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Current Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy Student


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Hey all,

I am currently attending GSPP and would be more than happy to answer questions specific to the school or application process.  As some background, I went to a UC for my undergrad where I studied Econ.  I had 5 years of work experience mostly in private sector, and my top two choices were Berkeley and Johns Hopkins SAIS.  I received a half scholarship to Hopkins, but Berkeley's proximity to home, weather, and very affordable costs swayed me at the end of the day (If you TA/research at Berkeley, you get a good portion of your tuition paid for).  

 

Any details you want to know about, just ask or PM me.  I won't give you any BS.  

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Socal_kid, based on your experience, are full tuition scholarships likely or common at "top" grad programs in IR/development?

 

They are available, but obviously not too common.  They are given, logically, to those with really high GPA's and test scores.  If I had to guess there probably aren't more than a handful given out at most of these programs just because they are so pricey and these schools obviously make a lot of money of their students.  So not impossible, but don't go in thinking you're going to get a full ride unless you have close to a 4.0 GPA and high GRE's.  

 

Edit: For those who like me were concerned about financing, definitely look into Princeton Woodrow Wilson.  They give almost all their students free tuition, a stipend for living, or both.  

Edited by socal_kid
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Thank you! This is info is very helpful! I'm currently in graduate school for social work because they offered me 100% paid tuition. I'm hoping to enrich the degree by taking IR courses for all of my electives. But I wonder if this path was a good idea since I am focused on int'l development and I've discovered that social work is largely domestically focused. I went this route because I had the impression (as you confirmed) that many of these top MPP/MPA/MID/IR programs are exorbitantly expensive. 

 

I'm going to look into Princeton -- but how can they give so much money to all their students?!

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Thank you! This is info is very helpful! I'm currently in graduate school for social work because they offered me 100% paid tuition. I'm hoping to enrich the degree by taking IR courses for all of my electives. But I wonder if this path was a good idea since I am focused on int'l development and I've discovered that social work is largely domestically focused. I went this route because I had the impression (as you confirmed) that many of these top MPP/MPA/MID/IR programs are exorbitantly expensive. 

 

I'm going to look into Princeton -- but how can they give so much money to all their students?!

 

Congrats on the tuition payment.  Princeton's a very wealthy school like Harvard.  They probably have a huge endowment.  They apparently are also very generous to their undergrads as well.  I think the fact the school invests in their students makes a lot of them much more likely to contribute back to the school when they become successful.  

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Social_kid, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to answer queries.

 

I want to know to how is the recruiting scene for international students who want to work for multilateral organizations like world bank, UNDP. Is GSPP favored among these organizations ,or is the alumni network strong enough to be leveraged.

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Hey all,

I am currently attending GSPP and would be more than happy to answer questions specific to the school or application process.  As some background, I went to a UC for my undergrad where I studied Econ.  I had 5 years of work experience mostly in private sector, and my top two choices were Berkeley and Johns Hopkins SAIS.  I received a half scholarship to Hopkins, but Berkeley's proximity to home, weather, and very affordable costs swayed me at the end of the day (If you TA/research at Berkeley, you get a good portion of your tuition paid for).  

 

Any details you want to know about, just ask or PM me.  I won't give you any BS.  

 

Very generous initiative! 

Have you encountered many people with 1 year or less of professional experience getting successfully in?

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Social_kid, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to answer queries.

 

I want to know to how is the recruiting scene for international students who want to work for multilateral organizations like world bank, UNDP. Is GSPP favored among these organizations ,or is the alumni network strong enough to be leveraged.

 

One of the main shortcomings of GSPP is that its international policy is good but not great.  However that's a huge point of focus for them right now.  My class this year has, I believe, around 15 international students out of 80 which comes with a lot of interest in multilateral orgs.  That being said, there are still a substantial number of GSPP alum at those organizations.  If you go to GSPP, you'll have access to all those contacts by agency and you can feel free to email them if you want.  I just did a brief search for World Bank and found something like 15 alum currently working there.  Also, the school does a yearly Washington DC trip where you can go and meet alum at different organizations out there.  

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Very generous initiative! 

Have you encountered many people with 1 year or less of professional experience getting successfully in?

 

It's not the norm but I have met I think 2 or 3 students who only worked for a very brief period and got in.  I would say that in order for you to get into schools with only such limited work experience you'll need a high GPA, very good test scores, and also a really good story of why you're going to the school.  If you're able to communicate a unique story, your chances will go up.

 

I would also add that I found my years working after college to be really valuable.  I worked for 5 years, and now that I'm back at school, I appreciate it way more and especially with something like a policy degree, you're still dependent on networking skills to a degree so having more professional experience is always good.  I'm not trying to discourage you at all, because you very well may know exactly what you want to do in policy school.  Just adding in my 2 cents.  

