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HGSE vs Stanford GSE (HDP vs ICE)?


phil413
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Hi friends,

I am having some difficulty making the decision between Stanford's ICE (International Comparative Education) program and Harvard's HDP (Human Development and Psychology) program. If anybody is faced with a similar decision or can speak to any of the below points as a current /past student, I would greatly appreciate your input!

 

Below are the various factors that I'm thinking through. Please clarify or correct any misconceptions!

 

·         Nature of Program - Obviously, HDP and ICE are very different programs. I am interested in studying moral/emotional development within international populations and how that affects educational equity, so both courses are relevant to me. It seems to me that the HDP program is slightly more flexible and open-ended, which can be a good or bad thing, while ICE is certainly more focused (I don’t yet know whether it is actually feasible to cross-register for many classes across outside the ed school for Stanford)

At HGSE, I am able to find faculty whose research aligns perfectly with my interests, but less so in Stanford GSE. However, I have yet to look outside the ed school -- ie. there may be opportunities conducting research with professors in departments outside of Stanford GSE.

·         Research vs Practical Experience – It seems to me that Stanford’s ICE program focuses on a culminating MA thesis paper, and very few students have internships. On the other hand, HGSE is much more practice-focused and many students take on practical experience or internships. In this regard, I prefer HGSE. But a MA paper is also good in that it is strong preparation for a PhD program one day, and I would not want choosing HGSE to potentially preclude me from a strong PhD application in the future. Can anyone speak to whether it is still feasible to have a strong research experience that produces substantial results at HGSE?

·         Length of Program – The MA program is already very short at both schools, but Stanford’s takes up the whole calendar year (including summer) while HGSE’s is 9 months. It seems that 9 months would be incredibly rushed, and I wonder if it is enough time to produce research AND glean practical experience AND complete coursework AND form lasting relationships w peers in a substantial manner…

·         Cohort Size – HGSE’s cohort is ~500 people, while Stanford’s is ~200. In terms of cohort bonding, class size and professor relationship, I prefer Stanford’s smaller size. However, the pro of a bigger school is the ability to build a bigger network (if this actually happens practically at HGSE), and better resources. Hence, in this respect I am undecided.

·         Intellectual Calibre of Peer Group – I have spoken to current students at HGSE, who tell me (and this is their perspective! Not mine!) that because the school is larger, they found the intellectual caliber/work ethics of some students in the program disappointing for such a top-notch institution. Granted, these types of students might be found in any program, but it was certainly disconcerting hearing them say that of Harvard. In addition, because Stanford GSE is smaller, technically the acceptance rate is lower – could that indeed have a bearing on the types of students found in the program? Can anyone speak to the cohort at Stanford? I don’t mean to sound judgmental on this point – I fully understand that “intelligence”, or insightful experiences, come in many different forms from people of various backgrounds. I know I can learn something from anybody. But, I was just wondering about the intellectual climate and level of rigorousness found in the peer groups of each program. The bottom line is that regardless of which graduate program, we learn from our peers as much as we learn from the professors, so I just want to be in an environment where I am constantly challenged and sharped by my peers. Can any current students at either of the programs speak to this?

·         Lifestyle – Weather and climate, Stanford obviously wins hands-down. But from what I understand, Palo Alto seems to have much higher living expenses compared to Cambridge. Hence, in this respect I am undecided.

 

Additional Questions to Answer:

-       Career Prospects Post-graduation – How “easy” or possible is it for students to get a job or move on to their desired next step post-graduation? Where do most students from either program go? Is Stanford’s program indeed more PhD-geared than HGSE? How much does a program from either school strengthen a student’s candidacy for a job / PhD / research etc. ? Do different schools place students in specific roles (eg. more Stanford graduates end up pursuing a PhD vs students graduating from Harvard, for example?)

 

-       Cohort / Community Bonding – Harvard seems to be much better resourced as an ed school compared to Stanford, and so does give me the impression that it is much better at maintaining that cohort loyalty / a sense of belonging among alumni. Might this have an effect on how accessible and ready-to-help the future network of graduates become to each other? 

 

-       Reputation – Would the slight difference in reputation have any effect in reality?  Negligible point, but does sadly have some bearing especially overseas, whether I like it or not.

 

Argh! Please let me know if I missed any important factor to consider in addition to the above, or if this is even a good approach at all! I would love to hear your two cents, especially if you are a current /past student, or if you are also currently choosing between these two schools. Please also let me know if you have any thoughts or experiences in general to contribute that I might not have thought of. Your insight would be tremendously helpful. 

 

What are some key factors you are considering as you make your decision between programs? Please share, and please also let me know if the above thinking sounds like I’m on the right track, or if It's completely out of whack!

 

Thank you so much!

 

[edit] Apologies in advance that my post is rife with grammatical errors. I am actually typing this half-asleep, as it is late where I am. Pardon me! [/edit]

Edited by phil413
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Received your reply to my message.

