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Hi everyone. I am interested in data science field and applied to mostly Business Analytics programs in 2020 Fall and got offers from UCSD, UCD, WashU, CMU-A etc. While I accepted offers from UCSD and WashU, I decided to take a gap year before starting graduate study. Also I decide to re-apply for more data science related programs in 2021 fall and see if I could get better offers than UCSD/WashU. So my school list goes a little bold this year. My strengths and weakness are both obvious, I have really low GPA(mostly due to poor maths grades) but abundant relevant internship experience in top-tier firms. Your suggestion would mean a lot to me.

Considering applying to: 
UCB IEOR MEng, CMU MISM, Columbia QMSS-DS, Chicago Master of Analytics, UCLA MEng-DS, Duke MIDS, Brown DS, Cornell

Undergrad Institution: Top 2 in China, ranked 30~50 globally

Undergrad Major: Econ/Finance

Years out of undergrad: 0.5 (just graduated this fall)

GPA: 3.34/4.0 (3.5 in last two semesters)

GRE: 159(V)/167(Q)/3.5(W)

Quant Background: Calculus I and II, Linear Algebra, Stats and Prob, Database management, Introduction to Computing.

Programming Background: Learnt computer programming course in python and database management. Mainly used SQL and python at work.

Relevant Work Experience: 6-month internship in Bain as a consulting assistant. 6-month internship in Amazon as a business analyst. Currently a data science intern in LinkedIn. 

Languages: Fluent oral English. TOEFL 108

International experience: Studied at UC Berkeley for one semester and got 4.0 GPA. Led a shot-term summer exchange program with Kyoto Univ. in Japan.

Strength of LOR: Expecting strong recommendation from former employers and professors.

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19 hours ago, rafee1493 said:

Hi everyone, New member here. I'd really appreciate if anyone could suggest some MPP/MPA/Masters in International Development Programs in US where I have a very good shot at getting in. I am based in Bangladesh, and Financial Aid/RA/TA are extremely crucial for me. However, if I do get into some of the top ones, I can consider taking loans. Here are my credentials:

Undergrad: BBA with CGPA 3.33

MicroMasters on Data, Economics, & Development Policy (DEDP) from MIT

GRE: Quant: 168, Verbal: 155, AWA: 4.5

TOEFL: 119

4+ Years experience of working in a non-profit/development sector. I have a solid project management experience, 4/5 conference papers, 7/8 op-eds & research articles for newspapers & online journals and 3 book chapters.

I also have a couple of good recommendations. My quantitative skills are quite good and would prefer programs that focus more on the quantitative part. 

Thanks in Advance.

This is the inherent conflict that you have. In the grand scheme of things, there are very few IDEV specific Masters programs, and they all housed in the better Policy/IR programs. I can't think of an IDEV focused program that actually have a track record of delivering people to IDEV jobs at the lower tier programs. Now, I can think of MPP programs that focus on domestic policy management at lower tier schools, but that a is clearly not what you are interested in. 

Yes, there are all these new programs out there like MIT's DEDP program and some of them come with the background of a prestigious University. HOWEVER --> This is the problem --> At best you might some professors with professional connections. HOWEVER, you do not have a coherent and systematic large scale program that is used to supporting people transitioning into IDEV careers. Yes, you will have MIT on your resume, but you won't have the network, the experiences, and the socialization in the field to make you truly successful in IDEV. If you want to apply to all these new programs or IDEV adjacent programs to best support your wife - got it. However, I cannot think of a full IDEV program that is mid-tier or lower tier.

I honestly can't even think of a lower tier graduate school in the MPP/MPA/IR space that could give you a full scholarship anywhere (because those tend to be poorer schools too and/or poorer programs. But who knows! - maybe you might get lucky

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On 12/6/2020 at 3:25 AM, rafee1493 said:

Hi, Thank you so much for such a detailed response. Answering your questions one by one

1. Finance Major

2. I did have 3/4 statistics, mathematics, calculus courses. I have also been working a bit in R. So, I was hoping that should count. From what I have checked o far, I do qualify for most MPP course (ID specialization included). 

3. I am more interested in international development, than domestic policy. I believe I can write a good story around that. My plan is to start working for INGOs/private sector consultancies once I graduate. I don't mind coming back to my country. Degrees from US schools are valued very highly back here, and do attract some good salaries. However, I would prefer to stay and work in US for a few years after graduation, to gain some diverse experience. 

4. My university is not internationally known (in terms of ranking). It's abysmal to be honest. However, it is the best business school in the country. There are a good chunk of students from every batch who gets accepted into the top US schools every year.   

5. I did receive grades for my degree at MIT. It counts equivalent to a semester worth of studies. So if I apply and get accepted in the DEDP program at MIT, I'll just have to complete 1 more semester, and a capstone project.  

Thank you also for sharing the details about the prospective salaries post-graduation. My wife is also applying for Phd in US, and we are trying to coordinate our applications such that my living costs can be covered by her stipend (same school/same city) as much as possible. I have a few seniors and friends who have been able to do something like this. As for scholarships, I know that it is extremely difficult, more so during this pandemic, in the top schools. So, I would appreciate if you could suggest some mid-tier schools that I may have a good chance of getting full-tuition scholarships. I'll be applying to schools of all categories make a decision afterwards. Also, I'll be applying in the first round for scholarship consideration. Apart from a few, most of them have a January 15 (or later) deadline. 

Thanks.

Might as well apply to the DEDP if you already did half of it. It's too recent a program for us to know whether its placements are any good but it's MIT's only development program, they're clearly interested in getting people from developing countries, and given the fact that J-PAL is based in MIT the connections are almost definitely there. 

The top development programs seems to be HKS's MPA/ID but funding for its students seems to be close to 0 and like GradSchoolGrad said, I'm not sure if it's a good idea to go over $100k in debt when job prospects aren't great (unless you are doing the joint degree with HBS, but that'll probably take you closer to $200k in debt). 

