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

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@JWSS I think that the number of schools you apply to should depend on what you want. If you’re intent on incurring the least amount of debt, I would cast a wide net. It also depends on how much time you care to devote to the process. Many people don’t have the time (or money) to apply to ten schools, so they zero in on their top 4-5. If you are on the fence about applying to MBAs, and have the time, I would seriously consider applying to those which will give you a joint degree. All I know about Yale Jackson is that it’s a smaller program and greatly values experience. I would be surprised if they are as competitive as WWS given the funding angle. 

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GPA: 4.0 (BA)

GRE: 170 V/156 Q/5.5 Writing (I think in percentiles that was 99/60/98....note the quant score)

Work Experience: 10 years in public policy/government work. Moved up gradually to leadership positions. 1.5 of the years I worked full-time while in school though, not sure if that still counts as WE although it was the exact same tasks as when I did the job after graduation.

Volunteer Experience: 10+ years in various roles, from just assisting to the head of an org. Volunteered abroad in 3 different countries, with time ranging from a month to a full year in a remote area.

Languages: English plus a basic level (not fluent) in two other languages.

Programs: I would like  an idea of my chances at programs like HKS, WWS (both MPP and MPA), Yale Jackson, SIPA, NYU, Georgetown, and any other notable ones that there are. I have thought of applying to MBA programs too, although these wouldn't be as tight a fit with my career and also I would likely do even worse on the quant part of the GMAT. I've done perfectly fine in statistics and quantitative research methods courses but just can't nail the type of quant on the GRE/GMAT.

 

I am probably a few years older than the average applicant at these programs, though I think I kind of blur between being more of a fit for the standard program or the executive ones. My quant is rather low for many of the top programs and I've been told this will make it much harder at those, though from looking at the guidebook for Princeton's MPP program I see it might not be such a major blow for that (as opposed to their MPA).

Edited by JiHoo

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OK. My first post in this forum.

So, I am an international student

Undergrad university: Azerbaijan State Economics University, GPA: 4.1/5, Information Science, Automatization Systems.

Masters: Indiana University, GPA: 3.39/4, MPA Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management (Fulbright Foreign Student Program)

Work experience:

  • 2 years in the Azerbaijan State Energy company. Deputy Head of Environmental Protection and Social Impacts Analysis division.
  • 3.5 years Integrated Biodiversity Management, South Caucasus Program by German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ GmbH) - Expert for Natural Resources Management and later Advisor for Environmental Education and Human Capacity Development
  • Currently I work as a chief specialist in the Azerbaijan Energy Regulatory Agency under the Ministry of Energy in the Department of Strategic Planning and Innovations and also teach Environmental Science in Azerbaijan Diplomacy Academy (for bachelors)

Research experience: I don't have anything published, just some co-author reports for GIZ

Languages: Azerbaijani, Russian, English, Turkish, some German

                                      

GRE:  verbal 144 quantitative 148 writing 3.5 (but this was long time ago, enough to get Fulbright scholarship and go to IU, now I have to retake it) 

TOEFL: 104, I guess I dont need to take it again as I have already received my previous degree in English in US

LORs: Well, I can get it from professors and former bosses.

Interests: environmental education, ecosystem services(ES) and biodiversity, integration of ES and Biodiversity into development planning

School: that is the question, I am not sure where to apply with my background, what are my chances, what is the minimum GRE I should aim for to get an admission for PhD.

I would really appreciate any advice. Thank you!

Edited by tzbayramova

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Hi everyone!

Like many, I have been following this forum quite extensively and have gained some great insights from the community here - So thank you all! This is my first post here and I am in the process of determining which graduate program to apply to and if I stand a chance at either!

Here goes -

Schools Applying To:  Berkeley - Masters in Global Studies or MDP

Interests: Desire to enter into sustainability consulting upon graduating ideally within a management consulting firm. Later down the track I would like to focus more so on social/economic sustainability and empowerment of disadvantaged youth.

Undergrad Institution: University of Sydney (Top 3 in Australia, 61st globally)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.63

Years since Undergrad: 3 upon applying

Undergraduate Major: Bachelor of Commerce - Major, Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management;  Minor, Sociology

GRE: TBC - Hoping for 160's 

Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics, Intro to Statistics and Intro to Accounting - Did not perform too well in these courses, however, they were all the way back in First Year 2012/3

Age: 25

Languages: English, French (Senior units in university, attended French high school) - Dual Australian/French Citizen

Work Experience:  

  • 1 year living abroad in the U.S. in which I worked two HR specialist roles (4 months each). Within both roles I assisted in building programs centred on employment of disadvantaged youth and LGBTQi+ communities - 2016
  • 1 year in Australia as an Account Manager at an expert sourcing firm to address research needs - My clients were consultants/partners at top tier management consultant firms.

LORs: Confirmed - My former sustainability professor who really sparked my interest in the field (Also was in the top 3 students); Confirmed -Former professor who was my academic advisor during an internship/education placement at UCLA and who oversaw my research project on organizational strategies for a local government entity I was interning at in Santa Monica. Tentative - My former Sociology professor who instructed me in 1st/2nd years in which I received academic merit awards for her courses.

SOPs: I have drafted up the framework for both. For the MDP I am honing in on my experience working with disadvantaged youth as well as how my own experience of disadvantage within a minority group is a driving force behind my desire to implement change. Global studies - Very similar focus, however more so on immigration policy (Asylum and LGBTQi+ experience).

Concerns: The biggest concern I have is that I am not competitive for the MDP through my lack of extensive work/volunteer experience as well as quant skills. Global Studies, similar problem - lack of experience.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Thanks again for being such an amazing community!

