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

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5 hours ago, j2020ir said:

Schools/Programs Applying To: WWS, HKS, Yale Jackson, Georgetown SSP, Fletcher, SAIS, SIPA, UT Austin

  
Undergraduate institution: Top 10 LAC 
Undergraduate GPA: 3.89
Undergraduate Major: Religion; Arab Studies minor
GRE Quantitative Score: 168
GRE Verbal Score: 170
GRE AW Score: 5.0 
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3
Years of Work Experience: 4 (counting internships)
Describe Relevant Work Experience:                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Internship/contracting with international humanitarian/development org. (both domestic and in Mid. East). Independent, grant funded research in Mid. East during undergrad (nothing published). Short term position (3 months) in refugee resettlement. 1 year nonprofit journalism fellowship, including articles published on Mid. East politics and conflict. 2 years at national nonprofit focused on domestic policy issue. Critical language skill (low-mid intermediate) from 3 years of undergraduate study, semester abroad in Mid. East, and semester of language class post-grad 
 

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): 

Strength: I provide a cohesive story about moving from general humanitarian/international interest, to regional specialty, and then to a particular type of peacebuilding/conflict resolution work. I address particular career paths that fit well with this journey, and particular classes/professors that would prepare me to get there. Weakness: I'm having trouble tying together some significant work experiences that don't directly relate to my area/program of interest (see my questions below)
 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): 
Strong LOR from undergrad advisors (2). Hopefully fairly strong LOR from supervisor(s) at past 2 positions, though not in area of interest. 

Questions I have: 

While I did well on GRE Quant., I have literally no quantitative background apart from one Calculus class in undergrad (B+ I think). Is it worth getting a certificate from an EdX course or something? I'd love to avoid paying for/taking a community college class while trying to apply to all these programs, but don't know how much a single additional class would add.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The bulk of my post-college work experience has not been in my issue area of interest (I've been working on efforts around affordable housing). Do I need to talk in my SOP about skills gained, how it relates, etc.? I'm already pressed for space talking about the actually relevant parts of my work/internship experience, so would have to re-work some things.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Am I OK with the list of programs I have, or is it a good idea to add 1-2 more "safety" schools? I think I have a good shot at getting in most places, but worried about funding.

 

Thanks!

 

 

You'll be fine. No need to take a quant course. I might add in Duke Sanford or CMU Heinz to give you another good school that you can be confident you'll get excellent funding at (the one you already have being LBJ, where you should get full tuition+), but it's not a necessity given your profile. I'm a little confused by the difference between "skills gained, how it relates" and "relevant parts of my work/internship experience" so it's hard for me to give a good answer here. You absolutely should talk about how your background and skills will enable you to succeed at grad school and in your career beyond, but you seem to know that. If you can clarify what you mean, then maybe we can provide better feedback.

 

Edited by woolscarves

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15 hours ago, woolscarves said:

You'll be fine. No need to take a quant course. I might add in Duke Sanford or CMU Heinz to give you another good school that you can be confident you'll get excellent funding at (the one you already have being LBJ, where you should get full tuition+), but it's not a necessity given your profile. I'm a little confused by the difference between "skills gained, how it relates" and "relevant parts of my work/internship experience" so it's hard for me to give a good answer here. You absolutely should talk about how your background and skills will enable you to succeed at grad school and in your career beyond, but you seem to know that. If you can clarify what you mean, then maybe we can provide better feedback.

 

Thanks very much for the quick feedback, and sorry for the lack of clarity! 

My last 2 years of work experience (the majority of my time post-grad) have been working in an issue area that does not relate to my graduate school pursuits. I'm wondering the extent to which I need to integrate this particular work experience into my personal statement, given that it's been a large part of my professional career to this point. There are some transferable skills, etc. but really its main function was showing me I wanted to go a different direction with grad school, so I've left it out almost entirely. Lots of info in my resume, etc. but I'm just not sure if it will reflect poorly in my SOP to say I've been building and preparing for a graduate program and then ignore this large chunk of professional experience. Thanks! 

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Schools/Programs Applying To: Harvard HKS, Princeton WWS

  
Undergraduate institution: Shitty Art School 
Undergraduate GPA: 3.6
Undergraduate Major: Cultural Studies/Critical Theory
GRE Quantitative Score: 142
GRE Verbal Score: 162
GRE AW Score: 4.5 
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 4
Years of Work Experience: 5 (counting internships)


Describe Relevant Work Experience: I have a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship under my belt, completed at University of Michigan/Ford School.  I've worked in non-profits for 5 years, across public health, education, and housing.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): 

Unsure of how we're defining "strength." I talk about my childhood struggles with housing instability and immigration as the basis for my commitment to public service. This commitment is then contextualized in my early volunteer work with low income Latino communities, which lead me to pursue a policy fellowship at the University of Michigan that served as a platform to pursue more formal public service work and establish a pathway to an MPP. I reference specific impacts I've made through this public service work: connecting over 100 homeless individuals with mental health services; establishing a $350,000 partnership with a federal agency to provide transitional housing to a vulnerable population; managing the delivery of college access programs to more than 170 youth and families; and securing funding to build 50 units of affordable housing. 

