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The 'Am I competitive' thread - READ ME BEFORE POSTING

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6 hours ago, ExponentialDecay said:

@chocolatte_ if you're legit doing this to check a box, apply to those mid-career/executive MPA programs they have that take a year and are low or no-residency. The Harvard one accepts like 50%+ of applicants. Less prestigious ones probably accept everyone. I wouldn't worry about the application process too much in general. As you go down the rankings, the adcoms' concern quickly becomes less about academics and more about your ability to pay.

HKS has an online program? Not that I can pay out of pocket for Harvard anyway...

I'm not really qualified for a lot of executive level MPAs. I've reached out to a few of those programs and they've agreed that I'm borderline for the level of experience required, and I have this lack of stats/econ background (SIPA for example wants it). I also haven't found one year that sounds like a good fit, but I'm willing to keep looking.

Edited by chocolatte_

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On 12/15/2017 at 12:08 AM, chocolatte_ said:

HKS has an online program? Not that I can pay out of pocket for Harvard anyway...

I'm not really qualified for a lot of executive level MPAs. I've reached out to a few of those programs and they've agreed that I'm borderline for the level of experience required, and I have this lack of stats/econ background (SIPA for example wants it). I also haven't found one year that sounds like a good fit, but I'm willing to keep looking.

You can always take community college courses or courses at your university (maybe through extension?) for academic credit to show you can handle the quantitative rigor. Look for options in your local community!

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Just submitted my last application.  Any feedback would be appreciated.

 

Program: MA/MS international relations

Schools applying to: Georgetown, Stanford, Tufts, Chicago, Notre Dame

Interests:  Religious freedom, human rights, Russia and Eastern Europe

Undergraduate institution: smal, but highly regarded; Great Books curriculum 

Undergraduate GPA: 4.0

Undergraduate major: Liberal Arts (Math, Science, Latin, Music, Philosophy, Theology, Great Books)

GRE: 197V, 186Q, 4.0W

Quantitative Courses: Include Euclidean Geometry and Advanced Calculus; will take Microeconomics and Macroeconomics this summer

Years of Work Experience: 7

Work Experience: Trained 35-40/week in Olympic  sport; traveled multiple times to 16 different countries for competition; represented national federation at 2014 Sochi Olympics

Internships, etc.: Critical Language Scholarship; State Department Summer internship

Languages: English (native), Russian, French, Latin

 Volunteer experience: religious education, church youth group, run on-campus womens’ studies group, organized two on-campus events

Age: 26

LORs: 3 professors and internship direct supervisor 

Concerns: I feel good about my background (I wouldn’t change anything),  but I know it’s far from typical.  I can’t tell if my training regimen, with all its responsibilities and expectations, will stand in for work experience; and I can’t tell if my Great Books curriculum will be considered a negative.

Thoughts from those of you with more experience?

 

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My apologies.  I meant to say my GRE quant score was in the 86th percentile, and my verbal score was in the 97th percentile.  

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Well, why not...

 

Program: MPP and MPA's

Schools Applying To:  Princeton WWS, Columbia SIPA, Georgetown McCourt, U Chicago Harris, McGill (this one's an MA Econ), U Michigan Ford, NYU Wagner, LSE MPA

Interests: international development - specifically rural development and political economy in rural parts of the developing world

Undergrad Institution: Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University

Bachelor of Music from New England Conservatory (dual degree program between both schools)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.56 from Tufts, 3.88 from the conservatory

Undergraduate Major: Double major in economics and international relations at Tufts. Major in jazz performance at the conservatory

Graduate GPA: N/A

GRE: 168 Verbal (98%), 164 Quant (87%), 5.0 Writing (93%?)

Quantitative Courses: calculus I, statistics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, applied econometrics seminar, financial economics, accounting, a few other assorted economics electives.

Age: 25

Languages: English, proficient in Spanish, could work back to fluency if I practiced it more. Basic Italian from living situation.

