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Deciding between GSPP and SAIS - help!

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I just went to the GSPP and SAIS open houses and am completely confused about where I want to go now. They are totally different schools, both good in their own ways - Berkeley was so friendly, I'd get a great education and I'd have access to the business and law schools but SAIS is really pushing its network, their faculty is amazing and the program fits my international interests better. In terms of debt, GSPP is way less expensive than SAIS - I'd prob spend around 20k at GSPP while best case scenario is 75k+ at SAIS. I know SAIS has an amazing network and I'd have access to the sorts of institutions I might one day work for but does that justify an extra 55k (at least)?

My interests span both the public and private sector - I've been working in climate change and development policy for about two years which I really love. There are a few small development consultancies that I'd like to work for but they draw mainly from larger consulting groups so I'd like to keep the consulting option open.

GSPP makes financial sense but I'm trying to figure out if it puts be at a much greater professional disadvantage than if I go to SAIS. There are GSPP students that intern and work at large development organizations, like the world bank, but there are a lot more SAIS students there. Also, in terms of consulting does GSPP have an advantage because Berkeley is more broadly recognized than SAIS? I have no idea. Basically, if it's still possible to do the work that I want with a GSPP degree than I'll go there because I really don't want to be in debt forever. But if being in California means that it will be near impossible to network in DC or get a job in my field, then I'll probably go to SAIS.

Is anyone else choosing between these programs? Any thoughts?

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If you're sure you want to work in DC or in int'l orgs, SAIS will have better connections, no doubt.

However, it's not impossible to go those routes in GSPP--I went to the open house and I've spoken to several people. My impression is that people stay in CA because they want to, not because they're forced to. There are GSPP grads who go everywhere, and several int'l consultancies. However, it may take a little more work on your part to get those internships/jobs since SAIS clearly has the location and network advantage.

More SAIS people go to private sector/consultancies than GSPP, but I think that has to do more with the interests of the student body.

I think all in all, GSPP will not "trap you in California"--the GSPP reputation will take you far, but if your heart is set on DC/int'l work, then you'll have to work for those a little more than if you went to SAIS.

IS the extra work worth the 50k savings? That depends on how proactive/assertive you are, and also what your financial situation is. If money is not a huge issue, paying more is undesirable but if you like the program and it's the right fit I think in the long run it'll be good investment. If finance is a limiting factor, I'd think twice...

Also, check the faculty lists and courses. GSPP is strong in energy, but SAIS definitely has an advantage in development. SAIS is weak in environ topics, but GSPP is weak in IDev

Edited by foodlover28
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