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Benefits of specializing vs. being a generalist


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Hey all,

I am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the value of specializing - as in pursuing a degree in area studies - versus pursuing a more general MPA/MIA degree. 

From my end, I'm currently narrowing down my list of schools to apply to for next year. While I will definitely be applying to certain schools, like Georgetown and Columbia, I can't decide which type of degree I should pursue.  Since I study Russia, I don't think it would be a bad option to specialize, especially given recent events in the region and subsequent changes in foreign policy. This type of program would also be the best opportunity for me to move beyond conversational language skills into high proficiency. On the other hand, considering I'm not quite sure what direction my career will take, it might be best to go for the more flexible option. While I'm deeply considering a career in the State Department, I may also end up in the private sector. Thus, even a school like SIPA could be beneficial, especially as the program does have a regional concentration. 

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IME you don't become a specialist in school. You pick up the skills every generalist needs and get some specialized knowledge in order to move into a highly specialized job to further hone your concentration. I wouldn't be concerned about a school's specialty in a country at this stage quite so fervently.

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