Work Experience: 3 internships in undergrad in nonprofit organizations - a rural dev org in the US, a rural agricultural project implementer in Latin America, and a social entrepreneurship startup in the US. All three were part of a series of public service fellowships at the university that provided funding and other forms of support.

After graduating, have been working for 2.5 years as a consultant/program assistant under an economist at a UN agency headquartered in Europe, which finances larges scale rural development projects. Currently working under him in a regional division focused on Asia. Have contributed to some analytical reports, done basic project evaluation, have been able to travel and organize meetings with government officials in a specific country.

LORs: Three. One from my academic adviser at Tufts, one from my supervisor (an agricultural economist), another from a development economist I worked with on some projects at my current job - retired professor with visiting fellowships to a bunch of schools in the US. All three people know me fairly well I think.

SOPs: Want to learn more about designing/measuring the impact of rural development projects - have a deep-seated interest in finding out how and why different project approaches (technology transfers, credit groups, cash transfers, community governance models, training programs) work in different contexts. Enjoy putting together different sources of information - household surveys, stakeholder interviews etc. - and using them to understand how a project component works. Would therefore like to take more classes in quantitative methods in public policy, focusing on survey design, impact evaluation, perhaps some additional courses in economic and financial analysis.

Publications and Honors: Forthcoming analytical report from the institution in which I work. Have contributed to a few strategy papers and lending agreements w/ different governments.

Concerns: My GPA is not as high as I'd want it to be...had a rough time balancing things in undergrad. I have a lot of B's in those economics courses and it was really just dumb luck that I managed to get an internship and later job after graduation. I'm trying to see if I'd want to aim for a PhD in economics later on down the road, but I'd really like to start that decision making process with a more applied degree.

Edited by heyitsme

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@heyitsme

any reason you are targeting such... non-quantitative programs? if you're aiming for a PhD in econ, an MPA will generally be a waste of time and money (you're much better off spending a year in the UK or Europe doing an econ MA). Otherwise, with the exception of Princeton (which is a crapshoot and which likes a lot more work experience), your profile looks fine.

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@ExponentialDecay

That's one thing that I'm not too sure about. The reality is that right now I don't have the mathematical background to jump into a PhD in economics, and I'm unsure if I even have the mathematical background to jump into a masters. There are two non-American masters in economics that I'm applying to right now - McGill (which has a qualifying year in math) and LSE, so I will be trying your idea out to some extent. As for why MPP's and MPA's in the first place - the naive answer is that I am interested in the types of thought exercises and decision making processes that go into designing specific projects and interventions, and the public policy realm seemed like a good entry point to explore that. One idea I had was to look for a flexible MPA or MPP program within which I could take statistics and math courses as electives - I think that might be possible at U Michigan, for example. I guess it will depend on what the feedback in my applications will be, as well as whether or not I can secure funding.

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@heyitsme the thing is, economists are cliquey (as I'm sure you know), and an applicant coming from an MPA program is going to be viewed with suspicion - even if you take a lot of quant classes. fwiw, the quant classes you most need (multivariable, linear algebra, diff eq, real analysis) you can't take through an MPA program and would be a waste of per-credit tuition dollars in an MPA program. the vast majority of MPA programs (except for, like, the MPA-ID) just don't go anywhere near mathematical enough for your needs. you are a few classes short of being good for a master's, but you're better off taking the math you're missing non-degree at a community college. 

MPAs are professional degrees. They are explicitly not geared towards setting you up for academia. They state as much. if you have time and money to burn, by all means get an MPA and learn about the thought process that goes behind etc etc, but it'll set you back for the PhD imo.

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there are masters programs designed for what @heyitsme is looking for - MPA/ID is usually cited as one, Chicago’s MACRM, even UCSD GPS turns out some (if only a few) future economists 

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On 09/11/2017 at 7:14 PM, terencetch said:

Hello everyone, I'm looking at applying for NYU Wagner's MSc. Public Policy (MSPP) beginning in Fall 2018 . They did not have much information about the cohort statistics, but they did mention that what they look for in MSPP candidates are: (i) Strong academic ability and (ii) Ability to Think Critically about Policy Issues.

