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I got accepted to Berkeley’s Master of Development Practice and Johns Hopkins’ SAIS DC. I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a degree in Environmental Economics and Policy. Though I haven’t had relevant professional work experience, I attended community college meanwhile to take classes for my own interest.

Berkeley’s tuition is about $48k/year and offers small funding ($3k/year) while SAIS DC’s tuition is about $47k/year with no funding. Cost of living in DC and SF bay area are similar. I know UC Berkeley very well and it seems like I may have some advantage getting campus jobs that I may be able to graduate debt-free. 

While these two programs are not exactly the same, they will help my career goal, which is to work in international organizations focusing on Latin America in the long-run.

Here are pros and cons I see from each school:

Berkeley

Pros:

  • Campus jobs that will help me financially
  • Bigger campus, more departments such as ERG and Latin American studies
  • Fellowship opportunities for the second year

Cons:

  • I spent 4 years there. I am not sure if there’s much I can get out of this school. But Berkeley is a big school and being a graduate student is different from undergrad. So I’m not sure if it’s a big con.

SAIS:

Pros:

  • Being in DC
  • SAIS is more known and prestigious than MDP. 
  • Emphasis on quant skills

Cons:

  • I have no clue how I can minimize student loan (or if possible at all).

 

What do you think? I would like to get some advice from others.

Edited by caffeineoverdose
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@caffeineoverdoseI got accepted to Berkeley MDP program, too. What's different is that I'm trying to make a decision between Berkely MDP & Columbia MPA-DP. I'm having financial difficulty in both programs, and the high cost has been my biggest headache.

If I were you, I would choose Berkeley. For graduate study, Berkeley ranks top in almost 2/3 of all graduate programs. More importantly, you shall not have to worry about financial issues too much during your graduate study, and you will have more time to explore and focus on what you are interested in. Just my personal thoughts.

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@Daniel XU Thanks for your comment.

SAIS and Berkeley MDP seem to be equally good. Given MDP's multidisciplinary nature, going to Berkeley means I will have access to other top programs to collaborate within Berkeley. I will have to look more into this, but if there isn't much employment opportunity while studying at SAIS DC, then I can't seem to justify the potential $140k debt.

For you, I think Berkeley and Columbia are equally good. If any of them offered a funding, go with the one who gives you more $$$. If not, I guess then it might just be: New York vs San Francisco, where do you wanna be?

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5 hours ago, caffeineoverdose said:

@Daniel XU Thanks for your comment.

SAIS and Berkeley MDP seem to be equally good. Given MDP's multidisciplinary nature, going to Berkeley means I will have access to other top programs to collaborate within Berkeley. I will have to look more into this, but if there isn't much employment opportunity while studying at SAIS DC, then I can't seem to justify the potential $140k debt.

For you, I think Berkeley and Columbia are equally good. If any of them offered a funding, go with the one who gives you more $$$. If not, I guess then it might just be: New York vs San Francisco, where do you wanna be?

 

@caffeineoverdose I got an award of $8000 for 2 years from Berkeley, but nothing from Columbia. And I do like the weather at Bay area better. It is very likely that I'll go Berkeley. By the way, do you think it is possible for international students to get GSI positions for the first semester (this Fall)? I majored in English as an undergraduate and have been working in China's foreign affairs government for over 8 years. Based on your experience at Berkeley, are there any student employment opportunities that would fit my educational and professional background? If I get a position, such as GSI, and start working on campus from this Fall, I shall not have to worry about financial burden too much.

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11 hours ago, Daniel XU said:

@caffeineoverdose I got an award of $8000 for 2 years from Berkeley, but nothing from Columbia. And I do like the weather at Bay area better. It is very likely that I'll go Berkeley. By the way, do you think it is possible for international students to get GSI positions for the first semester (this Fall)? I majored in English as an undergraduate and have been working in China's foreign affairs government for over 8 years. Based on your experience at Berkeley, are there any student employment opportunities that would fit my educational and professional background? If I get a position, such as GSI, and start working on campus from this Fall, I shall not have to worry about financial burden too much.

 
 

I have seen international student GSI's, but I wouldn't know how easy to get appointed as an international student. There are so many job opportunities on campus (and off-campus as well). Visit Berkeley's HR contact list and career center for job postings. If nothing works out on campus, try to find something in SF. I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities.

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14 hours ago, caffeineoverdose said:

I have seen international student GSI's, but I wouldn't know how easy to get appointed as an international student. There are so many job opportunities on campus (and off-campus as well). Visit Berkeley's HR contact list and career center for job postings. If nothing works out on campus, try to find something in SF. I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities.

 

@caffeineoverdose Thank you for the message. Have you made your decision yet? Would love to meet you at Berkeley! 

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  • 6 months later...

Bumping this thread to find out more about Berkeley's MDP course. 
 

I know it's a new course but Im really interested in finding out how willing Berkeley are at funding their students. $48k/year does seem a lot. Do many students get aid here? Berkeley's MDP is a STEM course and being an international student, that factor is simply too big to ignore. However, the cost of the programme is overwhelming! 

 

Any current MDP students here? Or anyone with any idea how one can possibly fund this course?

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