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spicysalmonroll
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Postby spicysalmonroll » Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:30 am

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Last edited by spicysalmonroll on Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:24 am, edited 5 times in total.

cavalier1138
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:00 am

I think the MPP is the right way to go, but I honestly don't know enough about the foreign policy field to know how helpful that degree is. I'm absolutely sure that a JD would be useless for you.

selmangh
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby selmangh » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:21 am

Not an expert but I definitely wouldn't recommend a JD or PhD if you have zero interest in law or teaching. I think your best bet is a combo of working your way up and the MPP. Work for a while in a think tank/NGO/development org, ideally in the region you're interested in. Narrow down your substantive interests. If you lean towards security stuff go for the MPP but choose your classes very carefully so you get marketable skills (foreign languages, quantitative analysis and good internships). If you're more interested in development, look into some MPA-ID programs. They seem to require more in terms of languages/stats etc. so you'll get more value for money there.

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pancakes3
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby pancakes3 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:36 am

why don't you just take the FSOT?

Damage Over Time
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby Damage Over Time » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:14 am

+1 on JD not being helpful

spicysalmonroll
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby spicysalmonroll » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:59 am

cavalier1138 wrote:I think the MPP is the right way to go, but I honestly don't know enough about the foreign policy field to know how helpful that degree is. I'm absolutely sure that a JD would be useless for you.


no one thinks there's interplay between policy and law?

sparkytrainer
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby sparkytrainer » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:04 am

spicysalmonroll wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:I think the MPP is the right way to go, but I honestly don't know enough about the foreign policy field to know how helpful that degree is. I'm absolutely sure that a JD would be useless for you.


no one thinks there's interplay between policy and law?


Maybe, but not in law school. You learn how to be a lawyer, not how to make policy. Truly just got do your MPP. Law school will be a huge unnecessary waste.

Veil of Ignorance
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby Veil of Ignorance » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:27 am

I've gone through almost the exact same thought process as you, and come from a similar background. I ultimately decided on pursuing the JD because of financial reasons. Obviously the WWS would be the best option for you, but the people who get in there have "unicorn softs" (as we call them on this site). Unless you have work experience at the World Bank, IMF, plus won the thesis award in IR at Yale, you're probably not getting in. At that point you're looking at dishing tons of money for Columbia SIPA or something, which is financially untenable. Re: the PhD, I just couldn't stomach the idea of spending 5 years and writing a 300 page text that nobody would ever read, then not getting a job at the end. In the end I figured that frequent vacations abroad would satisfy my desire for internationalism. I don't really need my 8-5 to be related to overseas affairs. That being said, if you DO want that, I'd say take the foreign service exam and join State! There is no better way to get involved in US foreign affairs that joining the DoS, and for 0$.

spicysalmonroll
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby spicysalmonroll » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:35 am

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Last edited by spicysalmonroll on Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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tuna_wasabi
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby tuna_wasabi » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:02 am

Veil of Ignorance wrote:I've gone through almost the exact same thought process as you, and come from a similar background. I ultimately decided on pursuing the JD because of financial reasons. Obviously the WWS would be the best option for you, but the people who get in there have "unicorn softs" (as we call them on this site). Unless you have work experience at the World Bank, IMF, plus won the thesis award in IR at Yale, you're probably not getting in. At that point you're looking at dishing tons of money for Columbia SIPA or something, which is financially untenable. Re: the PhD, I just couldn't stomach the idea of spending 5 years and writing a 300 page text that nobody would ever read, then not getting a job at the end. In the end I figured that frequent vacations abroad would satisfy my desire for internationalism. I don't really need my 8-5 to be related to overseas affairs. That being said, if you DO want that, I'd say take the foreign service exam and join State! There is no better way to get involved in US foreign affairs that joining the DoS, and for 0$.


Hi Veil, by your description I do have those "unicorn softs." Would you say that the same thought process about MPP/JD should apply to non-US applicants as well?

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Gordon_Cole
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby Gordon_Cole » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:30 am

spicysalmonroll wrote:Just for some background, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from a top Ivy (HYP) recently.

