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Hey all, 

As we get closer to admissions decisions being released I thought it might be useful to have a thread dedicated to Georgetown's SFS and its MSFS program. I have applied for Fall 2016 admission and would love to hear from others who have applied for this cycle, as well as those who have applied in the past and those who are intending to in the future. I'm hoping this can serve as a general discussion of our decision making processes and a place to flesh out the nuances of MSFS and make informed comparisons to rival schools/programs.  

For me, the MSFS program is my number one choice out of the many schools I have applied to (SAIS MA, SIPA MIA, Fletcher MALD, etc). I find its practitioner oriented curriculum appealing, the faculty and resources are impressive and it seems like its reputation in the DC area, network and connections to government jobs are nearly unrivaled. My goal is to work in American foreign policy, particularly conflict resolution and arms control. 

For current applicants, why have you chosen to apply to MSFS, and where does it fit within the range of schools you're looking at and your career trajectory in general? What factors are you considering and which do you put the most weight on when comparing MSFS to other programs you've applied to? Which are you leaning towards right now, and why? 

For past applicants who were admitted, why did you choose the MSFS program - or not? What variables informed your decision? If you attended/are attending, tell me about the program and your impressions of the curriculum, networks and career services? What do you like or not like about it, and are you happy with your decision?  

Best wishes and good luck to everyone! 

Edited by 6speed!
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I'm anxiously waiting to hear back from SFS, but at this point I do not really see myself attending Georgetown. A big part of this wariness is cost, of course. My area of focus is energy issues (

I'm in!!! Beyond ecstatic to get into my dream program. I hope some of y'all get off the wait list and best of luck to everyone! 

I'm in with financial aid - $14k! I also got a Fulbright scholarship (I'm an international student), so I'm definitely going to attend. SFS is my dream school and I couldn't be happier!

I'm anxiously waiting to hear back from SFS, but at this point I do not really see myself attending Georgetown. A big part of this wariness is cost, of course.

My area of focus is energy issues (electricity, rather than oil and gas) and Latin America. I applied to SFS' Global Politics and Security concentration, and my sense is this doesn't quite fit my goals as well as other programs, like Fletcher (which has a dedicated Resource Policy field of study), SAIS (Energy, Resources and Environment policy area), or UCSD GPS (which offers lots of policy and energy courses). Of course it's often difficult to know exactly whether a program fits your goals while looking in from the outside, but while MSFS offers a number of energy courses, but I don't find these offerings quite as interesting as other schools'.

I've heard fantastic things about SFS' small cohort size, career services office, and location, though. And while it's a bit silly, Georgetown has a bit of romance – DC! Diplomacy! Old statues on snowy days! – that other program don't. I'm attracted to this, and I don't even particularly care about being in DC!

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I applied to the MSFS program because I like its focus on teaching practical skills that will translate to my professional life. I am also impressed by the career services and general community there, as well as the fact that it's Georgetown and well, they're the best at this whole IR thing. I don't have as much professional experience as many applicants so I am not holding my breath, but I think those that I do have, along with academic achievement, give me at least a shot. As much as I'd love to go, though, I am very wary of the high price tag. 

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8 hours ago, mapiau said:

I'm anxiously waiting to hear back from SFS, but at this point I do not really see myself attending Georgetown. A big part of this wariness is cost, of course.

My area of focus is energy issues (electricity, rather than oil and gas) and Latin America. I applied to SFS' Global Politics and Security concentration, and my sense is this doesn't quite fit my goals as well as other programs, like Fletcher (which has a dedicated Resource Policy field of study), SAIS (Energy, Resources and Environment policy area), or UCSD GPS (which offers lots of policy and energy courses). Of course it's often difficult to know exactly whether a program fits your goals while looking in from the outside, but while MSFS offers a number of energy courses, but I don't find these offerings quite as interesting as other schools'.

I've heard fantastic things about SFS' small cohort size, career services office, and location, though. And while it's a bit silly, Georgetown has a bit of romance – DC! Diplomacy! Old statues on snowy days! – that other program don't. I'm attracted to this, and I don't even particularly care about being in DC!

I too applied to the Global Politics and Security concentration. It does sound like the other programs with a broader selection of relevant energy classes or related concentrations fit your academic/professional goals a bit more clearly than the MSFS and that particular concentration. The allure of Georgetown is very real, however, as you keenly note! Are you interested in working in the public or private sector? Is your focus on electricity energy issues related to security policy in any way, or more so the political and economic development arena? 

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My focus doesn't cover security at all, but is instead more on the policy side. I previously worked for a large NGO in the field, and am unsure whether I'd like to eventually work in the public or private sector. So, keeping my options open!

It is hard to get over the allure of Georgetown (and SAIS), including the more practical side of this allure. I'm still unsure just how much I should value these prestigious schools' brand, especially given how much more expensive they are likely to be than their less-prestigious (but still academically rigorous) peers.

