Author: amandamiller (page 1 of 9)

How to Tell if Heller Might NOT be for You

Many graduate schools will tell you why their school is the best place for you, but today I thought I’d do something a little differently. This is a little unorthodox, but bear with me: today I’ve put together how to know if Heller might not be the best place for you.

Heller might not be the right fit for you if…

  1. You’re comfortable with the status quo. At Heller, the students, faculty, and staff are all committed to promoting social justice and creating a better world. This passion and drive can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you’re content with the way things are now. Our commitment to making the world a better place is reflected in everything we do at Heller: from our motto to the curriculum, from the research being done in our institutes to the student organizations and events. We strive to create an atmosphere at Heller that inspires and challenges our students, and if you’re not open to that type of environment, it might not be the right fit for you.
  2. You’re already completely satisfied in your career.  Although many of our students come to us having already accomplished great things, if you’re entirely satisfied in your job right now, you might not find the opportunities at Heller to be particularly appealing. At Heller, we work hard to make sure that our students go on to do great things. Our curricula are designed to equip students with both the theoretical knowledge and the hands on tools that will allow them grow and develop professionally, and to enable them to pursue careers that make a positive impact. Our Career Development Center also provides resources, workshops, and one-on-one coaching appointments to help students reach their personal and professional goals. In other words, at Heller, we don’t just care about your success while you’re in school: we’re looking further, to the next five, ten and twenty years after you graduate. If you’re already in a job that you love, and you’re not looking for new opportunities or challenges, the opportunities that Heller offers to grow your career might not be up your alley.
  3. You’re not comfortable being a part of a dynamic community. Heller students come from all walks of life: the person sitting next to you in class might be a optometrist from Nigeria in the United States for the first time, an active duty National Guard service member who will be getting on a helicopter later that day to help put out wildfires, or a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who was evacuated from their post during the COVID epidemic. These experiences make for a diverse classroom atmosphere, and students come to Heller because they’re passionate about the causes they care about. That combination often means that classroom discussions are full of healthy, respectful debate, and if you’re not comfortable in a dynamic environment, you might find that you feel out of place. Additionally, the focus on social justice at Heller means that there are many discussions  aimed at creating a more inclusive and supportive community, and if you’re not comfortable with this type of atmosphere, you might find it difficult to thrive at Heller.

Like I said– a little unorthodox, but as I hope I’ve made clear, Heller is all about doing things a little bit differently. If any of the things I’ve listed above apply to you, then the Heller School for Social Policy and Management might not be the best fit for you. But if you’re excited about growing your career while challenging the status quo in a collaborative community working towards a common goal of making the world a better place, Heller is the place to be.

The Waiting Game

With the first round deadline behind us, many applicants may find themselves with a lot more extra time… to worry. What if I don’t get in? How will I manage a move in eight months? How much will it cost?

I won’t lie: anxiety can definitely get the best of me. One sign that something might be wrong is sometimes enough to send me into a spiral, so I get it. It’s tempting to tell myself that the anxiety is somehow productive, that by thinking through every possible worst-case scenario, I’m actually preparing myself for said bad outcome, or that by imagining the worst-case scenario, I’m somehow preventing it. But the truth is, worrying about something completely out of my hands has no impact on the situation, and if I ever actually do get the bad news I was anticipating, I’m still just as upset. All I’ve really done is make the intervening days, or weeks, or months just a little bit worse for myself. Trust me when I say: I’ve been there, and I get it. But I’ve also learned a little bit about how to manage anxious thoughts during stressful situations, so with that in mind, I want to share a few tips to manage your anxiety during this time.

1. Channel your nervous energy. Have you been catching yourself refreshing your email for hours on end? Chewing your nails down to the quick? Tapping your foot so long it wears a hole in your carpet? While some people shut down when they’re anxious, other people find themselves absolutely bursting with energy. Find a way to redirect this energy, like taking a long walk while listening to a podcast or doing a quick work-out in your living room to let off some steam. You can also put that energy to a productive use by writing a thank you email to your recommenders or by engaging in some volunteer work (which will look great on any future graduate school or job applications).

