Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

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pollywolly88
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Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby pollywolly88 » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:56 pm

I have a BA and will need to go back to school to get a graduate degree. I am trying to decide whether to get a Masters in Public Policy or go to law school. Can anyone tell me about the pros and cons of this? I figure going to law school will open more doors and wouldn't limit me into a specific track. What do you think?

Thanks!

AquafiNa
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby AquafiNa » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:03 am

pollywolly88 wrote:I have a BA and will need to go back to school to get a graduate degree. I am trying to decide whether to get a Masters in Public Policy or go to law school. Can anyone tell me about the pros and cons of this? I figure going to law school will open more doors and wouldn't limit me into a specific track. What do you think?

Thanks!


Why do you need to go back to grad school? What are your career goals?

pollywolly88
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby pollywolly88 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:27 am

To advance within the field, you need at least a Masters degree. So I figure, I may as well spend an extra year and obtain a J.D.? This way I have the option of working as a lawyer as well. I am very interested in public, social and health policy.

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PhilippeStandingOnIt
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby PhilippeStandingOnIt » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:48 am

pollywolly88 wrote:To advance within the field, you need at least a Masters degree. So I figure, I may as well spend an extra year and obtain a J.D.?


Except you can likely pick up a public policy masters from the local State U for 10-20% the cost of a law degree. If you don't know specifically what you want to do with a law degree, that specifically requires a law degree, don't waste your money on a law degree.

pollywolly88
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby pollywolly88 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:54 am

PhilippeStandingOnIt wrote:
pollywolly88 wrote:To advance within the field, you need at least a Masters degree. So I figure, I may as well spend an extra year and obtain a J.D.?


Except you can likely pick up a public policy masters from the local State U for 10-20% the cost of a law degree. If you don't know specifically what you want to do with a law degree, that specifically requires a law degree, don't waste your money on a law degree.


But if you want good jobs they look at where you did your masters (just like they look at where you went to UG). I attended an Ivy League undergrad and even though the degree was expensive, I got lots of amazing opportunities and job offers/interviews because of the name of my undergrad institution. Many employers even told me they decided to interview me because they had a really good experience with people who graduated from my undergrad. On the other hand, I have friends with a similar major as mine who attended my state university---many of them have not had as much luck with getting decent jobs after graduation. Many are working as recruiters or jumping from Sales job to sales job (and they really hate their jobs), some are even working at Target/Starbucks with their lib arts degree. So I would be more likely to attend a top institution (and end up spending more) for my masters rather than a state school anyway.
Last edited by pollywolly88 on Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Petrichor
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby Petrichor » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:57 am

As someone that is about to finish a masters in one of the concentrations you mentioned, I personally do not think a law degree is well suited in a policy analysis role unless you have significant exposure to the quantitative fields as an undergrad (IMO economics major contains the bare minimum math necessary for such roles). Most worthwhile policy analysis roles require at least a solid understanding of statistics as well as familiarity with statistical programing (in rank from least to most valuable from my perspective: Excel, SPSS/STATA, R, SAS, Python), and strong grasp of finance (typically accounting, debt/capital management) as well as policy/economical/sociological factors. You might be asked to use linear regression to forecast a specific outcome, or build a discount cash-flow model to interpret the present value of a future investment, or perhaps discuss the unintended consequences of a governmental policy.

I think lawyers in general are not well suited for this role without some quantitative training, but if you are deadest on working in the policy arena as a lawyer it might be worthwhile to pursue a dual-degree if you can get into a program that does not prolong the duration of your educational training beyond the 3 years necessary for law school.

