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MPP in economic policy - What schools to apply to?


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Hello guys! After much browsing - and learning - I've decided to tap this forum for its collective wisdom.

I am looking at an MPP/MPA next year, focusing on economic policy for growth with poverty alleviation. I am from India and would like to eventually return. A bit of background to give you a picture...

I am jumping in to a new field after 4 odd years as an IT engineer. Haven't really volunteered much ( mainly because I thought I wouldn't enjoy the sort of work I found - may be I was wrong in hindsight) but am trying to rectify that now. Too late for this year though.

GRE scores : 800 Quant, 710 Verbal, 4.5 AW (I like to think I'm a better writer but...)

GPA : 7.38/10 from a top engineering school in India that takes students in from the IIT exam ( it is supposed to be a big deal ). I've had quite a few calculus and stats courses in college but only one managerial economics course. Polishing my SOP now and believe that the LORs will be good.

Now to the question. After all my research, I think WWS, HKS, LSE, SIPA and SAIS offer exactly the kind of programs I want. I think Harris and Ford are flexible enough for me to create something I want. CMU is well-regarded and it takes in many without experience although I am not sure if I want all the management courses there. I have also looked at the DC schools (GWU, GPPI) and decided that they are too expensive as well as have too many part-time students for my liking. I have also looked at Berkeley, Duke, LBJ at Austin, USC and Maxwell.

My major concerns are fit, international focus for internships/jobs/learning and minimizing debt. My profile does not seem to make me strong enough for WWS or HKS and SAIS needs courses in economics I can't take now. So I am trying to narrow down the among LSE, SIPA, CMU, Berkeley, Ford, Harris, Duke, LBJ and USC and may be any others that I haven't noticed yet. Duke, LBJ and USC don't seem to be right fit for what I want but I would be open to persuasion. Perhaps 5-6 schools in the end is what I am looking at.

I would like to work in an IGO such as the World Bank and eventually in a think tank/research institution.

So can you guys please chime in with inputs on what schools you think will be a good fit and whether I have a chance to get some funding/TA/RA to reduce debt? I really want to keep my debt low/zero and would even make a choice based on that.

Thanks a lot for your help!

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