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Stanford IPS vs Fletcher VS GWU Asian Studies


bblucy

  

15 members have voted

  1. 1. Which should I choose (preferably based on pros/cons)?

    • GWU Elliott Asian Studies
      2
    • Stanford IPS
      11
    • Fletcher MALD
      2


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I’m hoping for input and also listing out some pros/cons/comparisons that will hopefully help others who may be making similar decisions. I apologize in advance for the length!

I am narrowing down my options to Stanford IPS, Fletcher MALD, and GWU Elliott Asian Studies. I’ve pretty much ruled out Pittsburgh's GSPIA (they offered me the best financial deal, but the program doesn’t match as well with my interests) and UW Jackson School-China Studies (due to location, lack of professional emphasis, and general lack of communication from the school).

My primary interests are in East Asia and study of foreign policy/regime structures & changes and I hope to eventually work in a think tank, nonprofit, or governmental agency.

I still have some UG debt so I want to avoid taking out exorbitant amounts of new loans. Also of note, I am not currently in the US, so I have no way of visiting any of these schools before making my decision. If you have conflicting pros/cons from what I have listed, let me know (or at least vote:))!

GWU

Pros:

  • Least expensive when factoring in scholarship (approx ½ tuition)
  • Classes in evening, so will have more time to work (make $ to at least hopefully cover living expenses) and, because of the location, will hopefully be able to work part time somewhere related to studies/interests
  • Location great for networking in DC and will hopefully make finding post-grad work easier
  • Asian Studies program offers a nice mix of regionally-focused courses mixed with practical and professional training
    • High cost of living (although similar to Stanford’s)
    • Really, the biggest “con” is that it is not as “big name” as Stanford and Tufts. I’ve never been one to put much stock in ranking and “prestige” and I hate to admit that, now that I’m in this situation, I’m feeling the pangs of supposed prestige. I’m not sure if the level of the faculty/research/opportunities offered here would be of a “lower-level” than the other two schools. Would I really be missing out on something if I chose GWU over my other options?
      Stanford:

      Pros:

      • Concentration in Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law definitely meshes the best with my research interests
      • Each concentration linked to major research center at Freeman Spogli Institute for Int’l Studies
      • Small program size means hands-on opportunities and individualized attention—students have both a faculty and IPS advisor
      • Very research oriented yet very practical
      • Ability to take classes in any Stanford department
        • EXPENSIVE! And no fellowship offered…I hear that 2/3 of 2nd year students get very generous assistantships but I fear ending up in that 1/3 without, and with 2 years of no aid I would probably have taken on 120K in loans.
        • Not sure if/how I can take on out-of-school work to help cover costs
        • Although I meet their Quant requirements, I am still intimidated by the quant-heavy nature of the program as it has been 4+ years since I actually took an econ class (although they do offer a refreshers course a few weeks before the program begins…)

      Fletcher

      Pros:

      [*]All I hear is how friendly people at Fletcher are, how great their alumni network is, how happy everyone is at Fletcher. Their blog posts certainly make me feel like I have an “inside” look at their operations and I’ve appreciated their transparency and willingness to reach out.[*]Program seems geared to really help prepare students for their professional future[*]“Depth” requirement does offer 2 fields that match my interests (Pacific Asia and Political Systems and Theories)[*]Can take courses at Harvard/MIT

      Cons:

      [*]Not cheap (1/3 tuition fellowship helps, but still leaves a lot of expenses)[*]Not sure if/how I can take on out-of-school work to help cover costs[*]Boston location not as relevant?

      What would you do?

      Good luck to everyone else who has to make a decision this week!

Edited by bblucy
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In what ways does GSPIA not correlate well with your research interests? Have you looked at the specialties of the faculty and recent offered courses and compared them to those at the other schools? Graduating from a solid public affairs program without significant debt is a very attractive scenario that would leave you freer in your post-graduation options (Pittsburgh real estate is dirt cheap as well).

Stanford might have the overall strongest program and greatest research resources and will certainly look good on a resume but the costs are a bit prohibitive and I believe it is a relatively newer program with a smaller alumni base.

