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Berkeley GSPP vs. Stanford IPS



19 members have voted

  1. 1. Which one would you choose for int'l policy?

    • Berkeley GSPP
    • Stanford IPS

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hi gradcafe fellows,

I would love to get some opinions on Berkeley vs. Stanford for international policy (energy and climate change). Both schools are strong in energy research so it comes down to more subtle factors such as reputation, location, $$$ and culture. Both schools rank very high in international evaluations so I don't think there is a big difference in reputation/prestige, or is there? Is the name recognition equal outside the U.S.? Many argue that the Stanford brand carries a long way, here and abroad (but I would think Berkeley does too?). At the same time, I felt a stronger affinity to Berkeley when visiting the campus. Stanford seems to have a bit of an attitude/arrogance going on (during the application process as well as even after being admitted) but I guess that could be just an impression. Berkeley appears much more down to earth (although perhaps a bit too much ;) and the people at GSPP are extremely happy with their program. GSPP also seems much better managed (and staff approachable) than IPS, probably due to size and number of years being established.

However, Berkeley's GSPP severely lacks the international component, Stanford's IPS is more expensive and I have the feeling it is geared more towards Silicon Valley than international policy making. It seems to be more of an engineering, law and business school, less strong in policy, so I am worried about the IPS program's strength. I favor Berkeley's location and more approachable culture (easier to commute and more urban feeling) over Stanford's (suburban corporate campus that feels a bit isolated) At the same time, Stanford's curriculum is more international and much more flexible compared to GSPP's, which only has 5 electives. A lot of people say "Stanford, no question!" Other say Berkeley is a better fit and just as good of a school as Stanford. This is a tough choice. I appreciate your insight (and votes).

Edited by octopus
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I agree with your impressions of both programs. I got the same vibes from each of them.

I think one important question is-- how important is the international aspect for you? If you're determined to go international, I think IPS is a better choice. GSPP will do whatever it can to get you the job that you want, but its int'l connections is limited and it does take some proactive initiation. So if you're the type of person who is looking for a a lot of guidance, GSPP might not be the best ( i went to Berkeley for undergrad and was a student advisor, so I can tell you that you do have to "fight for what you want" sometimes). but if you know you're willing to work for what you want, and you're willing to go out and take initiatives yourself and seek out on your own, it's a great program.

Stanford's program is very intimate, and you're right, its a bit young, but I believe it's going to get better as they get their feet wet :) They do have impressive career opportunities and you will get lot of personal attention there, though.

In terms of names---if you want internationally, the Stanford brand might be stronger. However, GSPP is known everywhere within the field to be a strong policy school

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hi everyone,

thanks for the votes. 3:0 Stanford vs. Berkeley thus far.

ironically, GSPP just offered me a free ride for the first year. considering this and that I feel more affinity to Berkeley than Stanford, would that change the vote?

If both schools are equally strong in international reputation and if I can make the GSPP degree more international (through classes on the main campus), I feel a stronger inclination to Berkeley. GSPP's staff has been incredibly approachable and supportive whereas Stanford's has been the opposite.

Can those who vote for Stanford tell me some reasons why they think it is better? Is it mainly the name or do you know specifics about what makes their program better than GSPP?


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Hi! I haven't voted because I am not that familiar with Berkeley's program, but I am in a somewhat similar conundrum of weighing IPS against other, (much) less expensive programs (I also have a from others on here in favor of Stanford). I think if you already feel a stronger connection to Berkeley, in addition to the money, then I would say definitely go for it--unless you just really feel that the lack of an international focus at Berkeley is going to be prohibitive RE finding internationally-focused work in the future.

I haven't had the chance to visit Stanford--did you attend the open house on Monday? I'd be interested in hearing any other impressions you may have had--do you know if students have the time to work PT outside of the program?

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not familiar with berkeley's program, but a few pro stanford thoughts were expressed in another thread:

also for climate stuff, both seem to have amazing centers of thought.

stanford has this: http://www.stanford.edu/group/knowledgebase/cgi-bin/tag/steyer-taylor-center-for-energy-policy-and-finance/ -- a little law oriented, but i think anyone can be involved.

while berkeley has this: http://ei.haas.berkeley.edu/c2m/index.html -- not clear to me that policy students can participate in this, but maybe they'll change that in the future.

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