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MPP or Phd Public Policy


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Hey all,

I am about to finish Teach for America and am looking to go to graduate school public policy. Originally I wanted to get a PhD in Public Policy because I thought I wanted to work at a think tank and eventually wanted to teach at a university. Plus, I thought I would receive tuition and stipend financial support. However, most of these schools I applied to for a PhD are putting me in the MPP track with partial funding. I already have about 13k in debt from undergraduate and am concerned about taking on more debt for an MPP or PhD. Below is a summary of the schools I have gotten into and their financial offers:

NYU MPA: 20k scholarship per year

UChicago MPP: No funding, but I could live at home if I need to

GWU PhD Public Policy: No funding but 24k tuition (compared to mid-30s at other schools)

Maryland MPP: waiting on funding

Georgetown MPP: 10k scholarship per year

American PhD: still waiting whether I got in or not

Do you think any of these options are worth the investment? What are your thoughts about working full-time and going to school at night? Is working for a think tank/university not lucrative enough to pay it off? If I went to grad school, would I have to work a higher-paying job that I may not like in order to pay off loans?


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If you don't feel excited about any of the schools with the funding you have, then save your money!

If you want to go somewhere next year, you should really look at not how much funding you received but your end cost. Rank the schools from low to high end cost and then rank the schools by fit with your interests and where people end up after graduation. Average the two rankings and that should narrow down your choices.

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Definitely go with Maryland. UMD's public policy program is very well-respected and they are offering a solid financial aid package. Although I don't know your career goals or your intended specialization, I still think it's a mistake to turn down excellent funding in favor of no to limited funding at one of the top programs (like Georgetown, UChicago, etc.).

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