The only strong point about GW I really see is access to job/internship opportunities in D.C. ( which is a very strong plus).

Tufts seems to an academic environment you would really enjoy spending the two years of your program in.

I recommend trying to find more information about recent graduate job placement figures at each school. Also try to find out if students have been successful in finding related summer internships. Schools like Stanford usually providing funding for internships opportunities which might make it easier for you to do a summer internship in D.C.

If GSPIA has good placements rates and internship opportunities it might be the best option, if not

then perhaps Stanford and then Tufts

I would only choose GW if it looks like the only place you would be likely to find a good internship or if you were sure you could find employment that would provide needed $$ and not adversely affect your studies.

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Thanks for your feedback. I notice you were also accepted by Pittsburgh, Stanford, and UW—which programs did you apply to at these schools? Have you made a decision yet?

The problem with GSPIA is that, upon closer examination, I could not find one faculty member whose research I was interested in—there doesn’t seem to be anyone with a focus on East Asia. And while I am interested in Security Studies, I feel the other schools’ programs match up better with my specific interests. Pittsburgh does offer the opportunity to add a certificate in Asian Studies, which definitely appeals to me but, when looking at the overall curriculum and course descriptions, the program doesn’t excite me as much as the others. I do have to say, though, that I do think I would like living in Pittsburgh and the cost of living is unbeatable.

As far as I can tell, GSPIA grads tend to work either in DC or in the Pittsburgh area and grads from the other three schools tend to have a bit more range in their career destinations.

Regarding Stanford’s newness and smaller alumni base, these are definitely factors to consider, although I’ve heard that there is a longer line of alumni when including those from the former one-year IPS program. I’ve also heard that, because IPS students take courses in a variety of departments, that there are many opportunities to broaden ones network within Stanford.

For what it’s worth, here are the approximate annual costs I’m looking at (excluding cost of living, including scholarships):

GSPIA: $8000

GWU: $12,000

Fletcher: $25,000

Stanford: $40,000

Since GWU and GSPIA’s tuition costs aren’t that far apart, I’ve been leaning towards GWU as its program is more relevant to my interests and I’ll hopefully be able to find more relevant/better paying PT work in DC.

Would any of those who have voted for Stanford mind sharing why you feel the potential for having to take out large sums of loans is worth it compared to what is offered by GWU?

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GSPIA has solid and respected international public affairs program but if you want a policy studies curriculum with an East Asia focus then Pittsburgh is probably not the best choice. The main strength of Pitt's East Asia program seems to be in Japan related humanities. They were supposed to be adding China focused political science faculty this year but I am not sure if anything has happened on that front (they don't update their website and are somewhat unresponsive with email) .

I applied to the China Studies M.A. program at UW and East Asian Studies M.A.programs everywhere else. My tentative focus is Chinese foreign relations and internal politics along with U.S.-Sino relations. My choices were determined mainly by the schools that offered me funding (Stanford, Duke, and UCLA). I don't trust the UC system at present because of a looming catastrophic state budget crisis. Duke had a tight-knit and interesting program but the its key China policy professor tragically passed away last December. The cost of living in Durham was also attractive but its on the other side of the country from my home and family. I decided on Stanford though it is a bit expensive even with the generous funding I was offered. It has the most solid program and extensive resources and its course offerings in East Asia politics/policy and foreign relations are probably matched only by Harvard and UW. Because EAS is an interdisciplinary program, students have access to a lot of the same faculty and research institutes as IPS students. Stanford is also generous with funding for internships and external programs.

All of your choices seem to be good options with various advantages and drawbacks. If I were you I would also be hard pressed to choose between Fletcher, Stanford, and GW. I do not know much about GW or Tufts' strengths in Asia policy but I guess the choice would come down to whether you feel Stanford's resources and networking opportunities warrant the cost and whether GW's internship/work prospects are as solid as they appear.

Thanks for your feedback. I notice you were also accepted by Pittsburgh, Stanford, and UW—which programs did you apply to at these schools? Have you made a decision yet?

