Tag: Which Program Is Right for Me?

The Dual Degree Experience

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

In the world of Heller, you will find a multitude of students with a wide mixing of degrees; Sustainable International Development (SID) and Coexistence and Conflict Resolution (COEX);  MBA and Global Health Policy and Management (MS); Public Policy and Social Impact MBA; the list goes on. So, why do students chose to spend even more time studying to pursue a dual degree? I cannot speak for all of my classmates and their rationale behind their choices, but I can speak for myself and my experience within the dual SID/MS universe and I will venture to do so today!

Full transparency – my experience is likely a little different as a result of doing my first entire year online. However, the content of courses remains largely the same, whether it’s held online or in person.

First, let’s breakdown how the SID and MS degree are dissimilar:

The SID degree is largely qualitative (hence it being a Masters of Arts), but should one desire to take more quantitative courses, there are a variety of options for electives that lean more quantitative. Elective-wise — the SID also has more space for building out specific interests within the program providing more flexibility. Requirements include gender and environmental courses, but allow you space to select from a bundle of options.

The MS degree, on the other hand, is much more quantitative in nature  (hence it being a Masters of Science). The MS program is only 9 months (if taken as a stand-alone program), so it has more requirements and less space for electives. However, it is meant to be a highly focused program, so although you have less flexibility on electives, you cover lots of important ground through the required courses.

Now, let’s compare the similarities between the SID and MS degrees:

Both the SID and MS program attract individuals who want to really make an impact on the world. Be it through strengthening a health system, environmental advocacy, quality hospital administration, or development practitioners streamlining processes for quality, you can be sure that your classmates are as driven for change as you. Additionally, these programs both create tight-knit communities that will likely remain connected well after graduation.

Lastly, I want to touch on how these programs complement each other:

As can likely be deduced from my previous observations of the differences each degree holds, coupling a Master of Arts with a Master of Science has created a really well-rounded look at the issues facing today. By marrying both qualitative and quantitative studies, I feel I am not only ready to look at a complex problem to think critically and creatively about a solution, but that I can also implement useful data tools to back my thoughts with evidence. Also, I am excited to further explore the intersection of health and development in the future, and these degrees will certainly prepare me well to do so.

It boils down to this: each degree— even as a stand-alone degree— will provide you with a wonderfully rich program. If you, like me, want to explore various avenues then consider adding a dual degree, as it will only enhance your learning and make you more marketable when you are searching for your next career!

If you want to speak with me more specifically about my experience with this dual degree program please do not hesitate to reach out anytime!

Is the MA in Sustainable International Development Program Right for Me?

Now that the admissions cycle for Fall 2021 is closed, we’re beginning to gear up for the Fall 2022 entry cycle, which means we’re doing a pivot over here on the blog: while we’ve been focusing on the needs of our admitted students for the last few months, now I’ll be shifting my focus to those of you who are just embarking on your journey to find the right program. For the past few months, I’ve been doing a spotlight on our six programs to help you figure out if one of Heller’s programs is right for you. Today, we wrap up this series with…

MA in Sustainable International Development

What is it? Heller’s Sustainable International Development (SID) program offers a practical, skills-based curriculum that prepares students to promote responsible development in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable regions. The SID program has a unique and flexible program structure, with four different tracks including an Accelerated Track (where students can complete the degree in as little as 9 months), a Two-Year Practicum Track, Two-Year Advanced Study Track, and a Two-Year Concentration Track, so you can customize your program to meet your needs. Whichever track you choose, the program is designed to help students address inequities and injustice, reduce environmental destruction, and promote income generation through entrepreneurship and access to credit. Students will develop their knowledge of the root causes of poverty, gain scientific literacy on climate change, build skills for collecting and analyzing data, and improve their organizational, program, and project management skills.

Who’s it for? Our typical SID student has at least two to three years of work experience – that can be translated into real work, Peace Corps experience, volunteering and internship experience while an undergrad, etc. Our SID students all have different goals: some come into the program with a clear focus and reason who  want to excel in their passion or a field they already have experience in, while others come to explore what path of development they want to work in. There are so many branches of development work and our program really showcases that and allows students to find their niche. Our students are passionate, justice-seekers, hands-on, dedicated, not afraid to get dirty and highly motivated to change the world around them.