It may be a pipe dream but foreign policy is my passion and I aspire to a career that will eventually allow me to play a role in US foreign policy. In planning my next steps, I've considered 3 degrees, but still remain conflicted over which I should pursue. I have a week to make my final decision and, out of desperation, am seeking help from this forum.

MPP
Logically, someone hoping for a policy career should go to policy school. A policy degree for a policy career--plain and simple. But I've decided it's not so simple. I have contemplated this for over a year but especially in a world of credentialism I really cannot see the benefit of a master's in policy. That is to say, a master's is so commonplace these days that I might as well put in a couple more years and churn out a PhD thesis. With the exception of Princeton's WWS, most policy schools would cost money and I don't think an entry-level postgrad job would offer sufficient compensation to offset both the tuition and the opportunity costs of attending grad school. Moreover, after speaking with some MPP students, I've come to believe that the skills you acquire in an MPP program aren't even that profound or particularly useful. They seem to be mostly "soft" skills, i.e. BS (for qualitative), and on the quantitative side, mostly superficial unless you really get serious about statistical analysis/modeling. The only benefit of a policy school might be to find the connections necessary to enter government, but that brings us back to my first point about compensation and there are other, more cost effective ways to enter government.

PhD
The alternative would be to get a PhD in political science, then become a professor or a think tank researcher until by divine providence someone decides that my work should matter for US foreign policy. I actually was set on pursuing a PhD and almost applied in the previous cycle, but decided against it because my research on PhD programs in political science seemed to scream "STAY AWAY." First, I don't think I can deal with the extreme uncertainty of a PhD life. Even after 5 -7 years of toiling, I would be one of the lucky few to even become a professor anywhere straight out of grad school. To get from there to where I want to be would easily be another decade in the best case scenario, and with no guarantees. I also am not particularly passionate about teaching, so this does not bode well for a career in teaching. As uncertain as it seems, a PhD nonetheless remains an effective way to carve out a role in US foreign policymaking, hence my continued dilemma.

JD
Frankly, I wasn't even thinking about pursuing a JD, because I have never been especially fascinated or passionate about "the law." I have friends who have read the Constitution for fun and that is not me. I cannot name most of the Supreme Court justices and honestly don't really care, beyond a superficial level, about the landmark Supreme Court cases that came to define US history. Nor am I particularly interested in a career in politics, for which a law degree may be useful. I'm only considering a JD degree because I've come to understand the role of law in negotiations and international agreements, and have come to believe that a JD would allow me to do everything in policy that a PhD would, except to become a professor which I was never interested in to begin with. If anything, a JD would also be more effective and practical than a MPP in equipping me with the expertise and (literally) license I may need for the actual PRACTICE and execution of policy (in the form of documents and contracts.) Of course, a law degree is infinitely more expensive than any of the other degrees mentioned, but I'm cautiously hoping that I could enter a career in corporate law and later in life find ways to leverage my way into the senior echelons of policymaking in DC (would love to hear feedback on this part)

Working from the bottom up
The final option would have been to do a public policy fellowship or enter the State Department (or some other comparable institution) to gain experience and work from the bottom up. I threw this option out the window because I had legitimate concerns about security clearance that made this path less feasible for me.

I've laid out my thought process here because I want to hear people's feedback on whether my analysis of these options are correct or misled. I'm currently leaning toward applying to law school and would also love to hear about any people who have successfully managed to transfer from a career in corporate law to policy in DC. Thanks in advance.


PhD or MPP. Also, publish a lot.

Veil of Ignorance
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby Veil of Ignorance » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:15 pm

tuna_wasabi wrote:
Veil of Ignorance wrote:I've gone through almost the exact same thought process as you, and come from a similar background. I ultimately decided on pursuing the JD because of financial reasons. Obviously the WWS would be the best option for you, but the people who get in there have "unicorn softs" (as we call them on this site). Unless you have work experience at the World Bank, IMF, plus won the thesis award in IR at Yale, you're probably not getting in. At that point you're looking at dishing tons of money for Columbia SIPA or something, which is financially untenable. Re: the PhD, I just couldn't stomach the idea of spending 5 years and writing a 300 page text that nobody would ever read, then not getting a job at the end. In the end I figured that frequent vacations abroad would satisfy my desire for internationalism. I don't really need my 8-5 to be related to overseas affairs. That being said, if you DO want that, I'd say take the foreign service exam and join State! There is no better way to get involved in US foreign affairs that joining the DoS, and for 0$.