Princeton will give you a full ride  if you get in, and the econ track is pretty fantastic for development, but the issue there is getting in. You asked for a "very good shot of getting in" and while I wouldn't rule you out for Princeton it's definitely not a "very good shot" (you could be a Harvard College valedictorian and it still wouldn't be a very good shot). 

Harris seems to have decent funding, maybe check out their MPP?

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1 hour ago, InternationalStudent said:

Might as well apply to the DEDP if you already did half of it. It's too recent a program for us to know whether its placements are any good but it's MIT's only development program, they're clearly interested in getting people from developing countries, and given the fact that J-PAL is based in MIT the connections are almost definitely there. 

The top development programs seems to be HKS's MPA/ID but funding for its students seems to be close to 0 and like GradSchoolGrad said, I'm not sure if it's a good idea to go over $100k in debt when job prospects aren't great (unless you are doing the joint degree with HBS, but that'll probably take you closer to $200k in debt). 

Princeton will give you a full ride  if you get in, and the econ track is pretty fantastic for development, but the issue there is getting in. You asked for a "very good shot of getting in" and while I wouldn't rule you out for Princeton it's definitely not a "very good shot" (you could be a Harvard College valedictorian and it still wouldn't be a very good shot). 

Harris seems to have decent funding, maybe check out their MPP?

I think it is interesting a lot people from Policy side of IDEV (not so much IR side) want to get into J-PAL (and many talk about it like the holy grail of post MPP for IDEV). However, the people I encountered from J-Pal professionally and leaving it to go to grad school highlighted that it was interesting work but a pretty awful work environment (high stress personalities and not a collaborative work environment --> maybe I randomly talked to wrong people / the few that had terrible experiences. I will say that the 1 person I know personally really that went to J-PAL is not someone I want to work with or for. 

If anyone has any other commentary to give a more rounded perspective, that would be greatly appreciated. 

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21 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

I think it is interesting a lot people from Policy side of IDEV (not so much IR side) want to get into J-PAL (and many talk about it like the holy grail of post MPP for IDEV). However, the people I encountered from J-Pal professionally and leaving it to go to grad school highlighted that it was interesting work but a pretty awful work environment (high stress personalities and not a collaborative work environment --> maybe I randomly talked to wrong people / the few that had terrible experiences. I will say that the 1 person I know personally really that went to J-PAL is not someone I want to work with or for. 

If anyone has any other commentary to give a more rounded perspective, that would be greatly appreciated. 

I think that it's the sort of place where you go to cut your teeth. Kinda like how working at McKinsey sucks due to workload/hours but then once you're done you'll have McK in your resume and that'll open doors for you.

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3 minutes ago, 2711383 said:

I think that it's the sort of place where you go to cut your teeth. Kinda like how working at McKinsey sucks due to workload/hours but then once you're done you'll have McK in your resume and that'll open doors for you.

Yes. Its one thing to say that your work experienced sucked for long hours, but learned awesome skills (true for both), but the McK people actually talk highly about the people (in terms of culture, professionalness, and overall awesomeness). The J-Pal folks I know mention how awesome people are in terms of prestige and interesting work, but rather negatively so in terms of culture and professional development. 

*Comparing mental notes among my McK friends and J-Pal people I have met randomly

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3 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Yes. Its one thing to say that your work experienced sucked for long hours, but learned awesome skills (true for both), but the McK people actually talk highly about the people (in terms of culture, professionalness, and overall awesomeness). The J-Pal folks I know mention how awesome people are in terms of prestige and interesting work, but rather negatively so in terms of culture and professional development. 

*Comparing mental notes among my McK friends and J-Pal people I have met randomly

To be completely honest, the people I've met that work at McK always make it sound like a cult so I tend to take their ravings about the company with a grain of salt. 

I don't know anyone at J-Pal, though. I'm guessing the academic nature of the org has something to do with these issues as it has all the suckiness of academic professions.

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6 minutes ago, 2711383 said:

To be completely honest, the people I've met that work at McK always make it sound like a cult so I tend to take their ravings about the company with a grain of salt. 

I don't know anyone at J-Pal, though. I'm guessing the academic nature of the org has something to do with these issues as it has all the suckiness of academic professions.

So I actually don't know any current McK folks among my friends. I know former McK who are close friends who and happy to get real with me. Long story made short... the cultness might be a bit too much at times, but you are legitimately in a very collegial and supportive culture (though you are under the gun) + a great professional learning environment. 

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Hey everyone - 

Really just suffering from impostor's syndrome and hoping for some guidance on...me. What better place to go to than the internet. Need to know if I'm crazy with my reaches and whether or not I can get any funding at all. 

I'm interested in social policy. While I like urban policy and development, my interests are so scattered that social policy feels like a better umbrella. Really want to hone in my quant skills in grad school, which is why I'm going for more quant-focused MPP programs, despite my general weakness in the area. I'm also partial to international everything given my background. 

Applying to: Harris MPP, GWU MPP, Batten MPP, GM MPP, Ford MPP, Wagner MPA, American MA International Policy

Undergrad Institution: Mid-tier private school in the midwest

Undergrad Major: IR

Years out of undergrad: 4

GPA: 3.8/4.0

GRE: Didn't take it because of COVID and other circumstances. 

Quant Background: Not a lot. In undergrad I took micro, macro, and international political economy but that's it course-wise. On the bright side I work in M&E and have a bit of experience with data there. Otherwise, I'm pretty weak.

Relevant Work Experience: 2 years in M&E in International Development, over a year in a nonprofit think tank, worked abroad in multiple countries for various stints all under a year. My CV shines where international stuff, journalism, project management, and community development are concerned. Volunteering in a leadership position at a DC-based nonprofit remotely since early Fall. I have a couple government-funded scholarships I can point to in my CV I got during undergrad. 

Languages: Native English. Some Turkish. Intermediate German.

Strength of LOR: All strong from a professor and two supervisors. 

