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UC San Diego IR & Pacific Studies


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Hello all,

Just wondering if anyone has heard of this program/went to the program/know something about it.

I'm thinking of applying as "safety" school, obnoxious term, but it seems like a strong program if a little-less famous. Or it could be famous and I am ignorant.

The link is here: http://irps.ucsd.edu/index.htm

Merci~

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it is an extremely well-known program, albeit a very specificly program to the "niche" level. I've known a few grads, and all of them make absurd amounts of money. Very competitive, so I would think twice about it being a safety school.

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I will be applying there, especially for those focusing on Asia or Latin America they have some really great faculty and programs from the looks of it. Also, they tend to be somewhere in the top 10 for rankings, for those who worry about those a lot. I think their curriculum seems really solid and practical at least for me.

Their location, however, I think is both a negative and a positive. Awesome weather and San Diego is one of my favorite cities (the city proper, not necessarily La Jolla) but it of course isn't DC so internships during the year are going to be much more limited. Regardless, I still think it's a great school and worth giving it a whirl and seeing how things turn out if your geographical interests are in any of the Pacific Rim countries.

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because the school is so regionally focused, I don't think that internships will be a problem at all. in fact, the feeling I get from the graduates I know is a general... ummm... disdain for DC-centric businesses and organizations.

Also, their language requirements are really strict, so make sure to brush up on your japanese/cantonese/whatever.

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I'm also applying for this program and considering whether it can be a safety school, since the rankings of both the University and the Program are not quite high. Given the above discussion, it seems that you still need to be highly competitive to get admitted.

I heard from the current students that they have a quite supportive career service centre, which makes it easier to find a local job. But it may not considered positive for those who seek jobs in DC or NYC. San Diego is a nice place with comfortable weather. Anyway, I really appreciate this program.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi mv0027,

I'm so lucky to find this alive thread on exactly the program I'm applying to! I know quite well how prestigious the IP/RS program is, especially its niche.

My question: I just emailed a potential advisor and he asked me "MPIA or PhD?" I want to pursue the PhD, but my last remaining concern is that no information on financing a PhD is available on their website. (For MA there are a ton on cost and financial aid alike). So what is the funding situation?

Also, can you just tell us more in general about the academic aspect of the program, e.g. quantitative vs. qualitative, working culture, internship opportunities, typical career path post graduation, etc.?

Thanks a bunch! I'm really looking forward to your reply.

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First @ Rollaround – “since the rankings of both the University and the Program are not quite high.” Not sure what this is based on. One of the biggest strengths of IR/PS is that it located across the way from UCSD’s economics and pol sci programs, both of which are top 10 in country and most professors at IR/PS are also professors at these departments.

The PhD program, however, is a bit of a weakness. My understanding is that you pretty much have to apply to the PhD in pol sci, be admitted there, get funding, etc through them. In your later years, you are then welcome to reach out to IR/PS professors and resources later in your PhD process. I do not think they are accepting anyone directly into the PhD program at IR/PS, but I could be wrong. I only know one person that graduated from the IR/PS phD program. She is pretty awesome though. She worked at the IABD for a while then moved to the German Marshall Fund.

I think the academics at IR/PS are top-notch. It isn’t as well known as some other professional IR programs (SAIS, Tufts, etc.) but those schools tend to have professors who are ex-top officials in government, NGO-leaders, diplomats, etc so their lectures are all stuff you can learn listening to public radio and reading the economist. Academically, the only other IR schools which “compete” (well, are better than) IR/PS are Colombia’s SIPA and Harvard’s KSG (this is a quote from the Dean of the school, not me). I agree though. I’ve worked and interned around DC, and I’ve meet people from every other IR program. My take is that IR/PS as hard as, or harder, than most other IR programs. The program is very quantitative in general, but if you hate numbers, you can do your best to avoid it after the first year. Since you are considering a PhD, I’m assuming you don’t hate numbers. If you want quantitative, you can get as much as that as you can imagine at UCSD. My last quarter I took a “Quantitative Methods for Advance Analyst” which was taught by someone at the math department…it made my head spin. Not to mention, UCSD's econ department is known for being the best in the world at econometrics (well, used to be at least).

The school is in San Diego…so that’s probably all I need to say about “culture.” I loved it. Great weather, wonderful beaches, relax professors, etc. The career services team is amazing! However, IR/PS doesn’t have the network other, older IR programs have. So, you can get a great job out of IR/PS and there are great alumni, but a good job is not going to fall into your lap, you have to work for it (i.e. lots of time e-mailing alumni, networking, polishing resume, doing cool projects while in school, etc). I’m a firm believe in “you get what you pay for.” IR/PS costs half as much (or less) than other programs. So, you have less debt leaving IR/PS, but you will have to work harder to find a job! Currently, I work with people from almost every other IR program and I’m glad my student loan payments are half the size!