What kinds of classes will I take? In your first two semesters, you’ll take core courses like Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Development; Ethics, Rights and Development;  and Political Ecology and Development, while also choosing electives that match your area of interest, like Gender and the Environment. If you opt for the Advanced Study or Concentration Tracks, you’ll then get to choose from electives like Social Movements for Emancipatory DevelopmentEconomics of Education or Religion and Development. In the Practicum Track (which includes a six month practicum) or Concentration Track (which includes a three month practicum), students receive academic credit for their practicum assignment with organizations such as a UN agency, an international NGO, or a research think tank. Past practicum organizations have included Save the Children, Oxfam, World Bank, or UN agencies.

Where will it take me? SID students gain the knowledge, skills and tools at Heller to get great jobs where they bring innovative ideas and creative practice to the development sector. Furthermore, they learn about human rights, gender equity, inclusive societies and environmental sustainability—the values that we believe should guide development work, whether it’s in a large multilateral organization or a small local nonprofit organization. Examples of positions held by recent graduates (those who have graduated within five years) include Co-founder and CEO for WorkAround, Associate Reporting Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Communications and Engagement Director for Sustainable Business & Innovation at Nike.  Alumni who have graduated more than five years ago hold positions like Venezuela’s Ambassador to Argentina under President Guaidó, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, and an International Trade Advisor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How is Heller’s program different? Mainly, our vast array of faculty members with many different specializations and experience within development. It’s a high-touch program and students have very close proximity and access to our faculty, administrators, and researchers. Much of what they learn is actually outside of the classroom, working on group projects, competitions, research with faculty, field trips, etc. Not to mention the six-month practicum that the SID program requires for the Two-Year Practicum Track program. The Heller SID student community is uniquely diverse both in individual backgrounds as well as in academic interests; in a typical year, about 60% of our students come from outside the U.S., representing between 20 and 30 different countries (mostly from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia). Many of our U.S. students have worked internationally or served in the Peace Corps or military, while others have built careers focused on issues of domestic conflict.

Is the MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence Program Right for Me?

Now that the admissions cycle for Fall 2021 is closed, we’re beginning to gear up for the Fall 2022 entry cycle, which means we’re doing a pivot over here on the blog: while we’ve been focusing on the needs of our admitted students for the last few months, now I’ll be shifting my focus to those of you who are just embarking on your journey to find the right program. Over the next few months, I’ll be doing a spotlight on our six programs to help you figure out if one of Heller’s programs is right for you. Next up?

MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence

What is it? Heller’s Conflict Resolution and Coexistence (COEX) program offers a practical, skills-based curriculum that prepares students to become responsible peace-building practitioners throughout the world. The COEX program has a unique structure, including a half-year field practicum, numerous dual degree opportunities, and the ability to concentrate in humanitarian aid or development. The 56-credit curriculum includes one academic year in residence (32 credits) followed by six months of combined fieldwork (12 credits) and a final paper, leading either to an internship report, a master’s paper, or master’s thesis (12 credits). If students wish, they can then go on to complete a concentration in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Management. Whether you add the optional concentration semester or not, the program is designed to help students learn to foster inter-communal and international cooperation in the face of tension and conflict. The approach is interdisciplinary, drawing a range of fields, including social psychology, international politics, sociology, law, anthropology, and cultural studies.

Who’s it for? Our typical COEX student has at least two to three years of work experience who want to gain the tools and skills to solve problems and facilitate discussions. They want to engage in difficult conversations and synthesize different perspectives so they can manage conflict, resolve it and seek productive pathways forward.  Our program attracts people who are driven by peacebuilding and want to do that while incorporating cultural contexts and empowering local communities. Our students come to Heller with an array of skills and experiences, from military veterans and humanitarian aid professionals to Peace Corps members and grassroots organizers.

What kinds of classes will I take? In your first two semesters, you’ll take core courses like Responsible Negotiation, Responsible Mediation, and Strategies for Coexistence Interventions, while also choosing electives that match your area of interest, like Disaster Management and Risk ReductionWomen, Peacemaking, and Peacebuilding, and Kingian Nonviolence and Reconciliation.  The following summer, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in a  3-month, full-time practicum that can be a traditional internship, the implementation of a conflict resolution project in the field, or research leading to a thesis. In the case of a traditional internship, students receive academic credit for their three-month practicum assignment with organizations such as a UN agency, an international NGO, or a research think tank. Past practicum organizations have included Search For Common Ground, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Carter Center, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the International Organization on Migration. In their final semester, students write their final reports and have the opportunity to present their findings at a capstone event.

