JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)

MPA or JD?

MPA
9
53%
JD
8
47%
 
Total votes: 17

gopats
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JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby gopats » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:20 pm

After working a hybrid congressional internship (district and DC) this summer Ive found That most everyone that works in a congressional legislative office or in the legislative industry has a graduate degree of some kind,which degree do you think will help more if my allotment career goal is to work on the hill, MPA or JD?

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Louis1127
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby Louis1127 » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:39 pm

gopats wrote:After working a hybrid congressional internship (district and DC) this summer Ive found That most everyone that works in a congressional legislative office or in the legislative industry has a graduate degree of some kind,which degree do you think will help more if my allotment career goal is to work on the hill, MPA or JD?


What? Maybe like the Congressional district that encompasses Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bro most ppl in those spots have a BA from BigStateU. You can't afford to take a 40K LA position with law degree debt. Especially in DC.

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mr. wednesday
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby mr. wednesday » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:41 pm

Whichever is cheapest, assuming you get either degree from a DC school in the evening program so you can work on the hill during the day. Interning, volunteering and working will lead to more opportunities in that area than a degree, and staffers aren't well paid so keep your debt low.

I don't know what the MPA/MPP financial aid situation is, but there are at least a few part-time JD programs in DC that could potentially offer you a significant scholarship.

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Louis1127
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby Louis1127 » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:48 pm

mr. wednesday wrote:Whichever is cheapest, assuming you get either degree from a DC school in the evening program so you can work on the hill during the day. Interning, volunteering and working will lead to more opportunities in that area than a degree, and staffers aren't well paid so keep your debt low.

I don't know what the MPA/MPP financial aid situation is, but there are at least a few part-time JD programs in DC that could potentially offer you a significant scholarship.


I have heard of ppl doing this, but it sounds hellacious. I would absolutely not recommend this. You will work from 9 AM to 6 PM every day. You will have normal DC events that you will be expected to go to (fundraisers, groups come into town and have a reception, etc.). I can't recommend not doing staffer during day/law school at night enough.

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SweetTort
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby SweetTort » Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:15 pm

Hate to hijack the thread, but how does one get a position like this? Is it just connections, or is there some sort of established route?

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twenty
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby twenty » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:08 pm

Unquestioningly the MPA. That said, don't go at all unless you can either finance the whole thing by yourself (i.e, no debt) or you're getting a lot of scholarship money.

Frankly, I'd put off either degree until you're a bit further into your career here.

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John_rizzy_rawls
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:15 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:Unquestioningly the MPA. That said, don't go at all unless you can either finance the whole thing by yourself (i.e, no debt) or you're getting a lot of scholarship money.

Frankly, I'd put off either degree until you're a bit further into your career here.


I generally don't disagree with you because you give great advice but I know firsthand that JDs (especially from good national and local schools) get hired far more than MPP/MPAs in political offices. However, MPP/MPAs generally tend to get hired more at nonprofits and NGOs.

The real question is whether a quarter of a million bucks is worth the entry level ~$50k job at political offices and that answer is almost always gonna be no.

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twenty
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby twenty » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:25 pm

John_rizzy_rawls wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:Unquestioningly the MPA. That said, don't go at all unless you can either finance the whole thing by yourself (i.e, no debt) or you're getting a lot of scholarship money.

Frankly, I'd put off either degree until you're a bit further into your career here.


I generally don't disagree with you because you give great advice but I know firsthand that JDs (especially from good national and local schools) get hired far more than MPP/MPAs in political offices. However, MPP/MPAs generally tend to get hired more at nonprofits and NGOs.

The real question is whether a quarter of a million bucks is worth the entry level ~$50k job at political offices and that answer is almost always gonna be no.


My train of thought was: part-time law = zero scholarship, LRAP/IBR = no political jobs (i.e, staffers), and if you're not practicing law, don't go to law school.

I'm not sure JDs enjoy that much of an advantage over MPA/MPPs -- everyone in my MPA class that's wanted to work in politics has gotten in (anecdotal, I know), and there are way more job-seeking JDs than job-seeking MPAs to begin with, since most of the MPAs are already in a career ladder position.

Anyway. I guess I can't really speak authoritatively to this except that both degrees are potentially a tremendously bad idea. I'd imagine if you absolutely must do one, the MPA is probably less of a bad idea.

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:00 pm

Going off of memory from when I made the same decision two years ago, go for the J.D. if you can get serious a scholarship. I read somewhere that a very small % of MPA and MPP holders actually work in government. Most of the time they work for think tanks or not-for-profits. From my own interactions with people in politics, the best way to get a nice job working for a legislator is to work on a winning ticket campaign and enjoy the patronage machine. Also, a J.D. is way better at helping draft legislation anyway versus an MPA or MPP, if your interest is to do legislative work.

I guess my biggest question is whether you want to work in politics or in government. For politics, read above. For government, it depends what agency/department you want to work for that should guide your graduate program decision.

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:03 pm

Also, just another thought. Have you considered trying to get more time working for a politicians office? A bachelors and a lot of hard work to get your legislator elected/reelected tends to be enough to make it in a political career.

gopats
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby gopats » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:59 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:
John_rizzy_rawls wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:Unquestioningly the MPA. That said, don't go at all unless you can either finance the whole thing by yourself (i.e, no debt) or you're getting a lot of scholarship money.

Frankly, I'd put off either degree until you're a bit further into your career here.


