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PeterP

UCSD IR/PS

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If people are interested I could post up a more comprehensive list later of the pros and cons of IR/PS but below is how I made my decision. Also, I seriously thought about IR grad school for probably 5 years before I enrolled and have been looking on these boards researching many different program for a while so I think I was pretty informed.

 

I really liked IR/PS because of its focus on the Asia/Pacific and their faculty in my field. Also, IR/PS is particularly quantitative and I wanted to get some "hard skills." In the midst of working on my quantitative methods and accounting assignments late into the night I'm not always as enthusiastic about it but hey that's grad school and I think these classes will prove useful in the future. I felt (and feel) that IR/PS would combine the specialization of focusing on what I want regionally but also give me some particularly marketable skills. The faculty here are top notch in terms of their research, and I also looked at what alumni were doing just to get a taste of where the degree might lead me.

 

Regarding funding, I was very fortunate to get generous support at IR/PS and this was a huge factor in my decision. This was very important to me as I believe for these degrees you really want to minimize debt as much as possible. This doesn't always mean taking the cheapest option but at least in my case IR/PS was a great fit anyway and when factoring everything in it was clear to me that it was the best choice. IR/PS in a way is a niche program because of its pacific rim focus but what they do they do really well. If your true passion is Middle East or European politics then it probably isn't the best program for you, although many of the skills you get would also be applicable there as well. I was also offered similarly generous funding at Syracuse but decided that IR/PS was a better fit for my interests. Fletcher, SAIS, and Georgetown would have been very expensive and after receiving my fellowship offers from IR/PS and Maxwell I didn't consider them much further just because they would have been too expensive for very similar job prospects in the end.

 

I also wasn't too mad about spending a few years in San Diego. I laid out in the sun on the grass at Balboa Park yesterday studying for a midterm in early February. Of course, my lament here is that school is so demanding that I don't get to enjoy San Diego as much as I'd like to.

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If people are interested I could post up a more comprehensive list later of the pros and cons of IR/PS but below is how I made my decision. Also, I seriously thought about IR grad school for probably 5 years before I enrolled and have been looking on these boards researching many different program for a while so I think I was pretty informed.

 

I really liked IR/PS because of its focus on the Asia/Pacific and their faculty in my field. Also, IR/PS is particularly quantitative and I wanted to get some "hard skills." In the midst of working on my quantitative methods and accounting assignments late into the night I'm not always as enthusiastic about it but hey that's grad school and I think these classes will prove useful in the future. I felt (and feel) that IR/PS would combine the specialization of focusing on what I want regionally but also give me some particularly marketable skills. The faculty here are top notch in terms of their research, and I also looked at what alumni were doing just to get a taste of where the degree might lead me.

 

Regarding funding, I was very fortunate to get generous support at IR/PS and this was a huge factor in my decision. This was very important to me as I believe for these degrees you really want to minimize debt as much as possible. This doesn't always mean taking the cheapest option but at least in my case IR/PS was a great fit anyway and when factoring everything in it was clear to me that it was the best choice. IR/PS in a way is a niche program because of its pacific rim focus but what they do they do really well. If your true passion is Middle East or European politics then it probably isn't the best program for you, although many of the skills you get would also be applicable there as well. I was also offered similarly generous funding at Syracuse but decided that IR/PS was a better fit for my interests. Fletcher, SAIS, and Georgetown would have been very expensive and after receiving my fellowship offers from IR/PS and Maxwell I didn't consider them much further just because they would have been too expensive for very similar job prospects in the end.

 

I also wasn't too mad about spending a few years in San Diego. I laid out in the sun on the grass at Balboa Park yesterday studying for a midterm in early February. Of course, my lament here is that school is so demanding that I don't get to enjoy San Diego as much as I'd like to.

 

Thank you for your insight! If you have time to compose a list of the pros and cons that you've discovered during your time at IR/PS, I would certainly appreciate it, and I imagine many others would too. I'm especially interested in what you might consider to be the downsides of studying at IR/PS. My primary concern is that the school's distance from DC could complicate networking and job interview prospects in the capital, although from what I've read IR/PS makes a concerted effort to mitigate that problem. What other downsides, or just information potential students should be aware of, can you share with us? I'd be interested to hear your impressions about everything from the student body's makeup to the usefulness of their career center - whatever you have time to share would be great!

