Friday, May 18, 2012


This spring, like most springs, FLG got a few emails from prospective Georgetown students.  He figured he'd write one comprehensive post responding to the most common questions to save everybody time.  Listed in rough order of frequency FLG gets asked.

I was accepted to Georgetown and (insert Ivy League School here), which should I choose?  I like Georgetown, but it's not Ivy (or not as highly rated as other school I am considering.)

Don't get hung up on the Ivy or ranking thing.  If you want to study international affairs, government, politics, etc, then Georgetown versus Ivy is meaningless.  Georgetown's reputation is perfectly fine in those fields.  Moreover, GU's location offers the opportunity for tons of internships that will nullify any issues when finding a job.

If you aren't sure what you want to study or you want to study something other than those topics (but not science related), then FLG'd say pick which one you think fits better for you. And if it's a toss up, then go to the most prestigious one.  If you want to study something science related, then FLG thinks you are better off at another school.  Not that you can't get a good science education at Georgetown, you can, it's just that it's hasn't really been the focus at Georgetown.  Sure, they're building a new science building and trying to change that, but FLG'd tell his kid, if they were interested in science and choosing right now, to go someplace else for now.

Is Georgetown SFS worth the cost?  He's already answered that here with respect to undergrad.

Is Georgetown MSFS, the grad program, worth the cost?

FLG doesn't hold an MSFS, but from his interactions with the MSFS students he'd say yes. 

Should I choose Georgetown MSFS over (insert other international affairs grad school here)?

He doesn't know.  He only knows from reputation.  Generally speaking, the top two IR grad schools by reputation seem to be SFS and SAIS.  There's also SIPA at Columbia, the Kennedy School at Harvard, Woody Woo up at Princeton, Fletcher at Tufts. And don't forget GW and American.

Between SFS and SAIS, SFS is smaller and seems to have a more flexible curriculum.   However, FLG thinks that comes at a cost.  Having the larger, more functionally specialized student body allows SAIS to offer some more specific classes in certain areas.  For example, if a student was interested in the nitty gritty details of international economics or international finance, then FLG would suggest that student consider SAIS.  If, for example, the student were more interested in the nexus between the public and private sectors, then Georgetown is probably a good place to attend.  If the student is just interested in IR generally, then either would be a great place.  Just realize SAIS has more econ requirements.

Of the others, FLG has heard from SIPA grads that, like SAIS, it's pretty big and therefore offers the ability to explore specific topics in-depth.  Fletcher has a great reputation and is probably has the most flexible curriculum of all.  Woody Woo and Kennedy offer IR coursework, but in comparison to the other schools it seems less emphasized.  IR is just one concentration among several others within public policy.  Although, Princeton and Harvard will open up a lot of doors.

Should I apply to MSFS or the Masters of Public Policy program at Georgetown?

If you are interested in international affairs, then MSFS.  If you want to focus on domestic policy and do policy analysis, then MPP.


Anonymous said...

I have read your posts on the MSFS-SAIS debate, but wanted to ask something a little more specific for both.

Since I am an international student, securing a job is first priority, of choosing between the two degrees, as the curriculum of both is fantastic. I would want to specialize in Int. devlopment at SAIS or at MSFS. However, I do have a keen interest in international affairs.

In this context, what would be a better place for me to secure a job. Since, development is a very relevant sector, I'd consider something in development policy. Lot of student loans to pay off.

Pls suggest. Thank you

FLG said...

Either would offer fantastic education in the field of international development. Both have EXCELLENT reputations.

As far as getting a job, I will be honest, from the people I know who have studied international development at the international relations schools in DC, unless you have experience living and working in an developing country already, it is very difficult to get a job. And even then, it can be very difficult to get enough to repay large student loans.

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