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Social_kid, thanks for offering to answer queries.

 

I am applying to the Goldman MPP, have an average GPA (international), and solid essays and work experience (a couple of years in grassroot policy-making in India, and a year and a half in academic policy research). I am wondering if my GRE scores are enough for a top programme though - I have a 161 Q, 167 V, 4 AWA. Once I'm done with the rest of my application, would you think a retake would be worth it? I'm wondering if being short by a few quant points could prove to be decisive, particularly when it comes to financial aid? I see myself coming back to work in my home country, and simply cannot afford dollar-debt, so my ultimate choice of graduate programme would boil down to funding. 

Edited by Plate77
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Hi there,

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I'm looking to study educational policy, possibly with an international bent. While I know there are some respected scholars there like Professor Kirp, do you know if educational policy is a big part at the school? 

 

Additionally, is the program focus on developing general analytical skills rather than a specialization? Since I didn't see policy focuses listed (albeit with plenty of elective courses on offer), I thought that might be the case. 

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Social_kid, thanks for offering to answer queries.

 

I am applying to the Goldman MPP, have an average GPA (international), and solid essays and work experience (a couple of years in grassroot policy-making in India, and a year and a half in academic policy research). I am wondering if my GRE scores are enough for a top programme though - I have a 161 Q, 167 V, 4 AWA. Once I'm done with the rest of my application, would you think a retake would be worth it? I'm wondering if being short by a few quant points could prove to be decisive, particularly when it comes to financial aid? I see myself coming back to work in my home country, and simply cannot afford dollar-debt, so my ultimate choice of graduate programme would boil down to funding. 

 

Your scores are actually better than mine - I took the old formatted test but I think my new score is something like 160Q and 164V and 4 AWA.  I would say a re-take probably isn't necessary just based off the fact I got in with lower scores than you.  I suppose for financial aid status, it wouldn't hurt to try again, but I'm not 100% sure how much difference will be made if you improve a few points.  It never hurts I suppose, but again remember you can hold a position as a GSI if you get in which will greatly subsidize your cost.  There are a few Indian students in my program this year so if you get in, be sure to reach out as I'm not great on the whole international student perspective being a California resident.  

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Hi there,

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I'm looking to study educational policy, possibly with an international bent. While I know there are some respected scholars there like Professor Kirp, do you know if educational policy is a big part at the school? 

 

Additionally, is the program focus on developing general analytical skills rather than a specialization? Since I didn't see policy focuses listed (albeit with plenty of elective courses on offer), I thought that might be the case. 

 

Yes education policy is a big interest.  There are a good number of folks that are into education policy and have backgrounds working as teachers or in some capacity in the education system.  I don't have the exact numbers but know it feels substantial.  

 

Your second question regarding skills over specialization is definitely the vibe I get from the school and the reason I came here.  There is a project in the first year and second year where you perform policy analysis for an actual company/organization of your choosing.  These projects stress the quantitative and analytical skills you'll learn in class, or at least that's the idea (I'm still a first year so I haven't done the project yet). That being said, you can take all your electives in a particular policy interest if you want and sort of build an unofficial focus that way.  You can take electives in basically any school of your choosing so there's flexibility.  

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Thanks for offering your thoughts; it's great to learn a bit more. The Goldman School is my top choice right now, for some of the same reasons why you chose it (I think being a generalist is awesome!).

 

How is the cohort that you are with? On a visit earlier this year, I mostly liked the people I met. Do you like the people that you're with and find them similarly motivated or inspirational? Is it as diverse as you think it should be or have you seen that come out in a good way? Do people spend time collaborating or hanging out together outside of class? 

 

Since you took advantage of the GSI position and the tuition discount (such a useful fact and not broadly publicized), can you describe what position(s) you have taken on, if any in your first semester, and how the experience has been?

 

One more generalish question: I've heard from various people that my SOP should (in a subtle way) namedrop some professors at the school in question that I'm interested in working with or studying with should I get accepted. I also have contacted one Berkeley prof to date and had a quick phone conversation with him about the APA, which was really useful. Should I do that for more professors at each school? It feels a little awkward like I'm just doing due diligence; it's not that I wouldn't like to get in touch with them but more a matter of I feel like I'm doing it for the application, and it feels weird since I'm not really a student yet. And of course, does it really make a difference i the application in so far as you know? I'll probably pose this to the greater Gradcafe forums for SOPs but thought I'd appreciate your view. Thanks!

