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MPP in economic policy - What schools to apply to?


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*** Moved this from another thread to Government affairs. Sorry if seems like spamming ***

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 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 competitive 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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I'm no expert, but it seems like SAIS would be a great fit for you, as their entire program is basically focused on economic policy (mostly international, at that). I know you say that they require an econ course you cannot take now, but could you take it at any point before you would hypothetically enroll? A number of schools provide that as an option.

I'm not sure how your GPA converts to a 4.0 American scale, but your GRE scores are definitely competitive for WWS and HKS. WWS, however, seems to really value candidate's commitment to the public sector, and I'm not sure your work experience reflects that (whatever your personal passions may be). Perhaps you might be able to pull it off if you crafted a compelling statement of purpose about why you want to change tracks. A few of the current student bios on the WWS website suggest that some successful applicants started off in the private sector, and then had some kind of wake up call leading them to public service...

The sense I get from Harris is that they are very math-based - their stats sequence is longer than any other school that I have seen. They also base their funding offerings largely on GRE, which could be to your advantage.

I am only gleaning this from previous posts on these boards, but SIPA is supposedly notoriously stingy with money, so if finances are a concern, then you might look elsewhere.

Not sure about the other schools you've mentioned. Good luck.

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@ridofme Thanks for your comments and your best wishes! Good luck in your applications as well. What you said about SAIS fit is absolutely true but I am not sure whether they have some kind of pre-term bring-up-to-scratch program. But now that you mentioned it I think I will ask a friend studying there.

My GPA is not a particular highlight of my application. A major part of that is because I was a little unsure about where my life was going in college. I got to thinking about it and made this decision eventually to want to do public service based on my desire and passion. That is the story I want to tell in the SOP as well, just not sure how it will hold up when seen in comparison with people who have experience in the real world. Since WWS and HKS are highly selective and value work ex as you said, I thought I hadn't much of a chance right now.

Indeed Harris comes out as having a quant focus. I do plan to apply there. Also thinking about Berkeley even though their strength is pure policy analysis. I think I might be able to take some electives from their well-regarded econ department, and since the tuition is lower and TA ops much more I might graduate with a manageable debt. Only concern there is its relevance to international economic development. SIPA also has a concentration in Economic and political Dev i like and they also have a South Asia specialization...Alas! SIPA seems to be too expensive.

Does anyone have more insights into the schools I mentioned in my context? (CMU, LSE, Berkeley, Harris, Ford, SIPA, Duke, LBJ, USC) And may be other schools I should look at.... Your inputs will be really appreciated.

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