I did not fare well for my verbal component during the first attempt of the GRE (V: 155, Q: 163, AW: 5.5), and I just retook them today and the results were not much better (V: 156, Q: 166, AW: TBD)

A little background:

Undergraduate Institution: University of Warwick, United Kingdom (Top 3 in Economics in the UK)

Major: Economics (with strong results in (i) Econometrics and (ii) Statistics; proficient in STATA, LaTeX and MATLAB)

Undergraduate Dissertation Topic: Does debt give you a bad degree? The effect of Student Loans on Degree Classification: Empirical Study in the UK

GPA: First-class honours (converts to 4.0/4.0 GPA), ranked top 15% in the cohort of 550 students

Age: 23

Languages: English (native), Mandarin (mother tongue), German (beginner)

Work Experience: 2 internships (12 weeks) in public sector, specialising in aerospace engineering and electronics industries respectively.

Letter of References: (i) Associate professor who's the module leader of the "Economics of Public Policy" module I am taking now (ii) Director of a statutory board in Singapore whom I worked with during my internship

Additional Information: Awarded a scholarship from the government in Singapore, sponsoring full tuition fees and substantial living allowance, will return to work in the public sector after graduation from masters program.

Questions

1. Does anyone know the typical acceptance rate for NYU MSPP?

2. Are my verbal scores competitive enough?

3. Should I submit both GRE scores to NYU if I do worse than 5.5 for my AW this time round?

Thanks for your help!

Anyone? Would appreciate some feedback on this!

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@styliane the MPAID explicitly recommends that students considering PhDs in economics go another route. It's a lot of money and a lot of time for a degree that won't make one any more competitive for an economics PhD than a much cheaper economics or math masters, work experience, or a few math classes taken non-degree - depending on the weaknesses of the profile. These programs are geared towards generating people who hold an economist job title in industry - not PhD students. It's a lot of loans to defer. If OP isn't sure about whether they want a PhD or a career in public policy, they're probably better off waiting this round out.

@terencetch why are you applying to NYU? If you want to be in NYC, apply to SIPA. Or better Harvard. NYU is a shitty program and you have very good stats.

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@ExponentialDecay  I feel that calling NYU Wagner shitty is misleading. It’s a very different flavor than SIPA, and depending on one’s interests might be a better fit. Generally speaking, most Wagner grads stay in NYC, while SIPA’s brand is more well-known/respected in DC and abroad. Consulting? SIPA. Nonprofit work? Wagner. Local government? Both have high placement.  I spoke with multiple Wagner students who turned down SIPA offers because it better aligned with their interests, and it being slightly cheaper doesn’t hurt either. 

@terencetch  You have a very competitive profile, but I’d guess the one knock would be your lack of experience (which NYU values more than some schools). I don’t know about the MSPP acceptance rate, but I believe the MPA rate is around 60%, if that’s any indicator. It wouldn’t hurt to reach out to the school for more info. Assuming you intend to work in Singapore after graduation, SIPA/HKS would definitely hold more weight with potential employers. Something to consider. 

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@Tk2356 NYU is more domestically-oriented than SIPA, which, if OP is an international student (and therefore needs a visa to stay in New York), could be a problem. The kinds of organizations that realistically are able to sponsor H1B or G4 prefer SIPA 9 times out of 10.

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Does anyone have much insight into SIPA's MPA-ESP 1-year program and what their acceptance rates are like for the wait list? I got wait listed earlier this month and I'm not sure what their admission stats are in general for this new-ish program.

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On 26/01/2018 at 3:31 PM, ExponentialDecay said:

@styliane the MPAID explicitly recommends that students considering PhDs in economics go another route. It's a lot of money and a lot of time for a degree that won't make one any more competitive for an economics PhD than a much cheaper economics or math masters, work experience, or a few math classes taken non-degree - depending on the weaknesses of the profile. These programs are geared towards generating people who hold an economist job title in industry - not PhD students. It's a lot of loans to defer. If OP isn't sure about whether they want a PhD or a career in public policy, they're probably better off waiting this round out.