Edited by aus993

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Hi all, 

Before I give you all my stats, I should probably let you all know that I haven't solidified a list of schools I'm applying to yet - definitely still looking. So if any of you have recommendations as to programs that may be good fits based on my profile, please let me know! Thank you so much for all your help! :)

Potential Programs:  WWS for IR, Theological Studies MA from Harvard Divinity School (recommended to me by a current American diplomat!), SU Maxwell MAIR, UVA MPP, GWU MAIA, GU MSFS, Texas A&M MAIA, USC Public Diplomacy MA, and Middlebury's MA IPD.

Interests: My goal has always been to become an FSO. If the foreign service doesn't work out, I am interested in working at a nonprofit or NGO that focuses on women's issues or religious freedom. Also interested in other natl. security work in the U.S. fed. govt.

Undergrad Institution:  American University, semester abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China

Undergraduate GPA: 3.7

Years since Undergrad: 2.5 as of now, 3 when I apply

Undergraduate Major: Intl. Studies 

GRE: Quant: 155, Qual: 159, Writing: 4. - RETAKING IN 3 WEEKS

Quantitative Courses: Micro, Macro, Advanced International Econ.

Age: 23 (finished my BA in 3 years instead of 4)

Languages: English, Mandarin (working, high intermediate), French (middling?)

Work Experience:  

  • Current - 8 months as an Evaluation Assistant with the evaluation office at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute.
  • 2 years as an assistant for the Chinese language program at the Foreign Service Institute.
  • 3 months as an intern for the Governor of NY
  • 3 months as an intern for the State Department's Office of Intl. Religious Freedom..
  • 3 months as an intern for a Congressman in the House.
  • Current volunteer ESL teacher for immigrant communities in DC area.
  • Various volunteer and paid experiences with literacy tutoring in DC area primary schools.

Concerns: I want to narrow down my list of schools I'll apply to to around 5 or 6 that are Foreign Service feeder schools, but I'm also not attached to staying in DC. I went to undergrad here and expect to live here on and off for most of my career - so moving somewhere new for grad school would be welcome (yes, I know the big DC schools are likely feeder schools too).

Also concerned that my GRE scores across the board are a little lower, but hopefully I can rectify that in three weeks!

Edited by Theevidentevaluator

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Hi all! I'm applying for fall 2019, and I would really appreciate any feedback on my chances of getting into the programs I specified.

Program: Statistics PhD

Schools Applying To:  Virginia Tech, Penn State, Johns Hopkins, UGA, Purdue, NC State, Rice, Missouri at Columbia, VCU

Interests: Design of experiments, response surface methodology, stochastic processes

Undergrad Institution: US State School

Undergraduate GPA: 3.81 (cumulative) 3.89 (major)

Undergraduate Major: Statistics

GRE: 154 V, 163 Q, 4.0 AW

Quantitative Courses: Intro Stat (A), Calculus I (A), Discrete Math (A), Calculus II (A), Intermediate Stat (A), Mathematical Reasoning (A), Linear Algebra (A), Combinatorics (A), Mathematical Computing (A), Statistical Computing (A), Differential Equations (B), Advanced Calculus (B), Multivariate Calculus (B), Probability Theory (B), Statistical Inference (A), Mathematical Modeling (A), Nonparametric Statistics (A), Regression (A), Mathematical Statistics I (B), Complex Analysis (A), Time Series (A), Applied Computing w/ R (A), Numerical Methods (A), Multivariate Statistics (A), Industrial Statistics (A)

Work Experience: 1 semester working on a research project in Biostatistics, 1 summer doing research at a national lab (which results in 1 published paper and multiple projects), 1 summer with statistical internship doing Bayesian work, Multiple semesters being a math tutor/TA

Demographics: Domestic White Female

LORs:  1 from my research advisor at national lab, 2 from professors I know very well and have promised outstanding letters

SOPs: Will most likely try to tell the story of my research and how it connects to the research I want to pursue and how that could fit into their department

Concerns: 

  • My low-ish GRE score
  • The 5 B's I received, even though they were not received in recent coursework

Thank you for any advice!

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10 minutes ago, huxlb said:

Hi all! I'm applying for fall 2019, and I would really appreciate any feedback on my chances of getting into the programs I specified.

Program: Statistics PhD

[....]

Thank you for any advice!

@huxlb, did you mean to post here or actually there?

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On 7/25/2018 at 12:51 PM, Theevidentevaluator said:

Hi all, 

Before I give you all my stats, I should probably let you all know that I haven't solidified a list of schools I'm applying to yet - definitely still looking. So if any of you have recommendations as to programs that may be good fits based on my profile, please let me know! Thank you so much for all your help! :)

Potential Programs:  WWS for IR, Theological Studies MA from Harvard Divinity School (recommended to me by a current American diplomat!), SU Maxwell MAIR, UVA MPP, GWU MAIA, GU MSFS, Texas A&M MAIA, USC Public Diplomacy MA, and Middlebury's MA IPD.

Interests: My goal has always been to become an FSO. If the foreign service doesn't work out, I am interested in working at a nonprofit or NGO that focuses on women's issues or religious freedom. Also interested in other natl. security work in the U.S. fed. govt.

Undergrad Institution:  American University, semester abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China

Undergraduate GPA: 3.7

Years since Undergrad: 2.5 as of now, 3 when I apply

Undergraduate Major: Intl. Studies 

GRE: Quant: 155, Qual: 159, Writing: 4. - RETAKING IN 3 WEEKS

Quantitative Courses: Micro, Macro, Advanced International Econ.

Age: 23 (finished my BA in 3 years instead of 4)

Languages: English, Mandarin (working, high intermediate), French (middling?)

Work Experience:  

  • Current - 8 months as an Evaluation Assistant with the evaluation office at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute.
  • 2 years as an assistant for the Chinese language program at the Foreign Service Institute.
  • 3 months as an intern for the Governor of NY
  • 3 months as an intern for the State Department's Office of Intl. Religious Freedom..
  • 3 months as an intern for a Congressman in the House.
  • Current volunteer ESL teacher for immigrant communities in DC area.
  • Various volunteer and paid experiences with literacy tutoring in DC area primary schools.

