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3 hours ago, morpeko said:

Out of curiosity: how important are quant courses for admissions and aid to MA IR/IS programs? I'm a recent graduate working for a few years before applying to programs, so I was wondering if it was worth biting the financial bullet and enrolling in some online econ courses since I have no quantitative-related experience to speak of.

1. Depends on the program you are interested in. For example - JHU SAIS - VERY MUCH SO. Georgetown MSFS - you can get away with its if you can show you have professional experience with quant analysis. 

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50 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

1. Depends on the program you are interested in. For example - JHU SAIS - VERY MUCH SO. Georgetown MSFS - you can get away with its if you can show you have professional experience with quant analysis. 

Ah, okay! I'm still in the process of figuring out programs but haven't spend enough time looking at the admissions pages, so I totally missed the econ requirements listed on most of them. I'll plan on taking some classes then!

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Hello! Would greatly appreciate your thoughts on my background and chances. Thank you!

Applying to: HKS MPP, Princeton SPIA MPA, Georgetown SFS GHD (Submitted for Fall 2021 intake)

Degree: Public Health minor in Development Studies in top university in the Philippines - full scholar, student leader and awarded leader of the year, graduated magna cum laude

- took calculus, basic courses in economics, statistics, accounting, epidemiology

GPA: 3.71

Languages speaking fluently: English, Tagalog

Years out of Grad school: 6 years
Work experiences:
- Current Deputy Director in a policy think tank (led partnerships with government agencies, spearheaded policy projects on governance, health and environmental policy)

- Program manager in the office of the Vice President of the Philippines (managed capacity building program on governance, also part of an anti-poverty program)

- Work on youth development (based in Australia)

- Volunteer experiences related to youth development, health, children's rights, COVID 19

International experience: 1 year work experience in Australia and 2 months volunteer work in Mexico

Other work experiences: coauthored 2 articles in international peer reviewed journals

GRE: 164V,160Q,4AWA

IELTS: 8.5

SOP: explained pivot from pre medicine career to public service, focused on my aspirations to strengthen local governance in the PH, showcased whole rounded experience as youth leader, NGO volunteer, public servant and policy researcher

LOR: 3 recommendations: from the current VP of the Philippines (former boss), Dean of a School of Government (current boss), and previous university professor

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9 hours ago, GradAppfromPH said:

Hello! Would greatly appreciate your thoughts on my background and chances. Thank you!

Applying to: HKS MPP, Princeton SPIA MPA, Georgetown SFS GHD (Submitted for Fall 2021 intake)

Degree: Public Health minor in Development Studies in top university in the Philippines - full scholar, student leader and awarded leader of the year, graduated magna cum laude

- took calculus, basic courses in economics, statistics, accounting, epidemiology

GPA: 3.71

Languages speaking fluently: English, Tagalog

Years out of Grad school: 6 years
Work experiences:
- Current Deputy Director in a policy think tank (led partnerships with government agencies, spearheaded policy projects on governance, health and environmental policy)

- Program manager in the office of the Vice President of the Philippines (managed capacity building program on governance, also part of an anti-poverty program)

- Work on youth development (based in Australia)

- Volunteer experiences related to youth development, health, children's rights, COVID 19

International experience: 1 year work experience in Australia and 2 months volunteer work in Mexico

Other work experiences: coauthored 2 articles in international peer reviewed journals

GRE: 164V,160Q,4AWA

IELTS: 8.5

SOP: explained pivot from pre medicine career to public service, focused on my aspirations to strengthen local governance in the PH, showcased whole rounded experience as youth leader, NGO volunteer, public servant and policy researcher

LOR: 3 recommendations: from the current VP of the Philippines (former boss), Dean of a School of Government (current boss), and previous university professor

You sound pretty competitive to me and your recommendations sound pretty solid. I also have applied to SIPA for Columbia's  joint MIA and Ms Journalism program. Good luck! 

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On 1/28/2021 at 11:24 AM, GradAppfromPH said:

Hello! Would greatly appreciate your thoughts on my background and chances. Thank you!