AquafiNa
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby AquafiNa » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:59 am

Okay so you say you want to advance in your field? Which field? What are your goals? If they don't involve being a lawyer then law school is a bad choice.

pollywolly88
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby pollywolly88 » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:01 pm

Petrichor wrote:As someone that is about to finish a masters in one of the concentrations you mentioned, I personally do not think a law degree is well suited in a policy analysis role unless you have significant exposure to the quantitative fields as an undergrad (IMO economics major contains the bare minimum math necessary for such roles). Most worthwhile policy analysis roles require at least a solid understanding of statistics as well as familiarity with statistical programing (in rank from least to most valuable from my perspective: Excel, SPSS/STATA, R, SAS, Python), and strong grasp of finance (typically accounting, debt/capital management) as well as policy/economical/sociological factors. You might be asked to use linear regression to forecast a specific outcome, or build a discount cash-flow model to interpret the present value of a future investment, or perhaps discuss the unintended consequences of a governmental policy.

I think lawyers in general are not well suited for this role without some quantitative training, but if you are deadest on working in the policy arena as a lawyer it might be worthwhile to pursue a dual-degree if you can get into a program that does not prolong the duration of your educational training beyond the 3 years necessary for law school.


Interesting, are you planning to go to law school after you complete your masters degree? What are job opportunities like with a Masters in public policy?

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PhilippeStandingOnIt
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby PhilippeStandingOnIt » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:11 pm

pollywolly88 wrote:
PhilippeStandingOnIt wrote:
pollywolly88 wrote:To advance within the field, you need at least a Masters degree. So I figure, I may as well spend an extra year and obtain a J.D.?


Except you can likely pick up a public policy masters from the local State U for 10-20% the cost of a law degree. If you don't know specifically what you want to do with a law degree, that specifically requires a law degree, don't waste your money on a law degree.


But if you want good jobs they look at where you did your masters (just like they look at where you went to UG). I attended an Ivy League undergrad and even though the degree was expensive, I got lots of amazing opportunities and job offers/interviews because of the name of my undergrad institution. Many employers even told me they decided to interview me because they had a really good experience with people who graduated from my undergrad. On the other hand, I have friends with a similar major as mine who attended my state university---many of them have not had as much luck with getting decent jobs after graduation. Many are working as recruiters or jumping from Sales job to sales job (and they really hate their jobs), some are even working at Target/Starbucks with their lib arts degree. So I would be more likely to attend a top institution (and end up spending more) for my masters rather than a state school anyway.



Maybe; maybe not. A cheaper master's degree won't take away your prestigious undergrad.

I work in public policy at the municipal level in one of the biggest cities in the country. I make beans for a living. If I were to try to come back here with a law degree, they would make me quit doing policy work and force me to be an assistant in-house counsel, for which they would pay me 15% more beans.

Unless your goal is to do hoity-toity-WashingtonDC-think-tank-level "public policy work" (and you actually have a realistic chance of getting there), don't spend a quarter million dollars to get a law degree on some vague notion that "it will help me get ahead in public policy." It might help you get ahead; it might not. For 99.99% of "public policy jobs," it definitely won't get you $250,000 ahead. That's what it will cost you barring massive scholarships.

Petrichor
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby Petrichor » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:16 pm

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Last edited by Petrichor on Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Skool
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Re: Interested in Public Policy & Social Policy

Postby Skool » Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:58 pm

pollywolly88 wrote: Can anyone tell me about the pros and cons of this? I figure going to law school will open more doors and wouldn't limit me into a specific track. What do you think?
The con is that it will be very difficult to find a job that allows you to regularly make use of the public policy tools and the legal analysis tools, which makes it likely you'll end up on a track where you're largely making use of one and wasting the other. That's why my instinct is to say choose one, and stick with it.

I think that someone who tried to merge both would have more initial options than someone who only had one or the other. But I think ultimately, you would be forced to wear one hat more than the other and their skills in the other would just atrophy and die. They would be left with what they tried to avoid: one hat.

If you're going to try this kind of thing, you really need to be very clear about the policy areas you're interested in, and make sure you've spoken with policy/lawyer types in your network who affirm that having both backgrounds is useful for the policy area you want to work in.

Basically, this is the kind of shit you don't just try to keep unknown doors open. You should only try this if you have a clear agenda and plan for merging the two areas. You sound more like you're in the former camp.




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