I basically say that I want to leverage these experiences to pursue work in the program evaluation field. I am pursuing am MPP and filling in/refining skills that are useful to that end: program evaluation, quantitative analysis, etc.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): 
Strong LOR from professors that were thesis advisors and with whom I took at least 3 courses with. Professional letters verifying my commitment to public service and the way I implement MPP-type skills at the community level to improve the quality of life of low income people of color.  

Questions I have: 

I want to know whether my profile makes me a viable candidate for HKS with good funding, despite a dismal quantitative score on the GRE and no quant courses in college.  A couple of notes to this end:

- I've already been accepted to Ford ($$$), La Follette ($$$), Rutgers ($$$), Heinz ($$$), and UChicago Harris ($).

- The reason my GRE was so low was because I was laid off basically the month I took the GRE and was forced off of psychiatric meds as a result of losing my insurance. I ended up taking the GRE while going through withdrawals for those meds. 

- The summer fellowship I completed at Ford does include references form professors saying I was a top performer in general, completing graduate coursework microeconomics and statistics modules 

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Schools/Programs Applying To: Columbia SIPA (MPA-DP emergency, disaster concentration), CMU Heinz (MSPPM), Cornell CIPA
Undergraduate institution: top 30 U.S. school
Undergraduate GPA: 3.59
Undergraduate Major: Neuroscience
GRE Quantitative Score: 165 (89 percentile)
GRE Verbal Score: 163 (92 percentile)
GRE AW Score: 4.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): will be 5 when I apply
Years of Work Experience: will be 5 when I apply


Describe Relevant Work Experience: 6 months working in large non-profit for emergency and disaster management, 4 months working as project coordinator for foreign english teacher staffing company ( worked in China), about to go to the Peace Corps 

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): 

Not yet written.  I was thinking of talking about my need for interdisciplinary education, weaving together my experiences teaching, learning about psychology, working with data, and combining that in public service.

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): 
2 potentially decent letter of recc, will work on finding 1 more solid one. (fingers crossed)

Questions I have: 

I am planning on applying to graduate school in about 2 years and I had a few questions on my mind that I hope you all could help me with.

Is this too early to start thinking about graduate school? 

Will I need to retake my GRE for my low AWA score?  I noticed that a lot of people who got into competitive programs have an AWA of 5 or above.  I am not a foreign student, so I don't know how excusable this low score would be.

Will I need stronger experiences?

Do I have any chance of getting funding?

Are there other schools that I should be considering applying to?

Any other thoughts?

 

Thank you all for your help!

 

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Hello all!

Schools/Programs Applying To: Programs that will help me develop data analytic skills in the context of public policy analysis. The ones I've identified so far are:

1) University of Chicago - Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MS-CAPP)

2) Georgetown University - Master of Science in Data Science for Public Policy (MS-DSPP)

3) Carnegie Mellon University - Master of Science in Public Policy and Management: Data Analytics (MS-PPM: DA)

4) New York University - Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Social Science Research

5) LSE - Master of Science in Applied Social Data Science

Undergraduate Institution: Top 15 school

Undergraduate GPA: 3.9 out of 4.3 (and 3.8 out of 4.0); graduated summa cum laude

Undergraduate Major: Double major in Economics and Statistics

GRE Quantitative Score: 168

GRE Verbal Score: 165

GRE AW Score: 5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2 (and 2.5 when I apply)

Years of Work Experience: 2 years (2.5 when I apply)

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Worked at an economic consulting company. The job doesn't particularly have a policy focus, but I think it helped me strengthen my research and analytic skills, which I hope to transfer to the Master's program. That includes creating and cleaning datasets (in Stata and R) and conducting econometric analysis to estimate the economic impact of certain actions. After my freshman year of college, I interned with an think tank based in India where we assessed the program effects of community-led menstrual hygiene initiative. This happened five years ago, but remains a very positive experience (I even got co-author credit on the report).

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Not yet written and honestly, I'm still trying to find "my story." One hand, I'm thinking of discussing my internship with a think tank back in 2014, but I'm afraid that experience occurred too long ago. On the other hand, I'm thinking of talking about my senior research project, which was related to public policy (I won an award from my school for the finished product). The experience sparked my interest in this type of research, but I remember feeling restricted/held back by the by limited data available to me. I soon came to appreciate the power of rigorous data analysis when I started working at my economic consulting job. I know

Strength of LORs (be honest, describe the process, etc): Two from professors who supervised my senior research project and one from my supervisor at my current job. I expect that my academic references will be positive and will attest to my interest in public policy, but they might be lacking in anecdotal information since I didn't work with them all that closely. I expect my professional reference to be more specific, since my supervisor can testify to my interest in working with data as well was positive personality traits (leadership abilities, organization skills, etc.)