Applying to: HKS MPP, Princeton SPIA MPA, Georgetown SFS GHD (Submitted for Fall 2021 intake)

Degree: Public Health minor in Development Studies in top university in the Philippines - full scholar, student leader and awarded leader of the year, graduated magna cum laude

- took calculus, basic courses in economics, statistics, accounting, epidemiology

GPA: 3.71

Languages speaking fluently: English, Tagalog

Years out of Grad school: 6 years
Work experiences:
- Current Deputy Director in a policy think tank (led partnerships with government agencies, spearheaded policy projects on governance, health and environmental policy)

- Program manager in the office of the Vice President of the Philippines (managed capacity building program on governance, also part of an anti-poverty program)

- Work on youth development (based in Australia)

- Volunteer experiences related to youth development, health, children's rights, COVID 19

International experience: 1 year work experience in Australia and 2 months volunteer work in Mexico

Other work experiences: coauthored 2 articles in international peer reviewed journals

GRE: 164V,160Q,4AWA

IELTS: 8.5

SOP: explained pivot from pre medicine career to public service, focused on my aspirations to strengthen local governance in the PH, showcased whole rounded experience as youth leader, NGO volunteer, public servant and policy researcher

LOR: 3 recommendations: from the current VP of the Philippines (former boss), Dean of a School of Government (current boss), and previous university professor

You can get into GHD easy... as for Harvard MPP and SPIA - it depends on how diverse you are compared to other applicants this year. This is rough year though!

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On 1/29/2021 at 5:26 PM, GradSchoolGrad said:

You can get into GHD easy... as for Harvard MPP and SPIA - it depends on how diverse you are compared to other applicants this year. This is rough year though!

Why is it a rough year? Because of the increase in applicants?

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Hello all! This is very early in advance, as these will be for applications I put together this fall to start in Fall 2022. Honesty is very much appreciated

Applying to: Harvard Grad School of Education (Ed.M Education Policy & Analysis), Harvard Kennedy School (MPP), Brandeis University Heller School (MPP w/ concentration in Child, Youth, and Family Policy), Tufts University (M.A. in Education Studies), Boston University (M.A. Education Policy Studies & Ed.M Educational Leadership & Policy Studies). All of these are local schools, and I'm sticking to the greater Boston area - really shooting my shot with some of these, but I figured, "why not?!" 

Degree: Was on track to get my dual degree in chemistry and psychology a couple years ago. Wasn't able to complete it, so I'll be getting my RBA (Regents Bachelor of Arts) this spring. I plan to explain this in my SOP and/or optional statements.

GPA: 3.0 (I know MPP's value quant, and I have A's and B's in all of my quant-heavy courses)

Work Experiences: By application time, will have worked for 3 years with a grassroots education non-profit that provides an after-school program for low-income students of color. I've done interesting work in developing an abolitionist social-emotional learning curriculum that teachers our students to community organize, where we will wrap up the year with community projects. We also connect our families to resources and assistance when necessary, because our philosophy is that children need to feel safe to effectively learn. In undergrad, I was the Director for our university's chapter of a national non-profit that provides kids whose parents have cancer a free week of camp (my year as Director we raised $65,000, recruited more campers & volunteers - far surpassing the previous year's metrics). Also did an internship in a sleep lab that studied sleep disorders in children. I was an undergrad research assistant for a lab that conducted research on childhood trauma, health, and personality.

GRE: 167V, 168Q, 5.5AWA

SOP: I'm from WV and participated in the West Virginia Teacher's strike. Also, WV has a notoriously bad public school system I will write about. I plan to write my SOP about my dedication to grassroots movements and how I want to give communities/coalitions/marginalized groups the specific policy language they need to enact change. I want to work for either state/city governments in education policy or with an education advocacy group. I've taken a Community Organizing course that was impactful, and I plan to use my current work experience to bolster my claims that education is inequitable. For each school, I know the specific courses I'm eager for, faculty I'm interested in, and initiatives/fellowships I plan to apply for so I can make my SOP very personalized.

LOR: 3 recommendations: My very understanding undergrad advisor who can write on behalf of my low GPA, my current boss (Brandeis alum) who can attest to my work, and when I need a 3rd I will either use my Community Organizing course professor or someone who runs professional development community meetings around education that I attend & have developed a professional relationship with.

If you made it this far... thank you!

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2 hours ago, badgpahopeful said:

Hello all! This is very early in advance, as these will be for applications I put together this fall to start in Fall 2022. Honesty is very much appreciated

Applying to: Harvard Grad School of Education (Ed.M Education Policy & Analysis), Harvard Kennedy School (MPP), Brandeis University Heller School (MPP w/ concentration in Child, Youth, and Family Policy), Tufts University (M.A. in Education Studies), Boston University (M.A. Education Policy Studies & Ed.M Educational Leadership & Policy Studies). All of these are local schools, and I'm sticking to the greater Boston area - really shooting my shot with some of these, but I figured, "why not?!" 

