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IshmaelRaheem

American SPA vs. GWU Trachtenberg for MPA

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Is anyone else in the position of deciding between these two programs? Any advice? Any current students with perspectives to share?

 

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I applied to both programs and was accepted at both, but got more funding from GW so that is likely the deciding factor for me. My advice is to go to the admitted student days and ask lots of good questions. I would imagine you are likely to get a similar experience from both schools, but if there is a specific subset field you are most interested in it would be good to get first hand accounts from current students and faculty on how your interests match with the program. I know that's not that helpful, but I really think that both of these schools will be great so you can't make a bad choice!

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Thanks Flyers1, that's helpful. I'm attending the admitted student days at both AU and GWU over the next two days and I'm hoping to learn more about what distinguishes the programs from one another. I'm leaning toward nonprofit management, but I'm also interested in international development.

 

I agree that it seems like both schools are quite good, but I've heard that GWU has a better reputation than AU. Do you have any sense if that's fair? Reputation certainly isn't my only criteria for picking a program, but I am curious if the perception in DC of the two programs is very different.

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The impression that I have is that GW's reputation is better in DC but I am certainly planning on asking around while I am down there. I will be at the Saturday admitted students day for GW. If you will be there and want to talk send me a private message. For me, it is the combination of money, reputation, location that gave the edge to GW.

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As a DC native, I can tell you GW does have a better reputation. It's also ranked higher; US News and World Report had it at #50 nationally, and American at #77. Also, GW has an average acceptance rate of around 33%, whereas acceptance rates hover around 44% for American, making GW notably more selective. And everyone knows that, so people do tend to view it as the better school. Generally, DC universities are thought of this way (best to worst):

 

1. Georgetown

2. George Washington

3. American

4. Catholic

5. Howard

6. University of DC

 

The difference between GW and AU isn't enormous, and the two schools certainly share some faculty, so there's no denying American is great. I've visited them a lot, and they've got a very organized and friendly staff. You really can't go wrong either way, and I agree with Flyers that you should go to both Open Houses and get a feel for them. Whichever place you choose should be the one that feels like home, that has the best curriculum and connections for your intended career. Particularly given that the two schools aren't HUGELY apart on the ranking scale, fit and comfort matter most here.

 

That being said, GW does have name recognition that American doesn't, it's considered to be a better school, and GW's proximity to the White House is a nice bonus. If you've never been to DC, or if you've only ever been as a tourist, there are INFINITELY more networking and social opportunities around the White House than anywhere else in the city. Not like American's campus is super far away or anything-- but GW's campus couldn't possibly be more centrally located.

Edited by ThePope

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I've been in DC for 3 years. GW is hands down better respected than American.

 

More importantly, coming from out of town you may not realize but GW is a prime location, both in its proximity to the WH, CBO, etc., but also because it has a metro stop that makes it easy to get around the city. It's the blue/orange line which makes it a straight shot to Capitol Hill. It would be incredibly easy to get great intern and work experiences at GW. (I nearly turned down a scholarship at Georgetown to pay sticker at GW for this reason, but I'm not leaning toward Georgetown again just because their program aligns better with my interests.) American is a bus ride away from a metro stop. It's neighborhood is beautiful but isolated, and I know I would find myself less inclined to make it to campus for special events, or work/intern a lot while attending.

 

On a personal note, I attended American for a few ed certification classes and while my professor was good, the logistics of the school drove me mad. It's like everything having to do with their websites and administrative aspect is the biggest pain in the ass possible. I know this may sound trivial in a graduate program decision, but for me those problems were just such time wasters I wouldn't attend AU again unless I had no other options.

 

I know this thread was started awhile ago, let us know what you've decided!

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On 3/21/2013 at 11:38 AM, ThePope said:

As a DC native, I can tell you GW does have a better reputation. It's also ranked higher; US News and World Report had it at #50 nationally, and American at #77. Also, GW has an average acceptance rate of around 33%, whereas acceptance rates hover around 44% for American, making GW notably more selective. And everyone knows that, so people do tend to view it as the better school. Generally, DC universities are thought of this way (best to worst):

 

1. Georgetown

2. George Washington

3. American

4. Catholic

5. Howard

6. University of DC

 

The difference between GW and AU isn't enormous, and the two schools certainly share some faculty, so there's no denying American is great. I've visited them a lot, and they've got a very organized and friendly staff. You really can't go wrong either way, and I agree with Flyers that you should go to both Open Houses and get a feel for them. Whichever place you choose should be the one that feels like home, that has the best curriculum and connections for your intended career. Particularly given that the two schools aren't HUGELY apart on the ranking scale, fit and comfort matter most here.

 

That being said, GW does have name recognition that American doesn't, it's considered to be a better school, and GW's proximity to the White House is a nice bonus. If you've never been to DC, or if you've only ever been as a tourist, there are INFINITELY more networking and social opportunities around the White House than anywhere else in the city. Not like American's campus is super far away or anything-- but GW's campus couldn't possibly be more centrally located.

You forgot Trinity (and Gallaudet). 

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