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1 hour ago, undergoat88 said:

Hey everyone - 

Really just suffering from impostor's syndrome and hoping for some guidance on...me. What better place to go to than the internet. Need to know if I'm crazy with my reaches and whether or not I can get any funding at all. 

I'm interested in social policy. While I like urban policy and development, my interests are so scattered that social policy feels like a better umbrella. Really want to hone in my quant skills in grad school, which is why I'm going for more quant-focused MPP programs, despite my general weakness in the area. I'm also partial to international everything given my background. 

Applying to: Harris MPP, GWU MPP, Batten MPP, GM MPP, Ford MPP, Wagner MPA, American MA International Policy

Undergrad Institution: Mid-tier private school in the midwest

Undergrad Major: IR

Years out of undergrad: 4

GPA: 3.8/4.0

GRE: Didn't take it because of COVID and other circumstances. 

Quant Background: Not a lot. In undergrad I took micro, macro, and international political economy but that's it course-wise. On the bright side I work in M&E and have a bit of experience with data there. Otherwise, I'm pretty weak.

Relevant Work Experience: 2 years in M&E in International Development, over a year in a nonprofit think tank, worked abroad in multiple countries for various stints all under a year. My CV shines where international stuff, journalism, project management, and community development are concerned. Volunteering in a leadership position at a DC-based nonprofit remotely since early Fall. I have a couple government-funded scholarships I can point to in my CV I got during undergrad. 

Languages: Native English. Some Turkish. Intermediate German.

Strength of LOR: All strong from a professor and two supervisors. 

So on paper you a decently strong candidate to get in. Funding could get interesting. With so many programs having financial issues and a surge in applicants + expect funding to lower end ($10K ballpark per year) to none. 

I think you need to appreciate where your weaknesses are:

- Not taking the GRE. Bottom line, if your clone applied with a 85 percentile GRE or above and compete for one seat, that person would get in and not you. The GRE is simply confidence of your academic performance. 

- Pure speculation here (and I could be totally wrong) --> but I'm assuming you my have struggled to clearly and concisely explain what policy area you are interested in. Usually when someone says socially policy broadly without highlighting an area of interest (Education/Housing/Food/Healthcare/and etc.) that to me is an indictor that your essay may have you all over the place. Admissions offices like to brand someone so they know what diversity or policy area bucket to place people in the interest of "building a class". Being difficult to bucket, can create problems for that system.

Schools In Particular: 

1. U. Chicago and Ford are the most quant challenging programs here. If you have Calculus and/or Econometrics in your transcript with a B+ or higher, you should be fine. If you don't have Calculus or Econometrics, you are in a more challenging place. Chicago will take risks on people with interesting background since they have a robust summer school program. You might fit that bill though. However, I really hope you like doing calc based econometrics (in my opinion it is a moot point in today's era of software) with these schools.

2. UVA Batten MPP - I love this program a lot. Just keep in mind that there is a noticeable cohort straight from undergrad. Historically, they have also been open to giving scholarships as well. 

3. George Mason MPP? - WHY? So this program has some cool professors that do research in really obscure yet interesting areas. However... the program experience is sub par + has major brand and career struggles. I actually knew people who went to this program just so they wouldn't have to socialize with their peers, knowing that have a non-existent community experience.

4. GWU MPP - this is an interesting program because they strongly emphasize doing internships in DC while you go to school. Helps with building your resume and dilutes the community experience.

5. NYU Wagner - great program - also struggles with community since NYC people generally have their own NYC lives. When I do the grad school talk with any Wagner person, biggest gripe is how there is little school alumni/peer support. 

6. American SIS - I wrote extensively about SIS before.

 

2. Schools I recommend you also consider

a. Duke Terry Sanford

b. UNC MPP (if you need an ultimate safety that is still respectable)

c. USC Price (if you have any interests in going out west)

d. Syracuse Maxwell 

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2 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

So on paper you a decently strong candidate to get in. Funding could get interesting. With so many programs having financial issues and a surge in applicants + expect funding to lower end ($10K ballpark per year) to none. 

I think you need to appreciate where your weaknesses are:

- Not taking the GRE. Bottom line, if your clone applied with a 85 percentile GRE or above and compete for one seat, that person would get in and not you. The GRE is simply confidence of your academic performance. 

- Pure speculation here (and I could be totally wrong) --> but I'm assuming you my have struggled to clearly and concisely explain what policy area you are interested in. Usually when someone says socially policy broadly without highlighting an area of interest (Education/Housing/Food/Healthcare/and etc.) that to me is an indictor that your essay may have you all over the place. Admissions offices like to brand someone so they know what diversity or policy area bucket to place people in the interest of "building a class". Being difficult to bucket, can create problems for that system.

Schools In Particular: 

1. U. Chicago and Ford are the most quant challenging programs here. If you have Calculus and/or Econometrics in your transcript with a B+ or higher, you should be fine. If you don't have Calculus or Econometrics, you are in a more challenging place. Chicago will take risks on people with interesting background since they have a robust summer school program. You might fit that bill though. However, I really hope you like doing calc based econometrics (in my opinion it is a moot point in today's era of software) with these schools.

2. UVA Batten MPP - I love this program a lot. Just keep in mind that there is a noticeable cohort straight from undergrad. Historically, they have also been open to giving scholarships as well. 

3. George Mason MPP? - WHY? So this program has some cool professors that do research in really obscure yet interesting areas. However... the program experience is sub par + has major brand and career struggles. I actually knew people who went to this program just so they wouldn't have to socialize with their peers, knowing that have a non-existent community experience.

4. GWU MPP - this is an interesting program because they strongly emphasize doing internships in DC while you go to school. Helps with building your resume and dilutes the community experience.

5. NYU Wagner - great program - also struggles with community since NYC people generally have their own NYC lives. When I do the grad school talk with any Wagner person, biggest gripe is how there is little school alumni/peer support. 