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The PhD program, however, is a bit of a weakness. My understanding is that you pretty much have to apply to the PhD in pol sci, be admitted there, get funding, etc through them. In your later years, you are then welcome to reach out to IR/PS professors and resources later in your PhD process. I do not think they are accepting anyone directly into the PhD program at IR/PS, but I could be wrong. I only know one person that graduated from the IR/PS phD program. She is pretty awesome though. She worked at the IABD for a while then moved to the German Marshall Fund.

I am a bit surprised by this bit of information about the PhD program. Certainly no where on their website indicates any disinclination towards granting a PhD within the IR/PS program. But regardless of which department the process goes through, I guess the main issue is whether full 5 year funding is the norm for admitted student?

Were you a MPIA or PhD student? Who did you work with? Would you mind discussing your credentials, or just your applying experience?

Thanks a bunch! I can't emphasize how valuable these info are to me now :D

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I am a bit surprised by this bit of information about the PhD program. Certainly no where on their website indicates any disinclination towards granting a PhD within the IR/PS program. But regardless of which department the process goes through, I guess the main issue is whether full 5 year funding is the norm for admitted student?

Were you a MPIA or PhD student? Who did you work with? Would you mind discussing your credentials, or just your applying experience?

Thanks a bunch! I can't emphasize how valuable these info are to me now :D

Oh and what other schools you applied to besides IR/PS? It is such a niche program that I am having a hard time finding anything comparable for more options :)

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First @ Rollaround – “since the rankings of both the University and the Program are not quite high.” Not sure what this is based on. One of the biggest strengths of IR/PS is that it located across the way from UCSD’s economics and pol sci programs, both of which are top 10 in country and most professors at IR/PS are also professors at these departments.

The PhD program, however, is a bit of a weakness. My understanding is that you pretty much have to apply to the PhD in pol sci, be admitted there, get funding, etc through them. In your later years, you are then welcome to reach out to IR/PS professors and resources later in your PhD process. I do not think they are accepting anyone directly into the PhD program at IR/PS, but I could be wrong. I only know one person that graduated from the IR/PS phD program. She is pretty awesome though. She worked at the IABD for a while then moved to the German Marshall Fund.

I think the academics at IR/PS are top-notch. It isn’t as well known as some other professional IR programs (SAIS, Tufts, etc.) but those schools tend to have professors who are ex-top officials in government, NGO-leaders, diplomats, etc so their lectures are all stuff you can learn listening to public radio and reading the economist. Academically, the only other IR schools which “compete” (well, are better than) IR/PS are Colombia’s SIPA and Harvard’s KSG (this is a quote from the Dean of the school, not me). I agree though. I’ve worked and interned around DC, and I’ve meet people from every other IR program. My take is that IR/PS as hard as, or harder, than most other IR programs. The program is very quantitative in general, but if you hate numbers, you can do your best to avoid it after the first year. Since you are considering a PhD, I’m assuming you don’t hate numbers. If you want quantitative, you can get as much as that as you can imagine at UCSD. My last quarter I took a “Quantitative Methods for Advance Analyst” which was taught by someone at the math department…it made my head spin. Not to mention, UCSD's econ department is known for being the best in the world at econometrics (well, used to be at least).

The school is in San Diego…so that’s probably all I need to say about “culture.” I loved it. Great weather, wonderful beaches, relax professors, etc. The career services team is amazing! However, IR/PS doesn’t have the network other, older IR programs have. So, you can get a great job out of IR/PS and there are great alumni, but a good job is not going to fall into your lap, you have to work for it (i.e. lots of time e-mailing alumni, networking, polishing resume, doing cool projects while in school, etc). I’m a firm believe in “you get what you pay for.” IR/PS costs half as much (or less) than other programs. So, you have less debt leaving IR/PS, but you will have to work harder to find a job! Currently, I work with people from almost every other IR program and I’m glad my student loan payments are half the size!

While we all have a certain blindness regarding our alma mater, IR/PS is not remotely on the scale of SIPA let alone KSG. It is an alright program but is solidly third tier, not in the same league as KSG, WWS, Yale Jackson, Gtown MSFS, SAIS, and solidly beneath Tufts, Stanford, GW, and just behind SIS, Korbel, NYU.

