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Advice for post-MPA

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I'm looking for advice on academic direction after I finish my MPA. Heres my story:


For undergrad I went to a top 30 US research university, but graduated with a 2.87 in an english major due to some personal issues that are now resolved. I'm currently enrolled at a NASPAA accredited MPA program at the local state school in my city while I work at a Non-Profit as a program manager. My program is ranked, but only around 130 out of the 200 or so ranked programs. I'm currently pulling 4.0's in all my classes. My program is more professional than academic, but next semester I'm going to do an independent study course with the goal of producing a published article and then try a few more attempts at publication after that. My GRE verbal score was 97th percentile. My math was more average, but I went in without studying after taking no math since high school. I'm confident that with preperation I could get a competitive quant score. I also plan on taking some summer courses in calc and statistics at the local community college.


I'm considering my options for after I graduate. I have no debt and will get out of my mpa debt free so I'm considering attempting a more prestigious master's degree after I graduate. I will have saved enough to fund a year of study at a private school with living expenses by the time I graduate. I've looked into Chicago's MAPSS and Columbia's Quantitative Methods for Social Sciences. Can anyone suggest any other 1 year programs at prestigious schools that could bolster my credentials? I would consider 2 year programs as well. My goals are to work in Washington in government or at a think tank, go into public sector consulting or get into a funded phd in public administration/ public policy at a school like Cornell, Ohio State or UMD College Park. I would especially like to make myself competitive for admission to a phd. My dream school would be Chicago, but I also have a goal of being competitive at a school like American or SUNY Albany.


I'd appreciate any advice into options for master's level study that I may be overlooking, or if you think I would be competitive after my MPA with a 4.0 and competitive GREs.

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I'm confused about why you would even want to go for a second master's degree at this point. If you're doing it just so you can get a big name school on your resume, it seems like a waste of time and money. For DC hiring, people like to see the MA, and the network can help you, but mostly they want to see people with job experience, not classroom experience, people who they know can do the job that's asked of them because they've been able to do it before. If you have so much money saved up and no school debt, maybe think about volunteering on a campaign.  That's a great way to quickly build a professional political network that could translate into a job or better connections in DC and it costs nothing but time and effort.  You could also use your savings to support you while you look for nonprofit or think tank jobs in DC.  Since you don't have debt, you're in a better position than most to go after those jobs, which do not pay super well, especially at first. 


Keep in mind too that it's not just about DC, state, local, and city governments need the talents of hardworking MPAs as well, and if you want to go the campaign route there's campaigns going on all over the place right now (Governor, mayor, state house and senate, etc etc etc).   So if you're concerned about being able to make the leap into an unknown market, maybe see about putting your skills to work in an area where you already have a professional network.  Or talk to the nonprofit you work for about contacts and possibilities in the city you most want to move to.  

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My MPA program has a very strong brand in my city and I know it's basically all I need to advance in public service here. I guess I'm just considering other degrees because I'm planning on applying to phd programs and I'm worried my undergraduate low gpa will take more than my mpa and strong gres to overcome. My plan is to apply to programs once I graduate, but I'm thinking of backup options if I don't get in/ get funding. If that happens, I'm just looking for good one year programs to strengthen my application before reapplying.

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