6. American SIS - I wrote extensively about SIS before.

 

2. Schools I recommend you also consider

a. Duke Terry Sanford

b. UNC MPP (if you need an ultimate safety that is still respectable)

c. USC Price (if you have any interests in going out west)

d. Syracuse Maxwell 

Thank you for this! Super insightful. I do know that my lack of GRE isn't spectacular, but I truly can't take it rn - hence why I'm really only applying to places that have waived it. 

Hahhaha, struggled is a strong word. I was just lazy. My SoPs are pretty strong, based on comments from friends and professors. I've found a way to map out my experiences to show the "why" through endless drafts. 

Thanks for putting the lack of quant and the general challenge of the curriculum I'd be facing at Harris and Ford bluntly. I hate to say it, but math camp might be a must. Then again it really does all depend on funding. 

UVA and GM are actually purely because I can get in-state tuition :) As you probably guessed, GM is a safety academically and financially. That's the only reason why. 

I hadn't considered the schools you listed because of my want to be on the East Coast in a bigger city; if I do go urban policy more than social, you gotta be urban, am I right? 

Your SIS commentary is interesting! I have friends that went to American and all said that SIS would be the way to go if I did go, but reading your commentary makes me wonder if it should be there at all!

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22 minutes ago, undergoat88 said:

Thank you for this! Super insightful. I do know that my lack of GRE isn't spectacular, but I truly can't take it rn - hence why I'm really only applying to places that have waived it. 

Hahhaha, struggled is a strong word. I was just lazy. My SoPs are pretty strong, based on comments from friends and professors. I've found a way to map out my experiences to show the "why" through endless drafts. 

Thanks for putting the lack of quant and the general challenge of the curriculum I'd be facing at Harris and Ford bluntly. I hate to say it, but math camp might be a must. Then again it really does all depend on funding. 

UVA and GM are actually purely because I can get in-state tuition :) As you probably guessed, GM is a safety academically and financially. That's the only reason why. 

I hadn't considered the schools you listed because of my want to be on the East Coast in a bigger city; if I do go urban policy more than social, you gotta be urban, am I right? 

Your SIS commentary is interesting! I have friends that went to American and all said that SIS would be the way to go if I did go, but reading your commentary makes me wonder if it should be there at all!

The way I view it, with the exception urban design and maybe public transportation, Urban Policy issues are best appreciated via its functional area (i.e. Ed Policy, Housing Policy, and etc.). This is because there are major linkages (i.e. funding from the State) and dependencies that are either a. broader than urban area and/or b. similarities to non-urban areas. Take education for example. If you were focusing on NYC Education, you would would find more academic transferability researching rural Colorado Education (I mean obviously there are differences) than thinking about it from an Urban prism. 

That being said - would there be an value to going to NYC and getting plugged into the local scene to then work in a New York social/urban policy related org afterwards - yes. However, in my opinion, it is better to go to a great MPP program (i.e. Duke Sanford) and the learn the holistic ins and outs off a functional area + learn how to be a real professional + build a cohort and alumni group that takes care of you + have a collaborative dynamic that helps you do research/applied achievements. 

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2 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

The way I view it, with the exception urban design and maybe public transportation, Urban Policy issues are best appreciated via its functional area (i.e. Ed Policy, Housing Policy, and etc.). This is because there are major linkages (i.e. funding from the State) and dependencies that are either a. broader than urban area and/or b. similarities to non-urban areas. Take education for example. If you were focusing on NYC Education, you would would find more academic transferability researching rural Colorado Education (I mean obviously there are differences) than thinking about it from an Urban prism. 

That being said - would there be an value to going to NYC and getting plugged into the local scene to then work in a New York social/urban policy related org afterwards - yes. However, in my opinion, it is better to go to a great MPP program (i.e. Duke Sanford) and the learn the holistic ins and outs off a functional area + learn how to be a real professional + build a cohort and alumni group that takes care of you + have a collaborative dynamic that helps you do research/applied achievements. 

That's fair. i think my only concern with Duke is that it's cut off from international arenas a bit more than NYU. Not just in terms of the school but the surroundings. All of the internships would be more concentrated in NYC, but....then it comes down to cost of living. I'll look more closely into Sanford though! Thank you :)

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6 minutes ago, undergoat88 said:

That's fair. i think my only concern with Duke is that it's cut off from international arenas a bit more than NYU. Not just in terms of the school but the surroundings. All of the internships would be more concentrated in NYC, but....then it comes down to cost of living. I'll look more closely into Sanford though! Thank you :)

you never really specified where international comes into play in regards to your decisions. 

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15 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

you never really specified where international comes into play in regards to your decisions. 

Well I work in international development and foreign policy. My undergrad degree is also in IR. I've done a bit of work abroad as well. I like the idea of working in US domestic development issues as well, but I want to keep my options open for international. It also feels like I'd have a better chance at a program if I create a narrative off of my international background, rather than focusing on domestic only. After all, that's not where my strengths lie. 

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Just now, undergoat88 said:

Well I work in international development and foreign policy. My undergrad degree is also in IR. I've done a bit of work abroad as well. I like the idea of working in US domestic development issues as well, but I want to keep my options open for international. It also feels like I'd have a better chance at a program if I create a narrative off of my international background, rather than focusing on domestic only. After all, that's not where my strengths lie. 

Okay got it. So UNC or Syracuse probably wouldn't be a good choice for you anymore (even as a safety). You would want to look with schools with International connections + strengths. Its actually interesting that schools like Duke Terry Sanford actually make more of an effort to invest in centers that gets students involved in international stuff to compensate for not being in a big International city. 

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8 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Okay got it. So UNC or Syracuse probably wouldn't be a good choice for you anymore (even as a safety). You would want to look with schools with International connections + strengths. Its actually interesting that schools like Duke Terry Sanford actually make more of an effort to invest in centers that gets students involved in international stuff to compensate for not being in a big International city. 

Good to know! I'll take a closer look at Duke. You've been so helpful, thank you!!