2. Indulge in smart self-care. Self care doesn’t always look like giving yourself permission to eat that entire gallon of ice cream (although sometimes it certainly can!). Take this time to indulge in self-care that actually makes you feel good and energized afterwards, like taking a bath, meditating, calling a loved one, getting coffee or dinner with a close friend, treating yourself to a healthy new recipe (whether you make it yourself or order take-out), or taking yourself out on a movie or museum date.

3. Put things in perspective. Imagine the absolute worst-case scenario: you’re rejected from every single school you’ve applied to. What then? I don’t mean to downplay the feelings of rejection and sadness that receiving a denial can induce, but at the end of the day, it truly isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t even mean you won’t ever go to grad school. Sometimes when you think the universe is saying “No”, it’s really only saying “Not yet”. You can spend the next year making sure you’re prepared for the next round of applications, and you’ll have a head-start on everyone applying for the first time.

4. Take break from social media. There’s nothing worse than taking a break from relentlessly refreshing your email only to go onto Instagram and be immediately confronted with someone else’s post about their acceptance. Especially if a lot of people in your immediate circle are going through the same process as you, consider taking a break, or at least setting limitations for yourself when it comes to social media. By the way, this goes double for sites like GradCafe, CollegeConfidential, or Reddit discussion boards. Remember: everyone’s situation is unique, and trying to “hack” the application process by following the tips that worked for a stranger on the internet is unlikely to actually pay off.

5. Put an embargo on app-talk. Everyone has that one great-aunt is probably just dying to tell you about how her friend’s sister’s son-in-law got into every single graduate school with a full ride. Get out ahead of it by giving a quick update, setting a boundary, and moving the conversation along (“There are a couple of schools I’m excited to hear back from, but I don’t want to talk about graduate school when I have all this delicious food in front of me. Aunt Betsy, tell me more about how your vacation was?”). The same tip goes for your friends, even if they’re in the same boat as you. Set aside ten minutes at the top of the gathering to compare notes, and then change the subject.

Facing Your Capstone Presentation

Neh Meh, MA SID/COEX'24 headshot

Neh Meh, MA SID/COEX’24

Most graduate students are busy finishing their classes, dealing with projects, and preparing for graduation. Most importantly, many of our graduate students are preparing the requirement that essentially allows them to walk in the graduation ceremony and obtain their degree: their a capstone project. Many of the graduate programs at Heller also require students to do an internship, practicum, field research, or thesis paper. The good thing is that the Executive Director of the Global Programs at Heller is very flexible with whatever you choose, making our graduate life much easier. After completing the capstone project, students must present it in person or virtually.

However, before we jump to talking about presenting the capstone project, you should know that students must take many different steps before they’re ready to present their capstone project, and that those steps could vary for each student. As a dual degree student majoring in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence and Sustainable International Development, I will share my experiences and journey in how and why I chose to do what I did and what I learned from it. It was during my second semester in graduate school, around February 2022 that I started thinking about different internships for my practicum. An ideal timeline is like this: completing an internship or any project during the summer and writing a report about my internship experiences in the fall semester. So, I started thinking about different organizations, researching their missions and visions to see if they aligned with my interest, and began sorting through the opportunities. Then, I thought of the Jesuit Refugee Service, a non-profit organization in Thailand that serves refugees. I remember the organization’s involvement in refugee education, especially for the Karenni (if you have not heard about Karenni, it is an ethnic group from Myanmar). I contacted the organization’s director and shared my background and interest. He then asked for my resume, and after that, he agreed to let me work with the organization over the summer on Peace and Reconciliation’s peacebuilding project. The Jesuit Refugee Service’s peacebuilding essentially focuses on rebuilding relationships and building the capacity to face difficulties.