Questions I have:

- I've only identified a handful of programs that marry public policy and data analysis. Are there other educational opportunities (full-time and on-campus) that I ought to be considering?

- Does my work experience seem strong enough to demonstrate my interest in public policy? I'm nervous that the only truly public policy work I can point to is my senior research project and my 2014 internship.

- I'm still on the fence about applying to traditional MPP/MPA programs (places such as HKS, WWS, Ford, Sanford, etc.) because I'm not sure how rigorous their technical training. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

- Another reason that I am undecided about MPP programs is that I'm an international student and feel somewhat concerned that job opportunities with this degree might be limited (i.e., might require citizenship, security clearance, etc.)

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Hi all, refining my process now and hoping to get some feedback.  Any recommendations for other programs I should look into or general advice would be great as well.

 

Program Applying To: MPA

Schools Applied To:   AU, Georgetown, GW, UCSD
Undergraduate institution: AU
Undergraduate GPA: 3.68
Undergraduate Major: International Studies
GRE Quantitative Score: 
GRE Verbal Score: 
GRE AW Score: Taking soon
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 0
Years of Work Experience: 7+
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 7 years in the Navy, 2 deployments, fixed airplanes.  So subject wise not relevant, but skill wise I've made the argument before that it helped me create a process based approach to learning.  I also worked 10 months with an international development NGO as a program assistant, doing some admin and background support for 2 major USAID projects they were managing in Nigeria.  And I've interned with the East-West Center in DC, writing a few articles.  
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Pretty strong, talk about how my last deployment found me in the South China Sea, how my career to that point had me ignorant but on the periphery of some serious global events, and how that drove me to seek to find out why that was and how to make it better so things aren't as risky.  
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very strong, professor I've taken off and on for years, my supervisors, they go to bat for me regularly and always write amazing recommendations.  I've kept up the relationships pretty well over time so they've seen my work develop.
Other: Gilman scholarship to study Chinese this past summer, also won a scholarship to study Chinese in Taiwan last summer.  

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Hi Everyone! 

Program: MPP/MPA (Fall 2020)

Potential Schools: HKS, Columbia SIPA, Chicago Harris, Lee Kuan Yew 

Interests: Would like to work in government advisory practice of consulting firms or international organisations like WBG, ADB, etc.

Undergrad Institution: State University in India 

Undergrad GPA: 9.3/10 (rank 2 in class of 150)

Undergrad Major: Economics (Elective: Political Science)

Post-grad: Applied Economics

Postgrad Institution: Top 3 Universities in India

Postgrad GPA: Not great; around 3.1ish out of 4 when converted, I think

GRE: Planning to take by end of November

Quantitative Courses:  relevant courses in undergrad/postgrad level including real analysis, stats/maths for economics, econometrics, etc. but did not score very well (mostly B and B+) Have working knowledge of STATA and basics of R

Age: 24, will be turning 25

Languages: English, Hindi and 2 other regional languages

Work Experience: 2 years (excluding internships and volunteering)

  • Since 2017, I have been working as a public policy researcher in the #1 management school in India, along with providing teaching assistance to faculty in said school (for courses like Public Economics). I have prepared and delivered research inputs for a few International Policy Conventions/Workshops; have also co-authored a paper with faculty but it will only be published by next year.
  • I have also worked in the implementation of a National Program for Skill Development under Govt of India; responsibilities have included designing program content and proposals; structuring budgets and contracts and stakeholder communication
  • Have the opportunity to work as the lead Program Associate in the Skill Development Program from November/December; will give me a first hand experience of working with state level bureaucracy while also allowing me to provide inputs to district development plans.

Besides this, I have interned with a Member of Parliament for two months; developed a research framework for poverty analyses which has facilitated further policy intervention. Also, worked as a research intern in a think tank where I contributed to two large scale projects pertaining to urban slum formation and violence against women. I also volunteered with an NGO as a teacher for homeless children while pursuing undergrad (not regularly, though). 

Strength of LORs: Strong; professors that I've closely worked with and my thesis supervisor from postgrad

Why MPP:  professional degree like MPP would complement my economics background; could help to gain expertise in specific policy issues while teaching new skills like negotiations, management, strategy, etc. Also, I want to work towards implementation and strategy from a policy perspective, so MPP seems like the right choice.

Concerns/questions: Not well-known school for undergrad, low grades in post grad. Hopefully, I can make up for it by getting decent scores in GRE? I am/was hoping to apply for Fall 2020, but would I be competitive enough to apply this year since I still have some time to appear for GRE and write the SOP or should I stick to the plan and apply next year?

Would having a postgrad degree hinder my chances?

 I would really appreciate any advice on whether I'm competitive enough for the schools that I'm applying to.

