry for the long-winded post,

Joe

The GRE will matter a lot, especially at Harris and Ford. Apparently this year Duke only accepted students with work experience and that is their new trend, so I would probably skip the application fee (though there are some Duke students roaming the boards that probably could better advise you on that).

I was in a similar situation to you this past year - lots of internships, research, extracurricular experience and study abroad, only I had a higher GPA and average-ish (for these boards) GRE scores. I got into 8/10 schools I applied to - I didn't get in to Ford or Duke. I would check out Carnegie Mellon - it is a skills and quant-heavy curriculum, and they didn't have an issue with my lack of work experience. I would look at American and Georgetown as well if your GRE scores are good.

Best of luck!

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The GRE will matter a lot, especially at Harris and Ford. Apparently this year Duke only accepted students with work experience and that is their new trend, so I would probably skip the application fee (though there are some Duke students roaming the boards that probably could better advise you on that).

I was in a similar situation to you this past year - lots of internships, research, extracurricular experience and study abroad, only I had a higher GPA and average-ish (for these boards) GRE scores. I got into 8/10 schools I applied to - I didn't get in to Ford or Duke. I would check out Carnegie Mellon - it is a skills and quant-heavy curriculum, and they didn't have an issue with my lack of work experience. I would look at American and Georgetown as well if your GRE scores are good.

Best of luck!

Where did you end up going if you don't mind me asking? Could you private message me what your stats were and what you would recommend?

Thanks

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I'm a Kennedy MPP (07). I loved my experience and think the MPP is a great degree. I'll say your resume is pretty impressive, and you should do well in admissions; definitely don't rule out Kennedy.

That said: do you have a compelling reason to go right into grad school? And by compelling, I mean, do you have no other choice because you're on a student visa or something like that? If not, I would strongly recommend that you work for a year or two before applying for grad school. There are a few reasons for this:

- An MPP is a professional program and the Kennedy School, at least, uses a lot of real-world cases as the basis for teaching and class discussion. You simply will not get as much out of this education if you don't have real-world work experience to draw from. I saw this time and time again with friends who came in straight out of undergrad. They were extremely smart and hard-working, but they still did not get as much out of the program.

- If you've been in school your whole life, it's really easy and tempting to just keep going to school. Which is why it's a good idea to do something different for a while. You will be surprised at how much you change in the first couple of years out of school. For instance, I thought about applying to grad school right out of undergrad. I was going to apply to history PhD programs (my UG major). This would have been a disastrous mistake for me. It wasn't until I was out, and working, that I found what ended up being my professional passion. This isn't to say your interests will definitely change, but it would not be surprising if they did.

- My friends who went right in from undergrad had a much harder time finding jobs afterward. And many of them found that they still had to take entry-level jobs when they did get into the workforce. It depends on what you want to do, of course, but unfortunately a lot of public sector employers don't value MPPs as much as we'd like! Also, I really think there's a sort of "grounded" confidence that comes from having had a career before grad school - I knew my degree would only take so far, and I also knew that even if my degree didn't carry me, I had skills that would get me a job. A lot of the straight-from-undergrad kids I saw came in with a lot of confidence but it was very fragile and they were really, really worried about the future.

Finally, I wonder why you're interested in a joint JD/MPP. Do you want to practice public interest law or work as a lawyer for the federal government? What interests you about that field? And what do you think you'll get from a MPP that you wouldn't get just from a JD? And if you don't want to practice law, then there's really no reason to get a JD. Also, a joint JD/MPP from private schools will put you $250K in debt. That is a really, really big debt load to start your career with and will make it difficult to do public sector work. I have some regrets about my MPP debt and I really don't know what I'd do if I had twice the debt. Neither MPP or JD programs are good about grants or scholarships.

Sorry if I seem overly gloomy or discouraging, I just feel really strongly that it's in most students' best interest to wait.

Edited by Politicalgeek
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