Where will it take me? COEX students learn how to analyze conflict, structure and evaluate interventions, engage people and partners, and develop regional or national specializes that prepare them to find amazing jobs in the conflict resolution field. Our alumni find work in governments, intergovernmental organizations, and international and local non-governmental organizations dealing with coexistence issues. Examples of positions held by recent graduates (those who have graduated within five years) include Co-founder and CEO for WorkAround, Public Health Advisor for the CDC, and Policy Analyst for the New York City Department of Corrections.  Alumni who have graduated more than five years ago hold positions like First Secretary for the Embassy of Afghanistan in London, Developmental Evaluator for Social Impact, and the Regional Program Manager for Africa and the Middle East for KARAMA.

How is Heller’s program different? The COEX program at Heller is unique because it is rare for a conflict resolution program to have courses in both mediation and negotiation, but we offer both to provide a holistic approach to engage in a meaningful and productive dialogue. The teaching model is heavily discussion-based, incorporating structured debates and simulation exercises as well as facilitated discussions that occur organically in class. The Heller COEX student community is uniquely diverse both in individual backgrounds as well as in academic interests; in a typical year, about 60% of our students come from outside the U.S., representing between 20 and 30 different countries (mostly from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia). Many of our U.S. students have worked internationally or served in the Peace Corps or military, while others have built careers focused on issues of domestic conflict.

Is the MS in Global Health Policy and Management Program right for me?

Now that the admissions cycle for Fall 2021 is closed, we’re beginning to gear up for the Fall 2022 entry cycle, which means we’re doing a pivot over here on the blog: while we’ve been focusing on the needs of our admitted students for the last few months, now I’ll be shifting my focus to those of you who are just embarking on your journey to find the right program. Over the next few months, I’ll be doing a spotlight on our six programs to help you figure out if one of Heller’s programs is right for you. Next up?

MS in Global Health Policy and Management Program

What is it? Heller’s MS in Global Health Policy and Management program helps students to gain a holistic understanding of health systems, so our graduates can have an impact that transcends individual patient outcomes. Students gain skills and insights that align closely with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and the WHO mandate for Universal Health Coverage — which means they learn how to make structural improvements to health care systems that benefit entire populations.  The core MS curriculum is divided into three main components: first, students learn the financing and payment systems involved in health systems strengthening; second, they develop the analytical skills that form the heart of any health system, and use them to develop policy briefs; third, they learn how to implement those policies in real-life situations. Students can also choose between two concentrations: the Health Systems Concentration and the Health Economics and Analytics Concentration (a STEM designated program), but no matter which track you choose, you’ll be able to complete your program in 9 months.

Who’s it for? Our typical MS-GHPM student has at least two to three years of experience in a health system, whether that means they’ve been working in a health clinic, an emergency room, or a private practice, and are driven to pursue a career where they will have a greater impact. They know which community they want to work with to make the most impact, and they’re drawn to the idea of creating social change on the macro level of the health care system. If you’re motivated to improve patient outcomes on a grander scale, and you want to learn how to implement a social change within a health care system, the MS-GHPM program might be right for you.

What kinds of classes will I take? Regardless of your concentration, you’ll take core courses like International Health Systems and Development, Introduction to Microeconomics in Global Health, and Intersectionality and Bioethics. In your second semester, you’ll be  able to choose to take diverse electives to broaden your knowledge or a cluster of electives within a thematic area to achieve greater depth (e.g. health policy, management, development, etc.). Some examples of elective classes include Healthcare Marketing, Management of Health Care Organizations, or Healthcare Technology. After these two semesters, you’ll be eligible to graduate with your MS in Global Health Policy and Management.

Where will it take me? MS students gain the tools and knowledge at Heller to get great jobs where they make positive, effective social change for improved global health. Furthermore, they learn how to evaluate health systems, how to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses and how to act as ethical, inclusive leaders among a variety of health care stakeholders. After graduation, MS students go on to work in a variety of positions (including government, nonprofit, the private sector, and academia). Examples of positions held by recent graduates (those who have graduated within five years) include Clinical Specialist for Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Technical Specialist for IntraHealth International, and Senior Health Financing Advisor for Palladium. Alumni who have graduated more than five years ago hold positions like Faculty for Global Health Service Partnership, Clinical Services Lead for USAID Bangladesh’s Office of Health, Population, Nutrition and Education, and Immunization Technical Consultant for Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center.

