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Decisions: Georgetown SFS vs. GW Elliott vs. Tufts Fletcher

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For those of us with this specific set of options, this would be a great place to lay out the pros and cons of these three institutions.

Everyone seems to have opinions on the relative "cachet" of each name, the closeness of each community, the opportunities of the metro areas, etc., but it's safe to say they're all great schools, and I'd feel lucky to study at any of them.

I'll be concentrating on international trade policy, seeking employment in gov't or business. Regions of interest : Latin America, East/Southeast Asia.

I've been admitted for the MALD, ElSIA MA, and MSFS--just booked a ticket to visit each open house and get a feel, for whatever that's worth. Here are my personal considerations:

Georgetown:

B) unbeatable brand name, amazing network in government, tiny classes! And, apparently, SFS-SSP paintball battles.

:unsure: HUGE debt, like six figures.

GW:

B) gave me some money, cheaper tuition anyway, larger network, mid-semester internships.

:unsure: larger classes, less valuable brand name (...?)

Tufts:

B) gave me more money, cross-register w/HKS and MIT (can take advantage of their networks?? or is this just for bragging rights?), close-knit.

:unsure: thesis, not DC/NY (does this really matter during the semester?)

I know that in our collective freak-out we've all been weighing the possibilities for months. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts, especially anyone who has good reason to opine.

Many of us seem to be repeating what we've been told by the brochures (which, granted, could be entirely valid), so it would be GREAT to get a different perspective.

Thanks y'all. And again, CONGRATU-effing-LATIONS to everyone who got into their choice(s), and good luck to the rest!

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If you are interested in trade, I recommend GW's international trade and investment policy program (which I am currently in). If you got into the more general IA program, it is possible to transfer after starting. It is smaller and more focused, and I feel like we might get more individual attention than the larger IA group.

With regard to GW more generally, for me a major advantage was that all the classes are in the evening. I think everyone in my program has been able to get relevant internships during the day or is working. This is key for making connections and building the resume. It is a huge benefit to be in DC to take advantage of these opportunities.

I think that GW has pretty good name recognition in the DC area, from my limited experience so far. As you note, Georgetown is a bigger brand and is better-known outside of DC.

Also, I think that at Georgetown, GW, and AU students are able to cross-register for classes at the other universities, if that is something you are interested in.

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ITIP does look pretty good as a program. The large class size outside of that was certainly a con.

As far as student life and "best fit," I could certainly have a great time at any of these, and learn everything I need to launch a career.

Re GW, I'm more concerned about job placement outside of DC--just in case. It's hard to find actual employment outcome statistics (though GW's document is the best I've seen). The prospect of going to school and borrowing more money than I'll ever make in a year, only to find myself jobless after graduation in one of America's most expensive cities... it's terrifying.

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ITIP does look pretty good as a program. The large class size outside of that was certainly a con.

As far as student life and "best fit," I could certainly have a great time at any of these, and learn everything I need to launch a career.

Re GW, I'm more concerned about job placement outside of DC--just in case. It's hard to find actual employment outcome statistics (though GW's document is the best I've seen). The prospect of going to school and borrowing more money than I'll ever make in a year, only to find myself jobless after graduation in one of America's most expensive cities... it's terrifying.

I have a similar concern with Tufts. There's nothing new about lamenting their location, but I would like to hear what IR opportunities exist in and around Boston.

I've heard DU alums go to the boards for Korbel because of NORCOM and Colorado Springs, and I would love to hear some Fletcher alums do the same for Boston.

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I have a similar concern with Tufts. There's nothing new about lamenting their location, but I would like to hear what IR opportunities exist in and around Boston.

Same.

You mentioned elsewhere that you're interested in chasing the FSO dream, which I'm sure many of us are. I'd also love to hear if anyone has information on the best school to prepare for that. Sure, Georgetown produces the greatest number, but is that because it's a self-selecting pool of people planning on that career, or do they have some secret sauce that no one else is privy to? Either way, we've got to consider backups; even for people with our interests, credentials, etc., it seems like a real long shot...

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I am considering these schools as well as SAIS, though I'll be taking on considerably more debt with SAIS and MSFS...

Anyway, I went to the DC reception for Fletcher admits last night and spoke with a few alum that I thought had good points on the program:

- Fletcher students go there for the program, not the location. Their students tend to be more committed to the experience of the school - they don't have internships, jobs, or previously-established social circles to return to once class ends. Furthermore, Fletcher is on an actual campus. The speakers at the event and the school often boast about how tight-knit the community is, and all of the alumn reiterated this and seemed genuine in saying so.

- Another benefit of Boston is the intellectual community -sure, it might not be as professionally-oriented as DC or NY but you can't discount the benefits of being near some of the best minds in the country, if not the world.

