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 Post subject: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:10 pm 
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Hey now!

I've recently been accepted into several graduate school programs, and have narrowed my choices down to Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), and the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy.

I'm having a hell of a time choosing, as Indiana's program is ranked #1 in the nation overall (Harvard is #3), and #1 in the program I would pursue there, an MPA in Environmental Policy and Management.

On the other hand, Maryland, while lower ranked, is only 7 miles from DC. They have several faculty that have held high ranking positions in the federal government, and routinely have US Senators, current and former presidents, and other notable people come to lecture on campus. Maryland has also offered me an absurdly generous financial aid package which covers $38,000 a year as long as I keep my GPA above a 3.5 (not an issue). I would be pursuing a MPP in Energy and Environmental Policy at Maryland.

I was curious if any of you have insight or knowledge about either of these programs (first hand or otherwise), the degrees offered (MPA vs. MPP), and whether you feel that location (Maryland) trumps program strength (Indiana).

Thanks guys!

Wes


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:23 pm 
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My instinct is to say that geography and access to the culture in which you intend to work > ranking of school.

I studied acting at NYU which is highly acclaimed as an acting school. But we always said that the #1 thing NYU had going for it was that it was in NYC. No matter how good your training when you graduate, you have to move to NYC. I am already there. I already know people, I've already interned with theatre companies, etc.

Now, surely, what you do isn't so specific as that, but I think I'd choose the school that had proximity to policy makers and potential employers. And #1 v #7 isn't like #1 v #40.

Of course, you have to consider tuition, cost of living, and the family :)

Again, I don't know your field well enough to say if there's a real difference on your eventual resume (going to Harvard Law School carries a prestige that trumps going to Columbia Law School even if you want to practice law in NYC, for example) But I find that geography is an under valued part of the decision making process.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:41 am 
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In my opinion, the answer is that it all depends on where you want to end up. I don't know much about the degrees you're after, but if Indiana is ranked #1, then people in your field will recognize the quality of your degree, and that will help, no matter where you want to work in the long-term. Also, if that program is so well recognized, then the faculty will certainly be in demand across the States, not just Indiana. So they'll have connections that you can leverage. If you want to work in DC specifically, then the scale might tilt to Maryland. DC is a game, and if you study with/under people who are/have been in the game, they can get you in. That is, you can certainly break in from Indiana based on your intelligence and capability, but having someone to introduce you would get you there faster. Those connections may be useful for getting you into nonprofits elsewhere, too, not just DC. If those players only come to lecture occasionally, then they won't be of much help. If finances are an issue for you, of course the aid is a big factor. Just my two cents. Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:57 pm 
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Which one do you want to go to?

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:07 pm 
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That's a great question Carl, and one I'm still mulling over myself. Each of the schools I picked were picked factoring in not only their program strength, but also who we know that lives near by. Of the two I've narrowed it down to, I'd like to go to both of them for different reasons, but to be honest, without being able to go visit each campus and each area, I'm just not sure which place I'd rather be. As a USAF Veteran, I get a small bump for hiring preference in federal jobs, and I'm strongly considering going that route, which would seem to make Maryland a better bet in a few ways, but the cost of living in that area is crazy.

Thanks AC and Kook for the feedback - a lot of it is stuff I've been mulling over already, but hearing it from someone else gave me some outside perspective that I found very helpful. I've reached out to faculty from both places and I'm waiting to hear back from them before I decide.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:51 pm 
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Some of you likely know this already, but I ended up deciding to attend the University of Maryland School of Public Policy this fall. The financial aid ended up being a significant factor, as I just couldn't see putting my family another $30k into debt when Maryland will cost me almost nothing to attend. Indiana definitely has a fantastic program, and some impressive faculty members (like James Barnes who literally helped create the EPA in 1970), but UMD is no slouch either. It has a number of faculty who are very active in DC as advisors to the white house on climate policy (Nathan Hultman), lead author on IPCC assessments (James A. Edmunds) and proximity to the heart of the federal government, where national environmental policies get passed.

Thanks for taking the time to share some insight guys, it definitely played a role in my decision and I appreciate it greatly!


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:55 pm 
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Congrats! I look forward in a few years to hearing how you're shaping environmental policy in the U.S.!

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:02 pm 
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Grats Irm!

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Graduate School
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:04 pm 
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Congrats Irm!

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