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I will finish my undergrad program in May and I'm honestly looking at potentially making a complete education volte face (sorry mom and dad). I'm really interested in the distribution of our most limited resources intersecting with the fact that everybody's gotta eat, but also really interested in policy- I kind of shoved that aside when it came time to choose my undergrad in fear that I wouldn't be able to hack it. Now, a career in policy seems to play to my strengths a little more and I'm a lot more excited about where it could take me, though I know that's not everything. I was not seriously considering applying to grad school and was semi-content to be chained to an excel sheet of soybean prices somewhere deep in corn country for the rest of my life until I took my GRE two weeks ago and talked to some people. I'm really late to the game in applying to graduate schools and I would love any perspectives on a) if I wanted to pursue an MPP, what schools would I have a shot at? I have no frame of reference at all, but if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right! b) is this a good idea/any advice? If I go to grad school, it will be directly out of undergrad.

 

Program Applying To: MPP/Equivalent

Schools Applying To: No idea, please help! I'm applying for a few MS agricultural economics programs (would want to focus on policy, but I still think that would be very narrow in terms of career prospects), but honestly I'm not sure how competitive I am for them either

Undergraduate institution: T1 flagship state school
Undergraduate GPA: 3.85
Undergraduate Major: Agricultural Economics
GRE Quantitative Score: 162
GRE Verbal Score: 167 
GRE AW Score: 4.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 0
Years of Work Experience: 0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: very involved internship with a congressional committee (adored DC!), internship with a state government agency (involving federal grant programs, development, and agricultural policy), Director of Development for school's high-profile, student-run policy lecture series (responsible for obtaining $60k contributory funding goal, multiple policy symposia, had the Secretary of State for our major program this year. We've brought heads of state/Presidents/Cabinet members in the past, so it's pretty high caliber and I had exposure to a lot of different policy topics), represented school at higher education advocacy day at state legislature, finalist in a solution-pitch competition, and a handful of less-applicable other activities.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I think I have a relatively unique perspective and background to offer and that could be a strong point in my favor. I plan on talking about my experience relating nonpartisan policy issues to a 60k+ student body and learning from them, how my experience with resource distribution directly aligns with public policy as a whole, and how I've been quantitatively analyzing the effects of policies but I want to learn about the human factors too.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): One absolutely glowing from my internship supervisor, a policy professional. One from my quantitative analysis prof who has been a big proponent of my attending grad school so I think fairly strong letter, and one from a prof that doesn't necessarily relate to public policy but knows the enthusiasm I put into my work.
Other: Didn't study for the GRE at all-planning to retake!

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I would highly recommend working for a couple years before applying to policy graduate programs.  It will only strengthen your application.  Internships are great, but professional experience is better.  Your field sounds interesting, but will probably get into better programs with better funding with more professional work experience.  Also,  you will probably be on a better career path after you graduate if you have a couple years of work experience under your belt before you attend graduate school. Good luck! 

On 11/29/2019 at 10:00 PM, woodscommaelle said:

I will finish my undergrad program in May and I'm honestly looking at potentially making a complete education volte face (sorry mom and dad). I'm really interested in the distribution of our most limited resources intersecting with the fact that everybody's gotta eat, but also really interested in policy- I kind of shoved that aside when it came time to choose my undergrad in fear that I wouldn't be able to hack it. Now, a career in policy seems to play to my strengths a little more and I'm a lot more excited about where it could take me, though I know that's not everything. I was not seriously considering applying to grad school and was semi-content to be chained to an excel sheet of soybean prices somewhere deep in corn country for the rest of my life until I took my GRE two weeks ago and talked to some people. I'm really late to the game in applying to graduate schools and I would love any perspectives on a) if I wanted to pursue an MPP, what schools would I have a shot at? I have no frame of reference at all, but if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right! b) is this a good idea/any advice? If I go to grad school, it will be directly out of undergrad.

 

Program Applying To: MPP/Equivalent

Schools Applying To: No idea, please help! I'm applying for a few MS agricultural economics programs (would want to focus on policy, but I still think that would be very narrow in terms of career prospects), but honestly I'm not sure how competitive I am for them either

Undergraduate institution: T1 flagship state school
Undergraduate GPA: 3.85
Undergraduate Major: Agricultural Economics
GRE Quantitative Score: 162
GRE Verbal Score: 167 
GRE AW Score: 4.5
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 0
Years of Work Experience: 0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: very involved internship with a congressional committee (adored DC!), internship with a state government agency (involving federal grant programs, development, and agricultural policy), Director of Development for school's high-profile, student-run policy lecture series (responsible for obtaining $60k contributory funding goal, multiple policy symposia, had the Secretary of State for our major program this year. We've brought heads of state/Presidents/Cabinet members in the past, so it's pretty high caliber and I had exposure to a lot of different policy topics), represented school at higher education advocacy day at state legislature, finalist in a solution-pitch competition, and a handful of less-applicable other activities.
Strength of SOP (be honest, describe the process, etc): I think I have a relatively unique perspective and background to offer and that could be a strong point in my favor. I plan on talking about my experience relating nonpartisan policy issues to a 60k+ student body and learning from them, how my experience with resource distribution directly aligns with public policy as a whole, and how I've been quantitatively analyzing the effects of policies but I want to learn about the human factors too.
Strength of LOR's (be honest, describe the process, etc): One absolutely glowing from my internship supervisor, a policy professional. One from my quantitative analysis prof who has been a big proponent of my attending grad school so I think fairly strong letter, and one from a prof that doesn't necessarily relate to public policy but knows the enthusiasm I put into my work.
Other: Didn't study for the GRE at all-planning to retake!