I spent three months in Thailand researching the peacebuilding project and organized a training centered on peacebuilding through education. I utilized education to build peace by educating the Karenni and Karenni refugees about ways to tackle conflicts and skills that enable them to create the right relationships between themselves. While interning with JRS, I completed my peacebuilding project called “Peacebuilding through Education”. After completing my three-month project, I returned to Heller to continue my Sustainable International Development degree. As a SIDCO, I had the option to present in May; however, since my project was funded by the peace award from Marice Kapf Hahn, I had to present my completed project before the year ended.

I’ll admit that this timeline was less than ideal and at times I felt rushed, or felt like did not have enough time to put everything together, since I was also working on writing the report/thesis paper. However, one very helpful thing for me was to have a daily schedule planned out every week. For example, I set aside 30 minutes on Sunday to plan for the week, including what I wanted to accomplish each day. As a result, I managed to finish both the thesis paper and presentation in two months! Looking back, it was a wild ride. I could not believe I had managed to complete a 40-page of report/thesis paper and 15 slides of the presentation within two months, but the experience was worth it. I also learned to manage my stress and time and prioritize what’s important and not important.

If you thought that was a lot, remember that I still had to present the presentation I had prepared. For the actual presentation, you only need to put together seven Powerpoint slides, present for ten minutes, and give ten minutes for a question and answer session. I was very nervous about my presentation, but a little practice before the actual presentation was very helpful, so my advice is to practice presenting the day before the actual presentation.

Now that I finished my capstone project, I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am excited to finish up my last semester and graduate!

New Year, New You?

I’ll admit it: I love New Year’s Resolutions. Even if I don’t manage to stick to most past February, every year I sit down and take stock of what’s going well in my life, what I’d like to improve, and how I plan to move closer to my goals. I like having that moment of reflection, and the optimism that maybe this year will be the year I meditate every morning and always fill out my planner. For those of you in the middle of the application process, I think this is a great time to take stock of where you are now and where you want to be (I even wrote an article for the blog last year about this!), and I have a few suggestions for what some of your New Year’s Resolutions can be!

  1. Get organized (and stay organized!). This will look different for everyone, but if you don’t have a solid system in place for tracking events, deadlines, and to-do items, you need to develop one. I use a mixture of a physical planner and the Gmail “Tasks” Feature to prioritize my work and to schedule around meetings and other things that I have to get done. I have a friend that writes all of her tasks on Post-Its and moves them around on her wall depending on what their status is (this is called the Kanban method if you want to try it out!). It doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that you do it. All of those application deadlines can be hard to keep track of, and
  2. Do one thing each day to further a long-term goal. Think of what you want to accomplish in the coming year, and each day, try to do one thing (no matter how small) every day to further that goal. If you want to learn a language, try learning one new word a day. If you want to be more active, just take one quick walk around your block a day. If you want to start graduate school, do one section of the application a day, or write one paragraph of your personal statement each day. Somedays, that small thing will be all you’re able to do, but other days, you’ll build momentum and want to keep going.
  3. Set and stick to a budget. Especially for those who are planning to start a program this year (or even next year), getting serious about your budget is a definite must. Conversations about money, even with yourself, can be hard! There are a ton of websites and accounts on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok that can help you through the process, so I suggest finding one that you like and sticking to their advice. The first step is always going to take an honest look at what you’re spending versus what you’re bringing in; once you know how much you have left over after necessities like bills, rent, insurance, etc, you can start budgeting according to your priorities. Money can definitely get short when you’re a full-time student (although we do have a checklist and advice for applying for financial aid on our website), so strengthening this skill now will help you in the long run.

Again, these are just a few ideas; feel free to build off of them or add your own. Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays from Heller!

Heller’s Office of Admissions wishes you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season! The Office of Admissions will be closed from December 24th through January 3rd and will be taking a little hiatus from the blog during this time, but we’ll be back with fresh content on January 3rd. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of five resources that prospective students and applicants may find helpful, as well as three things that I’ll be doing over the break that I would recommend that you do too!

