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MPA Schools that DON'T emphasize quant...

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Hey Guys,

I'm looking for programs that DO NOT put a ton of emphasis on quant. While I do want to gain those skill sets, I don't want to spend two years hating my life (never been a huge fan of math) and also I don't plan on working in any quant heavy professions (e.g. world bank, IMF etc.) so looking for programs that have it, but don't stress it.

Based on my research, I gather the following schools are quant heavy (aka won't be applying):

1) WWS


3) Chicago


5) Georgetown

Conversely, I plan to apply to the following because it doesn't seem like they are super quant heavy and/or let you choose how much quant you want:

1) HKS

2) GW

3) American

4) NYU

5) Duke

I would love to find out from either current students or well informed prospective students how quant heavy the curriculum for the above (schools I plan to apply to) are.

Thanks so much guys, all of you rock!

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My two cents on quant. If you are 100% committed to a weak quant program, feel free to skip it ha ha

Per the student panel @ Georgetown's GPPI and my friend who graduated from that program, they all said the benefit of the program IS quant. The student panel said at GPPI specifically, most students come in with weak quant backgrounds and the program does a fantastic job at training them to handle quant. My friend said she wanted to increase her quant skills to diversify her skill set and now is able to better understand and manipulate numbers (especially in better understand how statistics may be collected and interpreted).

I would say don't sell yourself short on quant. Had I not heard from so many ppl that quant worked out for them and it wasn't hell, I wouldn't be saying this. Also, you must realize how many humanities clones are out there. If you can have both the quant and humanities background, your resume will be that much more competitive.

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Thanks for the response orangesplease.

I totally agree that acquiring solid quant skills is important. It's just that I'm fairly confident that

1) my quant skills are pretty solid already (I was an econ undergrad and Mangement consultant for 3 yrs)

2) I don't plan to work in any professions where I'm personally creating the stats myself, aka, there's no reason to spend two years calculating Rs when I have zero intention to do it myself.

make sense?

On that note, looking for less quant heavy programs that provide a solid but not excessive quant education.

Im looking to consume data, not produce it...

On that note, I'm thinking the following are top notch schools that provide a good balance while not short changing the actual subject specialties:

1) HKS

2) GWU

3) NYU

4) Duke (not really sure...guidance?)

5) Maryland (Also not totally sure)

thoughts? would love to hear from current or prior students....

Edited by huppster5
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Like you, I want to be a consumer of data, not a producer, per se. So I considered the same things you did when looking at schools. Here are a couple of thoughts on Duke and Maryland.

I applied, visited, and seriously considered Duke's Sanford School. My impression is that with a quant background like yours, you'll be just fine in their core curriculum. For those who choose to "hate their lives," there is a separate and advanced quant track. I really loved the community atmosphere. It was collegial and not at all competative. Moreover, the small size of the program makes it easy to build a community. So those are things to consider if that interests you at all.

I also visited and considered SPP at Maryland. I really liked the building (housed w/ the B School) and had a chance to meet with a distinguished professor. I got the sense that a lot of faculty choose to teach at Maryland because it allows them to moonlight in DC working policy. I also got the impression that students don't spend a ton of time on campus or in College Park. Seemed like most folks commuted in from DC. The quant at Maryland seemed far less intimidating than Duke. In the end, community was important to me and chose not to apply to UMD because I didn't feel there was much of it there.

Hope all that helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I can't really speak to the other programs but I'll do my best for WWS... First up I had a non-existant quant background prior to starting here and absolutely hated all things quant. The first semester has been tough but I think what I'm learning is infinitely worthwhile. So here are a few pros of how we do it:

1) There are three 'tracks' (i.e. difficulty levels)

2) You'll only have pre-req. quant in your first year (micro, macro, stat, econometrics)

3) After semester one most people say stats is one of their favorite classes (me included)

I'm lucky enough to be taught by Prof. Mark Watson and he is not only a brilliant statistician but a great teacher too. On day one he said something that has stuck with me. We're not being taught to be statisticians, but to become literate consumers of statistics as policymakers.

WWS really does a lot of hand-holding in terms of getting you through the early parts of the course (I got a tutor provided) and I think the quant skills I'm learning now are really expanding my skill set. I'm not the next Nate Silver, but at least I can now look at a stats heavy paper and know whether they're trying to pull the wool over my eyes or not.

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