Should I do a Top 1-2 MPA/MPP program or top 10-15 MBA program? Goal: Break into MBB public and social practice

Esca's picture
Rank: Monkey | 47

Hello everybody,

I know that the title is a little confusing so I'll explain. I am a professional with a deep interest in how to leverage finance to help address critical issues in the public and social sector. I did banking internship in undergrad at a BB but I turned down the offer because of my existing interest in the public and social sector. I decided to transition to a consulting firm (tier 2 overall, but tier 1 in public sector) after undergrad to work on some really cool international projects. Left after 2 years to work in a managerial capacity at a startup social enterprise. Now I've been accepted into the two leading MPA/MPP programs (HKS and Princeton), and two top 15 MBA programs (I should probably have applied to more top 5 programs but I guess I underestimated myself).

Post-graduate school I would like to transition to public sector work in an investment bank (think GS Urban Investment Group) or to social and public consulting at MBB.

The Princeton offer comes with an automatic full-ride so that is another factor playing into my decision. Which path do you think would be the most sensible? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Comments (15)

Mar 9, 2016

I would check each of the websites of the firms you're interested in joining and make sure they recruit on-campus at the schools you're looking at. Then I would check LinkedIn to confirm that there are alumni of those programs at the firms as well.

But my guess is that HKS and Princeton would set you up slightly better for what you want to do, and if Princeton's giving you a full ride, take it!

Mar 9, 2016
humblebot:

I would check each of the websites of the firms you're interested in joining and make sure they recruit on-campus at the schools you're looking at. Then I would check LinkedIn to confirm that there are alumni of those programs at the firms as well.

But my guess is that HKS and Princeton would set you up slightly better for what you want to do, and if Princeton's giving you a full ride, take it!

Thanks for the reply. They dont really recruit on campus, but from my Linkedin stalking, I've seen that a few people have managed to snag those roles. Why do you think that they are the better avenue?

Mar 10, 2016

I know less about the MPP/MPA side of things than I do about the b-school side, but it's very difficult to get a job at MBB/GS from a Top 10-15 MBA program. Not impossible, but schools in that range send only a handful of people to those firms every year. And if you really want to focus on public sector work, McKinsey's the only consulting firm that really will let you do a lot of that stuff, so your option set is even narrower.

I don't know as much about your chances if you go the MPP route, but I think that if you're really focused on doing something public sector, HKS and Princeton will give you more options.

Mar 10, 2016

Keep in mind, other masters degrees usually come into consulting firms at more junior levels than MBA...so you'll take a pay hit.

Mar 10, 2016

That's true for most master's degrees, but I think top tier MPP/MPAs get treated like PhDs do and come in at the post-MBA level.

Mar 10, 2016
humblebot:

That's true for most master's degrees, but I think top tier MPP/MPAs get treated like PhDs do and come in at the post-MBA level.

I've just received a named fellowship from one of the top 10-15 MBAs. Does that change your advice?

Mar 11, 2016

OP, congrats on the acceptances! Have you considered Dalberg / Bridgespan / etc? They are well regarded in the social sector consulting space, and from what I've heard, have people of all the degrees you mentioned - MPP/MPA/MBA.

Mar 11, 2016
sunsetplum:

OP, congrats on the acceptances! Have you considered Dalberg / Bridgespan / etc? They are well regarded in the social sector consulting space, and from what I've heard, have people of all the degrees you mentioned - MPP/MPA/MBA.

I have and they are a possibility. They just require a little more grind for those coming out of policy schools.

Mar 11, 2016

If you hadn't gotten the MBA fellowship I would have urged you to go to HKS/Princeton and study what you love for free. But the avg. jobs for grads in those programs are in the 50-60k salary range.

Any top 15 MBA program will beat that. And you might still luck out and end up in public sector banking/MBB. I'm assuming one of the schools is Yale SOM given your social enterprise interests? You'll have a puncher's chance either way so go where upside is highest and downside lowest.

Mar 11, 2016
TheGrind:

If you hadn't gotten the MBA fellowship I would have urged you to go to HKS/Princeton and study what you love for free. But the avg. jobs for grads in those programs are in the 50-60k salary range.

Any top 15 MBA program will beat that. And you might still luck out and end up in public sector banking/MBB. I'm assuming one of the schools is Yale SOM given your social enterprise interests? You'll have a puncher's chance either way so go where upside is highest and downside lowest.

Yes one of the schools is Yale. My reservation is this: I'm not really sweating HKS, but I feel like I will always look back and regret not having the 2 years at Princeton. I am not a "do gooder" by any means, and I want a career in the private sector after experiencing the frustrations of working with public sector clients. My brain says MBA, but my heart says MPA for the intellectual experience. But I also want a comfortable life with a 100K+ income, hence my reservations.

Mar 11, 2016

I wanted to thank you all for your responses. I wanted to let you know that I've decided to go with my heart over my head and accept the Princeton offer.

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Mar 12, 2016

Not sure if anyone else mentioned but is dual degree an option? I had a few friends do HKS/Tuck. Even if dual is not formally offered between two schools, it may be something you could get the MBA and HKS/Princeton to work out for you.

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Mar 12, 2016
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