Edited by chocolatecheesecake
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Thanks for offering your thoughts; it's great to learn a bit more. The Goldman School is my top choice right now, for some of the same reasons why you chose it (I think being a generalist is awesome!).

 

How is the cohort that you are with? On a visit earlier this year, I mostly liked the people I met. Do you like the people that you're with and find them similarly motivated or inspirational? Is it as diverse as you think it should be or have you seen that come out in a good way? Do people spend time collaborating or hanging out together outside of class? 

 

Since you took advantage of the GSI position and the tuition discount (such a useful fact and not broadly publicized), can you describe what position(s) you have taken on, if any in your first semester, and how the experience has been?

 

One more generalish question: I've heard from various people that my SOP should (in a subtle way) namedrop some professors at the school in question that I'm interested in working with or studying with should I get accepted. I also have contacted one Berkeley prof to date and had a quick phone conversation with him about the APA, which was really useful. Should I do that for more professors at each school? It feels a little awkward like I'm just doing due diligence; it's not that I wouldn't like to get in touch with them but more a matter of I feel like I'm doing it for the application, and it feels weird since I'm not really a student yet. And of course, does it really make a difference i the application in so far as you know? I'll probably pose this to the greater Gradcafe forums for SOPs but thought I'd appreciate your view. Thanks!

 

I like my cohort a lot.  To be completely honest, I am probably one of the laziest people here.  I'm very laid back and soaking in the whole being in school experience again after working for 5 years.  So yes there are plenty of motivated, smart people and if you're one of them you will fit right in.  And yes definitely people hang out outside of class.  Berkeley's a cool town, and the great part about it is it's so close to SF or Oakland so if you get bored here you can always venture out.  It seems like a general trend in grad school though that there's always going to be a portion of the class that already has their own lives (i.e. spouses, babies, etc.) that won't really be seen outside of class.  But there are still plenty of social events and such.  GSPP is probably one of the smaller policy programs (they usually let in about 80 people or so a year) so that's either a good thing or bad thing depending on how you look at it.  I would say it is pretty diverse.  This year, they let in way more international students than before so we've got a good mix of kids.  Also you'll find people from very different backgrounds in terms of professional experience.  

 

So I'm actually a GSR (researcher) for the school of education.  It's been great so far.  The hours are really flexible and I'm really enjoying the work I'm doing.  I have a lot of classmates who are GSI'ing, and it does seem more stressful than a reader or researcher, so I would advise if you GSI to try your best to pick a class that you either know really well or are really interested in.  If you attend the applicant orientations you can ask more to people there; we're pretty honest about it I'd say.  I would also guess that unless you find a 25% GSI (this will make more sense when you start researching), the best route to go in terms of benefits and stress balance is to find a researcher or reader position that will offer the fee remission.  Feel free to PM me more on this.  

 

As far as namedropping professors: I did it on my app and I never even contacted them so the fact that you've actually reached out is great.  I would definitely drop those names.  

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  • 4 months later...

Hi socal_kid!  I have been admitted to GSPP without fellowship and I had a few queries

 

1.If one is offered a RA/TA on campus is it sufficient to manage considering I don't have funding? The great thing is I have a cousin nearby who  I can stay with (no rent!)

 

2. Do you have any idea how many people apply every year and how many international students there are in each batch? From the stats on the website, in 2012 there were just 16. 

 

3. Therefore, is the class not as diverse as it can be as there are so few international applicants?

 

4. Is the focus of GSPP more domestic rather than international?

 

Thank you!

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Hi socal_kid!  I have been admitted to GSPP without fellowship and I had a few queries

 

1.If one is offered a RA/TA on campus is it sufficient to manage considering I don't have funding? The great thing is I have a cousin nearby who  I can stay with (no rent!)

 

2. Do you have any idea how many people apply every year and how many international students there are in each batch? From the stats on the website, in 2012 there were just 16. 

 

3. Therefore, is the class not as diverse as it can be as there are so few international applicants?

 

4. Is the focus of GSPP more domestic rather than international?

 

Thank you!

 

tingtong13, we are in the same boat (admitted without funding). I am also an international applicant.

For now I inclined to accept Harris MPP offer (full tuition + stipend) but I am not quite sure yet.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi everyone,

 

I am an international student from India, currently working in Deloitte Consulting in India. I wanted to apply for the MPP Programme next year. However I was concerned about the financial situation over there since I am not aware of it. Can someone please guide me whether all international students get some kind of fellowship..and in normal circumstances how much is it. What is the actual living expenses because the websites show very inflated costs. 

 

And what is the scenario for fellowships for MSPPM programme at CMU?

 

Thanks

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