Comments from Nathaniel Balis, an F&M graduate, about the Georgetown School of Public Policy:
There are 130 or so students, and every single student is really aware of what's happening in the world and virtually everyone is dedicated to public service in some capacity or another.
Among the schools in D.C., they definitely seemed the most ambitious. I was accepted at Georgetown, George Washington and American, and chose Georgetown because they make you take more electives (4 classes a semester rather than 3), they put a lot of emphasis on the research practicum which takes up the whole second year, and because there are explicit goals to improve the standing of the program.
The classes have been really great as well. One of the nice parts about Georgetown is that they get great adjunct professors to teach electives. I took a class on welfare and social security policy last year, and the professor was an undersecretary at Health and Human Services for 20 years. I'm taking a class next semester on politics and the media with Paul Begala, and a class on child development policy with a former director of the Head Start Bureau under Bush.
There is a very heavy emphasis on quantitative methods and economics. There are three required semesters of quant, one semester of microeconomics, and one semester of public finance. Over half of the faculty are economists and even in our electives, the emphasis is always on doing good research. The nice part is that most students (like myself) are from a very non-math background as government, sociology or history majors in college. I was scared to death of microeconomics but it was probably my favorite class last year because it was geared entirely towards policy.
In that sense, if I had one recommendation to government students at F&M, it might be to take a microeconomics class. Public policy programs definitely like to see work experience, but I think about 20% of students in my program came straight from college. I worked for a year, which I think changed my perspective a bit on school. I still work about 30 hours a week, which is a very different experience than if I was only taking classes. One of the nice parts about being in D.C. is all of the opportunities to do interesting internships.