@terencetch why are you applying to NYU? If you want to be in NYC, apply to SIPA. Or better Harvard. NYU is a shitty program and you have very good stats.

@ExponentialDecay My scholarship only allows me to take a One-Year full time masters. Last I checked, SIPA and HKS are 2 year masters.

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On 27/01/2018 at 5:43 AM, Tk2356 said:

@ExponentialDecay  I feel that calling NYU Wagner shitty is misleading. It’s a very different flavor than SIPA, and depending on one’s interests might be a better fit. Generally speaking, most Wagner grads stay in NYC, while SIPA’s brand is more well-known/respected in DC and abroad. Consulting? SIPA. Nonprofit work? Wagner. Local government? Both have high placement.  I spoke with multiple Wagner students who turned down SIPA offers because it better aligned with their interests, and it being slightly cheaper doesn’t hurt either. 

@terencetch  You have a very competitive profile, but I’d guess the one knock would be your lack of experience (which NYU values more than some schools). I don’t know about the MSPP acceptance rate, but I believe the MPA rate is around 60%, if that’s any indicator. It wouldn’t hurt to reach out to the school for more info. Assuming you intend to work in Singapore after graduation, SIPA/HKS would definitely hold more weight with potential employers. Something to consider. 

@Tk2356 I would definitely return to Singapore to work after graduation due to my scholarship bond.

 

@ExponentialDecay Also, regarding the VISA, since I'm on a scholarship, all fees will be paid for by my scholarship (tuition fees, living allowances, visa fees etc), so I'm hoping that it wouldn't be a problem on the NYU admissions side. I learnt from a current MSPP student that the 2017/2018 is the first intake of the MSPP program, thus there are currently no international students in the program. For this year's intake however, I do see a lot of international applicants' video essays on Youtube, so maybe MSPP is starting to be known amongst international students, and they would likely take some international students for 'diversity'.

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Hi there! I've been following this thread for a bit and I would really appreciate some input. 

Any advice would be very much appreciated!  Thanks!

Program: MPP

Schools Applying To: Please see concerns below

Interests:  science policy, environmental policy, natural disaster preparedness/response, natural resources management, accessibility of education. I eventually want to go into the Foreign Service.

Undergrad Institution: Top 100 National University, State School known for STEM

Undergraduate GPA: 3.75 (Magna Cum Laude)

Undergraduate Majors: Geology, Sustainability Studies

Study Abroad: 1 Semester Madagascar, 1 Semester Kenya

Internships: Research internship at American Museum of Natural History (NYC), and Policy summer internship in DC

GRE: Taking it soon. 

Quantitative Courses:   two semesters of Calculus, two semesters of Physics, two semesters of Chemistry, macro and micro econ

Years of Work Experience: 0? Not sure if what I have is relevant

Work Experience: 2 years as RA (Quad officer of Diversity and Inclusion, Lead RA for Building), Volunteer Assistant teaching ESOL classes at refugee center

Languages: native English, intermediate spanish, Elementary German, Elementary Tagalog

LOR: 3 letters

1 from my research mentor

1 from my academic advisor

1 from a community leader who used to work for the State Dept

Concerns: My undergrad was focused on heavy research in STEM (specifically nanotech for solar panels), but I decided to make the switch to policy during my junior year (which was the motivation for the DC internship, volunteer work, and classes outside of my major). In a perfect world I would love to get accepted to an MPP program right out of undergrad, but I'm not sure if my stats will cut it, especially since I don't have a bachelor's in a related field. I'm also applying for a Fulbright, which would give me a year of experience if I got it.

I want to get into a top school, but since I'm outside of the policy realm I'm not sure what programs I would be a good fit for. I'd love to go to GSPP or Harris, but so does everyone. Any suggestions for good reach/fit/safety schools for me? Or do I need to do more before I even consider applying for these programs?