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Sorry for the spam, I thought this was a general profile evaluation thread and didn't realize it was focused on government affairs. 😂 I deleted the post and will check if there is a similar thread for science programs

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Applying to:  MPPs: UChicago Harris, Duke Sanford, GW (MPP), GW (Phd Program Eval concentration), Berkeley Goldman, UCLA, UW (MPA), George Mason Schar, Claremont Graduate University (Program Evaluation)

Undergrad Institution: Top ranked university in the US (sub IVY)

Undergrad Major: Psychology  and Social Ecology double major, certificate in Sustainability/environmental policy

Years out of undergrad: 10

GPA: 3.0

GRE: 144 Q/ 153 V, 4.5 W,  second time: 147 Q/149 V, 3.5 W, taking a third time, but probably not submitting.

Quant Background: Statistics; quant analysis of program data and financial systems 2-3 years.

Relevant Work Experience: During undergrad & after: 4 years as a research assistant at my university's policy lab where I collected and coded data, in part using various programming languages, and contributed to a published manuscript. Over 4 years jobs and internships with nonprofits, and 2 years as Data & eval Manager (extensive quant analysis), 1 Year as Data Analyst in HR (extensive system and programming tools)

-Contributor to published book

-Lead of evaluation nonprofit professional board (4 years)

International experience: Nonprofit community development in Africa. (yet Im not really interested in IDEV)

Strength of LOR:  3 ranging Decent to strong. One policy professor I took multiple courses with (Bs and Cs) plus research under him, one from Director of my department at nonprofit, and one from private research group (contract) research manager.

I'm interested in Evaluation and impact analysis, consulting for nonprofits and social policy research. I will practice applied research, evaluation, and advance learning tool.  I need social policy courses for advancing tech and behavioral health, for vulnerable populations (& poverty and family/children development), and education (interdisciplinary, but mostly social policy areas). Hope to remain as a generalist in Domestic policy, ideally in CA, and write/advocate policy in consumer protection, technological/info, applied behavioral health/psych areas, and early education <5.

I realize I'm applying to competitive programs, given the nature of this cycle, and am worried about (1) low GPA; (2) no GRE; (3) basically no quant courses. Main concerns:

 How does my background in evaluation and lack of direct policy experience affect chances?

What schools are best worth targeting for this? Will my work experience make up for gpa/coursework?  Should I take more courses in spring like econometrics, econ stats, or calc?

Thank you for any input and tips!

 

 

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3 hours ago, kreitz128 said:

Applying to:  MPPs: UChicago Harris, Duke Sanford, GW (MPP), GW (Phd Program Eval concentration), Berkeley Goldman, UCLA, UW (MPA), George Mason Schar, Claremont Graduate University (Program Evaluation)

Undergrad Institution: Top ranked university in the US (sub IVY)

Undergrad Major: Psychology  and Social Ecology double major, certificate in Sustainability/environmental policy

Years out of undergrad: 10

GPA: 3.0

GRE: 144 Q/ 153 V, 4.5 W,  second time: 147 Q/149 V, 3.5 W, taking a third time, but probably not submitting.

Quant Background: Statistics; quant analysis of program data and financial systems 2-3 years.

Relevant Work Experience: During undergrad & after: 4 years as a research assistant at my university's policy lab where I collected and coded data, in part using various programming languages, and contributed to a published manuscript. Over 4 years jobs and internships with nonprofits, and 2 years as Data & eval Manager (extensive quant analysis), 1 Year as Data Analyst in HR (extensive system and programming tools)

-Contributor to published book

-Lead of evaluation nonprofit professional board (4 years)

International experience: Nonprofit community development in Africa. (yet Im not really interested in IDEV)

Strength of LOR:  3 ranging Decent to strong. One policy professor I took multiple courses with (Bs and Cs) plus research under him, one from Director of my department at nonprofit, and one from private research group (contract) research manager.

I'm interested in Evaluation and impact analysis, consulting for nonprofits and social policy research. I will practice applied research, evaluation, and advance learning tool.  I need social policy courses for advancing tech and behavioral health, for vulnerable populations (& poverty and family/children development), and education (interdisciplinary, but mostly social policy areas). Hope to remain as a generalist in Domestic policy, ideally in CA, and write/advocate policy in consumer protection, technological/info, applied behavioral health/psych areas, and early education <5.

I realize I'm applying to competitive programs, given the nature of this cycle, and am worried about (1) low GPA; (2) no GRE; (3) basically no quant courses. Main concerns:

 How does my background in evaluation and lack of direct policy experience affect chances?

What schools are best worth targeting for this? Will my work experience make up for gpa/coursework?  Should I take more courses in spring like econometrics, econ stats, or calc?

Thank you for any input and tips!

 

 

So you are what I call an X-Factor candidate - as in, there is something unique about you that make you highly appealing for diversity in so many different ways, but you are weighted down by many negatives that you do accurately identify (an some you don't).

A. So first off, I want to highlight the information gaps.

1. Did you take Calculus or econometrics in College? (or AP equivalent in High school?) with a B+ or better - if it is a yes - that helps with showing your ability to graduate

2. With you Quant experience, is it coding only or does it involve calculus based econometrics? It isn't unheard of to learned calc and calc based econometrics on the job, but if that a is a yes, you need to specify it aggressively in the optional statement / recommendatioons

3. How do self-brand yourself in terms of policy? You give an entire buffet of things you are interested in (your buffet is somewhat unique though, which works in your favor!). However, big picture in 5 words or less:

i. What area of policy do you care most about?

ii. What functional aspect of policy do you care most about?

4. Demonstrable leadership?

Answering this helps me determine what you actually prioritize.

B. Your strengths that you don't realize

I would argue you have the best of both worlds in that you are unique enough that you wouldn't be seen as one of the many Teach for America, Capital Hill, Peace Corp, and etc. droves, and you would be seen as someone that is genuinely unique as a quant guy. Additionally, you may not have directly been applicable to policy, but you touched policy, so the natural sentiment would be your interest is genuine and not some guy fishing (unless your essays are awful).