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TL;DR: IR/PS is a land of contrasts, a niche program in some ways, but one which provides you with generalist skills as well. Personal and professional/academic fit are really important!

 

IR/PS is about 40% foreign students, the plurality from China but there are chunks from Japan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, etc. The US students are proportionally more skewed towards Californians but there are plenty from out of state as well. If I had to guess maybe half of domestic students are from California, maybe a little more, but pretty much everyone has lived abroad. IR/PS is in San Diego, which is a totally different environment than a city like DC and of course California is more laid back, but alas IR/PS is a land of contrasts. Yes, California is chill and we could go to the beach every day since it’s just a mile away, but it is a very demanding program and we don’t have a lot of free time. Academic research-wise IR/PS and polisci at UCSD in general are top notch, but for the MPIA program IR/PS has got to have one of the most “professional”/quant- focused curricula and the career services are great at getting students prepared for moving to DC or wherever. I’m looking to go to DC after I graduate so that’s what I know the most about.

 

Pros:

  • Quantitative curriculum – IR/PS prides itself on providing an “IR/PS toolkit” with real skills to take to the job world whether that’s with private sector, government, or non-profit. This includes at least two quantitative methods courses, managerial econ, international econ, finance, and accounting.
  • Asia/Pacific focus – Lots of cool speakers coming to speak at IR/PS and curriculum allowing you to specialize in a specific region. There is never a shortage of interesting speakers, just wish I had time to go to more. There are several different research centers on campus that bring them in.
  • Faculty and courses – There are excellent faculty here doing top research in both regional affairs and international security, political economy, development, etc. You can complement all the “professional” skills with faculty who are at the top of their game in research.
  • Location – La Jolla is alright but San Diego as a whole is great. Definitely one of my favorite cities. Wherever you are planning to end up living, a few years in San Diego might not be too horrible and you can always move out of SD or California afterwards as many alumni do.
  • Career Services – They are awesome, really can’t overstate this. There are three full time career services people and they are on top of their game and very helpful and knowledgeable about the different industries, hiring procedures, etc. They will pretty much help you with anything and keep you in the loop. This is a huge asset of IR/PS.
  • Price – This depends on your personal situation and offers but overall I would say that IR/PS is cheaper than some of the DC schools. For example, if you are a California resident your tuition will be about 20k cheaper per year than a school like SAIS. If you are a non-resident American then it’ll still be about 10k cheaper your first year and the second year you can get California residency. Of course, IR/PS also offers merit based fellowships, which I’d say are certainly competitive to get but not rare. Sorry I don’t have figures on this, I’m sure admissions knows! Oh, and most students who apply early enough can get graduate housing for two years, which is subsidized and fairly cheap. Think about 500 a month for your own room on campus, possibly furnished depending on the specific place.

Cons:

  • Large classes your first year – Basically most classes you take your first year are with all the same students so you see each other every day and then when things don’t make sense in the big lecture hall you go to office hours of the professor or TA. I imagine that other professional IR programs the same size as IR/PS might be the similar, but there are definitely downsides education-wise to such huge classes.
  • Most electives are taken your second year – If a particular faculty member you want to work with happens to be on sabbatical or something your second year for whatever reason, you’re out of luck since you have a heavy core course load your first year. This also means less flexibility in curriculum. The core curriculum is pretty set although it’s possible to waive out of classes if you’ve taken a similar course at another school and done well. If you are looking for a program that’s very flexible in terms of creating your own degree this isn’t it. Although you can create a specialization with an academic advisor instead of doing International Politics or International Econ. etc, you’re probably not going to get out of core courses. No matter what your focus is you’ll have some flexibility your second year but the first year is almost set for you, and it is very challenging.
  • If you aren’t particularly interested in Pacific Rim IR then IR/PS might not be the best fit since you have to fulfill a language requirement here for a Pacific Rim country and do a regional specialization. Language courses are pretty hit or miss in terms of quality, some are through IR/PS and some are through UCSD so you might end up taking classes with undergrads, depends on the language.
  • Location – San Diego is great and there are a good amount of IR/PS alumni working in DC in the federal gov. etc. But, obviously the DC schools would allow you to be right there and possibly intern during the school year, which could be useful. I think the career services mitigate this downside a lot but it’s still true that the DC schools will have a larger alumni network in DC and a longer history of such.