Concerns: I want to narrow down my list of schools I'll apply to to around 5 or 6 that are Foreign Service feeder schools, but I'm also not attached to staying in DC. I went to undergrad here and expect to live here on and off for most of my career - so moving somewhere new for grad school would be welcome (yes, I know the big DC schools are likely feeder schools too).

Also concerned that my GRE scores across the board are a little lower, but hopefully I can rectify that in three weeks!

I know it's only been a little more than 2 weeks since I posted this, but would anyone be able to follow up on this? Thanks! 

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On 8/10/2018 at 6:17 PM, Theevidentevaluator said:

I know it's only been a little more than 2 weeks since I posted this, but would anyone be able to follow up on this? Thanks! 

I mean my only input is that doing divinity school to work in foreign policy seems like a supremely stupid decision, but I wasn't going to post that seeing as I'm not a current American diplomat. Generally, you work in the field in DC, half your school's alumni work in the field in DC, so I don't understand why you're even wasting your time fielding these questions to French majors from Oklahoma and other internet people of unverified expertise. You most likely are able to ask this question to the people who will literally be hiring you into your dream job. Do that.

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@ExponentialDecayHmmmn, seems the likes of fomer  US Senator John Danforth, Adam Clayton Powell, US Senator Chris Coons, former Presidental candidate Gary Hart and Ralph Waldo Emerson (all divinity school graduates) would be rather spectacular company and literally the opposite of supremely stupid.....

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6 hours ago, Boolakanaka said:

@ExponentialDecayHmmmn, seems the likes of fomer  US Senator John Danforth, Adam Clayton Powell, US Senator Chris Coons, former Presidental candidate Gary Hart and Ralph Waldo Emerson (all divinity school graduates) would be rather spectacular company and literally the opposite of supremely stupid.....

That a handful of people did x and received outcome y is not robust evidence that x causes y. I will remind you that the view of government as a profession and professional policy schools are very new, and as recently as 50 years ago, upper echelons of American government were given to sons of prominent families whose qualification was that they studied at Harvard, not what they studied. Like I said, I'm not a current American diplomat, but where I'm at, a bullshit degree from an Ivy is not considered an acceptable qualification by employers. I admit the possibility that in diplomacy it may be different, but I wouldn't draw that conclusion from the life story of some wizened emeritus, no matter how spectacular his company. 

That said, if you think differently, you should let OP know, not me. I'm not applying to grad schools. I don't care what you think.

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On 8/10/2018 at 9:17 AM, Theevidentevaluator said:

I know it's only been a little more than 2 weeks since I posted this, but would anyone be able to follow up on this? Thanks! 

It's going to be a long application season.

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Schools Applying To:  CMU Heinz (Data Analytics track), Duke Sanford, Texas LBJ, USC Price, WWS, maybe HKS, maybe SAIS.

Interests: Looking to work in economic development (either on the state or federal level) or federal consulting.

Undergrad Institution: Generic midwest state flagship

Undergraduate GPA: 3.8

Years since Undergrad: 2

Undergraduate Major: Chemistry Euducation

GRE: 166V/163Q

Quantitative Courses: Calculus, Physics, and some upper division quantitative chemistry courses. No economics, will be taking Intro Micro in the spring to get me ready though.

Work Experience:  Have worked since graduation at a state economic development agency. My role is to work as a growth consultant to help local businesses and startups expand. I have worked with government entities and non-profits on expansion plans as well. 

LORs: This is definitely an area where I feel slightly unsure. My direct supervisor at my job and the executive director of the agency will both be writing me great letters, but unsure what to do with the third one. I know I need an academic reference for many schools, but I just didn't develop any close relationships with my professors while I was in school. I think I'm planning on having the dean of my college from undergrad write it, even though it may be slightly impersonal. 

SOPs: Feel generally good about this, but I would assume most people do. It centers around the idea that I'm able to enact change on a micro-level with the businesses I work with for my job, but that my impact is limited. Then it will discuss briefly how I have seen the impact that policy changes can have on these businesses (both positive and negative) and how I want to study public policy to help push for more of these positive policy changes.

Concerns: Would love to hear if there are any schools that you think I might be missing. I've read through the forums over the past ~6 months and have a general feel for the schools that are out there, but want to make sure that I'm not missing anything. Financials are a priority to me, so as you can see I've primarily concentrated on schools where I feel that I will get a good amount of aid. There are other schools I would love to apply to (Ford, Harris, etc.), but I do not get the sense that I would be competitive for significant scholarships from them.

Also, happy to do any SoP swapping or anything if people are looking to work on that over the course of the application cycle.

Edited by woolscarves

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Hi everyone! 

Thanks a lot to those who post in here, there is a large amount of info which is incredibly helpful. I am a currently serving Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania and intend to go down the MPA/MPP/MAIA route once I finish my service. I haven't quite narrowed down which programs specifically yet.

GPA:

My degree is in Business administration with emphasis in International Business, Management with a focus on Organizational Behavior, and Business Law.

GPA is 3.3. I had one bad semester where I suffered a concussion during practice for my sport and my GPA suffered as a result of that. 

GRE score:

Haven't taken yet. Once winter sets in here I will start studying and I intend to take it in June 19. I have a high LSAT score, so I am hoping that that somewhat transfers over to the Verbal side. Quant is a crabs shoot, but I will grind to try and get at least 160.

Work experience:

Current PCV, I work in a local government helping (or will help with) with tourism development, EU integration projects, youth development, and kinda whatever comes up. Before PC, I have some work in law firms and coaching high school sports. I interned in Spain for 6 weeks post grad in a management consulting firm which was working on a study for the EU on gender inclusiveness in ICT, and on how to increase the participation of women in the field. I helped create and draft a "best practices" labeling scheme which sought to motivate companies to implement policies to help women to enter and remain in the ICT field.