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Program: Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies (IPS)

Schools Applying To: Stanford (only US school I'm applying to)

Interests:  energy policy, climate change, natural resources, carbon pricing, East Asia, green technology, sustainability 

Undergrad Institution: Top 3 Canadian university

Undergraduate GPA: 3.6/4.3 roughly (my institution uses percentages and conversion depends on the calculator)

Undergraduate Majors: Asian Studies

GRE: 164V, 154Q, 5.0 W

Quantitative Courses:  None, have worked for Statistics Canada as a social statistics analyst, however, and have a solid understanding of macroeconomics, statistics, and data analysis (incl. coding, which I've mentioned)

Years of Work Experience: 3 years part-time, including 3 summers full-time

Work Experience: two political internships (one for a Cabinet Minister, one for a political party),  one full-time summer at Statistics Canada followed by half a year part-time work, work as a campaign manager on a local campaign, 2.5 years as a communications consultant in the natural resource space, including work for a non-profit in this field (have traveled to Asia for a research trip once, on invitation of a government) where I have developed an extensive portfolio of research/writing on energy and natural resource issues. My trip to Asia led to me being the sole author of a report on a technical energy policy topic published by that non-profit.

I'm also extremely active as a political volunteer, holding several executive youth leadership positions (beyond the campus club level) in the parties I am involved with. 

Age: 21

Languages: fully fluent in Russian and French

LOR2 professors: one political science/IR prof (who I had in first year for a year-long seminar course and am having as a prof again this year in IR; he says his letter is very strong), and another from a tenured professor in Asian Studies with whom I've taken several courses over the years.

1 employer: Executive Director of the non-profit I have been a researcher with for 2.5 years (reasonably well-known in his field and loves me to bits)

Concerns: My institution grades harshly (Canadian schools, urgh) compared to the US and to be fair I also had a difficult 3rd year (my mother passed away) causing me to withdraw from a few courses and fail one (with 27%, which drags down my entire average). My cumulative average over my degree is 79%. If not not that one course, it would be 81%, which I have explained in my SOP, as well as the underlying causes. I am also nervous about my GRE quant - it's only in the 55th percentile. Does my verbal make up for it?

Am I competitive? 

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12 hours ago, Nico Corr said:

What is the point of perpetuating this thread? It's way too long. Time to put it out to pasture and create a new one. 

 

I'm pretty sure the point is to let new applicants look at old applicants and their profiles, and see the advice that they got in addition to whatever advice can be offered for them. It's always illuminating (and sometimes comforting) to know what other backgrounds people come from, and how that's regarded in comparison to your own. Whether it's too long or not is a matter of opinion - I think it's kind of nice to have this amount of archived data going back quite a few years, and I'm sure some people look at it. People won't necessarily look more and respond more to a new thread that does the exact same thing.  

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Hi!  I'd love some input while I wait for decisions.  I really don't know what my chances are.  Thus far I've been accepted to Elliott, and deferred from SAIS EA to regular admissions.

Program: Master's in IR

Schools Applying To: Georgetown Walsh SFS, Georgetown Walsh SSP, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, GW Elliott

Interests: Security studies, conflict management, etc.  Especially cases with colonial histories.

Undergrad Institution: University of Southern California. Studied abroad at Sciences Po Paris for 5 months

Undergraduate GPA: 3.72 overall / 3.9 major

Undergraduate Major: IR, foreign policy analysis concentration, Europe regional emphasis

GRE:  162 V / 157 Q / AW 5.0 

Age: 24

Languages: English (native), Greek (conversational), French (conversational), Italian (basic)

Nationality: US

Quant Experience: International Political Economy, no macro/micro

Work Experience:  6 months working on Clinton campaign in Virginia, 9+ months thus far working as a clerk at an employment defense law firm.  I handle quite a lot of Excel data analyses, but not much related to IR.  I also spent a combined 1.5 years in research assistantships throughout my undergraduate career, including a stint at a think tank in Brussels 

LORs: 1 from undergrad IR professor who was also Vice Dean of our College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences.  He's an important guy and knows me very well, so that should be a good one.  1 from my advisor at the think tank in Brussels, who can speak to both my academic and professional background.  1 from my French professor in undergrad, whose class sparked my interest in modern conflicts with colonial pasts (e.g. la Francophonie).