C. The depths of your weaknesses 

1. Yes, your GPA is on the low side, but if you have a reasonable excuse - given your academic accomplishments, you can somewhat nullify the concern. Things like

i. You had a part time job in order to support yourself

ii. you were the first in your family to go to college

iii. you had an illness (physical, psychological, or otherwise) during school

iv. are you in an under-represented minority

You get the idea. If there are mitigating circumstances, you want to highlight it (but be honest).

2. I view your GRE to be your biggest weakness. The biggest cloud hanging over your application is if your ability to graduate. If you submitted strong GREs, that cloud is lifted and can overcome your poor GPA. However, if you don't submit your GRE and even if you have decent excuses for your GPA, your lack of GRE submission suggests you have something to hide. Non-competitive GRE submission means trend of non-high academic performance. Either way isn't good.

D. My thoughts on your schools

If you get scholarship funding anywhere (unless you are from a major targeted support cohort (first to go to college, URM, veteran, peace corp, and etc.) I would be shocked. 

I think the best you might be able to get in would be GW MPP. If you get into GM Scharr, you should just not go (or more like don't apply in the first place). 

Granted, there a lot of information gaps, so if you have significant factors that improve your standing, that assessment could change.

I always want to remind people about the celebrity Ashley Judd. She went to Harvard Kennedy School with an MPA in the late 2000s. Everyone thought she got in because she was a celebrity. However, everyone also forgot that she had an illustrious academic, leadership, and social career in undergraduate at the University of Kentucky (I think she might have went to the honors school - could be wrong). She ended up being an academic rock star at Harvard Kennedy School, and her classmates were shocked. My point is that even for celebs, professional experience needs to be matched by some decent level of academics because schools want Ashley Judd. 

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Hi all, piecing together where I stand for next cycle. Any West Coast schools I should consider? I’m kind of over winters. Would appreciate any recommendations. Thanks!

Applying to: HKS MPP, Georgetown SFS SSP, GW Elliott SSP, Tufts Fletcher MGA , NYU Wagner MSPP,

Undergrad institution: DMV area IR school

Undergrad Major: International Relations

Undergrad GPA: 3.5

Years out of undergrad: 2 (by the time I apply)

Quant Background: Calc I, Macro/Micro, Int’l Econ. Lowest was Int’l Econ at a B-.

Relevant Work Experience: 7 years as in the Nayv as an aircraft mechanic, worked my way up to supervisor/managed a couple programs. 1st internship with an aerospace & defense magazine for a summer. Following that, worked as a program assistant for an IDEV non-profit for a few months. Then interned at a think tank for a semester doing light research and writing a few articles. Spent my last semester working overnight as a library supervisor and interning at a veteran’s advocacy organization. Currently employed at an aerospace & defense company in their leadership training pipeline for global trade.

International Experience: 1 summer abroad in Taiwan on a a Taiwanese MoE scholarship, 1 summer abroad in China on a Gilman.

GRE: I haven’t taken it yet. I would also really rather not but if it makes me stronger than I'll put the work in.

Strength of LOR: A couple of professors would go to bat for me, one’s already done so much that they’re practically a mentor. Old supervisor at the veteran’s org is actually my mentor and will definitely sing my praises in every direction. I’ve worked with both of them before for successful scholarship applications so they’ve got me dialed in. Current supervisor I can’t say for sure but they haven’t said anything bad about what I’m doing so I’ve got that going for me.

Strength of SOP: Reason I left the Navy was because I couldn’t understand the tension in Asia at the time of my last deployment and figured implementing policy would keep more people safe than fixing airplanes. In my current position, ensuring access to the tools of security to our allies is how I perceive my job. To do it more effectively and to specialize I want to increase the depth of my knowledge and link up my industry and military experiences to the historic and policy backgrounds and create a near total picture of East Asian security.

Extracurriculars/Leadership: Previous supervisor experience, plus was designated on scene leader in case of emergency reclamation. Presented as part of a panel for student veterans and internships at a conference. Attended a symposium on cross-strait relations. Currently writing an article for an IR school’s security magazine.

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2 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

So you are what I call an X-Factor candidate - as in, there is something unique about you that make you highly appealing for diversity in so many different ways, but you are weighted down by many negatives that you do accurately identify (an some you don't).

A. So first off, I want to highlight the information gaps.

1. Did you take Calculus or econometrics in College? (or AP equivalent in High school?) with a B+ or better - if it is a yes - that helps with showing your ability to graduate

2. With you Quant experience, is it coding only or does it involve calculus based econometrics? It isn't unheard of to learned calc and calc based econometrics on the job, but if that a is a yes, you need to specify it aggressively in the optional statement / recommendations

3. How do self-brand yourself in terms of policy? You give an entire buffet of things you are interested in (your buffet is somewhat unique though, which works in your favor!). However, big picture in 5 words or less:

i. What area of policy do you care most about?

ii. What functional aspect of policy do you care most about?

4. Demonstrable leadership?

Answering this helps me determine what you actually prioritize.

B. Your strengths that you don't realize

I would argue you have the best of both worlds in that you are unique enough that you wouldn't be seen as one of the many Teach for America, Capital Hill, Peace Corp, and etc. droves, and you would be seen as someone that is genuinely unique as a quant guy. Additionally, you may not have directly been applicable to policy, but you touched policy, so the natural sentiment would be your interest is genuine and not some guy fishing (unless your essays are awful).

C. The depths of your weaknesses 

1. Yes, your GPA is on the low side, but if you have a reasonable excuse - given your academic accomplishments, you can somewhat nullify the concern. Things like

i. You had a part time job in order to support yourself

ii. you were the first in your family to go to college

iii. you had an illness (physical, psychological, or otherwise) during school

iv. are you in an under-represented minority

You get the idea. If there are mitigating circumstances, you want to highlight it (but be honest).