- Thesis (this initially put me off as well since it has an academic rather than practical connotation): At least two of the alum I talked with spoke about how they were able to spin their thesis in a way that allowed them to use it as a product for a former internship/potential employer. The one guy said he wrote his specifically for an issue that his summer internship's organization encountered in Brazil and provided it to them once it was complete. They offered him a job but he turned it down for one at the World Bank, where he used that thesis as an example during the interview. To me, that means that you can, in effect, make your thesis into your own individual "capstone project," having all the benefits of practical application plus the bonus that only your name is on the cover.

- Finally, and most people probably are already aware of this, there is the flexibility of the MALD program. If you know exactly what you want to do and/or if you want to combine two diverse topics (say security & development or the environment & security, etc.), then it could be a very suitable choice. For me this makes the program very attractive.

- One alumn said something like "I have my whole life to work and these were likely to be my last two years of education - I wanted that to be the focus." I like the point he made, but some of us are hoping to include internships/jobs as way to finance costs.

I don't think I'm going to the Open House as I can't afford travel costs, but one of the alums who had also considered SAIS & SFS said that's what sold Fletcher for him (and he went to the others as well).

Hope this helps! Good luck with your decisions...I seem to change my mind every other day. If only I were rich =/

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When you are paying so much money, can you really afford the luxury of saying " I want a student life and enjoy the last 2 years as as student!" ?

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When you are paying so much money, can you really afford the luxury of saying " I want a student life and enjoy the last 2 years as as student!" ?

Point taken, but Fletcher is significantly cheaper for many people than SAIS and SFS. For me, significantly less debt is the reason I'm leaning toward Fletcher. When you are paying so much money, can you afford the luxury of choosing a school of pretty much the exact same caliber that will put you tens of thousands of dollars more in debt?

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Point taken, but Fletcher is significantly cheaper for many people than SAIS and SFS. For me, significantly less debt is the reason I'm leaning toward Fletcher. When you are paying so much money, can you afford the luxury of choosing a school of pretty much the exact same caliber that will put you tens of thousands of dollars more in debt?

My thoughts exactly. Quality of the program is not really in question. We do need to figure out if living in DC is actually going to be worth the premium. Current students have been offering some useful insights, but the most practical thing in the next few weeks would probably be to get in touch with alums who are at least a few years out. At least, that's my plan. Let us know if you guys get some good info!

Edited by ajl

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Hi,

I would like to approach the thread from a different perspective and ask you a question. I plan to pursue a Phd degree after completing my master degree. Which of the aforementioned universities has more advantages on being admitted to Phd than others?

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Hi,

I would like to approach the thread from a different perspective and ask you a question. I plan to pursue a Phd degree after completing my master degree. Which of the aforementioned universities has more advantages on being admitted to Phd than others?

What would you be studying in your PhD? Political Science, Policy Studes, International Affairs, etc.? Also, what is the goal of the PhD? To go into Academia, a think tank, to move up ranks in a place of employment, etc.?

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Hi,

I would like to approach the thread from a different perspective and ask you a question. I plan to pursue a Phd degree after completing my master degree. Which of the aforementioned universities has more advantages on being admitted to Phd than others?

Most of the programs being discussed here are intended as terminal degrees, not really as a stepping stone to a PhD. I know some people planning to do PhDs after finishing their masters, but I think they kind of regret not going directly into the PhD. By doing a master's first, you are basically just adding time and debt. Of course, there are a few PhD programs that require master's, but I do not think that most do.

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Fletcher is considered the more academic of these institutions, I believe because of the thesis requirement. Some fletcher students do pursue PhDs and I personally know a few that applied to the phd program in the 2nd year of their masters and will be staying on there to complete their doctorate

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What would you be studying in your PhD? Political Science, Policy Studes, International Affairs, etc.? Also, what is the goal of the PhD? To go into Academia, a think tank, to move up ranks in a place of employment, etc.?

I plan to study political science with concentration of Middle East. My aim is to teach at an academic institution.

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I plan to study political science with concentration of Middle East. My aim is to teach at an academic institution.

I am inclined to suggest Fletcher for you, if you want to pursue a career in academia. You will undoubtedly get a phenomenal opportunity to delve into a particular area of interest for your master’s thesis at Tufts, which can serve as a great 'writing sample' that PhD programs will require of you when applying.

There's no doubt that you'd have opportunities to write substantive papers at any of the schools we're talking about, but a large-scale research paper completed at Tufts should be very helpful in developing your academic credentials.

Edited by Learn619

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Hello. I've been accepted at SAIS, SIPA, GWU and am waitlisted at Georgetown SFS for a MA in Latin American Studies. I am leaning towards SAIS, as I have heard mediocre reviews of the SIPA program and GWU isn't as highly ranked as the others. However, does anyone have any input on the Georgetown program? May 1 is the deadline for deposits and I am still waiting on Georgetown, and if accepted, will have to make a last minute decision. I am living overseas and was unable to attend any open houses. Thanks!

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