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Hello everyone, this is my first post down at the grad cafe.

At the moment I believe that a PhD is what I'd like to go for, but given my interests (development, human security, etc.) I'm not wiling to discount the possibility that I may find my calling in a more professional environment where I would have access to the resources to potentially embark on a career. Testing the waters, if you will.

I'm aware that GSPIA is a more professional-oriented school, but for a variety of reasons it is where I would very much like to do a Master's if I don't go straight to a PhD.

I know this topic has probably been covered a hundred times, but what exact advantages would a Master's from a professional-oriented school confer during a PhD application process (probably for poli sci, but possibly for cultural geography, economics, or another field related to global affairs), specifically a master's from GSPIA?

Of course I'm going to set my sights high, but in today's competitive graduate-level playing field I have made my peace with the fact that I may only receive a fully-funded PhD program offer from universities outside of the top 10-20, the realm that Pitt and GSPIA seem to reside in for Poli Sci and International Affairs. How would a degree from GSPIA help in that tier?

Thanks a bunch in advance!

Edited by Heliosphan
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It may help to think of it this way: you don't need a master's at all to enter a PhD program, but doing so can help demonstrate your ability to handle graduate-level coursework and develop a research/writing record. Whereas while you don't in principle need a master's to enter public affairs, massive numbers of positions do require one, especially if it speaks to policy/economic analysis skills.

So the master's can only make you a stronger candidate if you apply to a PhD program down the road, even if it's difficult to say just how much better you'd look on paper (I can't speak to GSPIA unfortunately). If it's possible to do a master's thesis on a topic-- and using a methodology-- that would be of interest to academics, so much the better. Remember that very high GRE scores and an excellent personal statement and writing sample can help you break into a higher tier, too.

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I did a professional master's. If you can already get into a program you are interested in, I would say go straight to it. If you can't, it is a good option. I couldn't have gotten in anywhere before my masters. Now, I have strong quant/method skills and tons of research experience (I went to work for a think-tank after my masters). I plan on applying to a couple top ten schools in a few years, all of which I would have had zero chance with before.

Don't know much about Pittsburg, I would worry a little about how much debt it is going to cost you, but besides that, I'm sure its a fine school.

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