 

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On 11/6/2019 at 8:09 PM, mtnbluejay said:

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!

 

On 11/6/2019 at 8:09 PM, mtnbluejay said:

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!

As long you can show quant experience, you'll be fine. I will recommend against McCourt though if you want to do things that are sustainability oriented. Aside from a troubling student culture, by virtue of Georgetown not having an environmental science program / engineering school / sustainability focus, it won't really sling shot you many places. The McCourt Energy and Environmental club is huge - and they can help you with networking - but not much beyond that.

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Programs applied (fall 2020): MPA-ID (HKS), MPA (WWS), MPA (SIPA), MPP (Ford)

Undergraduate (2004-07): University of Delhi, India (among top academic institutions in India)

Grade: No grades for this course; I underperformed in my undergrad becase of compelling financial constraints- 53% marks in absolute.

Undergrad Major: Economics Honours (entire course was focused on Economics only; we did not study anything else)

Graduation (2010-12): MBA from India's best MBA brand-IIM

GPA- 8.4/10 (Goldmedalist)

GRE Quant: 169

GRE Verbal: 155

GRE AW- 4.0

TOEFL: 110 (R-29, L-28, W-27, S-26)

Recipient of Foreign Fulbright Fellowship

Exp: Working with the Reserve Bank of India (Federal bank) for the last 7+ years; Joined as Manager- worked extensively in Financial Inclusion and Development planning. I played an instrumental role in bringing millions of underprivileged Indians in the fold of financial inclusion. I have highlighted this in my 'leadership' essay in HKS application. 

Besides, I also run my venture in reforming school-education in rural pockets of India, since 2015. Donated more than 60% of my salary for this cause and invested about 50000 USD to reform the education. I was invited as TEDx speaker for this initiative. My State Government requested RBI Governor to send me on deputation as Director (Education). During six months under this assignment, I have submitted 50-points reform agenda for the State of Uttar Pradesh which has population of 230 million people and more than 100000 schools.

I also founded a social responsibility club in IIM (MBA days) to fund the education of tribal children.

I have also worked extensively for polio-prevention and bringing vulnerable sex-workers into mainstream society. 

Strengths: Fulbright Fellow; Good academic record except undergrad (was state topper during school-days, and goldmedalist in MBA); Good quant score in GRE; Rich diversity in experience; Strong commitment for serving the humanity at large

Weaknesses: Poor Verbal score in GRE; Poor grades in undergrad

LOR: Two references from Chief General Managers (respectably senior positions) in RBI and one recommendation from Director of my MBA college.

 

(How competitive I am for admission and/or financial aid in HKS, WWS, SIPA and Ford?)

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On 11/1/2019 at 10:29 AM, tacos95 said:

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!

You will likely get money from McCourt (probably around 15K or so). I still recommend you go to Johns Hopkins SAIS - especially if you are interested in foreign affairs or anything remotely international. 

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Hello all. I graduated from undergrad in May 2019, did an overseas internship the summer after, and then started a research Fulbright. I did language training for my research at a top program from August to December and arrived at my research site in January and was supposed to continue until November 2020, but at the end of January I was evacuated from my host country and my Fulbright discontinued (I'm sure you can guess where my Fulbright was).

I am now re-evaluating my options and what I want to do next. I have already decided to solo travel abroad for the next couple of months, as this is something I've always wanted to do and I figure now is my chance (sure, not the most "professionally" fulfilling option, but I'm young and always wanted to do this). I am now also considering whether I should proceed with grad applications for the fall. I would need a large amount of funding to be willing to go.

 

Program Applying To: SAIS (either fully in DC or Hopkins-Nanjing), WWS, SIPA

Undergraduate institution: state school
Undergraduate GPA: 4.0
Undergraduate Major: International Economics & Chinese
GRE Quantitative Score: Not taken yet--planning to take this summer, anticipating high-ish scores? I usually do well on standardized tests.
GRE Verbal Score: N/A
GRE AW Score: N/A
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): little over half a year
Years of Work Experience: 0
Describe Relevant Work Experience: paid internship in Embassy right out of college for a summer. During college: paid internship at State in DC, undergraduate TA, manager of undergraduate Chinese tutoring program, internship at local World Trade Center and U.S. Commercial Service
Quant: undergrad econometrics + intermediate macro/micro, some economic research experience

Strengths: lots of international experience and won many competitive State scholarships (Boren, Critical Language Scholarship, Fulbright), fairly interesting story, good academic recommendations and likely one good professional recommendation

 

Would it be in my best interest to try and find a full time job this summer? I have considered teaching English full-time abroad as a way to keep being abroad for a bit and also gaining some professional experience. Should I hold off on applying to these schools at all this fall, and just plan on applying fall 2021 when I'll likely have more professional experience? My main interest is in getting solid funding. Thank you guys for your patience and advice.

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Program Applying to: American SiS MA, George Washington MAIA, Tufts MALD, Columbia SIPA, Princeton WW MA, John Hopkins SAIS, Harvard MPP

Undergraduate Institution: State School

Undergraduate GPA: 3.3

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

GRE: Have not taken yet, however my last practice was a 160V 157Q

 Years Out of Undergrad:  At the time of applying, it'll be 2 years.

Years of Work Experience:  2

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Interned with the Lieutenant Governor of my state for a year, and I will either being doing a 10 month service with AmeriCorps or interning for the Carter Center this fall.