Language skills:

English (native), Albanian (intermediate mid/high), German (3 years, intermediate but rusty), French (7 years, very rusty) 

Quantitative requirements:

Micro/Macro Econ, Finance, Stats, Business Pre-calc and Calc. These are all intro classes. I don't have good grades in them, but hey, I took em. 

Overseas experience (work, study and teaching):

Peace Corps (7 months in, will serve for all 27 hopefully), previously mentioned internship in Spain, study abroad in Germany, special studies course on business culture in Asia which then travelled to China and Korea. 

My degree's curriculum was formatted so that "all Business degrees are International Business Degrees". I have a lot of specifically internationally focuses classes, and those that are not deal with international topics. 

I don't know if travel matters, but I am very well travelled. 

Statement of Purpose:

Basically I am going to try and establish that this is a logical path for me to pursue based on my background (shocker I know). PC helped remind me what like and want to be, whereas before service I had convinced myself I should take a different path (law) which was less satisfying. I will avoid asking the argument "omg I did this and I never realized this is what I wanted" as I think it ignores what good experiences/skills I have.

LORs: I will get a couple Albanian PC staff to write letters (one works for USAID here), they love me. I will also get a letter from my German professor. I might reach out to my Business professors as well. I am thinking that having strong, well educated foreign nationals write letters will demonstrate my ability to work well in other cultures. I figure everyone has LORs which speak well about a person's technical abilities. 

Career: After my masters, I want to work for development NGOs or USAID, and then try to transfer over to foreign service and try to use my experiences to get into policy work later on. I really like what I am doing in PC, and I want to continue doing this, but with more resources.

Notes: 

I will be applying in 2019. I haven't locked down which programs I want to apply to yet, but I am thinking SAIS is a good start (I lived around the corner, and DC is great for RPCVs). I think this will depend a lot on how my GRE goes.

Obviously, my GPA is not that great. I anticipate issues with the Quant section of the GRE, but I have a lot of time to study. 

I am wondering if I should consider getting more work experience after service (probably with an NGO abroad). I am not sure what schools I am a good fit for, or if maybe I should get more experience to make myself more competitive. 

Obviously all suggestions about specific programs are very helpful! I am new to this, and don't really know where I fit in yet. 

Thanks all!

 

 

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On 8/23/2018 at 7:05 AM, Byrek said:

Hi everyone! 

Thanks a lot to those who post in here, there is a large amount of info which is incredibly helpful. I am a currently serving Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania and intend to go down the MPA/MPP/MAIA route once I finish my service. I haven't quite narrowed down which programs specifically yet.

GPA:

My degree is in Business administration with emphasis in International Business, Management with a focus on Organizational Behavior, and Business Law.

GPA is 3.3. I had one bad semester where I suffered a concussion during practice for my sport and my GPA suffered as a result of that. 

GRE score:

Haven't taken yet. Once winter sets in here I will start studying and I intend to take it in June 19. I have a high LSAT score, so I am hoping that that somewhat transfers over to the Verbal side. Quant is a crabs shoot, but I will grind to try and get at least 160.

Work experience:

Current PCV, I work in a local government helping (or will help with) with tourism development, EU integration projects, youth development, and kinda whatever comes up. Before PC, I have some work in law firms and coaching high school sports. I interned in Spain for 6 weeks post grad in a management consulting firm which was working on a study for the EU on gender inclusiveness in ICT, and on how to increase the participation of women in the field. I helped create and draft a "best practices" labeling scheme which sought to motivate companies to implement policies to help women to enter and remain in the ICT field.

Language skills:

English (native), Albanian (intermediate mid/high), German (3 years, intermediate but rusty), French (7 years, very rusty) 

Quantitative requirements:

Micro/Macro Econ, Finance, Stats, Business Pre-calc and Calc. These are all intro classes. I don't have good grades in them, but hey, I took em. 

Overseas experience (work, study and teaching):

Peace Corps (7 months in, will serve for all 27 hopefully), previously mentioned internship in Spain, study abroad in Germany, special studies course on business culture in Asia which then travelled to China and Korea. 

My degree's curriculum was formatted so that "all Business degrees are International Business Degrees". I have a lot of specifically internationally focuses classes, and those that are not deal with international topics. 

I don't know if travel matters, but I am very well travelled. 

Statement of Purpose:

Basically I am going to try and establish that this is a logical path for me to pursue based on my background (shocker I know). PC helped remind me what like and want to be, whereas before service I had convinced myself I should take a different path (law) which was less satisfying. I will avoid asking the argument "omg I did this and I never realized this is what I wanted" as I think it ignores what good experiences/skills I have.

LORs: I will get a couple Albanian PC staff to write letters (one works for USAID here), they love me. I will also get a letter from my German professor. I might reach out to my Business professors as well. I am thinking that having strong, well educated foreign nationals write letters will demonstrate my ability to work well in other cultures. I figure everyone has LORs which speak well about a person's technical abilities. 

Career: After my masters, I want to work for development NGOs or USAID, and then try to transfer over to foreign service and try to use my experiences to get into policy work later on. I really like what I am doing in PC, and I want to continue doing this, but with more resources.

Notes: 

I will be applying in 2019. I haven't locked down which programs I want to apply to yet, but I am thinking SAIS is a good start (I lived around the corner, and DC is great for RPCVs). I think this will depend a lot on how my GRE goes.

Obviously, my GPA is not that great. I anticipate issues with the Quant section of the GRE, but I have a lot of time to study. 

I am wondering if I should consider getting more work experience after service (probably with an NGO abroad). I am not sure what schools I am a good fit for, or if maybe I should get more experience to make myself more competitive. 

Obviously all suggestions about specific programs are very helpful! I am new to this, and don't really know where I fit in yet. 

Thanks all!

