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Choosing a masters program focused on energy and environment- Duke vs. Columbia


MJramos
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I applied and got accepted to three masters programs this year and even though I feel extremely lucky to be in this position, I'm having a hard time choosing the one! I'm hoping to work in energy and climate change consulting for some years after graduate school and then enter the international development field (focusing on the same issues). I am looking at a program with strong environmental policy courses as well as some basic scientific courses. The choice has come down to MPA at Columbia's SIPA (energy and environment concentration) and MEM at Duke's Nicholas school of environment. They have both given me the same amount of money- making this decision even harder. One of my main questions is which program would take me farther when it comes to the career i'm interested in? how does the alumni network of these two schools compare in the field of energy and climate change policy? If anyone has gone through the same dilemma or has any insight into these questions, I would REALLY appreciate your comment!

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Would also be curious about the funding packages you received. Total cost of attendance at SIPA would be $140K, whereas Nicholas is $100K. Equal scholarships will not mean equal costs and loans.

 

In some ways, our interests are close. At Duke, you can also take international development classes at the Sanford School of Public Policy. I've heard nothing but praise for the rigor of the Nicholas curriculum and the choices afforded for course selection through Duke's other schools -- there's an option for everything (e.g. intermediate science, advanced science, engineering, environmental law, environmental policy, public policy, GIS, data analysis, statistics, economics, and so on).

 

What's your background? Any inclination on which curriculum appeals to you best? Appraising the strength of each school's alumni network isn't going to be a precise measure, but I haven't heard anything of concern regarding either.

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great points. I do realize that regardless of the aid package the cost of attending SIPA would be greater than attending Duke. But the difference is not big enough to sway me one way or another solely based on the cost. (especially since i'd be very tempted to apply to duke's dual degree with business school) The curriculum at Duke is slightly more science based but honestly they offer pretty much the same courses. My background is in Econ and Poli Sci and I have few years of policy experience under my belt so I am interested in choosing a program that would give me a bit of scientific edge and in that sense Duke's a bit more attractive. Though I can't help but wonder if SIPA's network is more broad and effective in international development or even west coast (since I'm from the west coast and like to come back here). Is that not the case? 

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I've spoken with someone who is established in the field (and did a dual degree at a peer institution) about the same thing. He's worked on the west coast, at two of the big name organizations, and said the Nicholas School has a great reputation everywhere; he also had a co-worker who was an alum of the program.

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