Degree: Was on track to get my dual degree in chemistry and psychology a couple years ago. Wasn't able to complete it, so I'll be getting my RBA (Regents Bachelor of Arts) this spring. I plan to explain this in my SOP and/or optional statements.

GPA: 3.0 (I know MPP's value quant, and I have A's and B's in all of my quant-heavy courses)

Work Experiences: By application time, will have worked for 3 years with a grassroots education non-profit that provides an after-school program for low-income students of color. I've done interesting work in developing an abolitionist social-emotional learning curriculum that teachers our students to community organize, where we will wrap up the year with community projects. We also connect our families to resources and assistance when necessary, because our philosophy is that children need to feel safe to effectively learn. In undergrad, I was the Director for our university's chapter of a national non-profit that provides kids whose parents have cancer a free week of camp (my year as Director we raised $65,000, recruited more campers & volunteers - far surpassing the previous year's metrics). Also did an internship in a sleep lab that studied sleep disorders in children. I was an undergrad research assistant for a lab that conducted research on childhood trauma, health, and personality.

GRE: 167V, 168Q, 5.5AWA

SOP: I'm from WV and participated in the West Virginia Teacher's strike. Also, WV has a notoriously bad public school system I will write about. I plan to write my SOP about my dedication to grassroots movements and how I want to give communities/coalitions/marginalized groups the specific policy language they need to enact change. I want to work for either state/city governments in education policy or with an education advocacy group. I've taken a Community Organizing course that was impactful, and I plan to use my current work experience to bolster my claims that education is inequitable. For each school, I know the specific courses I'm eager for, faculty I'm interested in, and initiatives/fellowships I plan to apply for so I can make my SOP very personalized.

LOR: 3 recommendations: My very understanding undergrad advisor who can write on behalf of my low GPA, my current boss (Brandeis alum) who can attest to my work, and when I need a 3rd I will either use my Community Organizing course professor or someone who runs professional development community meetings around education that I attend & have developed a professional relationship with.

If you made it this far... thank you!

It is too early to tell how competitive next year's cohort will be. I think you will be fine with B.U., Tufts, and Heller. It doesn't make sense me why you want to do the HKS MPP over Harvard School of Education Master's (which does make more sense to me). If I were you, I would focus Harvard School off Ed over MPP, assuming you want to focus on education and Youth development.

I would skip out on Brandeis Heller School - honestly, it doesn't have the best rep in the education world (I came from ed policy). 

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47 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

It is too early to tell how competitive next year's cohort will be. I think you will be fine with B.U., Tufts, and Heller. It doesn't make sense me why you want to do the HKS MPP over Harvard School of Education Master's (which does make more sense to me). If I were you, I would focus Harvard School off Ed over MPP, assuming you want to focus on education and Youth development.

I would skip out on Brandeis Heller School - honestly, it doesn't have the best rep in the education world (I came from ed policy). 

Thank you for responding!

I agree. Especially with this upcoming application/matriculation year being the first fully in-person one after 2 years (hopefully), competition may be stiff. If I were accepted into both Harvard programs, I'm on the fence which I would choose, to be honest. I appreciate the more broad & interdisciplinary aspect of the MPP, so I could be a bit more flexible in my career. I also really enjoy quant. With my application, I would highlight wanting to do the Program on Educational Policy & Governance fellowship. The Ed.M is more aligned with my experiences and current wants, but the field of ed policy seems so niche and small. I will just give my best effort to both applications and see what happens.

And noted; I have heard/read very polarizing things about Brandeis Heller School - mainly just about the programs in general. Though, I haven't heard much about them in the education world, so I'm very interested in your perspective!

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16 minutes ago, badgpahopeful said:

Thank you for responding!

I agree. Especially with this upcoming application/matriculation year being the first fully in-person one after 2 years (hopefully), competition may be stiff. If I were accepted into both Harvard programs, I'm on the fence which I would choose, to be honest. I appreciate the more broad & interdisciplinary aspect of the MPP, so I could be a bit more flexible in my career. I also really enjoy quant. With my application, I would highlight wanting to do the Program on Educational Policy & Governance fellowship. The Ed.M is more aligned with my experiences and current wants, but the field of ed policy seems so niche and small. I will just give my best effort to both applications and see what happens.

And noted; I have heard/read very polarizing things about Brandeis Heller School - mainly just about the programs in general. Though, I haven't heard much about them in the education world, so I'm very interested in your perspective!