 

 

So obviously some of this will depend on what programs you decide to apply to, but it sounds like you have a good background and reason for wanting to go to grad school. It will probably be good to focus on those that have strong connections for careers in public service. Probably the best thing you have going for you is your "logical path" for how what you've been doing will take you where you want to go, and the more you can demonstrate how the programs you apply to will help you achieve your career goals (SPECIFIC career goals, you can't just say foreign service and policy work but what kind of foreign service and policy work-- specific countries/regions, policy issues, people/organizations you would like to work with some day) the better your application will be. Good luck!

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On 7/5/2018 at 6:27 PM, Thirteen said:

Hi everyone, I've lurked for awhile but after taking the GRE today, felt like I could get some great feedback from you all! I appreciate it :)

Program: MPP/MPA/MIA

Schools Applying To: HKS, Princeton MPA, SIPA, Fletcher, UCSD, GWU, Duke Sanford, Possibly Georgetown MSFS?

Interests: China's foreign policy and/or environmental policy

Undergrad Institution: Respected but not amazing private school

Undergraduate GPA: 3.7 

Years since Undergrad: Right now 1 year, have another year left of Peace Corps service

Undergraduate Major: Political Science 

GRE:  V 159 / Q 153 / AW TBD (took it today)

Quantitative Courses: intro to micro (A-), intro to macro (A). Not sure if a GIS class and 2 “quantitative reasoning” classes are relevant

Age: Soon to be 24

Languages: English and intermediate Mandarin 

Work Experience:  

  1. Currently a Peace Corps Volunteer just eclipsed the halfway mark. 
  2. 2 Internships with the State Department  (1 in DC, 1 at an embassy)
  3. Internship with a member of the European Parliament in Brussels

LORs: Most likely 2 professors who I had taken a few times and received As.  A former internship boss. Possibly someone from the Peace Corps?

SOPs: Not started yet but I want to continue to study the Sino-US relationship in some capacity. Biggest strength is my international experience (3.5 years by the end of PC) and how it has shaped my perspective on life. I have used the three internship experiences to say I’ve seen how foreign policy is conducted from the US domestic side, the US government abroad’s approach, and how another actor t(he EU) conducts their affairs before in some personal statements (albeit in a more eloquently worded manner.)

Concerns: Low GRE quant is my biggest fear. I studied for it for about 3 months but focused much of my attention on verbal since my first practice test I scored 147. Language - although I can survive doing every day things, I definitely can’t discuss international relations in Mandarin. I know Fletcher, GPS, MSFS require a high level to graduate. How strict is this? Is it plausibly to continue studying the language on top of other coursework? 

Would appreciate any feedback you have. Am I setting my sights to high? Thanks!

Anyone able to give some advice here? I am looking at retaking the GRE in early November to boost my quant but am not 100% on that (expensive on a PC budget and less free time in the coming months.) Thanks for taking a look. 

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Hi everyone!

I've been starting my grad school search process with the goal of applying in 2019 for the Fall 2020 cycle. The reason I'm thinking ahead is my girlfriend is in law school until Spring of 2020, but will obviously be looking at jobs earlier than that. Therefore, we wanted to decide this year which programs/locations to focus on.

Here's the info:

Schools I am Considering: Minnesota (Humphrey - MPP), Wisconsin (LaFollette - MPA), Georgia (MPA), Georgia State (MPP) and New Mexico (MPP)  

Interests: Interests in Health Policy, State & Local Government, and Social Policy.

Undergrad Institution: Top 50 Liberal Arts College

Undergraduate GPA: 3.64 (3.9 for just my major)

Years since Undergrad: 3 upon applying

Undergraduate Major: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (with Distinction)

GRE: 160V, 156Q, and 5 on AWA.

Quantitative Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (B), Advanced Micro - Calc Based (B), Cal 1 (C...Freshmen year), Research Methods (A), Statistics (A). Also did an independent study where I used STATA and R to conduct multivariate analysis on a published paper. Familiar with GIS due to a policy report published in college as well.

Age: 25

Languages: English, Elementary Spanish.

Awards, Publications, Etc: 

  • Published policy report on juvenile justice
  • Two upcoming political science papers on political polarization to be submitted for publication and will be released through a policy think tank as memos. 
  • Won the President's Medal at my college (an award for a senior for engaged citizenship and academic excellence).

Work Experience:  

  • Random Research Assistantships during college (probably a year total).
  • 1 year as a paid part time employee my senior year of college as a Research Assistant for a Disability Rights Organization.
  • 1 year working for a research organization on public health and healthcare policies.
  • 2 years with a policy division in the Mayor's Office (NYC), working with health and human services nonprofits and city funding. Think budgets and program evaluation.

LORs: My college advisor and another professor from the Politics departments each have offered to write LORs. I had both for 4 classes, and had them as references for my job interviews and they are reliable. For a 3rd LOR, I am considering the President of my College, since he and I have kept in touch and he's familiar with my work. All of my employers, both current and previous, has offered as well - I just know some programs aren't really interested in those. I also was involved with community organizing and political campaigns all 4 years of college, and I keep in regular touch with them, so I may consider asking them as well.

SOPs: I haven't started yet, given that I am not applying this year. Based upon the current prompts (and I realize they may change next year), I would want to delineate how I became interested in policy, and my goals for pursuing a career in public service by working for the government and improving agencies. I intend to weave in my experiences of being on the ground in diverse areas to hear how system issues translate into problems for real people (grew up in Chicago, went to school in Arkansas, have worked in DC and NYC), and combine it with the experience I have working in those systems as both an advocate and an employee.

Concerns: I'm concerned about 3 parts right now:

1. Who to consider for the 3rd LOR - academic, work, or just someone who knows my extra-curricular life (volunteering, campaign work, etc).

2. You can see the schools I'm interested in are all public institutions, and I'm debating if I should work for an additional year in the state to qualify for in-state tuition before applying, or if I would be competitive enough to get financial aid or at least a waiver for the out-of-state rates.