 

I've talked with an ICE alumna who is studying towards her PhD in an IVY league university. She said it's important to get in touch with professor ASAP if I am interested in doing PhD. She got in touch with her current supervisor through the reference of a professor from an elective course. In her case, the research experience she had in ICE didn't helped her very much since she studies in biz school now. Like you said, ICE requires more credits to finish and gives students who haven't decided with their research interests a chance to experience and try. But my suggestion is If you are going to work in a developing country, name recognition is actually a problem. I am in Asia, and I would say few people here would say they didn't know Stanford but 7 out of 10 people who knows that I have a decision to make (be aware of the bias) said it's a no-brainer.   

 

I emailed with an L&L student. According to him, the funding in Harvard is second to none and he mentioned quite a number of research opportunities. Considering my interest in L2 language education and place identity, a not-very-popular topic, HGSE really has a lot to offer. He also mentioned the size of my future cohort is 30 MA and a couple of PhD students which is slightly bigger than that of ICE. I am amazed at how well-connected and NICE people are in HGSE. He and an current student here in Gradcafe @nicolemae really helped me a lot.

 

I am still waiting for the merit-based scholarship from HGSE. Will attend the virtual session and a couple of other sessions. Good luck with your choice.

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Received your reply to my message.

 

I've talked with an ICE alumna who is studying towards her PhD in an IVY league university. She said it's important to get in touch with professor ASAP if I am interested in doing PhD. She got in touch with her current supervisor through the reference of a professor from an elective course. In her case, the research experience she had in ICE didn't helped her very much since she studies in biz school now. Like you said, ICE requires more credits to finish and gives students who haven't decided with their research interests a chance to experience and try. But my suggestion is If you are going to work in a developing country, name recognition is actually a problem. I am in Asia, and I would say few people here would say they didn't know Stanford but 7 out of 10 people who knows that I have a decision to make (be aware of the bias) said it's a no-brainer.   

 

I emailed with an L&L student. According to him, the funding in Harvard is second to none and he mentioned quite a number of research opportunities. Considering my interest in L2 language education and place identity, a not-very-popular topic, HGSE really has a lot to offer. He also mentioned the size of my future cohort is 30 MA and a couple of PhD students which is slightly bigger than that of ICE. I am amazed at how well-connected and NICE people are in HGSE. He and an current student here in Gradcafe @nicolemae really helped me a lot.

 

I am still waiting for the merit-based scholarship from HGSE. Will attend the virtual session and a couple of other sessions. Good luck with your choice.

 

Thanks for sharing, that's very helpful. So it sounds like you have picked HGSE, then?

 

Just to clarify on the name recognition in Asia point, did you mean that 7 out of 10 people have heard of Stanford yet it is obvious to them that they would pick Harvard, when only considering the name?

 

If you can find faculty and resources specific to your area of interest, then it makes a lot of sense that you choose that school!

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Thanks for sharing, that's very helpful. So it sounds like you have picked HGSE, then?

 

Just to clarify on the name recognition in Asia point, did you mean that 7 out of 10 people have heard of Stanford yet it is obvious to them that they would pick Harvard, when only considering the name?

 

If you can find faculty and resources specific to your area of interest, then it makes a lot of sense that you choose that school!

 

Hi I haven't decided yet. Have you received the contact of an email buddy? I think individual contact is a good complement to group sessions.

 

In his lastest email(really nice of him to help me during springbreak), the L&L student said Ed.D or PhD in Harvard are both extremely competitive (4% acceptance rate). I did checked out some of my other interested areas outside of HGSE.  Apparently, promising value in research and fit are what professors look for (assuming stellar GRE, GPA, etc). I did quite a bit of research on the ICE alumni's careers on linkedin, most of them found quantitative positions. In contrast, what I saw on L&L website, most graduates go back to teach. That said, HDP is less focused than L&L and probably better received among PhD programs(according to a HDP student in UTAustin, each year PhD program accepts around one Ed.HDP from HGSE), so it's a different story.

 

To me, it begins to look like a career decision. I have 7 yrs w/e but wanted a change of roles from teaching and managing to researching. Empirically speaking, PhD is relatively easy for undergrad and/or grads who haven't lost contact with the research world over the years of their professional experience. Whatever program I ended up choosing, I will try to get more research experience prior to August.

 

Let me know if you find more info on this.

 

Rex

Edited by mrgelato
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Harvard is a great school but people are starting to realize their hype mostly comes from archaic prestige.

Standford is in a better location, less "class" size and they have connections to a state which has the most public universities and community colleges..

Unless your a North Eastern native I would go to Standford!

I've seen on other posts you've made that you're not a fan of HGSE. Just curious, on what basis are you making your assessment?

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Hi I haven't decided yet. Have you received the contact of an email buddy? I think individual contact is a good complement to group sessions.