Bottom line - Heller School is basically Brandeis' way to make money (Grad schools are profit centers for Universities, whereas undergrad is generally a loss area). They also stuffed a bunch of random things into one graduate program (also a bad sign). What does this means from a student experience - an over stuffed school that tries to be too many things and is great at nothing. 

Also, from an anecdotal perspective, I have never met anybody from Heller school in Ed Policy - and I did both national level + Boston area research. I'm sure there has to be bright spots in Heller somewhere, but I never encountered them. I focused on Ed Finance and Technical education - so two very hot areas in ed policy - not small niche areas. 

As for HKS MPP - granted your being from West Virginia adds some regional diversity, it is probably neutralized - if not reversed by being an Ed Policy person. Ed Policy is a dime a dozen. HKS tries to build a diverse class of policy interests. That being said, given that you will be coming in with nothing super outstanding + low GPA, I think you will have trouble getting in. If you were interested in something more rare, like infrastructure of healthcare, you might have higher chance of getting lucky. For my application year (which had really weak competition and sub 3.0 GPA people got scholarships at 2nd tier Policy Schools), I knew people with 3.4 GPA, quant, and awards for teaching rejected from HKS. 

Basically, usually the Ed people that end up in HKS are the sharpest of the Ed policy interest cohort because of supply and demand + interests in diversity. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Applying to: Georgetown MSFS, Fletcher School MALD (Submitted for Fall 2021 intake)
 

Degree: Political Science and History from a top 15 U.S. university
 

GPA: 3.88 – one quantitative course on poli-sci survey research with experience in STATA but no other quant. heavy courses. I got a prestigious government scholarship to study a critical language for a year abroad. 

Out of College for: 1 year

Work Experiences: 3 years’ total work experience. 1 year out of undergrad spent working 4 months full-time for a small NGO and the rest of the time interning for a top D.C.-based think-tank; I was recently promoted to a research assistant there, but it didn’t make it into my resume although I knew about it ahead of time (one of my LOR hinted at this but didn’t say so explicitly). Interned for 3 months at an NGO in the Middle East and 3-months for a U.S. state development agency. 1.4 years part-time experience working as a research assistant at poli-sci labs in my university doing quantitative analysis of survey data and writing it up.

GRE: none (this is what worries me, honestly)
SOP: I think it’s fairly strong—I’m from a small town and connected my interest in international development to my interaction with NGO work and civil society growing up in a struggling U.S. region. I drew on my experiences abroad working and studying in the Middle East.


LOR: 3 recommendations, two from history professors that I think are very strong (I met with them both individually and gave them a lot of information on what I wanted to do, and they read my SOP before writing) and another from a senior staff member at the think-tank I intern at. 

Other: I am most concerned about my lack of quantitative academic background and my lack of GRE score and wondered if that would be mitigated by a strong statement of purpose and good recommendations / experience doing policy research and  analysis of survey data.

Thanks for the help.
 

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4 hours ago, docwho512 said:

Applying to: Georgetown MSFS, Fletcher School MALD (Submitted for Fall 2021 intake)
 

Degree: Political Science and History from a top 15 U.S. university
 

GPA: 3.88 – one quantitative course on poli-sci survey research with experience in STATA but no other quant. heavy courses. I got a prestigious government scholarship to study a critical language for a year abroad. 

Out of College for: 1 year

Work Experiences: 3 years’ total work experience. 1 year out of undergrad spent working 4 months full-time for a small NGO and the rest of the time interning for a top D.C.-based think-tank; I was recently promoted to a research assistant there, but it didn’t make it into my resume although I knew about it ahead of time (one of my LOR hinted at this but didn’t say so explicitly). Interned for 3 months at an NGO in the Middle East and 3-months for a U.S. state development agency. 1.4 years part-time experience working as a research assistant at poli-sci labs in my university doing quantitative analysis of survey data and writing it up.

GRE: none (this is what worries me, honestly)
SOP: I think it’s fairly strong—I’m from a small town and connected my interest in international development to my interaction with NGO work and civil society growing up in a struggling U.S. region. I drew on my experiences abroad working and studying in the Middle East.


LOR: 3 recommendations, two from history professors that I think are very strong (I met with them both individually and gave them a lot of information on what I wanted to do, and they read my SOP before writing) and another from a senior staff member at the think-tank I intern at. 

Other: I am most concerned about my lack of quantitative academic background and my lack of GRE score and wondered if that would be mitigated by a strong statement of purpose and good recommendations / experience doing policy research and  analysis of survey data.