3. I've moved around a lot but I intend to stay in the state I go to grad school in. While I know I'm sincere and will do my best to convey this to admissions, I still can't help but feel a nagging sense that it could be a red flag for some schools. I grew up in Chicago but then chose to attend school in the South to get a different perspective of the country. I then picked DC to see the policy world, but then moved to NYC to live with my SO while she completed law school. Anyone who has experience bouncing around a lot have any words of comfort?

 

I greatly appreciate any advice or thoughts people have. Open to suggestions on other programs, but pretty set on moving back to either the Midwest or South.

 

Thank you in advance!

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Hi all! I’m new to this site (although I’ve been stalking the acceptance rates here for far longer than I’d like to admit), and after reading the disclaimer at the start of this forum, I still had a few questions regarding my application. So here ya go:

 

Age: 22

Undergrad Institution: Around #100 in Public Universities

UGPA: 3.65

Major: Political Science with minors in English and Mathematics

Quant Courses: Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Calculus 3

Years since Undergrad: Currently finishing my Senior Year

Work Experience: interned with state political party for one year, interned with a committee in Congress for one summer, interned with an environmental non-profit for a semester, interned with an educational government organization for a semester, worked with an elder rights group for a semester.

Awards and Publications: two photography awards in my university’s literary magazine

GRE: 158 V, 162 Q

Interests: Environmental Policy, Social Issues, American Politics

Schools considering: UChicago (MPP), Columbia (MPA/EMPA), Cornell (MPA), Brown (MPA), Washington (MPP), Northwestern (MPPA), NYU (MA Politics), Georgetown (MA American Politics)

Other information: I am a division one student athlete, a founding member/secretary of a club, and volunteer with a few political and environmental organizations as well.

 

I know that I match at least an ideal GPA and Quant score, and my undergrad involvement is strong, but I am worried this will not be enough to pursue an MPA/MPP straight out of undergrad, even with a lot of internship experience. I’d love any feedback on my application if anyone gets a free moment.

Thanks!

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On 7/11/2018 at 9:53 PM, JiHoo said:

GPA: 4.0 (BA)

GRE: 170 V/156 Q/5.5 Writing (I think in percentiles that was 99/60/98....note the quant score)

Work Experience: 10 years in public policy/government work. Moved up gradually to leadership positions. 1.5 of the years I worked full-time while in school though, not sure if that still counts as WE although it was the exact same tasks as when I did the job after graduation.

Volunteer Experience: 10+ years in various roles, from just assisting to the head of an org. Volunteered abroad in 3 different countries, with time ranging from a month to a full year in a remote area.

Languages: English plus a basic level (not fluent) in two other languages.

Programs: I would like  an idea of my chances at programs like HKS, WWS (both MPP and MPA), Yale Jackson, SIPA, NYU, Georgetown, and any other notable ones that there are. I have thought of applying to MBA programs too, although these wouldn't be as tight a fit with my career and also I would likely do even worse on the quant part of the GMAT. I've done perfectly fine in statistics and quantitative research methods courses but just can't nail the type of quant on the GRE/GMAT.

 

I am probably a few years older than the average applicant at these programs, though I think I kind of blur between being more of a fit for the standard program or the executive ones. My quant is rather low for many of the top programs and I've been told this will make it much harder at those, though from looking at the guidebook for Princeton's MPP program I see it might not be such a major blow for that (as opposed to their MPA).

Any thoughts about what to apply for when it comes to a school like Princeton that has a 1 year executive style program (MPP) and a 2 year program usually for people with less experience? 

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Age: 22

Undergrad Institution: top 10 accounting school

UGPA: 4.0

Major: Accountancy with minor in Public Policy Leadership

Quant Courses: Calculus 1, Calculus 2, Stats 1, Stats 2, micro, macro, accounting courses

 Years since Undergrad: Currently finishing my Senior Year

Work Experience: assistant to director at local economic development office, intern at Deloitte’s Tax Policy Group, director of Constiuent services for a state congressman, assistant to director at a non-profit community development organization 

Awards and Publications: Taylor Medal given to top .5% of the university, Carrier Scholarship given to most outstanding male and female student in Mississippi, Phi Kappa Phi,  Honors Thesis in Accountancy

GRE: 159 V, 160 Q, 4.0 AW

Interests: Public Budgeting and Finance

Schools considering: UChicago (MPP), Harvard (MPP), UT-Austin (MPA), UGeorgia (MPA), Georgetown (MPP), GW (MPA), American (MPA), UKentucky (MPA)

LORs: Dean of School of Accountancy, Professor of PPL and Director of nonprofit, Partner at Deloitte’s Tax Policy Group

SOP: Since I will have limited job experience, I am focusing on how my different jobs and internships throughout college have been aligned, so that adcoms know I have been interested in this route for a considerable amount of time. 

Concerns: no post undergrad work experience, average GRE score

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On 7/5/2018 at 6:27 AM, Thirteen said:

Hi everyone, I've lurked for awhile but after taking the GRE today, felt like I could get some great feedback from you all! I appreciate it :)

Program: MPP/MPA/MIA

Schools Applying To: HKS, Princeton MPA, SIPA, Fletcher, UCSD, GWU, Duke Sanford, Possibly Georgetown MSFS?

Interests: China's foreign policy and/or environmental policy

Undergrad Institution: Respected but not amazing private school

Undergraduate GPA: 3.7 

Years since Undergrad: Right now 1 year, have another year left of Peace Corps service

Undergraduate Major: Political Science 

GRE:  V 159 / Q 153 / AW TBD (took it today)

Quantitative Courses: intro to micro (A-), intro to macro (A). Not sure if a GIS class and 2 “quantitative reasoning” classes are relevant

Age: Soon to be 24

Languages: English and intermediate Mandarin 

Work Experience:  

  1. Currently a Peace Corps Volunteer just eclipsed the halfway mark. 
  2. 2 Internships with the State Department  (1 in DC, 1 at an embassy)
  3. Internship with a member of the European Parliament in Brussels

LORs: Most likely 2 professors who I had taken a few times and received As.  A former internship boss. Possibly someone from the Peace Corps?

