Monday, September 11, 2006

Public Policy, Harvard--an Alum's Experience

We had a post recently on MPAs and MPPs as an option for those wanting to go to graduate school. I asked Erin Speck '00, who left a comment on that post, if she might elaborate a bit on her experiences at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Here is her response:

"After several years in the Washington State Legislature working alongside policy analysts, I began to seek out my options for an advanced degree that would enable me to do more sophisticated analytical work.

I discovered the MPP degree through some research and reading and found it to be a degree more focused on the statistical and economic side of policy analysis than the administrative aspect of policy and government and thought that it would be more what I was looking for.

I chose the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard after admissions because it had the strongest faculty and core/elective classes, as well as an emphasis that interested me (national security and international political economy) for my MPP degree. The first year was generally filled with a couple of semesters of microeconomics, statistics and econometrics, ethics and leadership, several other required courses and a couple of electives. I felt like it provided a very strong base for mathematical analysis and contained options depending on whether you wanted to do things based on calculus or lower-level mathematics. The second year contains a major thesis component (at Harvard, this is done for a public or non-profit client), as well as classes to suit your interests (more stats and econ or subject matter classes). The Kennedy School also has an interesting component in the end of the first year called “Spring Exercise,” in which first year students take two weeks off classes entirely and delve into a policy problem (both individually and in groups) that is kept secret until the first day of the exercise (mine was the problem of the uninsured in America)."

Erin's now at SRA International in Virginia. Thanks for the input, Erin.