Hi Veil, by your description I do have those "unicorn softs." Would you say that the same thought process about MPP/JD should apply to non-US applicants as well?


I'm no expert about this kind of stuff, but I do know that there are way more international students in MPP programs that JD programs. I think they are quite portable!

Andersblooms93
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby Andersblooms93 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:36 pm

Hi OP just my two-cents here..

Wanting to be a part of the foreign policy establishment is all good and well..but a nebulous task. You should reign in the scope of your interests.
On the technical side - DoD, DoHS, DNI, CIA.
On the policy side/grand strategy side - DoS (Department of Policy Planning), WH/NSC.
On the commentary/advisory/quasi-journalistic side - Foreign Affairs, FP, Think Tanks/P.I.
You'll ultimately have to tailor your education towards positioning yourself for either the technical or policy side.
Unfortunately the days where you get the big three in a backroom with cigars and whiskey deciding the fate of various regions are long over.
Foreign policy means you'll end up in a bureaucracy - you have to choose which one to make sense of your academic endeavours.
It's worth noting that unlike in the field of law, foreign policy has no clearly defined pathway for folks interested in the field.
Kennan forewent law school and went straight for a FSOT position...
Kissinger completed his PhD at HKS...
Scowcroft MA and only later his PhD...
Condi...academia @Stanford...

It's also worth noting that becoming a FSOT is incredibly hard right now considering the budget cuts under the new administration.

If I were you i'd go for a PhD and then join State...the pay grade @DoS is such that you are compensated for your higher-ed. You'd likely jump straight into the middle management instead of analyst role (on a team of 10+ others).
Regional specialisation and languages are a must. Georgetown University has the best program and Madeleine Albright happens to be a professor.

best of luck...and for god's sake please curb the excessive internationalism!

spicysalmonroll
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby spicysalmonroll » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:32 pm

Andersblooms93 wrote:If I were you i'd go for a PhD and then join State...the pay grade @DoS is such that you are compensated for your higher-ed. You'd likely jump straight into the middle management instead of analyst role (on a team of 10+ others).
Regional specialisation and languages are a must. Georgetown University has the best program and Madeleine Albright happens to be a professor.

best of luck...and for god's sake please curb the excessive internationalism!


Thanks for your helpful post. Any idea what my options would be going into State with a JD? NSC would be a dream. My only reason for hesitation is that as I mentioned in my post, I have reason to believe security clearance for me would not be smooth, thanks to immediate family abroad.

Andersblooms93
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby Andersblooms93 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:52 pm

A JD means you'd be most relevant for DOS careers involved with legal counsel or contract procurement...policy is left to the 'experts'.
I understand your previous post on the nexus between law and foreign policy...broadly speaking statecraft is in fact concerned with the law governing nations and states but I saw a fitting response following your post: a JD is a professional degree...your first year is largely tort law, con. law, contract law etc. you'd have to pursue your intellectual interests outside of class.

cavalier1138
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:36 pm

spicysalmonroll wrote:My only reason for hesitation is that as I mentioned in my post, I have reason to believe security clearance for me would not be smooth, thanks to immediate family abroad.


How would your degree affect this? Lawyers don't skip the security clearance process.

sparkytrainer
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby sparkytrainer » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:39 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
spicysalmonroll wrote:My only reason for hesitation is that as I mentioned in my post, I have reason to believe security clearance for me would not be smooth, thanks to immediate family abroad.


How would your degree affect this? Lawyers don't skip the security clearance process.

Agreed OP this makes no sense. If you want to do this type of work, you will need a clearance regardless of degree. If that is a problem, no degree will fix that for you.

spicysalmonroll
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby spicysalmonroll » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:35 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
spicysalmonroll wrote:My only reason for hesitation is that as I mentioned in my post, I have reason to believe security clearance for me would not be smooth, thanks to immediate family abroad.


How would your degree affect this? Lawyers don't skip the security clearance process.

Agreed OP this makes no sense. If you want to do this type of work, you will need a clearance regardless of degree. If that is a problem, no degree will fix that for you.