Other notable experience: Two different study abroad programs, one to Peru and one to three different countries in Africa. I also was a board member of 4 different clubs, The Pakistani SA, Muslim SA, Balkan SA, and Pharmacology Club.

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

Program Applying to: American SiS MA, George Washington MAIA, Tufts MALD, Columbia SIPA, Princeton WW MA, John Hopkins SAIS, Harvard MPP

Undergraduate Institution: State School

Undergraduate GPA: 3.3

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

GRE: Have not taken yet, however my last practice was a 160V 157Q

 Years Out of Undergrad:  At the time of applying, it'll be 2 years.

Years of Work Experience:  2

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Interned with the Lieutenant Governor of my state for a year, and I will either being doing a 10 month service with AmeriCorps or interning for the Carter Center this fall.

Other notable experience: Two different study abroad programs, one to Peru and one to three different countries in Africa. I also was a board member of 4 different clubs, The Pakistani SA, Muslim SA, Balkan SA, and Pharmacology Club.

 

 

 

So the big unknown here is how many quant classes you have taken. I think you are not competitive for Harvard MPP, Princeton WW MA straight off the bat between with GPA, school caliber, and GRE in consideration. Your career experience may help you about depending on if you are rockstar at Ameri-Corp or not. 

If you were a quant Political Science guy who took really hard math classes + Econ classes with publications + honors thesis behind you, you might barely eek out SAIS, SIPA, Fletcher if COVID-19 continues to deliver bad years for grad school.

GW and SIS seems to be an attainable, though still challenging target.

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9 hours ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

Program Applying to: American SiS MA, George Washington MAIA, Tufts MALD, Columbia SIPA, Princeton WW MA, John Hopkins SAIS, Harvard MPP

Undergraduate Institution: State School

Undergraduate GPA: 3.3

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

GRE: Have not taken yet, however my last practice was a 160V 157Q

 Years Out of Undergrad:  At the time of applying, it'll be 2 years.

Years of Work Experience:  2

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Interned with the Lieutenant Governor of my state for a year, and I will either being doing a 10 month service with AmeriCorps or interning for the Carter Center this fall.

Other notable experience: Two different study abroad programs, one to Peru and one to three different countries in Africa. I also was a board member of 4 different clubs, The Pakistani SA, Muslim SA, Balkan SA, and Pharmacology Club.

 

 

 

Agree with @GradSchoolGrad in the assessment, will add a few thoughts...

Personally, I wouldn't bother applying to WWS MPA or HKS MPP. The former is free, attracting strong competition -- individuals with solid WE and high GPA/GRE breakdowns. Anecdotally, I don't know the positions WWS MPAs end up accepting, as I have never met one on the job. Have met several WWS undergrads, though.

HKS MPP has shifted in the past years from a program that values public service over everything else, to one that values prior private sector experience. I believe the new dean ushered this change. It also seems that WE is slowly becoming less important in favor of high GPA/high GRE -- making the process akin to law school admissions.

SAIS, SIPA and Fletcher are stretches. Someone that I know attended a SAIS webinar this year, during which they shared the MA admitted students' stats. They are as follows:

GPA 25% - 75% range is 3.35 - 3.8. The average GRE is a 320 (pretty even splits).

SIPA and Fletcher probably have somewhat similar numbers, except that SIPA applicants have stronger work experience before applying -- probably more in tune with the WE reqs at HKS.

Honestly, I would take a look at UChicago Harris, as they give preferential treatment during their application process to Americorps alums. I would accept the Americorps job and position myself to apply to Harris, but that's just me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Mppirgradschool said:

Agree with @GradSchoolGrad in the assessment, will add a few thoughts...

Personally, I wouldn't bother applying to WWS MPA or HKS MPP. The former is free, attracting strong competition -- individuals with solid WE and high GPA/GRE breakdowns. Anecdotally, I don't know the positions WWS MPAs end up accepting, as I have never met one on the job. Have met several WWS undergrads, though.

HKS MPP has shifted in the past years from a program that values public service over everything else, to one that values prior private sector experience. I believe the new dean ushered this change. It also seems that WE is slowly becoming less important in favor of high GPA/high GRE -- making the process akin to law school admissions.

SAIS, SIPA and Fletcher are stretches. Someone that I know attended a SAIS webinar this year, during which they shared the MA admitted students' stats. They are as follows:

GPA 25% - 75% range is 3.35 - 3.8. The average GRE is a 320 (pretty even splits).

SIPA and Fletcher probably have somewhat similar numbers, except that SIPA applicants have stronger work experience before applying -- probably more in tune with the WE reqs at HKS.

Honestly, I would take a look at UChicago Harris, as they give preferential treatment during their application process to Americorps alums. I would accept the Americorps job and position myself to apply to Harris, but that's just me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAIS's class profile on their website says that their 75th percentile GRE is 159V 153Q, I didn't think it would be an even 160, damn.

SAIS, SIPA and Fletcher are actually my top choices so this is a little bit disheartening to hear. I wasn't a quant heavy poli sci guy, so I think that makes my chances over there even worse. SAIS especially is my top choice, but now I don't know what I should be doing to make it more attainable other than taking another year off.

But thanks for the UChicago Harris mention, I actually just forgot to put it in my application but I didn't know they gave preferential treatment to Americorps alum.

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6 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

So the big unknown here is how many quant classes you have taken. I think you are not competitive for Harvard MPP, Princeton WW MA straight off the bat between with GPA, school caliber, and GRE in consideration. Your career experience may help you about depending on if you are rockstar at Ameri-Corp or not. 

