How to choose the best Public Policy school abroad?

 International rankings are a good starting point when choosing the best school to take a course abroad. In the case of postgraduate colleges in “Public Policy,” according to US News , the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, in Berkeley, California, takes the lead. In “Public Affairs”, the best rated is the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, which is located in Syracuse, in the state of New York.

“I researched the US News ranking when I was thinking about studying abroad, and Maxwell was at the top. I had already heard that the school had a friendly and cooperative atmosphere, selected students of different nationalities and had very accessible teachers ”, points out Alexandre Fonseca, from Recife, who was a student at the school in 2004.

Each school has its strengths, and it is necessary to understand how each one works and to check if it really has a solid program in its area of ​​interest. The location of the college also greatly influences the student's experience. “Syracuse has the advantages of a city with 150,000 inhabitants, with complete infrastructure, at the same time that it is less than 6 hours from the big cities on the East Coast”, adds Alexandre.

For him, the formatting of the program in 12 consecutive months allows to save precious time, which would also be a differential in relation to other top schools in the United States. “Even so, the school allows exchanges abroad for internships and lectures, in addition to maintaining a long-lasting network of international contacts between students,” he says.

From the middle to the end of the program, he says, there is an intense movement of posts of internships and jobs, and a considerable network of alumni helps in this preparation, from the presentation to the companies to the recruitment itself. “In addition to Maxwell's efficient career service, some teachers personally collaborate in the placement process,” adds Alexandre, who now works at the Federal Revenue of Brazil.

He points out that, before choosing his school, it is also interesting to know the possibilities of scholarships for Brazilians - Alexandre, for example, got the Fulbright scholarship - or who have a partnership with any institute that offers it. The Lemann Foundation offers scholarships to students admitted to the Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), School of International and Public Affairs (Columbia University) and Blavatnik School of Government (University of Oxford).

Below are testimonials from Lemann Fellows (the scholarship recipients of this program) who have studied or are studying there - and what they consider to be a differential in the college in which they chose to take the master's degree:

 Mello Pereira da Silva

School: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Program: Master of Public Policy

Graduation year: 2014

“The MPP course in Oxford, which is one year in duration, is quite recent: only one class has graduated so far, and I was the first Brazilian to enter the course, in September this year. In addition to more theoretical classes on history, philosophy, economics, science, medicine, politics, international relations and public law, students are encouraged to have practical experiences to develop the skills necessary to pursue a public career, such as strategy, communication, negotiation and finances. More specific optional subjects are also on the agenda, including climate change, infrastructure, education, health and immigration.

The academic experience - and life as well - is very intense at Oxford. They boil up interesting events, and it's hard to stay on top of everyone. In addition, the multicultural environment is very rich: students come from almost 40 different countries, each with its own culture, religion and references. Therefore, the practice of tolerance becomes essential. The professional profile of colleagues also varies: some have 15 years of experience in the public sector, others plan to change careers after the course, others have just graduated. They all have a very different reasoning than mine, which I studied only law since college.

The classes have a great practical sense. From time to time, teachers provoke students with 'challenges'. We are encouraged to think of solutions to real issues, such as the discovery of oil in Tanzania or a development program in Indonesia. Full time dedication to classes lasts 9 months. Then, three months are dedicated to a 'summer project', in which students need to apply the acquired knowledge. The school has a specific sector of careers that provides us with contacts and information about internship opportunities in governmental or non-governmental organizations. The focus is on market insertion.

My plans for after the master's are to pursue an academic career and do a doctorate in public policy, comparing aspects of environmental policy in Brazil with that in England. I think it is important to know how other people face problems that we also face. Sometimes, we need to get out of our context to see the issues differently. And that does not mean importing solutions, but leaving aside addicted thinking. I also consider the possibility of working at the Ministry of the Environment in Brazil, with an international focus, and participating in the next steps of the NGO Minha BH, of which I am a co-founder. ”

José Frederico Lyra Netto

School: Kennedy School of Government , Harvard University

Program: Master in Public Policy

Graduation year: 2015

“In April of this year, when I received the letter of approval at Harvard Kennedy School, I started to realize a dream. First, because Harvard is one of the most iconic learning environments in the world. Second, because I would go to the university unit whose goal, in Dean's words, is to train people to solve the world's big problems. Coming from an experience in regional development and education, and with future ambitions in the public and political sectors, I couldn't see a better place for a master's degree. And the grants from Fundação Lemann and Fundação Estudar helped make my studies possible.

After a few months of studying, some aspects caught my attention at school. The first is the master's format. MPP underwent a recent overhaul, and the changes reflect Kennedy's priorities - a link between strong academic background and the skills needed to solve real-world problems. In the first year, there is a great analytical focus, with subjects such as economics and statistics, working in an integrated manner. In the second, students are free to choose subjects related to their area of ​​concentration - such as Economic and Political Development or Finance and International Trade.

The school has a strong analytical and quantitative character, but offers subjects related to skills, such as negotiation and leadership. In addition to the Master in Public Policy, there is also the Master in Public Administration, the Master in Public Administration / International Development and the Mid-Career Master. It also caught my attention the access that students have to great leaders and public actors worldwide. Very often, Kennedy receives presidents, governors, experts and public policy references. It is literally impossible to attend classes and attend all presentations.

The great integration between different backgrounds and cultures is another strength of the school. There are students from more than 90 countries, coming from different backgrounds, which naturally translates into a great source of learning. Finally, I highlight the access to Harvard University as a whole and its multidisciplinarity. We are allowed to take subjects in any unit - Education, Law, Business, Public Health, Economics, Architecture, Science and others. The possibility of making chairs at MIT is also open, which enriches the range of options. One of the biggest challenges is to focus on the various opportunities. ”

Samantha Barthelemy

School: School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University

Program: Master of International Affairs

Graduation year: 2011

“I did a double master's degree in international relations - the first year at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris (Sciences Po Paris, France), and the second at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University in New York. Since college, I dreamed of studying at these schools and I traced my academic and professional path to achieve that dream. I wanted to go back to France, because I had already lived there, with part of my family, and I always admired Columbia a lot for being a globally recognized institution and having a very strategic location personally and professionally.

In New York, in particular, it is possible to have access to important people on the world stage. For those who want to work in the area of ​​international relations, it is very rich to be so close to the UN headquarters, for example. Due to the city's effervescence, the Columbia campus is also frequented by high-caliber professionals, who participate in the numerous lectures and events offered by the school. For all these reasons, I didn't even apply to other universities. He knew that the admission process would be lengthy and competitive, but if it didn't work out the first time, he would wait another year to try again.

My focus of studies was precisely on Conflict Prevention and Resolution and International Security, and I had many disciplines related to human rights and public policy. Despite the dense themes, the teaching is very practical and explores simulations of real cases. Classroom discussions are generally of a high level. On the one hand, our teachers have varied backgrounds and extensive market experience. On the other hand, the students are very interesting, as they come from 100 different countries and have very different personal and professional profiles. Classes make us open our minds and look at problems from other perspectives.

Columbia also has a Latin American studies department, where I had the opportunity to study security vulnerabilities in Rio de Janeiro. It was then that I discovered the Schools of Tomorrow Program - a partnership between the Municipal Education Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro and Unesco -, of which I am today coordinator. Throughout the course at SIPA I had also developed a great passion for education. I believe that it is undoubtedly the greatest tool for resolving conflicts, improving public services and combating poverty. ”

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