Thanks for the help.
 

I would be more concerned about how you only have 1 year of post college work experience. This is crazy competitive year for admissions. Normally, you might slip by, but this year it is going to be tough. I honestly never met an MSFS / MALD person with less than 2 years experience unless said person has a prestigious scholarship (Fulbright and etc.) 

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Schools Applying To: Georgetown MSFS

Undergraduate institution: Top public college

Undergraduate GPA: 3.32

Undergraduate Majors: International Studies, Chinese minor (Just took Calc and Computer Science at local community college and received As)

Study Abroad: 1 year overseas, and a few years overseas as an expat child

GRE: None submitted

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 4

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 4.5

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Public Relations internship at top American PR consulting firm overseas, post-grad career in import/export operations and a Navy reservist working in intelligence

Languages: Chinese fluency, Beginner Korean

Quant: Economics courses in college (As), and took Calculus with Analytical Geometry and Intro to Computer Science at a local community college last year (As)

Strength of SOP: Describing my experience working in both the private and public sector and how my diverse background gives me a unique voice in my military career, especially in my current deployment overseas

Diversity Statement: Describes how my multiethnic heritage, financial adversity growing up and becoming financially self-sufficient during college, and my living overseas influence my global outlook and moral foundation.

Strength of LOR (be honest, describe the process, etc): High ranking military officer I worked directly under, China Studies professor, and my manager in my first job in import/export operations

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I know this thread is not solely dedicated to Harvard Kennedy School's MPA. However, I would love some guidance, since there are so few HKS MPA threads, and this thread seems like a blatant wealth of knowledge, and I am inquiring about an acceptance item. 

Technically Harvard Kennedy School says 2-year MPA students only need 4 graduate level courses to apply for the program. However, they say on their site and an accepted admissions video that the program is designed for students with another graduate degree. 

So, could I, an individual with only a bachelor's degree, apply and be accepted to the HKS MPA program? I would love any insight into this. I have looked into this program and I feel like it so closely aligns with my career goals, but I do not want to waste my time, if I would not be considered. 

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21 minutes ago, SeekingMPA said:

I know this thread is not solely dedicated to Harvard Kennedy School's MPA. However, I would love some guidance, since there are so few HKS MPA threads, and this thread seems like a blatant wealth of knowledge, and I am inquiring about an acceptance item. 

Technically Harvard Kennedy School says 2-year MPA students only need 4 graduate level courses to apply for the program. However, they say on their site and an accepted admissions video that the program is designed for students with another graduate degree. 

So, could I, an individual with only a bachelor's degree, apply and be accepted to the HKS MPA program? I would love any insight into this. I have looked into this program and I feel like it so closely aligns with my career goals, but I do not want to waste my time, if I would not be considered. 

What are you talking about? 

https://www.hks.harvard.edu/educational-programs/masters-programs/master-public-administration/what-we-look

This is the website that talks about program application requirements. 

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Hi, 

 

So within your link, it says that at least 4 graduate level courses need to be taken. 

 

However, on this page it says "you already have a master's degree..." and in this admissions video he said the MPA2 was for people with previous grad degrees or doing a joint degree. 

So, I am genuinely confused if people with 4 graduate level courses are actually considered for the program. 

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40 minutes ago, SeekingMPA said:

Hi, 

 

So within your link, it says that at least 4 graduate level courses need to be taken. 

 

However, on this page it says "you already have a master's degree..." and in this admissions video he said the MPA2 was for people with previous grad degrees or doing a joint degree. 

So, I am genuinely confused if people with 4 graduate level courses are actually considered for the program. 

Yep they are. A know military people who are in the some grad class boat who made it to HKS MPA.

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21 hours ago, cafeaulait21 said:

Schools Applying To: Georgetown MSFS

Undergraduate institution: Top public college

Undergraduate GPA: 3.32

Undergraduate Majors: International Studies, Chinese minor (Just took Calc and Computer Science at local community college and received As)

Study Abroad: 1 year overseas, and a few years overseas as an expat child

GRE: None submitted

Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 4

Years of Relevant Work Experience: 4.5

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Public Relations internship at top American PR consulting firm overseas, post-grad career in import/export operations and a Navy reservist working in intelligence

Languages: Chinese fluency, Beginner Korean

Quant: Economics courses in college (As), and took Calculus with Analytical Geometry and Intro to Computer Science at a local community college last year (As)

Strength of SOP: Describing my experience working in both the private and public sector and how my diverse background gives me a unique voice in my military career, especially in my current deployment overseas

Diversity Statement: Describes how my multiethnic heritage, financial adversity growing up and becoming financially self-sufficient during college, and my living overseas influence my global outlook and moral foundation.