2. I view your GRE to be your biggest weakness. The biggest cloud hanging over your application is if your ability to graduate. If you submitted strong GREs, that cloud is lifted and can overcome your poor GPA. However, if you don't submit your GRE and even if you have decent excuses for your GPA, your lack of GRE submission suggests you have something to hide. Non-competitive GRE submission means trend of non-high academic performance. Either way isn't good.

D. My thoughts on your schools

If you get scholarship funding anywhere (unless you are from a major targeted support cohort (first to go to college, URM, veteran, peace corp, and etc.) I would be shocked. 

I think the best you might be able to get in would be GW MPP. If you get into GM Scharr, you should just not go (or more like don't apply in the first place). 

Granted, there a lot of information gaps, so if you have significant factors that improve your standing, that assessment could change.

I always want to remind people about the celebrity Ashley Judd. She went to Harvard Kennedy School with an MPA in the late 2000s. Everyone thought she got in because she was a celebrity. However, everyone also forgot that she had an illustrious academic, leadership, and social career in undergraduate at the University of Kentucky (I think she might have went to the honors school - could be wrong). She ended up being an academic rock star at Harvard Kennedy School, and her classmates were shocked. My point is that even for celebs, professional experience needs to be matched by some decent level of academics because schools want Ashley Judd. 

Thanks so much for your input. Glad to know that I seem diverse/unique in a way that could help. In response,

A 1-2: No calculus or AP math in school or out.  Only Stats, Poli Sci, and AP Gov in high school. Several research methods courses. There may have been aspects of econometrics in the field- quantitative time series analysis of program outcome data. 

A3: Noted Social policy vagueness, per posts above. Still hashing this out & have many ambitions. NOW: I want to practice social policy and program outcome evaluation to inform grantmaking and program development across areas of mental health and prevention of other illnesses (i.e. homelessness, poverty).  I would love to develop policy for innovation -tech, internet and media cognizant of prevention in health/behavior/mental illness.  My history in field demonstrates this. Still to vague?  You would be the third person stressing importance of policy specificity. Do you think I could just I tailor specifically for schools?  Struggling since Im interdisciplinary.

A4: Yes to leadership. Led volunteers for 4 years, Led agency wide trainings in data, systems, tools & evaluation. Facilitates training for professional development in field (i.e panels, workshops, business meetings)

B What parts should I highlight that touched policy best? courses? Ngo?

C. 1-3: "If there are mitigating circumstances, you want to highlight it (but be honest)." I had a part time job 15-20+ hours since freshman yr and will need to factor in somehow.  I had a major infection that made me bomb one of my written finals (not including). I also had a gap in employment due to surgery ( I will be noting). 

What recent facts do you have against Scharr? It was my safety. Would you be able to suggest a better safety?

Thanks again for your help. I greatly appreciate it!

 

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7 hours ago, ECCN9A102 said:

Hi all, piecing together where I stand for next cycle. Any West Coast schools I should consider? I’m kind of over winters. Would appreciate any recommendations. Thanks!

Applying to: HKS MPP, Georgetown SFS SSP, GW Elliott SSP, Tufts Fletcher MGA , NYU Wagner MSPP,

Undergrad institution: DMV area IR school

Undergrad Major: International Relations

Undergrad GPA: 3.5

Years out of undergrad: 2 (by the time I apply)

Quant Background: Calc I, Macro/Micro, Int’l Econ. Lowest was Int’l Econ at a B-.

Relevant Work Experience: 7 years as in the Nayv as an aircraft mechanic, worked my way up to supervisor/managed a couple programs. 1st internship with an aerospace & defense magazine for a summer. Following that, worked as a program assistant for an IDEV non-profit for a few months. Then interned at a think tank for a semester doing light research and writing a few articles. Spent my last semester working overnight as a library supervisor and interning at a veteran’s advocacy organization. Currently employed at an aerospace & defense company in their leadership training pipeline for global trade.

International Experience: 1 summer abroad in Taiwan on a a Taiwanese MoE scholarship, 1 summer abroad in China on a Gilman.

GRE: I haven’t taken it yet. I would also really rather not but if it makes me stronger than I'll put the work in.

Strength of LOR: A couple of professors would go to bat for me, one’s already done so much that they’re practically a mentor. Old supervisor at the veteran’s org is actually my mentor and will definitely sing my praises in every direction. I’ve worked with both of them before for successful scholarship applications so they’ve got me dialed in. Current supervisor I can’t say for sure but they haven’t said anything bad about what I’m doing so I’ve got that going for me.

Strength of SOP: Reason I left the Navy was because I couldn’t understand the tension in Asia at the time of my last deployment and figured implementing policy would keep more people safe than fixing airplanes. In my current position, ensuring access to the tools of security to our allies is how I perceive my job. To do it more effectively and to specialize I want to increase the depth of my knowledge and link up my industry and military experiences to the historic and policy backgrounds and create a near total picture of East Asian security.

Extracurriculars/Leadership: Previous supervisor experience, plus was designated on scene leader in case of emergency reclamation. Presented as part of a panel for student veterans and internships at a conference. Attended a symposium on cross-strait relations. Currently writing an article for an IR school’s security magazine.

So normally, I wouldn't really recommend this school due to its (in my opinion, although it is a great program - it is too small and too removed from Washington/New York - lets be honest centers of power). HOWEVER!!! - if you want to live, breathe, and dream Asia security issues - Stanford's Ford Dorsey Master's in International Relations might just be up your alley. Academically, it is a stellar program.

The other one out west that does really well with Asia IR is Middlebury's Monterrey Institute - it is a bit niche though... I would think of it as a safety. 

If I were you, I would take out Fletcher MGA (its an expansion program and not its standard flagship MALD) and NYU MSPP (again not a flagship program, you don't want to play 2nd fiddle) and replace it with Stanford. If you think Middlebury Monterrey works for you (after doing some research, maybe use that as a safety). 