How is Heller’s program different? Heller is a top ten school of social policy as well as top ten for Health Policy and Management. We emphasize giving students the tools they need to make a lasting impact, like defining policy solutions for market failures and conducting a health system assessments. We put health policy at the core of our required courses. We go deep on topics like health systems strengthening and implementation analytics that are often covered only through electives in comparable programs. Our student body is incredibly diverse. With more than half of GHPM students hailing from outside the U.S., you’ll gain a 360-degree view of the world’s health care systems and forge connections with health professionals from every corner of the world — enriching both your graduate experience and your professional network. And, crucially, we give you the skills you need in only nine months, so you can get back to the field as soon as possible.

Is the PhD in Social Policy right for me?

Now that the admissions cycle for Fall 2021 is drawing to a close, we’re beginning to gear up for the Fall 2022 entry cycle, which means we’re doing a pivot over here on the blog: while we’ve been focusing on the needs of our admitted students for the last few months, now I’ll be shifting my focus to those of you who are just embarking on your journey to find the right program. Over the next few months, I’ll be doing a spotlight on our six programs to help you figure out if one of Heller’s programs is right for you. Next up?

PhD in Social Policy

What is it? The Heller PhD curriculum trains students to ask critical questions about social policies and their outcomes and to conduct rigorous, creative research in search of solutions to persistent social problems. The PhD program consists of a small set of core requirements, allowing students to design learning plans that support a broad array of research interests. Students in our program major in one of our four concentrations: Health; Behavioral Health; Economic and Racial Equity; or Children, Youth, and Families. In each of these, faculty resources and research centers of the Heller School are used to enrich the academic environment and also provide opportunities for students to work on research, outside practical training, and broaden their career network.

Who’s it for? Our typical PhD student has between 5-10 years of work experience, although we do sometimes admit students with less experience if they have strong academics. They’re driven to make systemic changes in policy rather than work with individuals, and they’re interested in conducting the research necessary for making informed policy decisions. If you’re the sort of person that likes doing a deep dive into social issues and wants to contribute to the body of knowledge advancing social issues, the PhD in Social Policy program might be right for you.

What kinds of classes will I take? You’ll take 60 credits over the course of two years before moving onto the dissertation stage of your degree. Courses in the Heller PhD program fall largely into three ‘buckets’: theory, methods, and your concentration area. In addition, you’ll be able to take electives like Immigrant Integration in the US: Policy, Practice and PeopleFoundations in Social Theory: From the Early Twentieth Century to Critical Race Theory, and Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Social Policy. From there, you’ll move onto your comprehensive exam and the dissertation stage of your degree, where you’ll select a four-person dissertation committee tailored to the needs of your specific dissertation topic. The committee members serve as mentors and guides through the dissertation process and always include a scholar from outside the Heller community (this could be a professor within Brandeis, someone you’ve worked with at another university, or someone working on research in your field).

Where will it take me? After graduation, about a third of our students go into academia, another third go onto work in research institutes and the last third go into roles within the government or non-profit organizations. However, regardless of what sector they’re operating in, most of our recent graduates are taking on roles related to research: recent graduates (graduating within five years) have job titles like Deputy Director of Regional & Community Outreach, Director of Research of the Institute for Health Equity, or Director for Behavioral Health and Opioid Stewardship. Students who have graduated ten or more years ago have titles like Associate Professor/Executive Director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation;  President of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate; and Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

How is Heller’s program different? Heller is a top 10 school of social policy, home to 10 renowned research centers and institutes that cover social policy areas ranging from disability policy to asset inequality. Heller PhD students concentrate in one of four policy areas (Health; Behavioral Health; Economic and Racial Equity; or Children, Youth, and Families), each of which is linked to a Heller research institute. The PhD cohorts within Heller are usually under fifteen students per year, allowing for increased interaction with faculty and facilitating tight-knit cohorts. Heller also provides funding for full-time PhD students for their first four years, including a stipend; at Heller, PhD funding is not contingent on working as a teaching assistant or research assistant. Many of our students do work as TAs or RAs, but your funding package is to reward you for the work you’ve already done, so any money you make as a TA or RA would go straight into your pocket.

Is the Master of Public Policy program right for me?

Now that the admissions cycle for Fall 2021 is drawing to a close, we’re beginning to gear up for the Fall 2022 entry cycle, which means we’re doing a pivot over here on the blog: while we’ve been focusing on the needs of our admitted students for the last few months, now I’ll be shifting my focus to those of you who are just embarking on your journey to find the right program. Over the next few months, I’ll be doing a spotlight on our six programs to help you figure out if one of Heller’s programs is right for you. The second program I’ll be breaking down…

Master of Public Policy

What is it? Heller’s MPP degree has a more comprehensive focus on social policy than any other program, providing students with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary perspective informed by economics, political science and sociology. Our curriculum lives at the intersection of research and policy that makes a difference — particularly in supporting vulnerable, marginalized populations. With a public policy degree from Heller, you’ll be prepared to analyze and create solutions to pressing social problems.