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I have also applied to MSFS, in addition to the other "usual suspects." I'm an aspiring FSO, and I'd like to study U.S. foreign policy with a regional focus on China. It seems that the popular sentiment is that Georgetown and SAIS are the best schools to go to if you want to work for State. Like everyone has said, both schools are excellent, with small class sizes and professors who are practitioners. However, I think it's unwise to get into 10-15 years of debt for an international affairs degree, and the State Department doesn't care where you went to school. If I get into either MSFS or SAIS, whether I attend or not will strongly depend on how much financial aid they offer, as American SIS, which is also a great school, has offered me almost complete tuition remission and a $12,000 RA position. 

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10 hours ago, irapplicant1776 said:

I have also applied to MSFS, in addition to the other "usual suspects." I'm an aspiring FSO, and I'd like to study U.S. foreign policy with a regional focus on China. It seems that the popular sentiment is that Georgetown and SAIS are the best schools to go to if you want to work for State. Like everyone has said, both schools are excellent, with small class sizes and professors who are practitioners. However, I think it's unwise to get into 10-15 years of debt for an international affairs degree, and the State Department doesn't care where you went to school. If I get into either MSFS or SAIS, whether I attend or not will strongly depend on how much financial aid they offer, as American SIS, which is also a great school, has offered me almost complete tuition remission and a $12,000 RA position. 

I'm considering the Foreign Service as well, but probably down the line a couple of years post-graduation. I agree with you 100% that going deep into debt for an IR Masters makes little sense, but it does seem like the foreign policy world in DC basically requires a Masters for many mid level and above jobs and the potential for consistent upward professional mobility. As you note, this isn't the case for the Foreign Service, however an FSO told me that those with Masters degrees are immediately put at a higher pay grade for the same positions and postings than those with only Bachelors. Complete tuition remission from American definitely makes it a solidly appealing option, especially when schools like Georgetown SFS are notorious for minimal fellowship and financial aid offerings. If I get into SFS without funding, what may give me pause is if a great program like SAIS, WWS, Fletcher or SIPA gives me significant tuition remission. I got into American with partial (about half) tuition remission, but its a bit lower on the list. 

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If I remember from my information session with MSFS, we were told that a percentage of the top applicants (maybe it was the top 1/3) got half tuition scholarships. Did anyone hear this? And does anyone know how the ranking process works?

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8 hours ago, 6speed! said:

As you note, this isn't the case for the Foreign Service, however an FSO told me that those with Masters degrees are immediately put at a higher pay grade for the same positions and postings than those with only Bachelors. Complete tuition remission from American definitely makes it a solidly appealing option, especially when schools like Georgetown SFS are notorious for minimal fellowship and financial aid offerings.

I don't have an iron-clad source for this, but I've repeatedly read that the State Department does not care how prestigious of a school you got your Masters from when applying for the Foreign Service (as long as it's from a US university). So aspiring FSO certainly have good reason to go to lower-ranked schools if they offer significant tuition remission.

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8 hours ago, 6speed! said:

I'm considering the Foreign Service as well, but probably down the line a couple of years post-graduation. I agree with you 100% that going deep into debt for an IR Masters makes little sense, but it does seem like the foreign policy world in DC basically requires a Masters for many mid level and above jobs and the potential for consistent upward professional mobility. As you note, this isn't the case for the Foreign Service, however an FSO told me that those with Masters degrees are immediately put at a higher pay grade for the same positions and postings than those with only Bachelors. Complete tuition remission from American definitely makes it a solidly appealing option, especially when schools like Georgetown SFS are notorious for minimal fellowship and financial aid offerings. If I get into SFS without funding, what may give me pause is if a great program like SAIS, WWS, Fletcher or SIPA gives me significant tuition remission. I got into American with partial (about half) tuition remission, but its a bit lower on the list. 

I wasn't questioning whether the Master's in and of itself was worth it or not. I meant that the State Department won't care whether you went to MSFS, SAIS, SIS, Fletcher etc when they are hiring or promoting you. Of course, it's possible that MSFS does the best job at preparing their students for the FSOT, but once you're in, you're in. I've met FSOs from many different schools and walks of life. 

I do think that, especially in the private sector, MSFS and SAIS grads will be at an advantage. But that kind of debt just scares me. Who knows what kind of things I will need/want to be spending money on besides student loans in the next decade-and-a-half?

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33 minutes ago, mapiau said:

I don't have an iron-clad source for this, but I've repeatedly read that the State Department does not care how prestigious of a school you got your Masters from when applying for the Foreign Service (as long as it's from a US university). So aspiring FSO certainly have good reason to go to lower-ranked schools if they offer significant tuition remission.