Resources:

  1. How to Apply – find details on how to apply for each of our programs as well as the deadlines to submit your application.
  2. English Proficiency and Application Fee Waivers for International Students – international applicants can check if they will need to submit IELTS, TOEFL, or Duolingo test scores and whether they are eligible to have their application fee waived.
  3. Upcoming Events – coming up in January, we’ll be hosting several virtual sessions, including Is the Social Impact MBA Right for Me?Is the MPP Program Right for Me?, and The Heller Experience: Master’s Programs Current Student Panel.
  4. Financial Aid – Learn about the cost of tuition, our 100% tuition scholarships, and national service scholarships.
  5. Our Commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Diversity – Find information about Heller initiatives to further EID, EID research at Heller, diversity events, and much more.

Take a Break!

  1. Get some fresh air! During winter break, it’s so easy to just curl up and hibernate, but I’m planning to take at least one outdoor walk a day. Make an activity of it by ranking your neighborhood’s holiday decorations, going to a tree or menorah lighting, or window shopping.
  2. Have a spa day. This isn’t just for the ladies– men and non-binary folks, you deserve a little love and self-care too. I’m prescribing everyone reading this one required pampering day where you take a long bath or shower, throw on a face mask (homemade is fine), and relax for once.
  3. Do the thing you never have time for. Read a book, do yoga, go to the gym, whatever it is you normally don’t have time for, make time for it over this break.

I hope all of that helps; and I look forward to welcoming you all back to the blog in January!

Hello Heller! Shiko Rugene’s Acceptance Story

Headshot of Shiko Rugene, Social Impact MBA'22

Shiko Rugene, Social Impact MBA’22

I received my acceptance letter on July 20th, 2020. As I sit here and try to rack my brain to remember the feelings I had when I received the decision letter, it feels almost impossible. I know I’m speaking to the choir when I say how out of this world 2020 was. In June, we were at the height of the pandemic, still sanitizing our groceries with Clorox wipes and trying to wrap our brains around this new way of life. I was spending all my time in my studio apartment in Berkeley, California, having recently lost my job due to the pandemic like many others. Around that same time, in May, the whole world witnessed such horrific police brutality, leading many of us to the streets in response. With the world on lockdown, everything seemed to be falling apart, but we finally had a moment to reckon with and question many of the injustices around us.

I applied to Heller because I wanted to be part of an institution where social justice was front and center. A place where I could be with peers who were driven and persistent about challenging systems and influencing change. The Social Impact MBA program felt ideal to me for two reasons: 1) I wanted to learn what it would look like to influence business to be more accountable to our society and 2) more practically, I knew I needed the hard skills that would position me to take on the management and leadership positions I sought after.

With Heller operating remotely and so much uncertainty looming, my decision to join felt a lot more challenging than I hoped when I applied. When I thought about graduate school, I imagined being in community with other students, with faculty and professors. I imagined study sessions with classmates, being in a large lecture hall and the buzz of being in a place like Zinner forum where students share ideas and meals together. I knew that I wanted to be at Heller, but I was afraid that learning remotely just wasn’t going to fulfill me. I had to make a decision soon. 

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I knew that I had a strong network of peers who I could lean on to help me with my decision. Many were completing their degrees remotely at the time and had first hand experience. Though they spoke of the flexibility afforded to them by Heller, they also spoke of the challenges of not being amongst other students and with community. With that in mind, I chose to defer and start my degree in 2021, a decision that I’m so glad I chose.

How to Choose a PhD Program

With a little over a month to go before the PhD application deadline (get your apps in before December 15th, folks!), some students are still finalizing which programs they want to apply to. I know I’ve written many blog posts about how to choose a graduate program, but to be honest, applying to a PhD program is unique in some ways. With that in mind, I thought I’d focus on a few things that you should be thinking about as you select which PhD programs to apply to, and ultimately, how to choose which graduate program to ultimately attend.