Strength of LOR (be honest, describe the process, etc): High ranking military officer I worked directly under, China Studies professor, and my manager in my first job in import/export operations

I forgot to mention I appreciate what you are doing for the prospective grad community. I am a long-time lurker, but due to the nature of what I do have been reluctant to post.. as it gets closer I am interested in your insight whenever you are free. I know I didn't give a lot of amplifying info, please let me know if you would like me to explain further on some things.

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36 minutes ago, cafeaulait21 said:

I forgot to mention I appreciate what you are doing for the prospective grad community. I am a long-time lurker, but due to the nature of what I do have been reluctant to post.. as it gets closer I am interested in your insight whenever you are free. I know I didn't give a lot of amplifying info, please let me know if you would like me to explain further on some things.

So the first thing to consider is your ability to graduate. Granted your grades are a bit on the lower end, I think you'll be fine.

Ultimately, it is but how diverse/unique you are. I'm assuming you are in the national security space. If there are a lot of other national security folks, then your chances might slacken. However, if you are you seen as unique, you might be able to pull it off. This year is extra competitive, but I don't know how it impacts folks with your national security background and competition set. 

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Hi everybody, looking for any thoughts or advice. I'm trying to break into the defense policy community with a focus on the strategic uses of non-governmental and quasi-governmental proxies (Wagner Group, PAFMM, etc.)

Applying to: HKS MPP, Princeton SPIA MPA, Georgetown SFS SSP, Yale Jackson MA, SAIS MAIR, Stanford Ford-Dorsey

Admitted to: SAIS (no word in funding)

Still waiting: All the rest

Degree: Senior Military College- BA International Studies and Political Science (Capstone on why the Shining Path experienced so much success relative to other marxist groups in the region),

Minor in National Security (Thesis on the effects of Liberation Theology on civil unrest in Peru and Bolivia)

  

GPA: 4.00

Quant Classes/experience: Micro, Macro, and International Economics, Two semesters of Statistics, one class that focused on quantitative research in social science. If it helps I also work in a technical branch in the Army (Signal Corps) and in a fairly technical civilian field (technology R&D).

Languages: English, Some Spanish

Years out of school: 3 years
Work experience: 3 years

- Currently work as a Program Analyst for a Not for Profit consulting firm supporting the Department of Homeland Security's Research and Development arm. Basically, I help a Federal Program Manager with his portfolio of R&D projects. The work can vary from routine scheduling/administrative tasks, to evaluating deliverables and writing Statements of Work/contract documents. All the projects are focused on security screening with a good mix between hardware and software/algorithm development.

- I also serve as an Officer in the National Guard. Nothing too exciting, just spent about five weeks at the Capitol, which was a unique experience. (Seeing the rotunda was cool, sleeping in the building was not). My role is a Signal Officer, so I basically manage the IT and communications for a Battalion and lead a section of 12 soldiers. 

- I am also an advocate for prison reform in my state. I've written some materials and work with various advocacy groups to pursue legislative solutions for policy failures. Spent a year raising awareness for the lack of access to ID that prisoners released in my state face. (Published an OP-ED in my state capital's paper and used data that I FOIA'd to build a case for a policy alternative.) I was lucky enough to find some sponsors for a bill to help address the issue, which was passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor. I spent this year trying to ban private prisons in Virginia. This consisted of interactions with lawmakers to sponsor a bill and lots of contact with families of prisoners and prisoners to help tell their stories. Unfortunately, the bill died almost immediately in committee (the private prison corporation disbursed a good deal of money to state legislators leading up to the vote). 

-After graduation, I interned at a small, but growing think tank in DC. Research focused on Coercive Diplomacy and the use of force short of war. My role was essentially open source data collection to capture all cases where the U.S. used military force short of war since 1991.

-While in college I interned for a Senator's office and conducted a 10 week independent research project which focused on the ideological linkages between Liberation Theology and Marxism. Later presented my research at a couple of small conferences.

 

International experience: 6 months studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile

Other work experiences: Volunteered as an EMT for a couple of years while in college. A few non-academic publications on defense policy in industry publications (DefenseOne, National Interest, Responsible Statecraft).