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Awesome, thank you so much for the detailed and informative Pro/Con list! Everything I read and hear about IR/PS makes me more interested in the school. I won't be able to visit the campus before I have to make a decision, so any and all information is useful.

 

I have a couple more questions, if you don't mind: If I attend, I would be studying in the International Development / Latin America track. Do you or any of your peers follow that track, and if they do, have their experiences been positive? Is the faculty strong as far as Latin America regional studies go?

 

Also, do you know approximately when the school is likely to notify us regarding financial aid and fellowship awards? Sometime in March I suppose?

Thanks!

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understatement, you mention that IR/PS has similar job prospects to SAIS, etc. I dont necessarily agree but what kind of careers are open to students in the private sector? I know most dont choose this route but with the quant and language skills gained, most grad should be competitive. I gather SAIS leads the way on this but any thoughts?

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Are any of you got selected for interview?

 

Is it for all the applicant or just for a selected few?

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This is from the FAQ section of the MPIA website.

7. Is an interview part of the application process?

The admissions committee does not interview all applicants. If an interview is needed, we will contact you directly. Interviews are required for international applicants requesting a waiver of the English language exam (TOEFL or IELTS).

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Edan - These days the big momentum of the school seems to be China, which is understandable given China's rise in the world. Actually when IRPS was founded the main focus was Japan since many people thought Japan would overtake the US in many regards in the mid-80s.

 

I know less about the Latin America track, but this has always been a focus of the school and I think it either has the largest or second largest percentage of students focusing on it (the other being China). I know they have the US-Mexico Center that brings in speakers. I know less about the international development track but I know people in it of course. What aspect of development are you most interested in? I have only taken core classes so far but we have tackled different development issues from a somewhat qualitative but fairly quantitative perspective in both managerial econ and quantitative methods 2 (basically its an econometrics/regression analysis corse). This year the professors teaching managerial econ and QM2 are both development specialists. Everyone has their own opinion about which is the most practical and versatile career track, it's hard to say but of course depends on what you want to do.

 

On the not purely academics side of things, IRPS has a few different development clubs that do consulting work here in the local community as well as in Mexico with the Baja Project, a unique project that selects about three students each year to spend time a few times during the year in a very rural community in Baja Mexico working on development projects. Also, UCSD is about 30 minutes from "Latin America" so some people get involved with volunteering at orphanages, etc. Also, Prof. Feinberg teaches a US-Cuban Relations (or Cuban Politics, can't remember) class and goes with the students to Cuba for Spring Break every year on a study trip, which IRPS partially subsidizes.

 

Pinkman - For private sector, there are a good concentration of students in California working for energy-consulting firms, communications firms like Qualcomm, etc. Some alumni go into private-sector government consulting work at firms in DC, and I know there are at least a few alumni that I've come across working at political risk consulting firms. There's also the occasional I-banker but this isn't typical. I do think the curriculum is flexible enough to tailor to your career goals (particularly in the 2nd year of the program) but structured enough to provide everyone who goes through the program with certain skills. If you are really curious career services would be able to provide you with a more comprehensive list but since I am focusing on public sector I haven't looked into this as much.

 

For going the private-sector route in DC I'm sure the SAIS network is stronger since it is in DC itself and is an older and more known school in DC. So I would give SAIS a leg up in this regard, though I still have the sense that IRPS does pretty well with alumni setting up shop in DC after graduating. Mostly when I was talking about similar job prospects I was thinking about the public sector. For most of the jobs - State. Dept. civil service, foreign service, USAID, etc. the application process is very complicated and requires either an exam (foreign service) or passing the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF). There are other ways to get jobs with the federal government but after talking to a lot of different people I hear the same story over and over again: "Get the PMF." Having more chances for internships in DC while studying at a school like SAIS might help you with networking but with the federal government from my understanding this can only help you so much. So IRPS, although not in DC, in this regard has similar job prospects IMO. I think it comes down to doing some cost-benefit analysis of your funding packages and thinking about how much debt you're OK with at the different schools you get accepted to. For me IRPS was a great fit anyway and most of the other schools too expensive given everything IRPS had to offer.