SOPs: My experience studying abroad immediately after the Charlie Hebdo terror attack made me appreciate foreign policy from a new perspective, outside of my usual American framework.  The attack fascinated me because of French-Algerian relations post-colonization.  X school has X programs that relate to international crisis management, and X professors are researching x about colonial history.  I ultimately want to put this knowledge to use with an analytical position at a government institution, e.g. DoS/DoD/CIA.

Concerns: Relatively little work experience, especially experience that's IR-related.  My scores are ok, and my GPA is good, but I honestly don't know if they're enough to compensate for my lack of work in the field.

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Throwing my hat in the ring for 2019 matriculation. Any thoughts/pointers would be appreciated

Program: MPP/MPA

Schools Applying To:  WWS, HKS - see below for concerns

Interests: Domestic/urban policy - specifically economic development and government-business policy

Undergrad Institution: Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in biology from top 20 competitive liberal arts college (2010)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.71

Grad Institution: Master's of City Planning from top 3 Ivy League program (2012) with a few fellowships/scholarships thrown in

Graduate GPA: 3.73

GRE: TBD - taking August 2018

Quantitative Courses: calc, micro econ, urban econ, statistics, plenty of science classes, etc. (not worried about my quant experience)

Age: 29

Work Experience: after finishing my master's I worked for 3 years in consulting working on public-private partnership deal structures, public sector real estate redevelopment, and economic development projects. For the past 3 years I've been a civil servant working for DOT in one of their policy offices, focused on real estate projects and some fine-grained accounting and financial analyses projects for some very large federal grant recipients. I also participate in some industry forums on urban revitalization, and volunteer for LGBT organizations.

LORs: TBD but three in total. Likely two from work: 1) my office director, who is an HKS grad and an SES, and 2) my current division chief. Third will probably be from my undergrad thesis advisor/close mentor (biology professor) who supervised my senior thesis.

Concerns: I have arrived at wanting an MPA/MPP degree slowly - if you told me even 1-2 years ago that I'd be considering going back to school I wouldn't believe you. I think the rigor of a policy program would do a lot to catalyze my career; I eventually want to work at the city-level. Reading through the courses, simulations, and curricula available at these programs really excites me. 

I have a few concerns. I am a bit nervous that my GRE score will not be super competitive (92%+ percentile) for HKS and WWS because it's been a while since I've had to study for a standardized test. I'm sure lots of us deal with "imposter's syndrome" but it's especially true for me so I need to build my confidence to really sell myself. Also, I am really interested in domestic urban policy, which seems to be less popular among MPA/MPP programs. HKS and WWS both have solid programs focused on that concentration. What are some others? The other constraint is that my husband and I are located in the Northeast and would like to stay in that region. I'm tempted to apply to only 2-4 programs that really fit my interests and see what happens.

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Haven't applied for grad school quite yet, but will in the future. Looking for ideas on how to beef up my chances:

Program: MPP and MPA's, heck even maybe an MPH

Schools Planning on Applying To:  Princeton WWS, Columbia SIPA, Harvard , U Michigan Ford, NYU Wagner, UPenn any other suggestions?

Interests: Social innovation, Gov't, consulting, mental health, foundations, non-profits

Undergraduate GPA: 3.5 (last 2 years: 3.7) from a small school in NYC

Undergraduate Major: Public Admin 

Graduate GPA: N/A

GRE: Didn't take it yet

Quantitative Courses: calculus I, statistics 1 , microeconomics, pre-calc, economic analysis of policy, pre-calc, quantitative analysis/methods, high level physics coursre (A)

Age: 25

Languages: Fluent in English, conversational 2 Chinese languages and Spanish

Work Experience: 3 internships in undergrad in nonprofit organizations - 2 are big and well known in NYC.