 

In his lastest email(really nice of him to help me during springbreak), the L&L student said Ed.D or PhD in Harvard are both extremely competitive (4% acceptance rate). I did checked out some of my other interested areas outside of HGSE.  Apparently, promising value in research and fit are what professors look for (assuming stellar GRE, GPA, etc). I did quite a bit of research on the ICE alumni's careers on linkedin, most of them found quantitative positions. In contrast, what I saw on L&L website, most graduates go back to teach. That said, HDP is less focused than L&L and probably better received among PhD programs(according to a HDP student in UTAustin, each year PhD program accepts around one Ed.HDP from HGSE), so it's a different story.

 

To me, it begins to look like a career decision. I have 7 yrs w/e but wanted a change of roles from teaching and managing to researching. Empirically speaking, PhD is relatively easy for undergrad and/or grads who haven't lost contact with the research world over the years of their professional experience. Whatever program I ended up choosing, I will try to get more research experience prior to August.

 

Let me know if you find more info on this.

 

Rex

 

 

I have a email buddy for HGSE, but one thing I have noticed is that it has been much harder for me to get in touch with somebody from Stanford to speak with. Since we found out about HGSE, I have gotten a chance to speak with 2 current students and 1 alum. I have reached out to 2 Stanford alum but have heard nothing back. In that sense, it seems from this extremely limited anecdotal experience that HGSE students seem slightly more helpful and more enthusiastic to talk about Harvard. May I ask how you got to in touch with the Stanford student?

 

 

Thanks MAC for sharing your thoughts as well! Indeed, it would be additionally helpful to understand whether you have had any experience with either of the schools or if you're going through a similiar decision process.

 

SoCalGuy, would love to hear what you think as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

One other thing to consider which I alluded to in another thread. According to Stanford's website, last years ICE/IEAPA masters cohort was 14 students! The entire non-STEP cohort size is 77 MA students for last year. In contrast, HGSE's cohort size by masters program ranges from 30-60 masters students, which I think is just the right size - not too large (like TC) and not too small (like Stanford). I went to an admitted student reception recently and was impressed by the folks I met there. The size thing was a positive relative to the other comparable programs. Looking forward to the Visit Days this week!

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One other thing to consider which I alluded to in another thread. According to Stanford's website, last years ICE/IEAPA masters cohort was 14 students! The entire non-STEP cohort size is 77 MA students for last year. In contrast, HGSE's cohort size by masters program ranges from 30-60 masters students, which I think is just the right size - not too large (like TC) and not too small (like Stanford). I went to an admitted student reception recently and was impressed by the folks I met there. The size thing was a positive relative to the other comparable programs. Looking forward to the Visit Days this week!

 

I agree that Cohort can be important. But is it that important if I want to pursue PhD afterwards?

 

I'm in China so I took the virtual session for L&L students. People in that program mostly want to work in the field, and so pursuing a PhD is not very popular. But I've talked to a HDP student, and she said 30-40% of graduates from her program are aiming for PhD. I guess it depends on the programs.  

Edited by mrgelato
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@mrgelato, for me the cohort size is important not only for post-grad networking, but also because you are exposed to a wider range of peers with different backgrounds and experiences. You learn just as much from peer students as you will from your profs. There is a critical mass needed for programs, just as there is an ideal size for classes to stimulate discussion and idea exchange.

In terms of post grad networking, there are many more alumni of HGSE out there than there are of Stanford by virtue of their relative sizes. I think this will be useful whether you decide to pursue research/phd or you pursue something in the classroom.

One last unrelated point. Consistent with what some other international students have said, if you plan to work abroad, reputational differences matter. I met a student on gap year a week ago from Australia. We were talking about universities here vs there and she said she could only think of one or two "top" US schools - Harvard and MIT. She "had heard of" Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, but didn't have any specific impression of any of those. In Aus, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard apparently carry distinctly more cache than any other global uni.

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@mrgelato, for me the cohort size is important not only for post-grad networking, but also because you are exposed to a wider range of peers with different backgrounds and experiences. You learn just as much from peer students as you will from your profs. There is a critical mass needed for programs, just as there is an ideal size for classes to stimulate discussion and idea exchange.

In terms of post grad networking, there are many more alumni of HGSE out there than there are of Stanford by virtue of their relative sizes. I think this will be useful whether you decide to pursue research/phd or you pursue something in the classroom.

One last unrelated point. Consistent with what some other international students have said, if you plan to work abroad, reputational differences matter. I met a student on gap year a week ago from Australia. We were talking about universities here vs there and she said she could only think of one or two "top" US schools - Harvard and MIT. She "had heard of" Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, but didn't have any specific impression of any of those. In Aus, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard apparently carry distinctly more cache than any other global uni.

 

You right. Even though I prefer Stanford's course design (12 more credits, a MA paper, very research oriented), I can sense that people going to Harvard or graduate from there are generally nicer! I hate to say it, but the fact that I only talked to one nice girl from ICE and at least 5 or 6 nice people from HGSE really makes me think how the different personalities of students are going to significantly affect my later career. 

 

You know what, I am an intuitive person. But this time I will do a thorough comparison in exel. Hope that's gonna help. I assume you either are going to HGSE or graduated from there right?

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