If you were a quant Political Science guy who took really hard math classes + Econ classes with publications + honors thesis behind you, you might barely eek out SAIS, SIPA, Fletcher if COVID-19 continues to deliver bad years for grad school.

GW and SIS seems to be an attainable, though still challenging target.

I was not a quant poli sci guy so this is a little bit disheartening to hear, but still, thanks for your advice! Yeah Harvard MPP and WW I kind of just listed because I planned on applying to all of the top 10 IR schools.

So SAIS is my top choice for schools. If I'm not a quant heavy poli sci major, what could I do to increase my chances? I do plan on doing everything I can to get into their good graces, like attending a class, scheduling an interview, etc., but do you have any advice as to what to do to make myself more competitive?

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29 minutes ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

I was not a quant poli sci guy so this is a little bit disheartening to hear, but still, thanks for your advice! Yeah Harvard MPP and WW I kind of just listed because I planned on applying to all of the top 10 IR schools.

So SAIS is my top choice for schools. If I'm not a quant heavy poli sci major, what could I do to increase my chances? I do plan on doing everything I can to get into their good graces, like attending a class, scheduling an interview, etc., but do you have any advice as to what to do to make myself more competitive?

Before we even talk about getting into their good graces, we need to talk about passing minimum barrier to get in period. Right now, regardless of how competitive the applicant pool is due to COVID-19, I suspect that an admissions person would easily move your application to the reject pile out of legitimate concern on your ability to graduate. This is just by virtue of how weak your quaint background is with relatively little work experience.

Of all the IR schools, SAIS, is arguably the most quant heavy and pretty famous for it. If you only have a year or so of work experience, and no quant experience above STAT 101, that would be really concerning. A big chunk of the course load is based off of econometrics. On top of that you need to acquire a level of fluency in foreign language to graduate. The only times in which they will take a gamble on you for have limited quant background is if you can tell a compelling story that you regularly utilized advanced data on the job over many years + survived in highly demanding work environments (like at least 5). Examples of this would be technology consultants, military personnel, and etc. 

On top of that you have a GPA on the lower side of things, limited work experience, and (to the best I know) no interesting wow factor --> being published/honors thesis/interesting fellowship/major scholarship of interest. These are things that would normally compensate you if I thought you were within the zone if being evaluated as viable for graduation, but at this point in my opinion, your viability to graduate SAIS is in question. 

My Thoughts:

1. If you want to go to grad school to get it out of the way + ride out the recession, you might have to realize that your ability to get into the power schools is extremely challenged. In my opinion, a target school for you fit wise would be like George Mason (which is pretty good problem, but obviously the brand is not like the rest). SIS and Elliot are reaches that you might have a shot at if you tell a compelling story + it turns out to be a weak application cycle.

2. If you want to have a remote shot in hell at a Power School, this is what you need to do.
a. get 5 years of solid work experience

b. Take quant classes and get at least an A- (I took them at Colorado State since I was like you a non-Quant Poli Sci Major). You need to at minimum do MicroEconomic and Stats. If you brush up on Econometrics --> Great... 

c. (Not necessary, but really improves your chances) Get some sort of scholarship/fellowship/on some major press publication/award/being published 

3. The one way you might get out of this is go to a top school abroad --> think UK where quant matters less (at least for now). Oxford/Cambridge/LSE --> you won't be considered a risk for graduation + they will be suffering from weak application pools with both Brexit and recessionary factors (my estimate, I could be wrong). 

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9 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Before we even talk about getting into their good graces, we need to talk about passing minimum barrier to get in period. Right now, regardless of how competitive the applicant pool is due to COVID-19, I suspect that an admissions person would easily move your application to the reject pile out of legitimate concern on your ability to graduate. This is just by virtue of how weak your quaint background is with relatively little work experience.

Of all the IR schools, SAIS, is arguably the most quant heavy and pretty famous for it. If you only have a year or so of work experience, and no quant experience above STAT 101, that would be really concerning. A big chunk of the course load is based off of econometrics. On top of that you need to acquire a level of fluency in foreign language to graduate. The only times in which they will take a gamble on you for have limited quant background is if you can tell a compelling story that you regularly utilized advanced data on the job over many years + survived in highly demanding work environments (like at least 5). Examples of this would be technology consultants, military personnel, and etc. 

On top of that you have a GPA on the lower side of things, limited work experience, and (to the best I know) no interesting wow factor --> being published/honors thesis/interesting fellowship/major scholarship of interest. These are things that would normally compensate you if I thought you were within the zone if being evaluated as viable for graduation, but at this point in my opinion, your viability to graduate SAIS is in question. 

My Thoughts:

1. If you want to go to grad school to get it out of the way + ride out the recession, you might have to realize that your ability to get into the power schools is extremely challenged. In my opinion, a target school for you fit wise would be like George Mason (which is pretty good problem, but obviously the brand is not like the rest). SIS and Elliot are reaches that you might have a shot at if you tell a compelling story + it turns out to be a weak application cycle.

2. If you want to have a remote shot in hell at a Power School, this is what you need to do.
a. get 5 years of solid work experience

b. Take quant classes and get at least an A- (I took them at Colorado State since I was like you a non-Quant Poli Sci Major). You need to at minimum do MicroEconomic and Stats. If you brush up on Econometrics --> Great... 

c. (Not necessary, but really improves your chances) Get some sort of scholarship/fellowship/on some major press publication/award/being published 

3. The one way you might get out of this is go to a top school abroad --> think UK where quant matters less (at least for now). Oxford/Cambridge/LSE --> you won't be considered a risk for graduation + they will be suffering from weak application pools with both Brexit and recessionary factors (my estimate, I could be wrong). 