    1. How you align with faculty.  It’s certainly not uncommon to have research interests that don’t align perfectly with the work actively being done at Heller: if everyone was looking at how the same issue affects the same population using the same methodology, we’d all be doing the same research. It’s not uncommon for our students to have interests that don’t neatly fit into one of our concentrations (for example, students interested in Education Policy bridge both Children, Youth, and Families and Economic and Racial Equity), but still find plenty of faculty members to support their research interests. As part of your research into PhD programs, I would recommend browsing faculty in your program of interest and asking yourself, “Who would I want as my advisor? Who would I want to serve on my dissertation committee?” This, by the way, can be broader than just your specific issue: faculty who have worked with the population that you’re interested, or are using similar research methods, might still be a good fit for you, even if they’re investigating how a different policy problem affects that population. You can find PhD faculty as well as their areas of interest here.
    2. What network you want to build. As you move through the program, you’ll be building a professional network, not just with Heller faculty, but also with your cohort and within your concentration. This is a network that can assist you not only while you’re in the program, but after you leave the program as well. So, when trying to choose a program, I would ask yourself what kinds of people that you want to be helping you through this journey and beyond. Are students doing research in areas you’re interested? Are they working, or have they worked, at places that you’d be interested in working at after graduation? Does the community seem collaborative and supportive?
    3. The funding package. Make sure you read the fine print: At Heller, All full-time PhD students receive a funding package that includes all tuition and fees, the individual health insurance premium, and an annual stipend of $21,000 for the first four years of the program. One thing I would note, however, is that unlike many PhD programs, this funding package and stipend is not dependent on working as a teaching assistant or research assistant. Many of our PhD students, however, are interested in working as a research or teaching assistant (and I would say that most PhD students do work in one of those roles at some point during their program), but in those cases, students are paid directly, just like with any other job. Many other graduate programs may either a) not cover fees, which can be in the thousands of dollars,  b) require you to work for a certain number of hours, which can inhibit your ability to work on other projects or manage your schoolwork, c) aren’t renewable/only for a year/is contingent on benchmarks that are unreasonable.

It’s easy to get caught up in a school’s prestigious name, a high ranking, or a too-good-to-be-true scholarship package. But a PhD program is a big commitment: you’ll likely be spending more time in your PhD program than you did in your undergraduate degree, so you want to make sure that it’s the right fit for you. Looking at these three things is a good start when it comes time to make this decision!

 

Health at Heller

It’s no secret that Heller is a top school for students interested in health policy or healthcare management. We’re proud to be ranked in the the top ten of U.S. News and World’s Report of graduate schools for health policy and management, placing at #8 on their list for 2023 (to paraphrase Beyoncé, “Top ten and we ain’t number ten”). There are so many wonderful faculty and students working on health policy, healthcare management, and healthcare systems at Heller that it might be a little overwhelming to figure out where you might fit in. Today, I’ve compiled a list of the programs and concentrations that focus on health at Heller so that you can find the right one for you!

Master of Public Policy: The MPP degree at Heller has not one, but two concentrations that focus on health & healthcare. The Health Policy concentration prepares students to address persistent problems in access, cost and quality. Areas of focus include health care delivery system reform, improvements in the social determinants of health and enacting improvements through state and national health care reform. Students in the Behavioral Health Policy concentration focus on the intersection of health, behavior, and systems of care, working to improve these systems in order to promote healthier lifestyles and assist individuals to engage in behaviors which lead to better health.

Social Impact MBA: The Healthcare Management concentration in our Social Impact MBA program prepares students to make an impact in today’s complex, ever-changing U.S. healthcare landscape. Whether you’re interested in addressing racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic healthcare disparities or developing strategies for cost reduction, with a concentration in Healthcare Management from Heller, you can contribute your expertise and insight as a manager, researcher, policy analyst or advisor working for a government agency, nonprofit or consultancy.

Master of Science in Global Health Policy and Management: Heller’s 9-month MS in Global Health Policy and Management program offers two concentrations: the Health Systems concentration and a STEM-designated concentration in Health Economics and Analytics. Regardless of the concentration, students graduate with a holistic understanding of health system design and function, so they’re prepared to design systems that will improve health outcomes for people around the world. 

