JD or MPP?

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gradschooler
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JD or MPP?

Postby gradschooler » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:25 pm

I was accepted to several T10 law schools and top policy programs. I am deciding if I should pursue one or both. I have considered a joint program, but am unsure the added time/money is justified for both degrees. Is one more useful than the other, and for which careers?

leftofthedial
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby leftofthedial » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:32 pm

Can you be more specific about what kind of careers you're interested in? I'm not sure there's a blanket answer...for what it's worth, I thought long and hard, and everyone I talked to, MPP folks included, said go for the JD.

gradschooler
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby gradschooler » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:51 pm

gradschooler wrote:I was accepted to several T10 law schools and top policy programs. I am deciding if I should pursue one or both. I have considered a joint program, but am unsure the added time/money is justified for both degrees. Is one more useful than the other, and for which careers?


I'm interested in a position with a nonprofit or a government agency working on civil rights issues and advocacy.

leftofthedial
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby leftofthedial » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:47 am

gradschooler wrote:
gradschooler wrote:I was accepted to several T10 law schools and top policy programs. I am deciding if I should pursue one or both. I have considered a joint program, but am unsure the added time/money is justified for both degrees. Is one more useful than the other, and for which careers?


I'm interested in a position with a nonprofit or a government agency working on civil rights issues and advocacy.


I still think that's pretty broad. Advocacy on a policy level or in a particular community? Civil rights for immigrants or the poor? I'm not sure what kind of government positions are out there for this stuff...I mean, you could do ACLU civil rights stuff with a JD, or Southern Poverty Law Center, or maybe you get the MPP and do city stuff in an effort to restructure public transportation to make it easier for lower income folks to get to work. What I did was narrow it down on as many levels as I could: local/regional/national/international. What specifically do you like doing? Being out in the community? There are a lot of personal preferences that would make your decision easier...I did nonprofit immigration stuff for several years, and it gave me an appreciation for the folks on the front lines and also made me realize I don't want to work in that capacity. Do you have any experience in the fields that interest you?

gradschooler
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby gradschooler » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:28 am

I'm interested in a position with a nonprofit or a government agency working on civil rights issues and advocacy.


I would describe myself as more of a generalist, and honestly, it's difficult for me to pinpoint at this point exactly what I want to do. What is most important to me is working on polices and programs that comprehensively address the needs of those that are disempowered, and serving as their advocate. I spent two years working abroad in a developing country with a nonprofit focusing on HIV and healthcare, which also included elements of education, poverty reduction, and agriculture. I enjoyed this but decided I too do not want to work on the front lines but would rather work at a point higher in the chain that facilitates and improves these efforts. I have also worked on the national level for a think thank focusing on domestic policy, where I did everything from immigration to the environment--I liked it, but want to work on something where I see results. During summers I worked at DOJ Civil Rights, which I liked, and a local nonprofit that worked with local communities on nutrition and food policy, which I also liked but would probably like to work on a larger scale. In the end, I think I would like to work on the state or national level enacting policies/programs that address civil rights comprehensively, and tear down unjust policies/programs.

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thickfreakness
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby thickfreakness » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:29 am

JD/MPP joint degree or just a JD and make sure you do lots of pro bono and PI stuff during school.

andreea7
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby andreea7 » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:45 am

I also heard from people who have gone for their JD and later went into government that while not having an MPP did not prevent them from pursuing most of the jobs, not having a JD would have limited their options considerably even if they had had an MPP. Particularly if you are admitted at a great law school, you have many options once you graduate.

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EBGB
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby EBGB » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:12 am

thickfreakness wrote:JD/MPP joint degree or just a JD and make sure you do lots of pro bono and PI stuff during school.

This.
I work at a non-profit with policy wonks who are all very highly respected in their field. Only one of the 7 doesn't have a JD. She's had to work twice as hard as the others to get where she is.
Edit: It's the reason I chose to go for the JD instead of the MPP.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:16 am

Go with the JD/MPP. That's what I'm planning on, though I'm going to a T30 law school. I'm hoping for WWS (my GRE scores are also much better than my LSAT was) to do it with, though CMU-Heinz, W&M TJ (where I'm going to law school) and Penn Fels MGA are also options I'm considering for the upcoming MPP app cycle. Since you got into a T10 school, I'm guessing you are aware of the relative ease with which can pursue a cross-school JD/MPP with Princeton's Woodrow Wilson school. For my money, doing a top 10 JD/WWS MPP would be the best choice, unless you are at one of the T10 that does a joint degree with HKS. Of course, when it comes to HKS vs. WWS, it's probably up to your preference. It seems that WWS is more generous with aid money.

I'd guess that, outside of HKS and WWS, MPPs don't go quite as far because those who are "in the know" realize that a top 10 MPP/MPA school is not as competitive as a T30 or even T50 Law School. That is why, for example, Syracuse Law students seem to have little problem getting into the Maxwell school, which is an MPA with a good policy focus. This isn't to say that the caliber of education, focus of study, or job prospects aren't excellent at the Maxwell School, or CMU-Heinz, or Duke-Sanford, but that the drop-off in upper-echelon prospects is actually much quicker for MPPs and MPAs than for law schools.

I also applaud your willingness to stand for generalists. There are a wide variety of social and economic ills that I'd like to play a role in rectifying, and because there are so many, I don't want to pigeon-hole myself in advance. My understanding of and views on these ills will likely morph over the next 4 years, and surely so will yours (though your experience certainly trumps my armchair-politicking). Anyways, good luck.

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kittenmittons
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby kittenmittons » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:24 am

MPP is a joke

gradschooler
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby gradschooler » Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:41 pm

kittenmittons wrote:MPP is a joke



Thanks so much, everyone, for your comments. To the author of the above comment: could you explain why you think so?

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chutzpah
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Re: JD or MPP?

Postby chutzpah » Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:04 pm

Hi OP, I went through the same dilemma and will be going to the Kennedy School next year instead of law school. Throughout my application and deliberation processes, I understood objectively that a JD would be more valuable and versatile than an MPP. I work in government and heard from dozens of colleagues, bosses, etc that law school was the next logical step for me. However, I was not at all excited about law, law school, or being a lawyer and I was thrilled about HKS. I decided that if my heart wasn't in law school, then I shouldn't go. This isn't to say that I'll never go. I may decide during my first year at HKS that I really do want to get a JD and reapply for a joint or concurrent degree. Or I may start working and realize I do need that degree and attend part time. Law school isn't going anywhere.

If you want to work in civil rights or "tear down unjust policy/programs", a law degree is probably right for you. You didn't mention which MPP programs you're considering, but the top schools give a good education in quantitative analysis, budgeting, economics, etc that is essential to manage a program or run an office. If you want to work in policy development or implementation, you can do that with a JD, MPP, or neither. I know successful "policy" people in the government who have law degrees from top schools, law degrees from mediocre schools, masters, bachelors, and some with no college degree at all. If you're not going into a set path (e.g. top law school + top grades -> DOJ honors -> Civil Rights Division), then you can make it work with whatever schooling you want to pursue.

So, the question to ask yourself is: do I really want to be a lawyer? Law school is an enormous investment of time, money, and energy for something that you may not want or need for your career.




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