I've actually already taken Macroeconomics, Microeconomics and Stats classes, I got A's in all of them. 

Wouldn't Oxford/Cambridge/LSE be reaches for me though? If I can't get into Hopkins I would find it strange to be able to get into Oxford or Cambridge.

Where would you consider applying to if I wanted to gain more work experience? I don't mind taking another year or two to work before applying again (though I will still apply this year).

Thanks for all your help, I guess I really underestimated how difficult these schools are to get into.

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1. About Quant and SAIS... okay it improves your outlook knowing you took those classes, but your total GPA is still a 3.3. Maybe if you better explained what classes dropped your GPA so hard, that might help. If I was an admissions Officer and you had a 3.7, I might be willing to take gamble on you. I think the real way to quash any doubts about your quant ability is to do a project or take a class (at reputable institution) that touches Econometrics (a more advanced Econ class would probably do the trick). Not to sound mean about it, but there are some State schools where the 100 level classes are not the rigorous (I know because I have met people who got As in their quant classes in undergrad and struggled at grad school level intro to econometrics). 

2. Harder to get into is relative. Given your lack of more intense quant (to the best of my knowledge), I find SAIS being really difficult for you. You are basically brushing up on something that there is some doubt of your ability to graduate from and you would be in the lower tier of competitiveness. With the UK schools, you might be on the lower tiers of competitiveness, but you aren't risking any doubt on your ability to graduate. 

The big unknown factor as I previously mentioned is the competitiveness of the applicant pool. Once you check the mark on believing that you can graduate, it is all about the pool of applicants and how competitive you are vs them. Historically, you would be uncompetitive, but like I said, I think market conditions with Brexit and Recession may be in your favor 2 years from now that you might legitimately have a shot to get into Oxford, Cambridge, and LSE (probably worst shot with LSE, and Cambridge might be your best). 

3. Say you had 4 years of solid work experience (lets just assume it was moderate in terms of quan... so you used a lot of excel sheets but no econometrics... and weaker (but not COVID-19 weak) average applicant pool --> i.e. 2015 application cycle).

I think for IR/MPP/MPA (and I bucket all three of these because they can all send you to jobs in IR), these would still be a reach, but might be at least marginally viable for acceptance:

In no order of anything:

1. Elliot School (probably one the most extreme reaches)

2. Cornell MPA - (probably your best option)

3. Duke Terry Sanford

4. McCourt MPP (although I wouldn't go here for IR... although it becomes a viable opportunity)

5. U. Chicago Committee on International Relations (probably tied as the the most extreme reach)

6. Stanford - Master in International Policy 

You targets:

1. George Mason

2. Middlebury Institute of International Studies (this is a bit of a hidden gem)

3. Penn State MIA 

 

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1 hour ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

2. If you want to have a remote shot in hell at a Power School, this is what you need to do.
a. get 5 years of solid work experience

5 may be a little on the high side. I right around 2, and managed to get into SAIS with significant funding. Granted, I was an Econ undergrad, but still, if work experience can be fairly technical (data analyst jobs are a clear step and seem to be growing out the wazoo), that may ameliorate quant deficiencies.

48 minutes ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

I've actually already taken Macroeconomics, Microeconomics and Stats classes, I got A's in all of them. 

This is a great step. I think an Econometrics course on the side (with an A) would really increase your profile.

Also, pound the GRE study materials and practice tests! This is something you have control over. Fellowships, getting papers published and getting an impressive job in the interim are all partially outside your control. But you can bump up your GRE scores if you put in the hours. Your starting points aren't too bad. But get a bunch of flashcards, and memorize every word on the Magoosh list. And the math stuff, buy a good used test prep book on eBay for $10 bucks, and do every problem until you know how to do it without hints. When I was studying, I took a full practice test every Saturday for like two and a half months. Do that. I know it sounds like a drag (it is), but if you really want to get into an elite school, it could be worth it. If you tack on 4-5 more points for verbal and quant each, you'll have fairly competitive scores. And as others have been mentioning around here, school seem to be weighting the GRE more, for good or ill.

Another possible way to get some quant rep, learn some Python or R, and make a website where you explain a question/issue/challenge and post some pretty charts. Topic may not even matter loads. Baseball could be fun. Maybe a Coursera certificate or two in one of those languages? May be BS, but I don't know if admissions can tell that. Not sure, but maybe others (@GradSchoolGrad) could speak to whether this could help. Just trying to think of things you can control. 

Edited by tacos95
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11 minutes ago, tacos95 said:

5 may be a little on the high side. I right around 2, and managed to get into SAIS with significant funding. Granted, I was an Econ undergrad, but still, if work experience can be fairly technical (data analyst jobs are a clear step and seem to be growing out the wazoo), that may ameliorate quant deficiencies.

This is a great step. I think an Econometrics course on the side (with an A) would really increase your profile.

Also, pound the GRE study materials and practice tests! This is something you have control over. Fellowships, getting papers published and getting an impressive job in the interim are all partially outside your control. But you can bump up your GRE scores if you put in the hours. Your starting points aren't too bad. But get a bunch of flashcards, and memorize every word on the Magoosh list. And the math stuff, buy a good used test prep book on eBay for $10 bucks, and do every problem until you know how to do it without hints. When I was studying, I took a full practice test every Saturday for like two and a half months. Do that. I know it sounds like a drag (it is), but if you really want to get into an elite school, it could be worth it. If you tack on 4-5 more points for verbal and quant each, you'll have fairly competitive scores. And as others have been mentioning around here, school seem to be weighting the GRE more, for good or ill.