Not that clearance wouldnt be possible but that it may not be smooth and could take over a year. I like that with a JD I dont ever have to put all my eggs in the DoS basket since a career in law would always be there as a nice fallback. A PhD or MPP doesnt lend quite the same level of flexibility/options. Thanks for your feedback

mcmand
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby mcmand » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:59 am

spicysalmonroll wrote:
sparkytrainer wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
spicysalmonroll wrote:My only reason for hesitation is that as I mentioned in my post, I have reason to believe security clearance for me would not be smooth, thanks to immediate family abroad.


How would your degree affect this? Lawyers don't skip the security clearance process.

Agreed OP this makes no sense. If you want to do this type of work, you will need a clearance regardless of degree. If that is a problem, no degree will fix that for you.


Not that clearance wouldnt be possible but that it may not be smooth and could take over a year. I like that with a JD I dont ever have to put all my eggs in the DoS basket since a career in law would always be there as a nice fallback. A PhD or MPP doesnt lend quite the same level of flexibility/options. Thanks for your feedback


This forum should teach you that a lawyer job/JD is not a backup. It's what most JDs are striving for and non lawyer jobs are backups for them. You are thinking through this all wrong. If you can't get your dream DoS gig, you probably won't get a great lawyer gig either unless you actually put some effort into that career path, which you won't have done, because you were putting all your eggs in the foreign policy basket during law school. You'll be left with student loans for a degree you never really wanted, still struggling to get security clearance. The cost is much higher than applying now and waiting out your mysterious security clearance concerns.

Take the Foreign service exam already. Study a language in grad school, and maybe do an M.A.I.S. If you get an MPP from Harvard, you'll probably have good options, based on what I've seen of friends who did that.

Do not, under any circumstances, go to law school. You're wasting money, you'll hate it, and you'll regret it later. It's a bad idea for you, and your post screams it loud and clear. Listen to your gut. Don't justify yourself into mega debt and regret.

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pancakes3
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby pancakes3 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:35 am

This thread is the nicest TLS has gone about telling a 0L that international law really isn't a thing

cavalier1138
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:23 am

pancakes3 wrote:This thread is the nicest TLS has gone about telling a 0L that international law really isn't a thing


I'm actually a little wary of saying things like that. I think that "international law" in the way most 0Ls think about it isn't a thing. But there are some practice fields that absolutely focus on international law, and they're extremely hard to break in to.

So if the OP had said, "I want to be a legal adviser at State," then this thread would be going differently. Instead, the OP wants to do policy work and has already convinced him/herself that a JD is a magic employment pill that could never be a waste of time and money. Why the OP is asking people on a legal forum about the best track for these positions is a mystery to me, because I'm sure there are plenty of people at State willing to give pointers on the OP's actual desired career path.

spicysalmonroll wrote:Not that clearance wouldnt be possible but that it may not be smooth and could take over a year. I like that with a JD I dont ever have to put all my eggs in the DoS basket since a career in law would always be there as a nice fallback. A PhD or MPP doesnt lend quite the same level of flexibility/options. Thanks for your feedback


And this is just absurd reasoning. Don't go to law school if you don't want to practice law. I'm hoping that once you've heard that repeated enough, you might start absorbing it.

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clueless801
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Re: JD vs. MPP vs. PhD for Foreign Policy

Postby clueless801 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:49 pm

Hey OP: have you researched the people who are in the positions you want to be in in a few years? Many, many people nowadays will have their bios on the site and/or a LinkedIn detailing their history. If you haven't already, I'd recommend doing so, and even reaching out to those who may be able to help you answer some questions. They're already there and surrounded by other professionals who are also there. TLS is going to tell you to not pursue a JD if you no intention of using it (though I have certainly seen many bios with JDs where they did not use it). At the end of the day, it's a professional degree that's a lot broader than the restrictions a MPP or a PhD may have, but it's also a huge investment in time, money, and sanity. Any grad program is, and I think the best thing for you to do is to take the time to actually research your options rather than feel as if you need to complete it in a week. I don't know your personal circumstances, and any of what I have to say might change if you provide additional information (I'm also super brain-dead right now) but please, please take the time to properly research your options rather than jump straight into something you're not sure of.




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