PhD in Social Policy: The PhD program at Heller also has two concentrations that focus on health policy and health systems. The Health concentration in Heller’s PhD program prepares graduates for challenging careers developing research and policy that influence the quality, accessibility, financing and delivery of healthcare in the United States and globally. The Behavioral Health concentration prepares graduates for research and policy careers that focus on the intersection and linkage of health, behavior, and systems of care, targeting alcohol, drugs, and mental health issues.

Students in these programs benefit from access to the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy and Research, which conduct more than two-thirds of the outside-funded research at the Heller School and are the largest research institutes within Brandeis University, examining a variety of issues in the U.S. healthcare system, including access, quality, healthcare, delivery and utilization, and cost.

What Are the Application Requirements?

Working in admissions, you start to develop answers to common questions. “What’s the cut-off GPA?” “Is my background a good fit for this program?” “Is the GRE required?” But the most common question, the one I get the most, is “What are the application requirements?”

Now, you might be thinking that I’m going to spend this blog post laying out the different programs’ application requirements and what you should be preparing when you’re getting ready to apply. Maybe even some tips and tricks for how to strengthen those application requirements, or how to stay organized when you’re applying. But you’d be wrong! You can always find application requirements on our website, but today, I’m going to flip the script and ask you to think about what your application requirements are.

Huh?

Okay, here’s what I mean. When I was applying to graduate school, I applied to eleven programs (for those of you out there wondering, that’s way too many). Looking back, I’m still not sure why I put myself through that, but I think most of it came down to two things: first, I was terrified that no school would accept me, and I didn’t really have a plan for what I would do if I didn’t go to graduate school at that time, and second, I had no real idea what I was looking for. Yes, I knew I wanted a master’s in English Literature, yes, there were some areas that I was interested in living, but other than that, I really had no clue.

I share all of this as a cautionary tale: don’t be like me! Before you start applying to graduate schools, take a minute to think about what your requirements are. If you’re not sure, here are some things that it might be helpful to consider:

  • Do I have the opportunity to teach or work as a research assistant? If you intend to go into academia or research, this should be a really important question for you. Participating in research and teaching while in graduate school is a great way to start an academic career and build experience. Notice, however, that I also said “opportunity”: at Heller, although many of our students do work as research assistants and teaching assistants, it’s not considered part of your funding and thus, you’re not obligated to do it. If you know you don’t intend to stay in academia or teaching, I would recommend being cautious of schools that do require it: your time might be better spent in an internship or part-time job building skills that translate more directly to your future career.
  • Are there clubs, organizations, or leadership activities that interest and excite me? I won’t lie to you, this is probably a bigger factor in undergraduate programs, but you still shouldn’t discount it when you’re applying to graduate school. Especially if you’ll be coming from out-of-state or don’t have a support group already in the area, joining extracurriculars is a good way to network and make new friends outside of your program. Leadership experience (even if it’s for a club or organization) can also be helpful once you’ve graduated to put on your resume or as an example to draw upon during interviews. Heller and Brandeis clubs and working groups include Black Graduate Student Association, Brandeis Graduate Outdoors Club, Brandeis University Africa Forum, Disability Working Group, Gender Working Group, Graduate Student Association, Heller Myanmar/Burma Advocacy Group, Heller Startup Challenge, Heller Student Association, Impact Investing and ESG Working Group, Net Impact (Heller Chapter), Open Air Journal and the Racial Equity Working Group.
  • What kinds of access will I have to professors and other outside resources? This question is going to be different for every person. Some students do best in close-knit environments where they get a lot of individualized attention, while others are happy to keep their head down and never go to office hours. Personally, I think that Heller’s faculty to student ratio provides for a really close community and there are a lot of benefits to that (the faculty and research staff to student ratio is roughly 1:6!), but some students might be happier in larger programs where the faculty/student ratio is higher.