Thanks!

 

 

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Target schools (Fall 2020): HKS (MPP), WWS (MPA), SAIS (MA/IDev), SIPA (MPA-DP), Harris (MPP), Berkeley (MDP), UPenn (MSSP+DA), Fletcher (MALD)

Aim: Transition from academia (RAship) to impact/implementation-oriented roles (e.g. NPO program management, work with multilaterals, in private sector consulting on social impact projects etc.)

Undergrad: Management grad from Top 20 Uni in India with GPA 5.52/7 (equivalent of letter grade B )

Postgrad: 1-year Diploma from top Liberal Arts university (mix of humanities coursework + a 10-month live project) with GPA 2.82/4

Relevant coursework: Micro (A-), Macro (B+), Business Stats (A+), Business Math (A), Operations Research (C), Postgrad Stats (C), Econ & PubPol (C), Pol Econ (F)

Work experience (excluding internships/volunteering): 2.5 years at the time of application (field research assistant for 2 DevEcon projects with 2 top US universities - one in an RCT setting, and the second being a qualitative study)

LoRs: Taking from the qualitative study profs (one's tenured and the other's an Asst. Prof.) + an internship supervisor at a top Indian think-tank - all 3 with excellent credentials 

GRE/TOEFL: Yet to appear

Concerns: Low GPAs overall/grades in quant, not rigorous quant/econ coursework, supervisor in RCT (quant focus project) declined to write LoR so not much diversity in recommenders, no publications despite academic projects

Does it make sense to apply to all of these schools or should I rule some out?

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Program Applying To: Georgetown SSP

Schools Applying To: Georgetown SSP

Undergraduate institution: UC Berkeley
Undergraduate GPA: 3.52
Undergraduate Major: Political Science, Minor in Public Policy
GRE Quantitative Score: 152
GRE Verbal Score: 152
GRE AW Score: 4.7
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 4
Years of Work Experience:4
Describe Relevant Work Experience: My work experience isn't relevant to my intended major but I am a director at a non profit, overseeing programs and grants. 
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I am confident in my SOP. Related my past experience in 501(c)3 organizations, policy and campaign work to intended field of study.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very strong, one from employer, one from former professor and one from a politician. 
Other: I don't know if i should apply this time around or work on my only glaring weakness (gre score). I don't really want to wait until next fall. 

 

I would appreciate anybody's insight on my competitiveness

 

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Schools/Programs Applying To:  Columbia SIPA, UChicago Harris, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Princeton WWS

Undergraduate institution: Top 10 law university in India
Undergraduate GPA: 7.74/10
Undergraduate Major: Law
GRE Quantitative Score: 158
GRE Verbal Score: 166
GRE AW Score: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 7 years
Years of Work Experience: 7 years


Describe Relevant Work Experience: I worked with a non-profit consultancy on good governance, reproductive health, justice for 3 years. I have been working freelance on development sector projects in law and policy in India for the last 6 months.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc.): I have not written it yet but think I have a strong narrative: I switched from corporate law to the social sector because I wanted to do something more purposeful. Have worked with non-profits and government in India and I know that I want to come back and contribute in a more significant way.

Strength of LORs (be honest, describe the process, etc.): 2 decent ones from my current and ex jobs. However, I need another one (ideally academic) so I need to figure that piece out. 

Questions I have: 

(i) Would anyone have recommendations for suitable 1 year public policy programs for mid-career professionals? I am not looking at part-time executive programs but I would ideally like to have a peer group that I could learn from etc. 

(ii) I can get an LOR from a director at the non-profit I was working with, however she’s currently in between jobs. Would her recommendation carry less weight now that she won’t have an official letterhead to write from?

Would really appreciate some insights and advice! Thanks in advance.

 

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On 8/29/2019 at 11:21 AM, j2020ir said:

Thanks very much for the quick feedback, and sorry for the lack of clarity! 

My last 2 years of work experience (the majority of my time post-grad) have been working in an issue area that does not relate to my graduate school pursuits. I'm wondering the extent to which I need to integrate this particular work experience into my personal statement, given that it's been a large part of my professional career to this point. There are some transferable skills, etc. but really its main function was showing me I wanted to go a different direction with grad school, so I've left it out almost entirely. Lots of info in my resume, etc. but I'm just not sure if it will reflect poorly in my SOP to say I've been building and preparing for a graduate program and then ignore this large chunk of professional experience. Thanks! 

I won't fuss a lot over it. I went to SIPA and one thing i can tell you is that a lot of schools value private experience and any skillset that you can bring from that experience into the class/ after you graduate. Your scores are good and profile seems competitive. Good Luck!