GRE: 170V, 164Q, 5AWA

IELTS: N/A

SOP: Varied from school to school but I tried to highlight my commitment to public service and trying to implement better policies. I made sure to make my research interests and career goals clear in each SOP and made sure to include professors that I would like to work with for each program. It's hard for me to evaluate their strength. I hired an admissions consultant (which still makes me feel like a bit of a tool), who gave lots of help and advice on crafting a clear story for each essay.

LOR: Fairly strong, 1 professor who was my advisor for my independent research project, 1 professor who ran my minor and helped evaluate my capstone and thesis while in college, 1 Senior Fellow that I worked under while interning at a think tank in DC. I have a pretty close relationship with all three and they can each speak to my research ability and interests.

 

 

Frankly, I'm just hoping to get in to one or two of the schools with some level of funding. I know this year is extra competitive, so I'm not super sanguine about my chances of getting any significant funding. I would be really grateful to hear any thoughts about my chances or ways to improve my profile.

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1 hour ago, Just Some Guy said:

Hi everybody, looking for any thoughts or advice. I'm trying to break into the defense policy community with a focus on the strategic uses of non-governmental and quasi-governmental proxies (Wagner Group, PAFMM, etc.)

 

Applying to: HKS MPP, Princeton SPIA MPA, Georgetown SFS SSP, Yale Jackson MA, SAIS MAIR, Stanford Ford-Dorsey

Admitted to: SAIS (no word in funding)

Still waiting: All the rest

Degree: Senior Military College- BA International Studies and Political Science (Capstone on why the Shining Path experienced so much success relative to other marxist groups in the region),

Minor in National Security (Thesis on the effects of Liberation Theology on civil unrest in Peru and Bolivia)

  

GPA: 4.00

Quant Classes/experience: Micro, Macro, and International Economics, Two semesters of Statistics, one class that focused on quantitative research in social science. If it helps I also work in a technical branch in the Army (Signal Corps) and in a fairly technical civilian field (technology R&D).

Languages: English, Some Spanish

Years out of school: 3 years
Work experience: 3 years

- Currently work as a Program Analyst for a Not for Profit consulting firm supporting the Department of Homeland Security's Research and Development arm. Basically, I help a Federal Program Manager with his portfolio of R&D projects. The work can vary from routine scheduling/administrative tasks, to evaluating deliverables and writing Statements of Work/contract documents. All the projects are focused on security screening with a good mix between hardware and software/algorithm development.

- I also serve as an Officer in the National Guard. Nothing too exciting, just spent about five weeks at the Capitol, which was a unique experience. (Seeing the rotunda was cool, sleeping in the building was not). My role is a Signal Officer, so I basically manage the IT and communications for a Battalion and lead a section of 12 soldiers. 

- I am also an advocate for prison reform in my state. I've written some materials and work with various advocacy groups to pursue legislative solutions for policy failures. Spent a year raising awareness for the lack of access to ID that prisoners released in my state face. (Published an OP-ED in my state capital's paper and used data that I FOIA'd to build a case for a policy alternative.) I was lucky enough to find some sponsors for a bill to help address the issue, which was passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor. I spent this year trying to ban private prisons in Virginia. This consisted of interactions with lawmakers to sponsor a bill and lots of contact with families of prisoners and prisoners to help tell their stories. Unfortunately, the bill died almost immediately in committee (the private prison corporation disbursed a good deal of money to state legislators leading up to the vote). 

-After graduation, I interned at a small, but growing think tank in DC. Research focused on Coercive Diplomacy and the use of force short of war. My role was essentially open source data collection to capture all cases where the U.S. used military force short of war since 1991.

-While in college I interned for a Senator's office and conducted a 10 week independent research project which focused on the ideological linkages between Liberation Theology and Marxism. Later presented my research at a couple of small conferences.

 

International experience: 6 months studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile

Other work experiences: Volunteered as an EMT for a couple of years while in college. A few non-academic publications on defense policy in industry publications (DefenseOne, National Interest, Responsible Statecraft).

GRE: 170V, 164Q, 5AWA

IELTS: N/A

SOP: Varied from school to school but I tried to highlight my commitment to public service and trying to implement better policies. I made sure to make my research interests and career goals clear in each SOP and made sure to include professors that I would like to work with for each program. It's hard for me to evaluate their strength. I hired an admissions consultant (which still makes me feel like a bit of a tool), who gave lots of help and advice on crafting a clear story for each essay.

LOR: Fairly strong, 1 professor who was my advisor for my independent research project, 1 professor who ran my minor and helped evaluate my capstone and thesis while in college, 1 Senior Fellow that I worked under while interning at a think tank in DC. I have a pretty close relationship with all three and they can each speak to my research ability and interests.