SOPs: Not started yet but I want to continue to study the Sino-US relationship in some capacity. Biggest strength is my international experience (3.5 years by the end of PC) and how it has shaped my perspective on life. I have used the three internship experiences to say I’ve seen how foreign policy is conducted from the US domestic side, the US government abroad’s approach, and how another actor t(he EU) conducts their affairs before in some personal statements (albeit in a more eloquently worded manner.)

Concerns: Low GRE quant is my biggest fear. I studied for it for about 3 months but focused much of my attention on verbal since my first practice test I scored 147. Language - although I can survive doing every day things, I definitely can’t discuss international relations in Mandarin. I know Fletcher, GPS, MSFS require a high level to graduate. How strict is this? Is it plausibly to continue studying the language on top of other coursework? 

Would appreciate any feedback you have. Am I setting my sights to high? Thanks!

Hi Thirteen! For starters, I will say don’t worry too much about your quant score. I don’t know too much about the other schools, but I know MSFS is the top of the top and they don’t really pay it much mind. The reason their average score is high is because most people who do well on verbal also do well on quant. If I were you, I would be more concerned about the GPA. That being said, your peace corps time will count for you much more than your GPA should count against you, so while you aren’t a shoe-in, I don’t think it’s out of reach. Your internship experience also makes you a strong candidate. For your SOP, make sure to make it personal. For mine, I started with a short (1 paragraph) story about my first act of civic engagement, which was a letter to the president when I was seven. Then go on to discuss your interests since then and why that school in particular can help you get where you’re going, but always add a personal touch. They’re not looking for something academic. That’s the purspose of the transcript. Think of it more like a personal narrative.

On the issue of language, it’s not a big deal at all. They want to see that you have some language background and that, with another two years of study, you could be at a high intermediate level. MSFS even covers foreign language tuition, so it’s free. The exam is oral to be taken during the two year program (as early as after the first semester or as late as just before graduation). For most departments you just read an article in the chosen language, give a 5-10 minute debrief to faculty on what it’s about, and then they ask you a few questions about it. For admissions, they just want to see that you have some kind of background in foreign language and could have a basic relevant conversation after two years of study. Which language or how many languages don't matter. 

Hope that’s helpful!!

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Hello lovely internet people,

So like everyone else I want peoples opinion not only whether I am good enough, but also some advice on schools.

 

Schools Applying To:  SIPA -MIA Human Rights and Gender and Policy, NYU -Global Gender Studies- although I heard they have very little funding, possible Georgetown SFS, Yale- but they seem to have litter courses on gender and security but give funding- Princeton - same issue as Yale - not many women/gender/women and conflict courses. Very stuck on which universities beyond Columbia to apply to.

Interests: I would like to continue working for the UN in gender and international security, particularly Women, Peace and Security

Undergrad Institution: Oxbridge ( Social Anthropology)

Undergraduate GPA: 2.1 (I think 3.4) but my transcript is quite patchy with missing courses due to sickness

Years since Undergrad: 18 months

Undergraduate Major: Social Anthropology

GRE: TBC - Will be low - I have no quants background so probably 50s for quants and maybe 60 for Verbal

Quantitative Courses: None Whatsoever

Age: 23

Languages: English, French (slightly rusty), Intermediate Spoken Arabic

Work Experience:  

  • Coming up to 18 Months as a Project Assistant with a UN Office in the Middle East
  • 3 Month Internship in a Women's Charity in Africa
  • 2 Month Internship at the British Civil Service

LORs: Confirmed - My work Supervisor, a Gender Specialist at the UN in the Middle East - will be strong. A Professor from Oxbridge - will be ok.

Unconfirmed - Either a Phd supervisor at Oxbridge or another work - not sure which is best. 

SOPs:  Will focus on my specific interest in studying in Women and Security, my current job and what I want to do in the future.

Concerns: I have no quant skills whatsoever - am keen to learn so would do economics course online before starting the course. I will have not great GRE, and not amazing GPA.

Also money is a big concern - am after a university with good funding opportunities, that is internationally recognized beyond the US, with good professors and courses on gender and women and conflict, and not too many requirements for Economics. (HKS  MPP seems to be out of the question). 

Looking for advise on where I should apply to with these interests, and with this background. Columbia MIA seems to be my top choice. Is it worth applying to NYU if they don't have funding? Is it worth applying to HKS.

 

Any advise on any parts of my profile welcome!!

Edited by Gender+Security

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On 9/24/2018 at 1:38 AM, irinprogress said:

Hi Thirteen! For starters, I will say don’t worry too much about your quant score. I don’t know too much about the other schools, but I know MSFS is the top of the top and they don’t really pay it much mind. The reason their average score is high is because most people who do well on verbal also do well on quant. If I were you, I would be more concerned about the GPA. That being said, your peace corps time will count for you much more than your GPA should count against you, so while you aren’t a shoe-in, I don’t think it’s out of reach. Your internship experience also makes you a strong candidate. For your SOP, make sure to make it personal. For mine, I started with a short (1 paragraph) story about my first act of civic engagement, which was a letter to the president when I was seven. Then go on to discuss your interests since then and why that school in particular can help you get where you’re going, but always add a personal touch. They’re not looking for something academic. That’s the purspose of the transcript. Think of it more like a personal narrative.

On the issue of language, it’s not a big deal at all. They want to see that you have some language background and that, with another two years of study, you could be at a high intermediate level. MSFS even covers foreign language tuition, so it’s free. The exam is oral to be taken during the two year program (as early as after the first semester or as late as just before graduation). For most departments you just read an article in the chosen language, give a 5-10 minute debrief to faculty on what it’s about, and then they ask you a few questions about it. For admissions, they just want to see that you have some kind of background in foreign language and could have a basic relevant conversation after two years of study. Which language or how many languages don't matter. 

