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Elite MPA and Political Leanings


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Hi all. I'm a recent college grad considering an MPA program in the future and am wondering if working for conservative organizations will in any way affect my chances of admission to the top programs.

 

I've looked over the WWS student bios and have noticed that their work experience tends to be non-partisan or left-leaning. Right now I'm working on a political campaign for a Republican candidate and am worried (perhaps paranoid) that it might adversely affect me.

 

Sorry if this has been covered before. I've only briefly lurked this place.

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I don't at all think that it will hurt you in admissions. Most schools, especially the elite programs, are looking to fill a diverse class where the students can learn from each other, and my guess is having work experience that differs from the rest of the applicants can only help you.

 

I think the main reason it seems that MPP/MPA students are overwhelmingly left leaning is self-selection. I have plenty of right leaning friends who work in politics/government, but for whatever reason, very few of them apply to MPP/MPA programs and instead tend to lean towards law school. Anecdotally small sample size, so take it with a grain of salt.

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I agree with albuhhh that it's probably self-selection.  When I did my MPA at Syracuse most students were left-leaning politically (including myself), but we had a couple of conservative students who added greatly to classroom discussions.  I wish there had been more.

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  • 1 month later...

Not to bump this thread but I had many of the same concerns as the OP.

 

As similar to him/her I am on the staff of a Senate candidate running for a seat in this years Midterm elections as my first actual paying job. Previously, I have also ether volunteered or interned for GOP candidates in the past. In addition to my other professional experiences(which also tend to be conservative leaning)

 

I am concerned about the how the admissions staff during the review process will view this as I fear it may come down to politics when it's me vs. another candidate? Ex. "both have the same qualifications and meet all the requirements so we are going to take the left-leaning candidate over the conservative one by default".

 

I don't mind at all interacting with progressives in the classroom and elsewhere since I strongly believe that civil discussion on the issues contributes to the overall academic environment.  I just worry like the OP that by going the MPP or IR route I would be thrusted into a liberal echo chamber that would discriminate against me academically.

 

I also have the same concerns from a professional standpoint. As I would like to work for the Federal Government someday and worry that my GOP connections could be unofficially used against me in the employment process as well. 

 

On another note I have also noticed that conservatives tend to "self-select" for law school(or an advanced degree in economics) as well. Law School seems to be the hottest rage among young conservatives just graduating college or entering the professional world. Why this is idk-as law school to me seems like a "loser" at the moment given the market for lawyers over the past few years and the cost vs. payoff ratio for them(no offense to any lawyers reading this thread lol).

Edited by Kevin1990
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  • 3 weeks later...

It would surprise me if there was any discrimination in terms of admission for MPP programs, though I expect students in the top IR programs to lean liberal, so you may feel a bit ostracized every now and then, just as any minority would feel.

But this is DEFINITELY not true for federal government jobs. Trust me, there are plenty of conservatives (and they outnumber liberals in certain sectors) in the federal government. I think there are fewer conservatives interested in IR careers in fields like development or becoming a FSO, though other fields (international security, military relations, conflict studies) you will find a healthy conservative contingent.

Good luck#

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Students in top IR programs are less liberal than you would think, especially considering how many are studying business and security.  Also, since so many students are foreign, it's not really that big of a deal and the viewpoints do not tend to fall in american style conservative or liberal camps.

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I agree with other posters that the most important factor is probably self-selection. 

 

I also understand that the school you mention specifically, WWS, focuses a good bit of its mission and unique scholarship program on providing a low cost degree to people who want to pursue work in the non-profit/local government sectors in careers that generally don’t pay well and where graduating with a lot of debt would be problematic for them. Therefore, although there wouldn't be an automatic ideological slant to those candidates and positions, it is probably true that both the applicants and many of the institutions that are offering those types of jobs, trend towards liberal/left.  As a result applicants that the fulfill WWS’s profile of demonstrating a plan to pursue a public policy career in low paying fields, would be somewhat more likely to describe a career in a liberal institution. That said, I think WWS is kind of an outlier, and probably not the best place to get a feel for the overall dynamic of most MPA programs.

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