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On 10/2/2019 at 8:33 AM, Sc04 said:

Schools/Programs Applying To:  Columbia SIPA, UChicago Harris, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Princeton WWS

Undergraduate institution: Top 10 law university in India
Undergraduate GPA: 7.74/10
Undergraduate Major: Law
GRE Quantitative Score: 158
GRE Verbal Score: 166
GRE AW Score: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 7 years
Years of Work Experience: 7 years


Describe Relevant Work Experience: I worked with a non-profit consultancy on good governance, reproductive health, justice for 3 years. I have been working freelance on development sector projects in law and policy in India for the last 6 months.

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc.): I have not written it yet but think I have a strong narrative: I switched from corporate law to the social sector because I wanted to do something more purposeful. Have worked with non-profits and government in India and I know that I want to come back and contribute in a more significant way.

Strength of LORs (be honest, describe the process, etc.): 2 decent ones from my current and ex jobs. However, I need another one (ideally academic) so I need to figure that piece out. 

Questions I have: 

(i) Would anyone have recommendations for suitable 1 year public policy programs for mid-career professionals? I am not looking at part-time executive programs but I would ideally like to have a peer group that I could learn from etc. 

(ii) I can get an LOR from a director at the non-profit I was working with, however she’s currently in between jobs. Would her recommendation carry less weight now that she won’t have an official letterhead to write from?

Would really appreciate some insights and advice! Thanks in advance.

 

I think the schools chosen by you are right for the score. I think your SoP is in the right direction. To answer your questions:

1. I went to a public admin program after 5 years of exp and considered the same question. Found only Harvard and Duke ( to some extent) having a good 1 year program. Unless finances are an issue, I would advise going for the full course. SIPA has something called advanced standing where you can get a semester waived. 

2. This one is tricky, I am assuming you worked with her in some capacity and she basis on the impressions of that. Institutes do often ask for ways to verify that the person writing LoR is bonafide or not. It is always advisable to share the official email IDs for that reason. in your case I would recommend looking for an alternate option. In case that doesn't work, she must mention that she is no longer in the organization ( basically give necessary disclaimers). 

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I would recommend ruling out WWS. Leaning on HKS-MPP as well, don't see your profile generally a good fit for the course. Do look at other courses at HKS. Is it possible to get a reco from a prof at the Liberal arts college you went to? 

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On 10/9/2019 at 10:54 PM, tarangs said:

I would recommend ruling out WWS. Leaning on HKS-MPP as well, don't see your profile generally a good fit for the course. Do look at other courses at HKS. Is it possible to get a reco from a prof at the Liberal arts college you went to? 

They're all visiting faculty (Undergrad and postgrad both) so never got a chance to work one-on-one with them. The structure of the 1-year liberal arts program was divided into 8 terms of 6 weeks each (total 48 weeks, hence), with each term comprising of 3-4 courses. So, not ideal since to take LoR from any of them. 

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On 8/28/2019 at 2:08 PM, j2020ir said:

Schools/Programs Applying To: WWS, HKS, Yale Jackson, Georgetown SSP, Fletcher, SAIS, SIPA, UT Austin

  
Undergraduate institution: Top 10 LAC 
Undergraduate GPA: 3.89
Undergraduate Major: Religion; Arab Studies minor
GRE Quantitative Score: 168
GRE Verbal Score: 170
GRE AW Score: 5.0 
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3
Years of Work Experience: 4 (counting internships)
Describe Relevant Work Experience:                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Internship/contracting with international humanitarian/development org. (both domestic and in Mid. East). Independent, grant funded research in Mid. East during undergrad (nothing published). Short term position (3 months) in refugee resettlement. 1 year nonprofit journalism fellowship, including articles published on Mid. East politics and conflict. 2 years at national nonprofit focused on domestic policy issue. Critical language skill (low-mid intermediate) from 3 years of undergraduate study, semester abroad in Mid. East, and semester of language class post-grad 
 

Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): 

Strength: I provide a cohesive story about moving from general humanitarian/international interest, to regional specialty, and then to a particular type of peacebuilding/conflict resolution work. I address particular career paths that fit well with this journey, and particular classes/professors that would prepare me to get there. Weakness: I'm having trouble tying together some significant work experiences that don't directly relate to my area/program of interest (see my questions below)
 

Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): 
Strong LOR from undergrad advisors (2). Hopefully fairly strong LOR from supervisor(s) at past 2 positions, though not in area of interest. 

Questions I have: 

While I did well on GRE Quant., I have literally no quantitative background apart from one Calculus class in undergrad (B+ I think). Is it worth getting a certificate from an EdX course or something? I'd love to avoid paying for/taking a community college class while trying to apply to all these programs, but don't know how much a single additional class would add.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The bulk of my post-college work experience has not been in my issue area of interest (I've been working on efforts around affordable housing). Do I need to talk in my SOP about skills gained, how it relates, etc.? I'm already pressed for space talking about the actually relevant parts of my work/internship experience, so would have to re-work some things.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Am I OK with the list of programs I have, or is it a good idea to add 1-2 more "safety" schools? I think I have a good shot at getting in most places, but worried about funding.

