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Hello everyone,

I would like to hear your opinions on which school would better suit my interests and background. I think I have a pretty good profile. I am an international lawyer, with 3 years of work experience with UNHCR, currently accepted a position to work in the Mediterranean crisis in Greece. I have an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) from my country, and an LLM at a relatively known and respected US school in the international law field. I also did an internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. I speak spanish, portuguese, a bit of french and am currently learning syrian colloquial arabic. I don't want the degree to "break into" the field but because I truly enjoy learning and I believe it would improve the impact of my work.

Having said that, what I am looking for in a degree:

- Interdisciplinary approach, I have many interests such as international security, humanitarian affairs, international organizations and diplomacy

- Good courses and faculty specialized on Middle East 

- High chances of getting into a good PHD later, since I am inclined towards academia but haven't decided anything yet

- Leadership training: conflict management, human resources management, public speaking, etc (this would be a plus)

- Very good funding, since I am still paying for my LLM


Potential programs,

1. MALD, Fletcher

2. Harvard, MPP,

3. Columbia SIPA

4. SAIS (not sure about this one because of its econ focus)

6. Msc Intl Relations, LSE

7. Msc in Global Governance and Diplomacy, Oxford

Anything else I should consider?


I have been doing some research and I really like the MALD at Fletcher. I am not sure about its Middle East courses and faculty and whether they are strong or not. Also, I know it has a professional approach, I don't know if that would be good if I apply for a PHD later. They have a few full-tuition and stipend scholarships but I don't know what type of profile usually gets them. Has anyone gotten in with full-tuition scholarship?

I am not sure about HKS, I've seen some pros and cons. A pro is obviously the brand name, but I believe I do not need it unless I want to go back to my country and stay there, which you never know. Does anyone know how generous is their funding?

Please give me your insights,



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But if you're worried about funding, why quit your job for two years? Even if you get in with a full tuition scholarship (highly doubtful) - you'll forgo two years of an income and go even deeper into debt because of your living expenses. Also, I am not sure why you think you need an MA to get into a PhD program - you're already quite well-qualified with a post-graduate degree in Law (and a prestigious career) and many good US schools would certainly consider you - Georgetown's PhD in Government comes to mind immediately. 

Fletcher's MALD program certainly would suit you quite well - they're known for rigorous academics and supremely interdisciplinary approach and the extensive curriculum would give you the opportunity to take regional courses focused on the Middle East. You could also consider Fletcher's one-year residential MA program for mid-career professionals - which might be a better fit for a relatively established professional.

Also, if you really want to scratch the MA itch, I would encourage you to take a look at Fletcher's GMAP degree as it would enable you to continue working and also to get the prestigious, rigorous degree. In fact, GMAP just might be the very best fit for you as you seem to primarily be looking for the additional intellectual stimulation and growth, not to break into a new field. But, you may be looking to go back to school a little too soon; why not pay off your loans before taking on any new expenses...

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Thank you went_away for your reply. 

Well, the reason of my interest in pursuing another degree is that I would like to change my career path in the mid-term. I love my job but the sacrifice of not staying in a place for too long and being sent to non-family duty stations for many years is too much for me. I honestly believe this job is not for everyone and I know it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I can talk about this for a long time and give many examples and reasons. But, the point is that I would like to think ahead.. I don't have any prior studies in international affairs and my background is mostly legal. I am not sure any PHD would accept me without an international affairs academic background and like I said, I really enjoy studying and would like to strengthen my knowledge in the IR field. 

I am still young, so I intend to work a few more years before jumping into another postgraduate degree, but I would like to have a good idea so I can start preparing on time, studying for the GRE, TOEFL, taking courses I would need, etc..

About the loan, I got the loan in my country which is a little bit different and I won't be able to pay it for the next 14 years.. so I don't think waiting to pay off my loans is a good idea.

I will certainly check the GMAP and 1 year Master at Fletcher.

Thanks again!

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No worries - all the best. I am a former IELTS examiner, so know all about that stage of the prep process.

I would add once again - you are already doing what many, many students of post-graduate International Affairs programs aspire to do - work in a substantive, international government position in challenging circumstances. If being posted in unaccompanied, conflict areas is the problem (as opposed to practicing law), you might do some thinking and reach out to others in your field to find ways to continue to progress in your career, but to do so in less dangerous/stressful places.

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I am in a similar situation to you and I get it. I also work for a similar organisation (and within the same region, hello!) and I completely understand the desire to break into a more "normal" routine. Like you I have tried for the past couple of years to break out of the region we are in and work on something a bit more longer term development and less humanitarian / emergency in other contexts and have found it extremely challenging. As such I am looking forward to taking 2 years out starting in 2017 to get some perspective on the past 5 years and work out a next move. Remember you will be in a great position while in school to do numerous consultancies should your schedule allow. Also there are the summers, where short term consultancy posts could seriously offset the cost of tuition (as I am sure you know!). 

Anyway, good luck. I know all too well the challenging situation in and I wish you luck as you attempt to find that much coveted piece of normality that many of us are scrambling to find. 


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On 10/6/2016 at 3:22 AM, irstudies said:

Hey beefmaster, we should start a thread on why NOT getting into the field :). Are you getting a new degree as well?

Hey, sorry I missed this message for a few weeks. Yes, I am going to go for a graduate degree in 2017! Looking forward to a break from the field for a couple of years :) (I also got your PM, will reply to that today).

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