Another possible way to get some quant rep, learn some Python or R, and make a website where you explain a question/issue/challenge and post some pretty charts. Topic may not even matter loads. Baseball could be fun. Maybe a Coursera certificate or two in one of those languages? May be BS, but I don't know if admissions can tell that. Not sure, but maybe others (@GradSchoolGrad) could speak to whether this could help. Just trying to think of things you can control. 

Man I wish I could get a job as a data analyst but I haven't been able to find a job yet.

And yeah, I will definitely be trying to score high on the GRE, I still have around a month left until I take it so I think my scores will only get better over time.

I will definitely be looking for opportunities to get some quant rep, as I realize how much I need it now. I was thinking about taking a Coursera course so I think I'll go ahead and try that!

Thanks for the advice!

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30 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

1. About Quant and SAIS... okay it improves your outlook knowing you took those classes, but your total GPA is still a 3.3. Maybe if you better explained what classes dropped your GPA so hard, that might help. If I was an admissions Officer and you had a 3.7, I might be willing to take gamble on you. I think the real way to quash any doubts about your quant ability is to do a project or take a class (at reputable institution) that touches Econometrics (a more advanced Econ class would probably do the trick). Not to sound mean about it, but there are some State schools where the 100 level classes are not the rigorous (I know because I have met people who got As in their quant classes in undergrad and struggled at grad school level intro to econometrics). 

2. Harder to get into is relative. Given your lack of more intense quant (to the best of my knowledge), I find SAIS being really difficult for you. You are basically brushing up on something that there is some doubt of your ability to graduate from and you would be in the lower tier of competitiveness. With the UK schools, you might be on the lower tiers of competitiveness, but you aren't risking any doubt on your ability to graduate. 

The big unknown factor as I previously mentioned is the competitiveness of the applicant pool. Once you check the mark on believing that you can graduate, it is all about the pool of applicants and how competitive you are vs them. Historically, you would be uncompetitive, but like I said, I think market conditions with Brexit and Recession may be in your favor 2 years from now that you might legitimately have a shot to get into Oxford, Cambridge, and LSE (probably worst shot with LSE, and Cambridge might be your best). 

3. Say you had 4 years of solid work experience (lets just assume it was moderate in terms of quan... so you used a lot of excel sheets but no econometrics... and weaker (but not COVID-19 weak) average applicant pool --> i.e. 2015 application cycle).

I think for IR/MPP/MPA (and I bucket all three of these because they can all send you to jobs in IR), these would still be a reach, but might be at least marginally viable for acceptance:

In no order of anything:

1. Elliot School (probably one the most extreme reaches)

2. Cornell MPA - (probably your best option)

3. Duke Terry Sanford

4. McCourt MPP (although I wouldn't go here for IR... although it becomes a viable opportunity)

5. U. Chicago Committee on International Relations (probably tied as the the most extreme reach)

6. Stanford - Master in International Policy 

You targets:

1. George Mason

2. Middlebury Institute of International Studies (this is a bit of a hidden gem)

3. Penn State MIA 

 

Alright, well thanks for all the help you've given me. You've seriously kicked my ass about what my expectations were versus the reality of my situation, which is that I should've taken more quant classes. I'm still gonna take the GRE, hopefully kill it, and apply anyways, just because I was so set forth with applying this fall, but atleast I know what I should be doing in case I don't get in anywhere, which apparently is a likely possibility.

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27 minutes ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

Alright, well thanks for all the help you've given me. You've seriously kicked my ass about what my expectations were versus the reality of my situation, which is that I should've taken more quant classes. I'm still gonna take the GRE, hopefully kill it, and apply anyways, just because I was so set forth with applying this fall, but atleast I know what I should be doing in case I don't get in anywhere, which apparently is a likely possibility.

I think you are conflating undergrad admissions with grad school admissions. In undergrad admissions, the common app makes everything easier. There is no common app for grad school. That being said, I recommend you think about letter of recommendation conservation. This is what I'm talking a bout:

Context:

For most people (especially those with limited work experience + only undergrad), you probably have 2 to 3. people that can write you a solid letter of recommendation. Lets just say they like you and they will probably be happy to write you 2 each and then after that they get super annoyed at you. So that means, at a best case scenario, you have 6 letters of recommendation to float around with. Most schools I know require 2 to 3 letters.

Problem:

If you apply to Harvard MPP, WWS, and SAIS and don't get it, well you just lost most if not all your letter of recommendation providers. 

I went to grad school with 8 years of work experience, and applied to 4 schools and 2 Fellowships and a big reason for that number was how many letters of recommendation I knew I had in my pocket.

Recommendation:
Don't blow your letter of recommendations + time + effort on schools you have next to no chance just because you want to gamble the dice. Conserve your letter of recommendations for your reach schools + target schools and not impossible schools.

Btw... if you have any doubt of what I am putting down, just go on LinkedIn and look at the resumes of people in the schools of interest. 

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3 hours ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

SAIS's class profile on their website says that their 75th percentile GRE is 159V 153Q, I didn't think it would be an even 160, damn.

https://sais.jhu.edu/academics/degree-programs/master-degrees/master-arts-ma/class-profile-ma

SAIS MA's 75th % for enrolled students is 163 V and 164 Q. The numbers the webinar showed were for admitted students, which are always slightly higher than the values for enrolled.