I generally don't disagree with you because you give great advice but I know firsthand that JDs (especially from good national and local schools) get hired far more than MPP/MPAs in political offices. However, MPP/MPAs generally tend to get hired more at nonprofits and NGOs.

The real question is whether a quarter of a million bucks is worth the entry level ~$50k job at political offices and that answer is almost always gonna be no.


My train of thought was: part-time law = zero scholarship, LRAP/IBR = no political jobs (i.e, staffers), and if you're not practicing law, don't go to law school.

I'm not sure JDs enjoy that much of an advantage over MPA/MPPs -- everyone in my MPA class that's wanted to work in politics has gotten in (anecdotal, I know), and there are way more job-seeking JDs than job-seeking MPAs to begin with, since most of the MPAs are already in a career ladder position.

Anyway. I guess I can't really speak authoritatively to this except that both degrees are potentially a tremendously bad idea. I'd imagine if you absolutely must do one, the MPA is probably less of a bad idea.


So would you suggest working my way up the ladder of capital hill staffing jobs for two to three years as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent to reach the position of legislative assistant or would you suggest earning an MPA and interning and reaching the position possibly sooner? I mean which is truly more economical? Because I know that an MPA will help my job prospects on the hill throughout my career.

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politibro44
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby politibro44 » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:32 pm

gopats wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:
John_rizzy_rawls wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:Unquestioningly the MPA. That said, don't go at all unless you can either finance the whole thing by yourself (i.e, no debt) or you're getting a lot of scholarship money.

Frankly, I'd put off either degree until you're a bit further into your career here.


I generally don't disagree with you because you give great advice but I know firsthand that JDs (especially from good national and local schools) get hired far more than MPP/MPAs in political offices. However, MPP/MPAs generally tend to get hired more at nonprofits and NGOs.

The real question is whether a quarter of a million bucks is worth the entry level ~$50k job at political offices and that answer is almost always gonna be no.


My train of thought was: part-time law = zero scholarship, LRAP/IBR = no political jobs (i.e, staffers), and if you're not practicing law, don't go to law school.

I'm not sure JDs enjoy that much of an advantage over MPA/MPPs -- everyone in my MPA class that's wanted to work in politics has gotten in (anecdotal, I know), and there are way more job-seeking JDs than job-seeking MPAs to begin with, since most of the MPAs are already in a career ladder position.

Anyway. I guess I can't really speak authoritatively to this except that both degrees are potentially a tremendously bad idea. I'd imagine if you absolutely must do one, the MPA is probably less of a bad idea.


So would you suggest working my way up the ladder of capital hill staffing jobs for two to three years as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent to reach the position of legislative assistant or would you suggest earning an MPA and interning and reaching the position possibly sooner? I mean which is truly more economical? Because I know that an MPA will help my job prospects on the hill throughout my career.


If your goal is to become a leg director, chief of staff, or work for a committee and you want either an MPA or JD too, than it is probably best to get 2-4 years of Hill experience, get the advance degree, and then come back. That way you can cruise in as a leg director or a senior leg assistant and begin making moves. For a committee it's a bit different. In that situation you could have less hill experience pursue your advanced degree and then try to break into a committee, but overall it will be harder than a regular member office.

It's also good to never leave the Hill, in which case a PT degree would be good. GW has professional master's in political management that is PT and could give you that "I have a master's" edge when you start pursuing the upper-echeleons of Capitol Hill staffers.

It really depends what you want to do on the Hill. If you want to do comms/political advising, an advanced degree is less important. If you want to do heavy policy/committee work, an advanced degree is more important. And for god-sake's, it's spelled Capitol.

notalobbyist
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby notalobbyist » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:21 pm

A few points to take with a grain of salt.

Lots of offices will ice you out unless you've "paid your dues" as an intern. Not necessarily with them, but having intern experience.

The only people I personally know that went straight into policy positions (LA, Deputy LD) transitioned from technical jobs in the federal government that dealt with their current portfolio. The LA job does not pay particularly well, and the jobs you have to do to get there pay even worse. An LA I know who has a JD had to start as an LC in a freshman office and was promoted quickly but I don't think many people start off as an LA unless they have significant subject-matter expertise.

There are a lot of JD graduates currently interning so they can get the staff assistant job, which does not pay well.

I typically see the MPA/MPP people when they already have a foot in the door (scheduling, comms, etc) and want to transition to policy doing evening programs.

Neither degree is required to become an LA, a lot of it depends on your network, party affiliation, the election cycle, and luck.

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:20 am

notalobbyist wrote:A few points to take with a grain of salt.

Lots of offices will ice you out unless you've "paid your dues" as an intern. Not necessarily with them, but having intern experience.


Neither degree is required to become an LA, a lot of it depends on your network, party affiliation, the election cycle, and luck.


Two most important points overall, especially second point.

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thechancellor
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Re: JD or MPA for capital hill work ?

Postby thechancellor » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:04 pm

Ohiobumpkin wrote:
notalobbyist wrote:A few points to take with a grain of salt.

Lots of offices will ice you out unless you've "paid your dues" as an intern. Not necessarily with them, but having intern experience.


Neither degree is required to become an LA, a lot of it depends on your network, party affiliation, the election cycle, and luck.


Two most important points overall, especially second point.


+1

There aren't a lot of free jobs on the Hill and offices generally promote either internally or from other offices. You're way better off getting more experience on the Hill than going to get a degree now.




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