That's what I've heard too - it has nothing to do with the supposed prestige of the school or program, just that you have a Masters. 

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42 minutes ago, irapplicant1776 said:

I wasn't questioning whether the Master's in and of itself was worth it or not. I meant that the State Department won't care whether you went to MSFS, SAIS, SIS, Fletcher etc when they are hiring or promoting you. Of course, it's possible that MSFS does the best job at preparing their students for the FSOT, but once you're in, you're in. I've met FSOs from many different schools and walks of life. 

I do think that, especially in the private sector, MSFS and SAIS grads will be at an advantage. But that kind of debt just scares me. Who knows what kind of things I will need/want to be spending money on besides student loans in the next decade-and-a-half?

I looked at your first post too quickly and misread what you said, my apologies. That's definitely true that State doesn't care about the school/program when it comes to hiring or promoting you within the Foreign Service. I'd have to agree that SAIS and MSFS put you at an advantage in the private sector, particularly SAIS in that regard from what I've heard.That's a tough choice regarding the loan debt - there are so many things you could put the saved coin towards, not to mention the value/quality of life enhancement of not having the debt and monthly payments hanging over your head.

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24 minutes ago, 6speed! said:

That's a tough choice regarding the loan debt - there are so many things you could put the saved coin towards, not to mention the value/quality of life enhancement of not having the debt and monthly payments hanging over your head.

I'm struggling with this (perhaps prematurely, since I've only heard back from half the schools I applied to, and haven't gotten any news on funding from two of those). It's easy for me to say that I want to minimize debt, which I do. It's also easy to build spreadsheets showing how much debt I'll take on for each program.

But how much debt is worth taking on? What's the marginal price that I'm willing to pay for a more prestigious program? Ultimately there are so many unknowns that it's a judgment call, which isn't comforting at all.

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2 hours ago, mapiau said:

I'm struggling with this (perhaps prematurely, since I've only heard back from half the schools I applied to, and haven't gotten any news on funding from two of those). It's easy for me to say that I want to minimize debt, which I do. It's also easy to build spreadsheets showing how much debt I'll take on for each program.

But how much debt is worth taking on? What's the marginal price that I'm willing to pay for a more prestigious program? Ultimately there are so many unknowns that it's a judgment call, which isn't comforting at all.

Yep, this is certainly the question. I think talking to alumni from the the various programs can help. It also depends on what exactly you want to do. 

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Has anyone heard anything about when admissions decisions will be released? Georgetown has been particularly tight lipped about it relative to the other programs. It was the third Wednesday in March the last two years, which would be next week Wednesday this year. 

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11 minutes ago, 6speed! said:

Has anyone heard anything about when admissions decisions will be released? Georgetown has been particularly tight lipped about it relative to the other programs. It was the third Wednesday in March the last two years, which would be next week Wednesday this year. 

Not a peep! MSFS is also the only school I applied to that doesn't have a graduate admissions blog posting updates so I feel a bit in the dark. I'm trying to not stress too much so I only check my application portal like once a week haha

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40 minutes ago, coffeeandtravel said:

Not a peep! MSFS is also the only school I applied to that doesn't have a graduate admissions blog posting updates so I feel a bit in the dark. I'm trying to not stress too much so I only check my application portal like once a week haha

Haha same here! I've always found it interesting that there isn't a blog like the others. It builds the excitement and tension to be sure! Based on past years it seems like it must be in the next week or so, but I might be getting ahead of myself. 

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2 hours ago, 6speed! said:

Haha same here! I've always found it interesting that there isn't a blog like the others. It builds the excitement and tension to be sure! Based on past years it seems like it must be in the next week or so, but I might be getting ahead of myself. 

Haha it makes the whole thing a little a little more mysterious, that's for sure. But it also helped a little because I didn't find myself constantly checking to see about updates

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6 hours ago, irapplicant1776 said:

Are decisions coming out today?

I sure wish they had! Every other IR program I was waiting on went ahead and released today. Though, to be fair, with SAIS on lock I'll be content going that route if Georgetown falls through. SFS must get decisions to us by next week at the latest, I'm guessing. 

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1 hour ago, coffeeandtravel said:

So, is this the week??

I hope so!  Based on results from the last few years it looks like they will probably come out on Thursday.

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Just now, Solio said:

I hope so!  Based on results from the last few years it looks like they will probably come out on Thursday.

That's what I'm thinking based on prior years - Thursday or Friday. Another weekend (or more) of waiting would be brutal! 

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Apologies if this has been asked already, but I was wondering if anyone's application status on the online portal has said anything except "submitted?"

I've checked a few places on the platform (the landing page, the check list) and it confirms that the Admissions office has received my full application, but no updates on if it is being reviewed. Not sure if SFS does this or not?

 

Thanks in advance, all!

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