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While we all have a certain blindness regarding our alma mater, IR/PS is not remotely on the scale of SIPA let alone KSG. It is an alright program but is solidly third tier, not in the same league as KSG, WWS, Yale Jackson, Gtown MSFS, SAIS, and solidly beneath Tufts, Stanford, GW, and just behind SIS, Korbel, NYU.

Would you please cite your source? Based on my understanding, the Political Science PhD program at IR/PS is ranked as #7, right below Harvard, Princeton, Berkely, Columbia, etc.

But then it seems like you are talking about MPP programs?

Source: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/political-science-rankings

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@ JAubrewy

WWS and Yale are also top programs, I just didn't think to go into that much detail.

I guess my "blindness" caused me to overlook the conventional wisdom of forums....the only thing that matters is online rankings from US news and the like!! Common JAubrey, think outside the rankings box! You are gonna compare a UCSD program to the University of Denver? American?

SAIS, Korbel, Turfts, and GW (again) just don't have the academic credibility that UCSD has. They are strong programs with good reputations that have great networks. So, if that is your criteria, I agree that they might be "better" but they don't have the academic big-hitters that the other programs have. Again, they have ex-government people (Condi Rice-types).

Also, you have to think about bang for your buck! All those schools are private....80k in loans for an IR degree?!?!?!? Bad idea.

@ ILYuna I was MPIA. I didn't apply anywhere else because I planned on working one more year before school. I visited IR/PS, really liked it, and just couldn't handle my job anymore so decided to go for it. One of the best professional (and personal) decisions I ever made....

Oh, I was focused on international economics while at IR/PS. The program is trying to grow, so assuming you went to a decent undergrad institution, have some type of international experience (work, volunteer, study), and more than a 3.something GPA, you should be able to get in. IR/PS is easy to get into, but hard to actually get through!

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@ JAubrewy

WWS and Yale are also top programs, I just didn't think to go into that much detail.

I guess my "blindness" caused me to overlook the conventional wisdom of forums....the only thing that matters is online rankings from US news and the like!! Common JAubrey, think outside the rankings box! You are gonna compare a UCSD program to the University of Denver? American?

SAIS, Korbel, Turfts, and GW (again) just don't have the academic credibility that UCSD has. They are strong programs with good reputations that have great networks. So, if that is your criteria, I agree that they might be "better" but they don't have the academic big-hitters that the other programs have. Again, they have ex-government people (Condi Rice-types).

Also, you have to think about bang for your buck! All those schools are private....80k in loans for an IR degree?!?!?!? Bad idea.

First, I would happily compare UCSD to Denver-Korbel or American-SIS, both of the latter have their strengths, and have a much stronger alumni presence and visibility in the IR arenas in DC and NYC.

Next, comparing UCSD to Tufts, especially in the realm of IR or diplomacy is ridiculous, much the same for GW. Comparing the quality of applicants, positions of alumni, and backgrounds of the faculty GW/Tufts easily outstrip UCSD. As for SAIS, arguably the top IR program in the nation, I won't even bother stating the obvious.

At the end of the day, UCSD is a decent program without a doubt, and surely provides those on the West Coast with a solid safety choice (behind Stanford and Berkeley). That said it does not compete on any meaningful level with the elite IR programs in the country.

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hmmm...you seem to be missing my emphasis on the academic credibility of programs, not job placement, networks, etc. So I'll let this one die at that. Berkeley doesn't have an IR department/school. I assume you are referring to their public policy school. I suppose comparing a public policy school to an IR program (which is apple to oranges) underscores my original point though.

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Wow there is a really interesting debate going on. When I first found out about the SD IRPS program I did assume it would be a safety because I hadn't seen it on the big list, namely, the FP list of top schools. For myself, it sounds like a great program because I'm already determined to focus on Asia.

Also, I'm in this for a career, not to become a professor or an academic. I got a glimpse of life in the ivory tower-- it's not for me. So I ruled out schools like HKS, WW, Yale, SAIS... I'm also less interested in quantitative theory.

If we're talking about fame and fortune, how can you compete with those schools? I don't need to know who is the "best." (By the by, I was someone who was a little bitter after being rejected from those kinds of schools for undergrad. I met a lot of people who did go to those schools, and while some of them were amazing and gifted, others were schmucks. I've already done my soul-searching for that.)

I want to know-- if I attend SD IRPS will I be able to find a good job afterward, or will I be stuck jobless in debt? Is the education worth the tuition? Are the professors passionate about their work, is the department flexible or rigid in policy? How well did your language skills improve, and what sort of financial aid is available?