 

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7 hours ago, kreitz128 said:

Thanks so much for your input. Glad to know that I seem diverse/unique in a way that could help. In response,

A 1-2: No calculus or AP math in school or out.  Only Stats, Poli Sci, and AP Gov in high school. Several research methods courses. There may have been aspects of econometrics in the field- quantitative time series analysis of program outcome data. 

A3: Noted Social policy vagueness, per posts above. Still hashing this out & have many ambitions. NOW: I want to practice social policy and program outcome evaluation to inform grantmaking and program development across areas of mental health and prevention of other illnesses (i.e. homelessness, poverty).  I would love to develop policy for innovation -tech, internet and media cognizant of prevention in health/behavior/mental illness.  My history in field demonstrates this. Still to vague?  You would be the third person stressing importance of policy specificity. Do you think I could just I tailor specifically for schools?  Struggling since Im interdisciplinary.

A4: Yes to leadership. Led volunteers for 4 years, Led agency wide trainings in data, systems, tools & evaluation. Facilitates training for professional development in field (i.e panels, workshops, business meetings)

B What parts should I highlight that touched policy best? courses? Ngo?

C. 1-3: "If there are mitigating circumstances, you want to highlight it (but be honest)." I had a part time job 15-20+ hours since freshman yr and will need to factor in somehow.  I had a major infection that made me bomb one of my written finals (not including). I also had a gap in employment due to surgery ( I will be noting). 

What recent facts do you have against Scharr? It was my safety. Would you be able to suggest a better safety?

Thanks again for your help. I greatly appreciate it!

 

Okay,

1. your lack of math (realistically only Calc and econometrics counts. Basic college Stats - barely) + low GPA + no GRE basically is sealing U. Chicago Harris and UC Berk - Goldman out of range for you --> as more quant programs. This is especially problematic because program evaluation is considered high quant (at least academically, and you are challenged coming from a point of major disadvantage). 

2. You don't want to tailor for schools, because you never know what schools want and after reading 200 + essays, people get good at smoking out potentially disingenuousness. My entire point is that you need to figure out a brand instead kitchen sink mess. An example for a brand (and I'm pure speculating here) - Tech solutions for social/urban policy (if you want to narrow it down to something - employment opportunities and etc. - the better). Basically in 7 words or less, you want to highlight what you are functionally targeting (tech solutions in this example) and area of interest (social policy). 

Personally, my brand (at least going into policy school) was Programming and budget for higher education policy 

3. Okay great you got leadership

4. You tell me what touched policy the most (being honest about it). I don't know your life. A normal person would see an NGO work on resume and think oh, this person at least interfaced with policy. You have to tell the compelling story and make the connections. 

5. Okay great - note that you had to part time employment in order to financially supported yourself) + had multiple issues with illness (obviously put in a more meaningful and persuasive way). 

6. At a certain point graduate school isn't worth your time and money. I would draw the line at the Scharr school. Unless you are going into the Scharr school with a Top Secret Clearance, prior background in one of their niches (like bioterrorism), or you are employer sponsored, it is simply a terrible idea.

a. Professionally the school does a terrible job developing you as its student organized structures and support infrastructure are utter disorganized. What I'm trying to highlight is not only a weak student community, but an insignificant one. One of my friends who went there (employer sponsored) actually purposely chose Scharr so she wouldn't have to make friends, knowing in advance there are no community pressures.

b. I never seen any Scharr student at conferences, research presentations, and competitions who wasn't Niche, Top Secret Clearance, or employee sponsored. 

c. Outside off the defense sector (and those were the military folks, Scharr people simply exceedingly rarely go to generally competitive jobs or get scholarships (like Boren) - period. 

d. The reputation of the program in DC (emphasis on in DC) is that its a place for people who don't want to go to an intense masters degree in order to satisfy their work life balance interests  (which very reasonable and understandable) or simply not challenge themselves. 

Basically, you wouldn't really get any real career benefit. You might as well pivot without graduate school. 

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Hi, a state auditor here (I wonder whether this is a unique/rare job or not) 

Considering applying to: HKS MC/MPA. Yale MAS in Global Affairs
UG Institution: University of Indonesia
UG Major: Accounting
UG GPA: 3.38 
Years out of UG: 7+ years
Quant background: Basic Econ Calculus (B+), Basic Statistics (A), intermediate statistics (A-).
Transcript weakness: got C+ on several courses

Work experiences:
6 years as state auditor in outer island regions of Indonesia (Sulawesi and Kalimantan). Promoted/moved several times: junior auditor->senior auditor->chief of staff for chief of audit division->chief of audit team. Conducting financial, performance, and special-purpose audit on government budget and expenditure as well as evaluating performance on key government policies and activities.

Other work experiences: 8 months as big 4 auditor, 8 months career switch as an entrepreneur before entering state audit office.

Recent Int'l. experiences:
-INTOSAI (International Organization of Supreme Audit Institution) Forestry Audit Training (2019)
-UNDP workshop on anti-corruption for SDGs 2030 (2019)
-Mentor for an underdeveloped country's supreme audit institution delegation in constructing an audit strategy (2019)

GRE: no

IELTS: 7.5

LoR: 1 UG professor (emeritus), 1 former supervisor, 1 current supervisor. All know me well. UG professor willing to explain about my declining GPA in 2nd year and add that I got a gold medal on a student scientific competition. 

SoP Strength: working mostly in underdeveloped region in Indonesia, some evidences of positive impact to societies, rather quick career promotion, chosen as member of a national council to construct audit guidelines on Covid-19 countermeasure, and several leadership experience since UG. 

Career aspiration: gain more influence in my office and INTOSAI to promote a more policy-oriented government audit rather than only focus on financial audit.

Extracullicular: founded a policy think-thank club for fellow public servant, volunteering (currently volunteering on giving food for homeless people in Kalimantan, former teacher and teacher coordinator of a voluntary teaching activity during UG)

Scholarship: already got a government scholarship

 

Edited by auditorteladan
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