One thing you have to understand about a school like SAIS -- i.e. an elite, large IR program -- and programs similar to it -- i.e. SIPA -- is how their student body is composed, and what that means for funding. To make a breakdown that is easy to understand, let's suppose that there are 3 tiers of SAIS students -- which is probably accurate.

a) Tier 1 is comprised of the top students at SAIS/SIPA. These are students that have multiple, well-funded offers from several elite schools. They have strong WE, great GPA/GRE and chose the program they are at because the funding was generous. They will contribute greatly to the class and can draw from their experiences to elevate discussion. The only exception to this are Rangel, Pickering and Payne fellows that will get additional funding to their scholarship (i.e. full funding) and many come with little to no prior WE. I think these programs should have a full time WE prerequisite in order to apply because the best FSOs are those with perspective and humility that comes from experience, but alas, that's a different conversation.

b) Tier 2 is composed of solid students that have one blemish on their application, either weak WE, GPA or GRE, but excelled in the other portions of their application. They will get minimal funding, if any, and generally contribute to the class. They will also be ready to hit the ground running and have a bit of a "chip on their shoulder", attributes that I think are very positive, and encourage healthy competition.

c) Tier 3 are students that barely made the cut and were accepted because schools have to pay bills, and view these students as ATM machines. They pay full sticker price and the class would not hurt, some can argue it would be enhanced, if they weren't accepted.

My advice to you, if you want to get into SAIS and potentially get some $, is to get full time WE for 2 more years and knock the GRE out of the park. Having to pay $160,000 to join one of these programs is nuts.

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2 minutes ago, Mppirgradschool said:

https://sais.jhu.edu/academics/degree-programs/master-degrees/master-arts-ma/class-profile-ma

SAIS MA's 75th % for enrolled students is 163 V and 164 Q. The numbers the webinar showed were for admitted students, which are always slightly higher than the values for enrolled.

One thing you have to understand about a school like SAIS -- i.e. an elite, large IR program -- and programs similar to it -- i.e. SIPA -- is how their student body is composed, and what that means for funding. To make a breakdown that is easy to understand, let's suppose that there are 3 tiers of SAIS students -- which is probably accurate.

a) Tier 1 is comprised of the top students at SAIS/SIPA. These are students that have multiple, well-funded offers from several elite schools. They have strong WE, great GPA/GRE and chose the program they are at because the funding was generous. They will contribute greatly to class discussion and can draw from their experiences to elevate class discussion. The only exception to this are Rangel, Pickering and Payne fellows that will get additional funding to their scholarship (i.e. full funding) and many come with little to no prior WE. I think these programs should have a full time WE prerequisite in order to apply because the best FSOs are those with perspective and humility that comes from experience, but alas, that's a different conversation.

b) Tier 2 is composed of solid students that have one blemish on their application, either weak WE, GPA or GRE, but excelled in the other portions of their application. They will get minimal funding, if any, and generally contribute to the class. They will also be ready to hit the ground running and have a bit of a "chip on their shoulder", attributes that I think are very positive, and encourage healthy competition.

c) Tier 3 are students that barely made the cut and were accepted because schools have to pay bills, and view these students as ATM machines. They pay full sticker price and the class would not hurt, some can argue it would be enhanced, if they weren't accepted.

My advice to you, if you want to get into SAIS and potentially get some $, is to get full time WE for 2 more years and knock the GRE out of the park. Having to pay $160,000 to join one of these programs is nuts.

Oh that's my bad, I was looking at the MAIA class profile. 

Alright, so I guess I will try for another year of work after doing a stint with AmeriCorps. Though I may still apply for UChicago, knowing that they give preference to AmeriCorps alum.

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2 hours ago, tacos95 said:

5 may be a little on the high side. I right around 2, and managed to get into SAIS with significant funding. Granted, I was an Econ undergrad, but still, if work experience can be fairly technical (data analyst jobs are a clear step and seem to be growing out the wazoo), that may ameliorate quant deficiencies.

This is a great step. I think an Econometrics course on the side (with an A) would really increase your profile.

Also, pound the GRE study materials and practice tests! This is something you have control over. Fellowships, getting papers published and getting an impressive job in the interim are all partially outside your control. But you can bump up your GRE scores if you put in the hours. Your starting points aren't too bad. But get a bunch of flashcards, and memorize every word on the Magoosh list. And the math stuff, buy a good used test prep book on eBay for $10 bucks, and do every problem until you know how to do it without hints. When I was studying, I took a full practice test every Saturday for like two and a half months. Do that. I know it sounds like a drag (it is), but if you really want to get into an elite school, it could be worth it. If you tack on 4-5 more points for verbal and quant each, you'll have fairly competitive scores. And as others have been mentioning around here, school seem to be weighting the GRE more, for good or ill.

Another possible way to get some quant rep, learn some Python or R, and make a website where you explain a question/issue/challenge and post some pretty charts. Topic may not even matter loads. Baseball could be fun. Maybe a Coursera certificate or two in one of those languages? May be BS, but I don't know if admissions can tell that. Not sure, but maybe others (@GradSchoolGrad) could speak to whether this could help. Just trying to think of things you can control. 

So from what I understand, the only two ways you can demonstrate quant outside of existing school work is via:

A: Work experience. So hypothetically this ties into learning R or Python. However, you really need to demonstrate that you used R or Python to make a meaningful difference on a project to the point that it becomes a resume bullet. However, coding is a tool. What they are teaching at SAIS and etc. are the fundamental equations + baseline principles. Doing coding definitely has lots of value for many jobs and over time you get to appreciate the principles by doing project work. However, learning code in it of itself without a project to prove it doesn't really mean much. 