 

Thanks!

 

 

You don't want to apply to "safety" schools when applying to graduate school.  They are so expensive both in money and in time, don't waste your resources on something you do not REALLY want.

For quantitative, don't bother.  An EdX course really wouldn't help your application, which already seems strong.

For the statement of purpose, it is more critical that you talk about what drives you.  Don't waste space rehashing what you have already said in your resume/CV.  Use it to build a story of who you are and how where you've been relates to where you're going, looping in what role each school plays in that process.  A lot of people get the degrees you've listed because they want to shift focus (or even career paths), so your experience is more closely aligned to your goals than many.  It shouldn't be too hard to explain.

Your inclusion of SSP gives me a bit of pause.  It doesn't make a lot of sense with the other degrees listed.  While I am sure you would get in (provided your other application elements are fine), would MSFS not be a better fit?  I am MSFS, but I have taken a few SSP courses and my best friend is SSP.  That programme is really for people who want to do either defense or intelligence work.  Not that you can't do other things, but those are really the careers for which it prepares you and if those aren't what you really want to do, it can be quite technical and even dull.

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Hi Folks, 

Thanks for this thread. I would love some feedback/thoughts. 

Targeted Start: Fall 2020

Schools Applying To:  Goldman (MPP), Cornell (MPA - Environmental Policy), Duke (MPP  - Environment Policy), The New School (MSc in Environmental Policy & Sustainable Management) 

Also Possibly Applying To: UCSD (MPP- Environmental Policy), UCSB Bren School (Environmental Management), NYU Wagner (MPA - Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy), Ford School (MPP and possible joint degree with SEAS), UCL (MPA - Environmental and Climate Policy) 

Very Maybe Applying To: UCLA Luskin (MPP) and WSS (very long shot)

Undergraduate institution: top UC public school

Undergraduate GPA: 3.5

Undergraduate Majors: International Relations

Study Abroad: Granada, Spain - one semester

GRE Quantitative Score: retaking in Nov - right now I'm trying to get at least a high 150s but right now averaging more low-to mid 150s

GRE Verbal Score: retaking in Nov - average 159, may be able to get into low 160s. 

GRE AW Score: retaking in Nov - last time received 4 or 4.5

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 5

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 4 

Describe Relevant Work Experience: I have less relevant experience for policy/government, but have good amount of experience in nonprofit, sustainability, and politics: 3 years nonprofit consulting and full time nonprofit work including grant writing and program evaluation, ~1 year sustainability work (at community college as Fellow), 1 political campaign election season leadership experience. About 8 years including undergrad experience in advocacy and community service through various social justice organizing fellowships and campaigns. 

I also have some private sector and entrepreneurial experience I could leverage that isn't directly related to policy/public service, about 2 years, co-founding a social enterprise and working in HR/recruiting at a major Fortune 500 company.

Languages: Basic-intermediate level Spanish (will probably not highlight)

Quant: I have done some quant research through my program evaluation work. My grades in undergrad weren't great in my econ courses, but did considerably better in my statistics courses. I also was a stats tutor my sophomore year in undergrad. 

Strength of SOP: Still writing/drafting - this is my biggest worry in addition to the LOR. I want to highlight my interest in climate change policy and environmental justice work, and my interest in working across sectors to address these issues (have multisectoral experience). I have written an SOP before (got in and applied to USC Price a couple years ago - see below). I also feel like I have more strengths while writing about my goals from a MPA standpoint  (ie leadership, entrepreneurial efforts) than MPP but I do want to improve my quant skills in order to address major policy issues. 

Strength of LOR (be honest, describe the process, etc): I have reached out to the lead consultant I partnered with in the 2.5 years of my consulting experience. I am planning on reaching out to my undergrad professor (Sociology) as he was critical to my interest in advocacy and social movements. I also intend on asking my former supervisor (who is a community college professor) while I worked as a Fellow and Sustainability Coordinator - she wrote one of my LORs last application session. 

Other:  I applied to USC Price MPA program 2 years ago and got in with no funding, didn't know you could negotiate so I deferred and then turned it down due to finances. I am trying to get at least some funding/assistantships I'm applying for. 

Questions:

Any thoughts on my competitiveness to the programs I'm looking at? I also need some help narrowing the field so to speak as I work full-time currently - while I want to apply to all listed, I don't think that's possible.

I'm specifically looking to go to grad school so that I can build/strengthen the skills I need to work in the climate change policy field and looking at programs that have a critical practical project/applied learning element so any thoughts on my choices as well are much appreciated. 

 

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Hello Folks,

 

I was hoping you all could give me an idea as to whether or not I'm a competitive applicant for GWU. 

