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IDEV Fall 2014: SIPA vs SAIS vs Fletcher


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Hi everyone,


I've been accepted into SIPA's MIA-EPD, SAIS Bologna's MA-IDEV and Fletcher's MIB Programs. I am in a fortunate position to have been awarded named fellowships/scholarships at SIPA, SAIS and Fletcher which cover full tutition for 2014-2015 (renewable in my second year on condition that I maintain a pre-specified minimum GPA). So safe to say I'm really excited and humbled by these awards but am in a bit of a predicament as financial considerations are not really being factored into my final decision.


Due to work and financial restrictions, I am unlikely to be able to attend the new admit open days at the schools in April. Now, of course I naturally want to make an informed decision as any choice I make will involve turning down schools that are offering me substantial financial incentives to attend their respective programs. I will be engaging with alumni and the admissions departments in due time, but I'm also hoping to get perspective on what the gradcafe community thinks would be the best option for me.


Here are some salient details i'm factoring into my decision:

  • My policy focus will be on private sector development in Africa, thus the strength of faculty with siginificant research covering the African region and/or emerging markets is an important factor (It seems that all three schools have such faculty to a certain extent, albeit with varying credentials and focus areas).
  • I have a background in finance and ecos, so I'm looking to get quite quant heavy which is why SAIS seems like a great option, however I'm weary of the fact that the school is less known outside of IDEV circles and the US, which may be a challenge if I pursue private sector employment outside of the US when I graduate. In addition to its quants reputation, the lure of a year in picturesque Bologna followed by a year in DC (the heart of the policy world) makes SAIS quite competitive to me.
  • SIPA seems like the most well rounded program. It offers me an opportunity to specialise in African Studies in addition to my EPD major. The lure of living in NYC and attending a brand name like Columbia University also adds to the appeal of this program, making it very competitive when considering post-grad employment opportunities. However, I'm weary of the general perception on gradcafe fourms that it's large program, with less of a personalised approach which means I'd have to hustle a bit more for face-time with professors, as well as for internship and job opportunities.
  • Fletcher seems like a tight-knit community which really appeals to me. I also like that its an internationally focused program and the fact that MIB program gives me the flexibility to design my major to specialise in private sector development. However, like SAIS I worry about employment prospects after graduation given the fact that the school and program seem to be less known around this neck of the woods (i.e. Africa). Also it's location is a bit of a deterring factor when comparing it to the networking opportunties in DC and NYC.

In summary there are great reasons to pick any one of these programs, but I'm hoping for any added perspective that you may be able to give.


Thanks in advance for your help on this! :)



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