These may not be important factors for you. You may care more about working with a specific professor, with not having to write a thesis at the end of your program, living in a certain area or in a big city, taking classes online, a great campus gym… the list goes on and on. But whatever your priorities are, make sure that you’re not only focusing on what schools might let you in: think carefully about what you want the next years to look like.

What is the Quantitative and Analytical Statement?

First of all, let me start by saying that if you’re a master’s program applicant reading this post and panicking, thinking, “What the heck is a Quantitative and Analytical Statement?”, worry not. This post is just for the PhD applicants out there.

If you’ve applied to the the PhD program before and are reapplying again this year, you might have noticed that there’s a new portion to our application, the Quantitative and Analytical Statement. Today, I’m going to walk you through why we’ve added this component, what information you should include, and how you can use the statement to your advantage on our application.

Why did we add this component? If you applied for the Fall 2021 or Fall 2022 entry term, it’s likely that you noticed that we’ve made the GRE optional for the last two years due to COVID-19. Students had the choice to submit GRE scores if they had already taken them, but if you weren’t able to sit for the test, you weren’t required to report them. For some students, not being able to take the GRE greatly helped their application, but for others, not taking it had a disadvantage: students who had been out of school for years and not working in an academic or research setting had no way to demonstrate that they had the requisite quantitative skills to make them successful in a research based program. Similarly, faculty members reviewing the application were left in the dark as to some students’ current quantitative ability: for example, would it be better to take an applicant who had great grades in their quantitative classes more than fifteen years ago, or an applicant with average grades three years ago? Who would be better equipped to take our required quantitative courses? And thus… the Quantitative and Analytical Statement was born.

What information should I include? Although many of our students and faculty do perform a great deal of qualitative research, many of our courses teach students the skills to conduct quantitative and mixed methods research. In your first semester, for example, you’ll take Introduction to Stata Programming and Data Management (which covers creating simple datasets and accessing existing ones, modifying and managing data, and performing simple statistical analysis), Research Methods (which is designed to prepare students in the Heller PhD program to be able to understand and interpret empirical research and to design their own studies), and Applied Regression Analysis (which teaches students about assumptions underlying the regression model, how to test for violations, and corrections that can be made when violations are found).  So in your Quantitative and Analytical Statement, you have the chance to demonstrate that you have the background to succeed in those classes. How do you do this? I’d like to think our website lays it out pretty succinctly, so I’ll quote here: “In the Quantitative and Analytical Statement, applicants should detail why they believe they would be successful in a research-based program; i.e., quantitative classes you have taken, research experience you hold, peer-reviewed research papers you have authored or collaborated on, statistical software you are familiar with and the projects you have utilized statistical software for, etc. Experience with qualitative data analysis and software may be noted but should not be the focus of the statement.” In short, in the absence of your GRE scores, your Quantitative and Analytical statement is an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the ability to succeed in our program that might not otherwise be demonstrated or highlighted in your application.

How can I use this to my advantage? Glad you asked. First, it works to your advantage because now you have a choice. If you have the ability to sit for GREs, you can now choose whether you want to submit them after you see your scores. If you have high GRE scores, particularly in the Quantitative section, I would really encourage you to submit your GRE scores. If, however, for whatever reason (you’re not able to take the test, you’re not a good test taker), you don’t get the scores you had hoped for in the Quantitative section, this QAS gives you the opportunity to highlight the parts of your application that would make you a good candidate. We already review your application holistically, but the QAS lets you lay out the case for your success. Let’s talk about an example: if you know that you don’t have strong  GRE scores but still believe that you could succeed in the program, your QAS could talk about the high grades in the quantitative classes like statistics or economics you took in your master’s program. You could talk about your five years of work experience in a research lab, and the research projects using and analyzing national data sets that you’ve worked on while at that position. You could talk about how you used Stata in your previous position, or your experience interning for a politician that required you to summarize the methodology of findings from previous studies and synthesizing and communicating the results of data analysis .  And just like that, your application would demonstrate that you are perfectly capable of succeeding in a quantitative research program.

I hope that helps answer some of your questions about this requirement, and we look forward to reviewing your application.!

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