Program Applying To: George Washington University, MPA (Politics, Policy, and Administration/Health Policy Field of Study)

Undergraduate institution: Cal Poly Pomona
Undergraduate GPA: 3.90
Undergraduate Major: Philosophy, Law and Society Option
GRE: -
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 1
Years of Work Experience: 2-1/2
Describe Relevant Work Experience: I interned on Capitol Hill for about 4 months and worked in the field of Bioethics for about 7 months
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I have very specific and thought out career plans that I have done a great deal of research into and I can tie my educational and relevant professional experiences to this goal quite well. The weakest part is going to be my non-relevant work experience (see below) and tying that into my SOP other than saying "I sure am adaptable!"
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very strong, one from the chair of my department, one from a current employer, and one from a professor who also serves as Chief Bioethicist for the hospital I worked at.
Other/Questions: 

During undergrad I participated in a very selective internship program which included my internship on Capitol Hill for a Representative and a series of seminars from current/former government officials. Additionally, I participated in my school's ethics bowl team (think debate but focused solely on ethical issues). Finally, I received an outstanding graduate award from my college and participated in two separate academic conferences (not related to the program I am applying for). 

My non-relevant work experience includes working in IT/Web Development for about a year, working in logistics for about 6 months, and working in Artist Relations within the entertainment industry.

As GWU's MPA program is GRE optional I was thinking about forgoing taking the GRE (I simply don't have the time to properly study for it at the moment)-- is this going to harm my chances in a significant way?

I could very likely get a letter of recommendation from a politician if the ones I currently have lined up don't seem that great-- would that be worth doing?

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Schools Applying to: GWU Elliot, American SIS, Cornell CIPA, Heinz, UT LBJ, Duke Sanford?, Fletcher?
Undergraduate institution: Big commuter school between 150-200
Undergraduate GPA: 3.25 (3.85 last 60 hours)
Undergraduate Major: History
GRE Quantitative Score: 155
GRE Verbal Score: 164
GRE AW Score: 4.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3 (4 upon enrolment)
Years of Work Experience: 3
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 years Peace Corps as a health volunteer, 3 months Peace Corps in a different country that was ended early, 3 months Global Health Internship, 2 months temping for a well known US NGO
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Still writing, but am relatively confident it will be strong
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Should have a strong one from Peace Corps supervisor and from the country director. I'm a bit worried about one from a professor, as I'm a few years out of school and never developed strong relationships with any to begin with

My 2 primary concerns are my lack of a strong quantitative background (coupled with a mediocre GRE quant), and my low GPA. I'm currently in Peace Corps, and don't expect to have another opportunity to take the GRE, and won't be able to take any math or Econ classes until June-ish (so after this admissions cycle). I haven't been able to find info as to whether these programs take improvement and upper division grades heavily into account? Will dramatically improved grades my junior and senior year make-up for the not great GPA if coupled with an explanatory addendum? Is it worth applying to Fletcher/Duke/Heinz?

I should also note that the schools I'm applying to are heavily informed by which ones offer returned Peace Corps volunteers fellowships.

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On 9/14/2019 at 11:16 PM, sakshina said:

Target schools (Fall 2020): HKS (MPP), WWS (MPA), SAIS (MA/IDev), SIPA (MPA-DP), Harris (MPP), Berkeley (MDP), UPenn (MSSP+DA), Fletcher (MALD)

Aim: Transition from academia (RAship) to impact/implementation-oriented roles (e.g. NPO program management, work with multilaterals, in private sector consulting on social impact projects etc.)

Undergrad: Management grad from Top 20 Uni in India with GPA 5.52/7 (equivalent of letter grade B )

Postgrad: 1-year Diploma from top Liberal Arts university (mix of humanities coursework + a 10-month live project) with GPA 2.82/4

Relevant coursework: Micro (A-), Macro (B+), Business Stats (A+), Business Math (A), Operations Research (C), Postgrad Stats (C), Econ & PubPol (C), Pol Econ (F)

Work experience (excluding internships/volunteering): 2.5 years at the time of application (field research assistant for 2 DevEcon projects with 2 top US universities - one in an RCT setting, and the second being a qualitative study)

LoRs: Taking from the qualitative study profs (one's tenured and the other's an Asst. Prof.) + an internship supervisor at a top Indian think-tank - all 3 with excellent credentials 

GRE/TOEFL: Yet to appear

Concerns: Low GPAs overall/grades in quant, not rigorous quant/econ coursework, supervisor in RCT (quant focus project) declined to write LoR so not much diversity in recommenders, no publications despite academic projects

Does it make sense to apply to all of these schools or should I rule some out?