B: Academic history in an accredited school that gives you an official transcript. I love coursera and all, but it doesn't give you a University official transcript (unless something has changed of late). This is why I recommend going to Colorado State online to take Econ/Stats courses to fill gaps. Its in my opinion the best bang for buck + legitimate teaching. quality + decent enough brand. At the end of day, it doesn't matter how you demonstrate econometrics or the ability to learn it academically, but as long as you provide enough confidence to an admission person, then you are good. 

Also... by 5 years work experience, I mean particular to the person in question. Harvard MPP is letting in straight form undergrads now in response to Covid-19 pressures, but their LinkedIn profiles are crazy ridiculously awesome. Work experience can partially compensate for good but not good enough to go to a Power School GPA (also it depends on exactly what you do and how challenging it is perceived). 

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46 minutes ago, prospectivegrad2021 said:

Oh that's my bad, I was looking at the MAIA class profile. 

Alright, so I guess I will try for another year of work after doing a stint with AmeriCorps. Though I may still apply for UChicago, knowing that they give preference to AmeriCorps alum.

So there is U. Chicago MPP and U. Chicago Committee on International Relations (CIR). Both are opportunities to go to IR jobs.

HOWEVER, with Chicago MPP, they also have a premium on quant. Just because they have a preference for AmeriCorp (and I believe TFA too) doesn't mean they pull away their minimum bar standard (the do they believe you can graduate standard). I would say that the 3 most quant schools in the IR/MPP/MPA universe are U. Chicago MPP, WWS, and SAIS (in no particular order).

U. Chicago CIR will still have a minor stat component, but won't be crazy quant like U. Chicago MPP. I don't know if they have an Ameri-Corp / TFA preference or not.

Bottom line, if you are gonna struggle with SAIS due to quant requirements, you will struggle as much if not more with U. Chicago MPP from both a getting in perspective (questions on ability to graduate) + actually enjoying the program coming from a quant low side of the house. 

 

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To give you another perspective, I only have a GRE score of V159 and Q157 and still got accepted by SAIS with 40k funding as well as SIPA and HKS. 

I’d recommend to apply to less schools as it takes a lot of time and effort to tailor your application to each of the schools and each one comes at a cost of roughly $100. It’s only useful if you have a well funded offer and want to leverage it against another offer. 

I graduated in 2018 so I only had 1,5 years of experience when I applied. I’m not sure about your quant background as I did economics in my undergrad but I’d just like to encourage you and say that the GRE score isn’t everything and I know that SIPA and SAIS both have students straight from undergrad, SAIS even more than SIPA.

Regarding the recommendation letters, I had 3 recommenders in total and I think it wasn’t a problem to ask them submit 6 letters each. It’s actually just changing the name of the school and uploading the letter but do make sure to give them enough time beforehand and a reminder whenever a deadline is approaching. 

It’s definitely not impossible to get admitted without that much work experience or an amazing GRE score.

All the best for your applications :)

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On 5/24/2020 at 1:01 PM, Yass said:

To give you another perspective, I only have a GRE score of V159 and Q157 and still got accepted by SAIS with 40k funding as well as SIPA and HKS. 

Your profile says you are in Germany, so I am assuming you are international. Would be interesting to disaggregate GRE score averages between international and domestic students. Those numbers seem fine/near average at SAIS/SIPA for an international student, but below average at HKS as they seem to disaggregate less for MPP admissions. 

This was a whacky year, and there is a chance that schools lowered their bar for admissions, especially when pulling international students from a waitlist, as schools are trying to achieve a diverse class and visa issues/external funding may have barred some international students from attending.

If policy/IR schools have followed the MBA decrease in application trend, the next couple of years will be incredibly competitive, as people try to ride this incoming economic crisis out.

 

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19 hours ago, Yass said:

To give you another perspective, I only have a GRE score of V159 and Q157 and still got accepted by SAIS with 40k funding as well as SIPA and HKS. 

I’d recommend to apply to less schools as it takes a lot of time and effort to tailor your application to each of the schools and each one comes at a cost of roughly $100. It’s only useful if you have a well funded offer and want to leverage it against another offer. 

I graduated in 2018 so I only had 1,5 years of experience when I applied. I’m not sure about your quant background as I did economics in my undergrad but I’d just like to encourage you and say that the GRE score isn’t everything and I know that SIPA and SAIS both have students straight from undergrad, SAIS even more than SIPA.

Regarding the recommendation letters, I had 3 recommenders in total and I think it wasn’t a problem to ask them submit 6 letters each. It’s actually just changing the name of the school and uploading the letter but do make sure to give them enough time beforehand and a reminder whenever a deadline is approaching. 

It’s definitely not impossible to get admitted without that much work experience or an amazing GRE score.

All the best for your applications :)

I think you have to appreciate some things about yourself.

1. Your GRE scores are good enough, so it becomes a non-issue. 

2. I am assuming your work experience is rather interesting and unique just by virtue of not being American / from Asia

3. You were an Econ undergrad --> that is the best major to have (tied with stats) to go into quant heavy IR/MPP/MPA programs because you are automatically seen more as an asset who can run with the class material right away.

4. By virtue of being German, that makes you unique. In most grad schools I visited, the European contingent of international students was far smaller than Asia / Latin America, and even the Canadian contingent sometimes. I believe SAIS has a larger European community than most. However, it is a uniqueness factor that works to your advantage. 

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