 

 

Frankly, I'm just hoping to get in to one or two of the schools with some level of funding. I know this year is extra competitive, so I'm not super sanguine about my chances of getting any significant funding. I would be really grateful to hear any thoughts about my chances or ways to improve my profile.

Good luck getting funding... I think you have a good shot at getting into all the places you applied to, but funding - not so much.

When people say Senior Military College, it is rather vague (granted its higher education's fault for not better labeling).

Do you mean Federal Service Academy or State Run/Organized Undergraduate Military Institution like Citadel and VMI? 

Have you had deployments? I remember one of my military friends trying to get into grad school without deployments and the admissions office gave him feedback that given lack of deployment experience, he needed to highlight substantial other achievements (like honor grad at CCC, major non-deployment event, and etc.). Not having these things may make you less attractive as a candidate to give funding to.

You have to appreciate that schools give funding for 4 major reasons.

1. To boost their academic stats (you need to give your percentiles on top of your scores to give real feed back because the GRE has changed so many times) with GPA, GRE.

2. To boost their diversity numbers (IDK if you would be countered as veteran or military affiliated in a meaningful way because you aren't pulling GI Bill - I'm assuming)

3. Because you have something cool they can use for advertising (i.e. being a female West Point First Captain, being semi-famous of some sort, a known public figure, and etc.) 

4. To get enough smart bodies against the competition (not that big of factor this year since the application cycle is crazy competitive). 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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2 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Good luck getting funding... I think you have a good shot at getting into all the places you applied to, but funding - not so much.

When people say Senior Military College, it is rather vague (granted its higher education's fault for not better labeling).

Do you mean Federal Service Academy or State Run/Organized Undergraduate Military Institution like Citadel and VMI? 

Have you had deployments? I remember one of my military friends trying to get into grad school without deployments and the admissions office gave him feedback that given lack of deployment experience, he needed to highlight substantial other achievements (like honor grad at CCC, major non-deployment event, and etc.). Not having these things may make you less attractive as a candidate to give funding to.

You have to appreciate that schools give funding for 4 major reasons.

1. To boost their academic stats (you need to give your percentiles on top of your scores to give real feed back because the GRE has changed so many times) with GPA, GRE.

2. To boost their diversity numbers (IDK if you would be countered as veteran or military affiliated in a meaningful way because you aren't pulling GI Bill - I'm assuming)

3. Because you have something cool they can use for advertising (i.e. being a female West Point First Captain, being semi-famous of some sort, a known public figure, and etc.) 

4. To get enough smart bodies against the competition (not that big of factor this year since the application cycle is crazy competitive). 

Thanks for the input. Senior Military College refers to the state run undergraduate schools (VMI, Citadel, VT, Norwich, A&M).

No deployments, so I'm not really relying on military experience for funding. 

With regard to percentiles for scores (if my memory serves): 170V (99th) 164Q (83rd) 5AWA (92nd).

Frankly, I think I have the best chance at making SAIS or Georgetown work. SAIS because it seems slightly more generous than most and my statistical profile is above the admitted student profile for MAIR. Georgetown because they are the only program that actually cares about supporting students with jobs by having a part time option, which dramatically lowers the opportunity cost of attendance. Obviously getting into SPIA would be awesome, but that's not a long shot for everyone.

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1 hour ago, Just Some Guy said:

Thanks for the input. Senior Military College refers to the state run undergraduate schools (VMI, Citadel, VT, Norwich, A&M).

No deployments, so I'm not really relying on military experience for funding. 

With regard to percentiles for scores (if my memory serves): 170V (99th) 164Q (83rd) 5AWA (92nd).

Frankly, I think I have the best chance at making SAIS or Georgetown work. SAIS because it seems slightly more generous than most and my statistical profile is above the admitted student profile for MAIR. Georgetown because they are the only program that actually cares about supporting students with jobs by having a part time option, which dramatically lowers the opportunity cost of attendance. Obviously getting into SPIA would be awesome, but that's not a long shot for everyone.

I will warn you that there are lot of mixed opinions about doing Georgetown SSP part time vs. full time

Bottom line is that it comes down to exploration room. A lot of people who did SSP full time reply appreciated being able to explore and really find the career path that really fit them well + did arguably better in the post grad school job market.

If you do it part time, you obviously have less financial stress, but those people get massive FOMO and miss out on opportunities ALL THE TIME. 

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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