GRE 156V 158Q + TOEFL 111/120 (26S, 29W, 28R+L)

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Program Applying To: Georgetown McCourt MPP, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA, George Washington University MPP, American Uni MPP, U of Maryland MPP

Undergraduate institution: Private liberal arts better than 170 . . .
Undergraduate GPA: 3.5                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Major GPA: 3.7
Undergraduate Major: Economics
GRE: V: 170, Q: 160, AW: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3
Years of Work Experience: 1.7
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Data analyst at startup quant consulting firm
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Should be pretty strong. I can communicate well, and I'm (perhaps obviously) super interested in policy. I think I can leverage my quantitative work experience into a relevant qualification. 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): One from chair of undergrad department, one from founder/CEO of job at consulting job, one from executive methodology type at consulting job. Should all be positive. 
Other/Questions: Largely interested in how much funding folks think I can get. That, probably as for most, will be the primary determinant.

Thanks!

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Program Applying To: Georgetown SFS, American SIS, George Washington Elliot, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Notre Dame Kroc Inst, Columbia SIPA, Tufts Fletcher

Maybes: Princeton WWS, HKS

Undergraduate institution: small private liberal arts 
Undergraduate GPA: 3.7                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Undergraduate Major: International Politics
GRE: V: 168, Q: 154, Essay score not back yet
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 3
Years of Work Experience: 3 full time, additional part time throughout undergrad
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 yr. international development, 1 community dev. nonprofit
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Should be very strong, highlighting specifics from program that I'm interested in, individualized for each school 
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Chair of undergrad dept, former employer, overall I think these will be strong and describe specific things I can contribute to the programs
Other/Questions: I am really worried about my GRE quant because I haven't taken macro or micro economics and am unsure if it's high enough to make up for that. I have taken 2 econ course and 1 stats course and have done well in all of them but most programs specifically say they would like you to have macro and micro. Should I try to retake the GRE? I'm not sure I would do much better a second time with such a short window. Anyone know of winter term micro/macro online courses I could enroll in? Should I not bother applying to WWS/HKS? Would other schools on my list be out of reach due to quant as well? Any advice would help me a lot, thank you! 

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Program Applying To: Georgetown McCourt MPP/MSFS, SAIS, SIPA, HKS, Princeton WWS 

Undergraduate institution: State school
Undergraduate GPA: 3.7                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Major GPA: 3.7
Undergraduate Major: dual majors in Chemistry, Biology
GRE: V: 165, Q: 160, AW: 5.0
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 2
Years of Work Experience: 2
Describe Relevant Work Experience: Environmental Peace Corps Volunteer, Sustainability Director for University in undergrad
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): Very specific career plans, also detailing switch from hard sciences to policy, should read strongly
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Former professor/former director of the Bureau of Land Management, Peace Corps Country Director, Honors College Dean. All know me extremely well and sent me drafts of very positive letters. 
Other/Questions: Funding, strength of application given only full time work experience will be as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and I want to know thoughts on my competitiveness for the programs I am applying for. 

Also, I have never taken an econ course, but have strong quant background given my majors...will this negatively impact me?

Thanks!

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On 10/28/2019 at 2:37 AM, WorldsHappiestPerson said:

Is it worth applying to Fletcher/Duke/Heinz?

I can only speak about Heinz, but if you're concerned about your quant background, apply anyway. For what its worth, your GRE scores are in the average range for MSPPM. Additionally, students with so-so math backgrounds can be admitted conditional on completing a Quantitative Skills Summer Program before classes start.

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Hi all. Long time lurker on the forum, but am slowly putting my application together.

Program Applying To: MIA or the school's program equivalent  

Schools Applying To: Georgetown SSP/MSFS, Columbia SIPA, American SIS, UCSD GPS

Undergraduate institution: the other New York City school not named Columbia.
Undergraduate GPA: 3.2
Undergraduate Major: Political Science & Philosophy
GRE Quantitative Score: 156
GRE Verbal Score: 162
GRE AW Score: 4.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 6
Years of Work Experience:6
Describe Relevant Work Experience: internship experience at a major think tank, internship as a Congressional Aide. Professional experience in NYC government as a Policy Analyst with a focus on security operations and emergency planning (3 years). Federal Government analyst in emergency planning with multiple work trips around the country (3 years). Recently commissioned as a US Naval Reserve Officer in Intelligence (< 1 year). Was also a volunteer Director for a Foreign Policy group (~ 2 years).
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I am still drafting my SOP, but I will generally focus on my specific goals within the Defense community and how the degree is what I need to continue being successful.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): Strong recommendations from 1 previous employer (direct supervisor). 1 current supervisor/boss. 1 Military Officer (XO).
Other: I am thinking of re-taking the GRE to get higher 150's for the Quant and see if I can tack on 1-2 more points for Verbal, but I also was looking into an EdX and/or Coursera for Econ 101, Stats, GIS, etc courses to add to a quant resume.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

 

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McCourt MPP is crazy easy to get into (with scholarship) by comparison. I know people who had 3.4 GPA and 75th percentile GRE get some level of scholarship. You just need some competence of quant. I also met quite a few straight from undergrad. Just be warned though - the vast majority of people I know had mixed emotions to absolutely hated their experience (I am in the mixed emotions camp). Just google the Yelp review. 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad

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