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Wow there is a really interesting debate going on. When I first found out about the SD IRPS program I did assume it would be a safety because I hadn't seen it on the big list, namely, the FP list of top schools. For myself, it sounds like a great program because I'm already determined to focus on Asia.

Also, I'm in this for a career, not to become a professor or an academic. I got a glimpse of life in the ivory tower-- it's not for me. So I ruled out schools like HKS, WW, Yale, SAIS... I'm also less interested in quantitative theory.

If we're talking about fame and fortune, how can you compete with those schools? I don't need to know who is the "best." (By the by, I was someone who was a little bitter after being rejected from those kinds of schools for undergrad. I met a lot of people who did go to those schools, and while some of them were amazing and gifted, others were schmucks. I've already done my soul-searching for that.)

I feel compelled to chip in that just because they are top-tier schools doesn't mean WWS, SAIS, etc. are grooming academic-track people rather than actual public policy professionals. They are strongly practice-focused. Your point about the genius vs. schmuck breakdown is definitely true, just wanted to make it clear that tossing an app in to the really good IR schools doesn't mean you're resigning yourself to the ivory tower.

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Personally, I think IRPS is really great academically for what I want to focus in: Asia-focused, curriculum seems to have a great mix of policy quant/IR/area studies. I would say though that looking at how much the tuition has increased over the last few years..it's certainly a turn off. Even for California residents it's 22,000 per year! Correct me if I'm wrong but it was about half that 4 - 5 years ago. Also, compared to some schools, having a car is probably much more of a necessity in a place like La Jolla/San Diego. So I'm wondering if it would really end up being that much cheaper than some of the big name east coast policy schools, some of them do tend to toss at least a little aid to students too. Maybe some people with more inside knowledge of IRPS could give more insight into this.

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@ understatement700.

Yes, tuition has gone up significantly in the past few years. Overall, it is really said to see the cuts that the University of California (the best public education institution in the world) is having to undergo. IR/PS itself is growing. They continue to hire faculty from top schools (in the past two years hired freshly minted PhDs from Harvard and Stanford, and stole a professor from stanford law and princeton WWS). They are planning on increasing enrollment by 10-20% each year for the next few years. I don't think graduate tuition has gone up at all in the UCs. However, since UCSD is giving less money to IR/PS every year, the school has had to raise its "professional fees" to make up for the loss. So what a IR/PS student pays has gone up. Keep in mind, however, tuition at the big east coast schools is also going up, though I don't know if at the same rate. You do not NEED a car in San diego. Many of my classmates did not have one. However, SD is harder to get around without than DC or NYC, so a lot of people want a car. Rent in SD is significantly less than those cities though. Overall, I would still guess that an IR/PS degree will cost about 60% of a degree from SAIS, Gtown, or Tufts and likely 50% of a degree from SIPA. My understanding is that those schools charge 40K in tuition alone.

@msn. On professors - huge plus for IR/PS in my opinion. I believe the utility that students get from professors in normally distributed. Meaning, unknown professors with no connections and no publication record are usually willing to talk to you for hours about your background, goals, and aspirations. On the other end, you can go to WWS, but you aren't going to share an office with Paul Krugman for two years. IR/PS lands somewhere in the middle I think (where utility is highest!). Professors are busy because they work with a variety of institutions and have to worry about publishing. However, they realize that the success of the school depends on the success of the students as well. So, they are willing to work with/help/guide students, so long as you aren't wasting their time, just telling them about yourself, and demonstrate that you are serious and willing to put in the work. Also, several of them are very social and enjoy just hanging out and chatting with students are the school's events.

On debt - yup, you will have some, but, again, probably less than from other similarly ranked programs. On financial aid - there is some. there are also teaching/research/admin positions that provide additional help. These are quasi-competitive though so you have to be active and involved to get them.

On jobs - this highly depends on you. I was EXTREMELY proactive in looking for a job and I had two years of solid work experience before grad school. I landed my dream job. Even if I wouldn't have gotten this job, I had several other good leads I stop pursuing after my first offer. Other students haven't been so lucky. I do know of some classmates that are still "looking" for work. I think it is largely their own fault though for not putting in the leg work (e-mailing alumni, polishing resume, etc).

Speaking of jobs, I should get back to mine!

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  • 5 months later...

Hey Guys! I'm applying UCSD IR/PS program right now. I have questions about the second essay (Many events of globe significance have occurred in the last three years. please discuss how one of these events has impacted your views on initiative and leadership.)I'm not really clearly about what the essay should talk about. Could you guys give me some suggestions about how to write the second essay? What kind of essay it should be and how long it should be? what kinds of my abilities that the committee want to see through the essay? Thank you so much!!

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