Hope that’s helpful!!

Hey irinprogress, I appreciate your detailed response. I'm sure you know how nerve-wracking this process can be! I'm currently in the process of refining my applications but your words are reassuring. Thanks!

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On 9/24/2018 at 7:39 AM, Gender+Security said:

Hello lovely internet people,

So like everyone else I want peoples opinion not only whether I am good enough, but also some advice on schools.

 

Schools Applying To:  SIPA -MIA Human Rights and Gender and Policy, NYU -Global Gender Studies- although I heard they have very little funding, possible Georgetown SFS, Yale- but they seem to have litter courses on gender and security but give funding- Princeton - same issue as Yale - not many women/gender/women and conflict courses. Very stuck on which universities beyond Columbia to apply to.

Interests: I would like to continue working for the UN in gender and international security, particularly Women, Peace and Security

Undergrad Institution: Oxbridge ( Social Anthropology)

Undergraduate GPA: 2.1 (I think 3.4) but my transcript is quite patchy with missing courses due to sickness

Years since Undergrad: 18 months

Undergraduate Major: Social Anthropology

GRE: TBC - Will be low - I have no quants background so probably 50s for quants and maybe 60 for Verbal

Quantitative Courses: None Whatsoever

Age: 23

Languages: English, French (slightly rusty), Intermediate Spoken Arabic

Work Experience:  

  • Coming up to 18 Months as a Project Assistant with a UN Office in the Middle East
  • 3 Month Internship in a Women's Charity in Africa
  • 2 Month Internship at the British Civil Service

LORs: Confirmed - My work Supervisor, a Gender Specialist at the UN in the Middle East - will be strong. A Professor from Oxbridge - will be ok.

Unconfirmed - Either a Phd supervisor at Oxbridge or another work - not sure which is best. 

SOPs:  Will focus on my specific interest in studying in Women and Security, my current job and what I want to do in the future.

Concerns: I have no quant skills whatsoever - am keen to learn so would do economics course online before starting the course. I will have not great GRE, and not amazing GPA.

Also money is a big concern - am after a university with good funding opportunities, that is internationally recognized beyond the US, with good professors and courses on gender and women and conflict, and not too many requirements for Economics. (HKS  MPP seems to be out of the question). 

Looking for advise on where I should apply to with these interests, and with this background. Columbia MIA seems to be my top choice. Is it worth applying to NYU if they don't have funding? Is it worth applying to HKS.

 

Any advise on any parts of my profile welcome!!

Have you considered American, GW, and Tufts? I'm looking at doing a master's in international development with a focus in gender and social inclusion studies and those four schools all offer that type of program. I don't know much about the security/conflict resolution side of these programs, but may be worth taking a look. Tufts offers a MALD with a really flexible concentration program that offers international security and gender, and I think you can combine them. Plus, Tufts offers some joint classes at Harvard. 

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Schools Applying To:  SIPA MPA in Development Practice; GW Elliott (MAID); AU SIS (MSDM); Sciences Po PSIA; LSE; Tufts Fletcher (MALD); and maybe UChicago Harris (MAIDS); NYU Wagner (MPA); and Lund University in Sweden (MS Development Studies). 

Interests: I would like to continue working in the international development space, focusing my work on gender and social inclusion; maybe even more specifically on women's empowerment, independence, and resilience to shocks and hardship. 

Undergrad Institution: University of Arizona (Top 100 public university)

Undergraduate GPA: 3.3-ish, currently taking a class so unsure what final GPA will be. 

Years since Undergrad: 5 years by Fall 2019.

Undergraduate Major: Double major, Political Science with a concentration in foreign affairs and French. 

GRE: Q/V/AW: 153 (50th%)/160 (87th%)/5.5 (98th%) - planning to retake in hopes of increasing my quant score. 

Quantitative Courses: Algebra (C), Stats (B), Econ (macro & micro) - got a D in this the first time I took it and am currently retaking, and will get an A. 

Age: 26

Languages: English, French (fluent), Spanish (intermediate, pretty rusty)

Work Experience:  

  • 3 years (4 on entry) working for a private international development firm implementing USAID and State Dept projects in agriculture, M&E, global health, and stabilization/conflict management
  • 2 months on top 5 most competitive 2014 Congressional political campaign, as field organizer
  • Internships: Middle Eastern cultural center; Government of California; US Congress office; student advocacy group
  • Volunteering: Elementary school in rural Kenya; Los Angeles Community Garden
  • International experience: Lived in France growing up, one month in rural Kenya, work trips to Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. 

LORs: My work supervisor which will be strong, and likely a French professor, which will be ok 

SOPs:  Will focus on my specific interest in studying gender and social inclusion within international development, my previous experience, and how I plan to use my degree in the future. Will also tailor each essay to the school, and discuss the "unique-ness" of each school and what I will get out of those schools. I feel pretty good about this, planning to see a friend's SOP from her applications that got her a personal call with the Dean at UT-Austin to compliment her on an excellent SOP (ya, apparently that's some people's lives...)

Concerns: 

  • I'm wondering if the schools that I'm considering are realistic given my background. I think my work experience is strong and I think I'll be able to write a compelling SOP, however I'm concerned about my GPA and my not so great quant background. For ECON, I plan to talk about why I got a D, and how I've moved past that (to now get an A). 
  • I'd also like to know anyone's thoughts on the schools I'm applying to and experiences/advice applying to these, especially any advice on how to make myself more competitive.
  • I know my schools are pretty competitive, any advice on maybe some "safety schools" to consider? 
  • Thoughts on Wagner's MPA in Public and Non-Profit Management versus the SPS Global Affairs program? 
  • Also, any thoughts on some other Euro schools to consider?
Edited by maddie92

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