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Ok, so another one of those "this or that" questions.


So, I need some opinions here.  I'm admitted to both American U's SIS (doing a Comparative and Regional Studies program in Asia) and UCSD's MPIA (doing the Globalization track, Poli/Sci, and in SE Asia region).


Here's my dilema.  I'm currently a PCV in Thailand and will not be back to the States in time for the Grad-Admit days at either university.  I've gathered opinions from the Embassy Staff here in Bangkok and some other professional contacts, and have compiled my list of pros/cons.




-Much more tailored program to SE Asia, Globalization and Poli/Sci (the latter is debatable, I know)

-Perceived advantage for those who want easy connections to Asia (UCSD's ASEAN Center for example)

-San Diego

-Have been in semi-regular contact with its applicants

-Name of UCSD is known overall



-Far from DC

-Name of MPIA (let's admit, name is still king) is not as well known

-UCSD, well known, but it's IR program is not as well known

-I have to take summer Econ classes (since I've never taken an econ class in my life, but it looks interesting)



American U


-Proximity to DC

-Recognition of a great education

-Many opportunities to network, intern, etc.

-Name of AU is not


-Competing with Eliot, SFS, SIAS, et. al. for said internships

-Not as highly ranked "overall" as UCSD

-Program is more broad


Does anyone have an opinion either way?  I won't delve into financials because I have loans lined up that take care of those.  I'm really looking for a program to prepare myself to enter into the State Dept.  I've taken the FSOT before and did fairly well.


Anyways, thanks!


PS, waiting for Kobel and Milano.

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From my understanding, your assessment sounds about right regarding the pros and cons of the programs. I'd say also that for becoming an FSO I don't think there would be a big difference between the schools. It's just such a long nebulous process where school name doesn't do much and both would give you a solid background for it. I'd say go to the school that is a better fit for what you want to study/ where you want to be, etc. And since both schools would prepare you well for the FSO and I don't really think either one would put you at a great advantage, go to the school where you learn the skills you want to learn and can develop yourself the best for your plan B and C.


Odds are that even best case scenario if you do get through the FSO process the first time, the government moves like molasses and you'll probably need to be doing something job-wise before your A100 class begins.

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I see you received admissions to SAIS, SFS, WWS and Fletcher, what made you choose UCSD over those amazing programs?  Scholarship, the program quality, communication?  And how are you liking it now?  We can message privately if you'd like.  Thanks for your advice!

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Well I didn't get into WWS but I did get into the others. I wrote about my opinion of the pros and cons on the other page and answered about how I decided to come to IR/PS but basically it was a combination of academic fit and fellowship support. IR/PS is a lot of work but I think I am learning a lot.


Congrats on your acceptance!

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I'm in the same dilemma picking between AU SIS and UCSD IR/PS.


From the three people I've asked so far, the two "practitioners" - a diplomat and a think-tank director - seem to favor SIS. My advisor, on the other hand, places UC San Diego over American academically, going so far as saying UCSD is ranked higher than American as an IR school. There is obviously a gap between how these two groups view programs.


In my opinion, UCSD is definitely the better place if you still have a PhD in the back of your mind; it is more highly respected by academics. Moreover, specifically with regard to connections and opportunities in East Asia, it is not certain that American is better than San Diego. IR/PS also seem to offer a better combination between a professional and an academic future.

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