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So I'm going to be interviewed in a couple of days and was wondering if anyone had any advice on possible interview questions?

A bit about me:

 

I applied to the PhD program originally but was rejected and got placed in the MPIA applications pile. I don't know if that puts me at a disadvantage.

I am an international student with a year of studying "abroad" ( :D) in the US. If I get accepted to IRPS F13, I'll be going straight out of undergrad with a measly 2-month internship being my entire work experience. I have a 3.7/4.3 GPA and so-so GRE scores (163/167/5.5).

 

So I'm thinking there may be some time allotted for a self-introduction, and probably questions on my SOP (the content is a little different since the PhD SOP topic was a bit different). I'll probably have to look at the topic question given for MPIA applications and figure out an answer to that, too.

What else might come up, though? Any advice from people who've done it before??

 

Thanks!

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My roommate had an interview for MPIA.

 

They are gonna ask you:

 

Why straight from undergrad?

What is one word that describes you?
How do others around you describe you

What is one goal that you have accomplished?

What would you do if you were the prime minister in Japan?

What would you do if you were the president in China?

Do you have any questions?

 

I thought there were more but can't remember.

Interview goes for exactly 20 min.

Good luck!

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My roommate had an interview for MPIA.

 

They are gonna ask you:

 

Why straight from undergrad?

What is one word that describes you?

How do others around you describe you

What is one goal that you have accomplished?

What would you do if you were the prime minister in Japan?

What would you do if you were the president in China?

Do you have any questions?

 

I thought there were more but can't remember.

Interview goes for exactly 20 min.

Good luck!

Thanks loads, deadhead! :lol:

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Yep!

Let me know how it goes.

The result comes out in about a week or two!

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Hey everyone,

 

I applied for the regular deadline for the MPIA program, and I am still waiting to hear back. Has anybody who applied under the January 15th deadline received a decision yet?

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Hey everyone,

 

I applied for the regular deadline for the MPIA program, and I am still waiting to hear back. Has anybody who applied under the January 15th deadline received a decision yet?

the lady who interviewed me said the result would be out in the last week of Feb.

But I haven't got any news yet. So nervous!

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Same, I received an e-mail three weeks ago, saying that I should expect a decision within three weeks. Needless to say, I have been checking my e-mail every half hour waiting for some sort of update.

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2 of my friends who applied to this program (with a strong reference letter) haven't heard back yet!

let's be patient!!

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The most recent newsletter (Feb. 28th) stated that, "If you applied by the second deadline (January 15), you should hear back from the Admissions Committee within two weeks." But given that the admitted students 'online chat' is on March 7th, I would figure decisions should be out before then.

 

I also was emailed by the Director of Enrollment, letting me know that funding decisions would come out by the end of the second week of March.

Edited by GomSaem (Bear Teacher)

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The most recent newsletter (Feb. 28th) stated that, "If you applied by the second deadline (January 15), you should hear back from the Admissions Committee within two weeks." But given that the admitted students 'online chat' is on March 7th, I would figure decisions should be out before then.

 

I also was emailed by the Director of Enrollment, letting me know that funding decisions would come out by the end of the second week of March.

Yeah got that too. I'm assuming there must be another admitted students chat after March 7th. Fingers crossed and good luck to everyone!

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Admitted!

 

congrats! now i shall commence a mad scramble to my email to see whether i got any good news or if UCSD will definitively put me out of my west coast misery.

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Admitted!

Congrats! Havent heard yet myself. Were you an early applicant or by the Jan deadline?

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Admitted, pretty sure I will go here unless I get into American or Fletcher with lots of funding.  Happy with this, out of all the programs this is the one I'm most interested in, but not sure if I should go to a higher ranked program if given the chance.  Anyways, just happy to know that I got in, and hope that I get some funding from them as well.

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Just checked..still says under review.

Mine said that as well, but I found out I was admitted through the messaging function of the application page.  Try looking there.  I also got an email from the school saying I had a new message, maybe they aren't done with all the applications yet.

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Mine said that as well, but I found out I was admitted through the messaging function of the application page.  Try looking there.  I also got an email from the school saying I had a new message, maybe they aren't done with all the applications yet.

Thanks. Just looked, nothing. I'll wait for the email. Congrats again! Any word on funding?

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