Currently working for one of the largest social service non-profit in NYC. 2 Years of leadership in student government, total of 3 years of work experience (post-grad +internships, going on 4)

LORs: Planning on getting 2 from my professors and former boss (1 of my professors and former boss are Columbia professors, does that improve my chances?)

SOPs: Haven't written on yet--but I want to make a difference in mental health and want to find innovative ways on helping non-profits and cities in addressing some of issues with service/awareness.

Publications and Honors: One of 4 graduating seniors who received an award for excellence in policy analysis; offered a grant to study abroad in Latin America.

Concerns: Hurricane came in and ruined one of my semester--my quant grades aren't too high (B-, C+, C, B+, B+, W,  B ) Receive the two Cs on the same semester as when the storm had hit--do you think they will accept that as an excuse? 

Edited by marid

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Hey @marid  I came from a similar professional background to you! I also worked at a nonprofit that provides community-based services for people with mental health conditions in my state, and recently accepted my offer for Columbia SIPA so that I can eventually advocate for the same population in a variety of policy areas.

It sounds like your academics, internships, and work experience are all very solid. The biggest question I'm wondering, and that I imagine the admissions folks would also wonder, is why go back to school for an MPA when you already have a degree in public administration? MPA programs, while extremely variable depending on the school you go to and your concentration, are usually a split between practical business/management/economics/finance classes and more theoretical policy courses, but I'd expect you would have already covered a lot of that as an undergrad. If you're looking to move towards research, policy analysis, or other forms of analytics in the field then it definitely makes sense to return to school- but my recommendation would be to think more seriously about an MPP or MPH.

So long as getting a higher degree really is an important step in meeting your goals and you have a solid answer for it within your SOP, you will be fine! Point to a specific problem you've encountered at your org and discuss how a higher degree, but especially that school's higher degree, will help you solve it.

The biggest weakness in your application will probably be your quant grades. However, I definitely recommend explaining the lower ones in your supplemental essays, and those grades could be made null if you get a high score on your GRE Quant, so devote some significant time to studying for it. 

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2 hours ago, yellina122 said:

Hey @marid  I came from a similar professional background to you! I also worked at a nonprofit that provides community-based services for people with mental health conditions in my state, and recently accepted my offer for Columbia SIPA so that I can eventually advocate for the same population in a variety of policy areas.

It sounds like your academics, internships, and work experience are all very solid. The biggest question I'm wondering, and that I imagine the admissions folks would also wonder, is why go back to school for an MPA when you already have a degree in public administration? MPA programs, while extremely variable depending on the school you go to and your concentration, are usually a split between practical business/management/economics/finance classes and more theoretical policy courses, but I'd expect you would have already covered a lot of that as an undergrad. If you're looking to move towards research, policy analysis, or other forms of analytics in the field then it definitely makes sense to return to school- but my recommendation would be to think more seriously about an MPP or MPH.

So long as getting a higher degree really is an important step in meeting your goals and you have a solid answer for it within your SOP, you will be fine! Point to a specific problem you've encountered at your org and discuss how a higher degree, but especially that school's higher degree, will help you solve it.

The biggest weakness in your application will probably be your quant grades. However, I definitely recommend explaining the lower ones in your supplemental essays, and those grades could be made null if you get a high score on your GRE Quant, so devote some significant time to studying for it. 

Hey @yellina122! Thank you so much for your response! I appreciate it. I am interested in pursuing an MPA to further my skills--not to rag on my undergrad, but I felt like it could've been better and I feel like getting an MPA will fill in those gaps/enhance my current skills. Only reason why I am debating getting an MPH instead of an MPA is that yes, it will be different and ultimately I want to work in creating/managing programs for mental health services which will make sense when paired with my public administration degree. As of yet, nothing is finalized quite yet, going to save some money in the meantime. If you don't mind me asking, I've noticed that SIPA gave you funding, were they very generous with the award package? Just curious because if SIPA doesn't normally give a lot of money out then I will need to re-evaluate how I am going to pay it off.

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