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I've been admitted to Yale Jackson, UT Austin's LBJ School, SAIS, Tufts Fletcher, and GPPI. Still waiting to hear from SIPA. At this point I lean toward Jackson, but wanted to ask for input from other applicants (anecdotal, stats, etc).  

 

I think this will be a pretty good fit for me based on a few things: 

1. It seems to be well-regarded as an academic program, and I'm trying leave the door open for a PhD later in my life.

2. Although IR-focused, the program seems to allow several different tracks to follow as well as opportunities to connect with other grad schools. Seems to have a very inter-disciplinary approach.

3. The university itself seems well-invested in the school, gaining a number of notable senior fellows in a short time.

4. New Haven is 90 minutes away from the area where I grew up.

5. With the Post 9/11 GI Bill's Yellow Ribbon program, it appears as though the full $35k tuition is covered and I would receive $2200/month as a living stipend.

 

I'm a little concerned by a few factors:

1. The small class size (25-30) may limit opportunities for me to learn from the diverse set of experiences I would see in a class of 200+ people.

2. The nascent status of the program and above-mentioned class size would seem to limit some networking potential due to a lack of alumni in the field (although on the other hand, Yale has always had a well-regarded ability to put their people into prominent roles within the US government, so does this even matter so much?).

3. They call their degree a "Master of Arts in Global Affairs" rather than a "Master of Public Policy" or "Master of Public Affairs." Any chance this label might be a disadvantage when looking for jobs traditionally sought by an IR-focused MPP/MPA? 

 

Is anyone else mulling over a similar decision? For anyone who has lived in/visited New Haven, is it a good place to live for a couple in their 20s? Please let me know your thoughts. Critique or confirm my assumptions, and let me know if you see a much stronger case for some of my alternatives. I know that this is a pretty good problem to have and I appreciate your time and perspective.

Edited by LeadTheTurn
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I was accepted to Jackson last year with a fellowship and strongly considered it. I think you have a good grasp of the pros and cons. It is a very small program but they make good use of Yale University's resources as a whole and you can tap into interesting classes at the business and law schools since the second year is (I believe still) all electives. You can take courses with visiting fellows like David Brooks and Stanley McChrystal, who have real-world connections that can help you. Career services may not be the most well-established or connected alum-wise, but at least they will know you really well and always have time for you since the class is so small. I would also say that Jim Levinsohn has completely redesigned the program starting last year and is making an effort to make it more practitioner-based, though obviously it is still probably the most academic of the bunch you are choosing from (though this is good for a potential future PhD). New Haven is a great little town with lots of cool foodie spots. Just have to be safe and use common sense (get your wife some pepper spray). Out of your other choices I would probably only consider SAIS and Fletcher depending on what you want to do, but $ is also a huge factor.

 

Feel free to PM if you'd like to talk more. 

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I know people who attend and they have had a great experience.  I think you will find the small class size to your advantage.  You'll be able to have more meaningful connections to professors/your recommenders than you would at a place with 200 students.

 

Check out their World Fellows program.  That is a major advantage on the networking side of things.

 

I would also bet on the fact that Jackon's worldwide reputation will be going up and up over the years.

 

I wouldn't worry about the name of the degree.

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  • 6 months later...

To those considering the Jackson Institute:

 

I chose Jackson over WWS, SAIS, Georgetown's SFS, and Berkeley's Goldman School. I am now two months into my first semester, and I couldn't be happier about my decision. Given that Jackson is relatively new on the scene and information can be a little difficult to come by, I wanted to share some of the reasons that led me to New Haven.

 

1. The program's flexibility offered a unique opportunity to fully explore my interests. Students are only required to take 3 core courses (Economics, History of the Present, and Applied Quantitative Methods) and fulfill a language proficiency requirement. There are no additional requirements and no cookie-cutter concentrations. Students are encouraged to design and pursue their own concentrations, and it is unbelievably easy to take courses at the professional schools. I'm currently taking "Managing Global Catastrophes" with Jeffrey Garten at the School of Management; as an indicator of the course's caliber, visitors this semester include the UN Assistant Secretary for Disaster Risk Reduction, a former UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, a former Vice President for Disaster Services at the Red Cross, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration, the Executive Vice-President of the IRC, the former President of ABC News, the former Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, and the Executive Director of UNICEF. All that to say, you are encouraged to pursue your interests, regardless of where they lie. Someone told me when I visited that "Yale is your intellectual playground....go out an enjoy it." My experience so far has confirmed this.

 

2. The small size of the program (25-28 students per year) facilitates a remarkable level of interaction with the faculty and senior fellows. I pass Emma Sky in the hallway routinely and she knows my name (I have not yet taken a class with her), and I have met with both Michele Malvesti and Tom Graham to get advice and leads on summer internships. Additionally, the program director, Jim Levinsohn, teaches our core econ class, knows each of us well, and routinely hosts events for us at his home. I can't imagine that I would have had a similar experience anywhere else (certainly not at large programs like SIPA or HKS). By the way, my classmates are insanely talented and experienced. I sincerely believe that the close relationships I have already formed with them will benefit me more in the professional world than casual aquaintances with hundreds of classmates elsewhere.

 

3. The program is unabashedly practitioner-oriented. The MA was recently renamed (IR to Global Affairs), and it reflects a course change from the program's previous academic orientation. Don't let old posts fool you....the Jackson Institute is a professional school. It technically falls under the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, but there is a compelling rationale: this organization makes it MUCH easier to cross-register for classes in other professional schools. For those who are sweating the fact that they won't graduate with an MPP or MPA: stop sweating it. Jackson is already known for its professional focus, just as the MA at SAIS is respected as a professional degree.

 

4. Elizabeth Gill, the Director of Career Services is amazing. She meets with every student routinely, reviews individual resumes and cover letters, offers weekly career advancement seminars, and brings in recruiters from every sector and flavor. I have no doubt that her efforts contributed immeasurably to the 100% employment of the most recent graduating class. I frankly don't know how anyone could leave Jackson without a job. The only program I looked at that had a comparable career services program was WWS.

 

Now for a few concerns that I had prior to visiting the Jackson Institute:

 

5. New Haven. Don't believe all the hype. Yale has invested a lot of money in the New Haven area (this hasn't always been the case), and the city's reputation for crime is largely a thing of the past. There are areas to avoid, just as there are in any other city. If you happen to choose an apartment in or past such an area, Yale has a shuttle that will actually drop you off at your residence so you don't have to bike/walk in the dark. On a separate note, the food/entertainment scene in New Haven is great.....make sure you check it out during your visit.

 

6. The Jackson MA isn't ranked. I spent a lot of time agonizing over the fact that the program wasn't ranked by USN&WR or FP's Ivory Tower. Again, don't sweat it. The program is new, and everyone I consulted before making my decision (to include graduates of competitor programs) was convinced that it wouldn't be long before it's competing with the best. FP currently ranks Yale's undergrad IR program at #6 and its Ph.D. program at #5. I would expect Jackson to show up with a similar ranking in the Master's category in the near future.

 

In closing, I strongly encourage you to come visit. I was deeply conflicted before I made the trip, and I wasn't when I left. If anyone has additional questions, feel free to message me or post your questions in this forum. I will try to check both periodically. Good luck!

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