The problem with GSPIA is that, upon closer examination, I could not find one faculty member whose research I was interested in—there doesn’t seem to be anyone with a focus on East Asia. And while I am interested in Security Studies, I feel the other schools’ programs match up better with my specific interests. Pittsburgh does offer the opportunity to add a certificate in Asian Studies, which definitely appeals to me but, when looking at the overall curriculum and course descriptions, the program doesn’t excite me as much as the others. I do have to say, though, that I do think I would like living in Pittsburgh and the cost of living is unbeatable.

As far as I can tell, GSPIA grads tend to work either in DC or in the Pittsburgh area and grads from the other three schools tend to have a bit more range in their career destinations.

Regarding Stanford’s newness and smaller alumni base, these are definitely factors to consider, although I’ve heard that there is a longer line of alumni when including those from the former one-year IPS program. I’ve also heard that, because IPS students take courses in a variety of departments, that there are many opportunities to broaden ones network within Stanford.

For what it’s worth, here are the approximate annual costs I’m looking at (excluding cost of living, including scholarships):

GSPIA: $8000

GWU: $12,000

Fletcher: $25,000

Stanford: $40,000

Since GWU and GSPIA’s tuition costs aren’t that far apart, I’ve been leaning towards GWU as its program is more relevant to my interests and I’ll hopefully be able to find more relevant/better paying PT work in DC.

Would any of those who have voted for Stanford mind sharing why you feel the potential for having to take out large sums of loans is worth it compared to what is offered by GWU?

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Just to clarify,

First year IPS tuition is actually around 35k (Two 18 unit quarters and one 10 unit quarter) while second year tuition at 10 units per quarter is around 25k. That math along with very high paying TA/RA opportunities, subsidized travel, and generous internship stipends made it worth it for me.

Thanks for your feedback. I notice you were also accepted by Pittsburgh, Stanford, and UW—which programs did you apply to at these schools? Have you made a decision yet?

The problem with GSPIA is that, upon closer examination, I could not find one faculty member whose research I was interested in—there doesn’t seem to be anyone with a focus on East Asia. And while I am interested in Security Studies, I feel the other schools’ programs match up better with my specific interests. Pittsburgh does offer the opportunity to add a certificate in Asian Studies, which definitely appeals to me but, when looking at the overall curriculum and course descriptions, the program doesn’t excite me as much as the others. I do have to say, though, that I do think I would like living in Pittsburgh and the cost of living is unbeatable.

As far as I can tell, GSPIA grads tend to work either in DC or in the Pittsburgh area and grads from the other three schools tend to have a bit more range in their career destinations.

Regarding Stanford’s newness and smaller alumni base, these are definitely factors to consider, although I’ve heard that there is a longer line of alumni when including those from the former one-year IPS program. I’ve also heard that, because IPS students take courses in a variety of departments, that there are many opportunities to broaden ones network within Stanford.

For what it’s worth, here are the approximate annual costs I’m looking at (excluding cost of living, including scholarships):

GSPIA: $8000

GWU: $12,000

Fletcher: $25,000

Stanford: $40,000

Since GWU and GSPIA’s tuition costs aren’t that far apart, I’ve been leaning towards GWU as its program is more relevant to my interests and I’ll hopefully be able to find more relevant/better paying PT work in DC.

Would any of those who have voted for Stanford mind sharing why you feel the potential for having to take out large sums of loans is worth it compared to what is offered by GWU?

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IMN22--thanks so much for your feedback. Best of luck at Stanford and perhaps I'll see you there!

Globalsun--thanks for the clarification. Are many IPS students able to find work (or the time to work) outside of the program during their first year or if they aren't able to find an assistantship in the 2nd? I've heard that a lot of students TA in the econ department, but is it also common for students to find assistantships in other departments?

Also, would you say that most students in the program take the same number of units you mentioned, or is that considered the absolute minimum (and do you feel like you are missing out on taking certain courses in order to reduce your tuition expenses)?

Edited by bblucy
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