Who’s it for? Our typical MPP student has between 2-5 years of work experience, although we do sometimes admit students with less experience if they have strong academics. Our students are passionate about social justice, and either have work experience in a social justice area or have volunteered in something similar. They’re driven to make systemic changes in policy rather than work with individuals. If you’re the kind of person who gets really excited to talk about things like SNAP benefits and the political feasibility of a progressive approach to economic assistance, the MPP might be the right program for you.

What kinds of classes will I take? You’ll take 64 credits over the course of two years, with an internship over the summer between your first and second year (Heller even provides matching funding for internships!).  You’ll take required courses like Historical and Contemporary Developments in Social Welfare; Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Social Policy; and Economic Theory and Social Policy, as well as electives like Balance Wheel of the Social Machinery? Context and Contention in K-12 Education; LGBT Justice: A History of Pride, Prejudice, and Policy in the United States; and Labor Income, Labor Power, and Labor Markets.

Where will it take me? After graduation, about half of our students continue in non-profit roles, about a third continue in academia or government roles, and about 10% continue in for-profit roles. Recent graduates are currently working as Program Managers for the Stonewall Community Foundation, Program Associates for the Health Policy Commission, Campaign Managers for Early Childhood Policy, Center for American Progress, and Research and Policy Associates for the Community Resource Hub for Safety and Accountability. Alumni who have been out of school for ten or more years have titles like Director of Communications for Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Town Administrator of Maynard, Massachusetts, and Vice President and Executive Director for the City Year Program in San José/Silicon Valley.

How is Heller’s program different? The Heller MPP has a more comprehensive focus on social policy than any other program, providing students with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary perspective informed by economics, political science and sociology. Heller MPP students concentrate in one of six policy areas (Behavioral Health Policy; Health Policy; Child, Youth and Family Policy; Economic and Racial Equity; Women, Gender and Sexuality; and General Social Policy), each of which is linked to a Heller research institute. The Heller MPP encourages and helps fund internships and fellowships between the first and second year of the program. In addition, many students have opportunities to work on projects in one of Heller’s research institutes.

Is the Social Impact MBA program right for me?

Now that the admissions cycle for Fall 2021 is drawing to a close, we’re beginning to gear up for the Fall 2022 entry cycle, which means we’re doing a pivot over here on the blog: while we’ve been focusing on the needs of our admitted students for the last few months, now I’ll be shifting my focus to those of you who are just embarking on your journey to find the right program. Over the next few months, I’ll be doing a spotlight on our six programs to help you figure out if one of Heller’s programs is right for you. Up first…

The Social Impact MBA

What is it? The Social Impact MBA gives you all the same skills as a traditional MBA (like accounting, financial reporting, leadership and organizational behavior, strategic management, operations management, etc), but all with an eye towards social justice. In this program, you’ll learn how to use the skills associated with a business degree to solve social problems.

Who’s it for? Our typical MBA student has about 3 years of work experience, although we do sometimes admit students with less experience with strong academic credentials. Over a quarter of our domestic students are service organization alumni (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, City Year, etc). We believe that our program attracts people who are uniquely innovative, hardworking, collaborative, warm and dedicated to social change. Our students hail from diverse backgrounds and professional experiences but all of them cultivate the skills and professional relationships here at Heller to graduate and manage for a mission.

What kinds of classes will I take? You’ll take 68 credits in just 16 months, including participating in at least one experiential learning opportunity, the Team Consulting Project. You’ll take required courses like Data, Models and Decisions; Social Justice, Management and Policy; and Leadership and Organizational Behavior, as well as electives like Environmental Economics and Policy; Building Microfinance Institutions and Partnerships; and Managing the Triple Bottom Line. Depending on the Social Impact MBA concentration you choose, you’ll be able to focus on the sector you’re driven to innovate.

Where will it take me? After graduation, about half of our students continue in non-profit roles, about a quarter continue in roles in government, academia, or international organizations, and a fifth continue in for-profit roles. Recent graduates are currently working as Program Managers for the Stonewall Community Foundation, Program Associates for the Health Policy Commission, Communications and Engagement Directors for Sustainable Business & Innovation at Nike, and Managers of District Partnerships for Transforming Education. Alumni who have been out of school for ten or more years have titles like Executive Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls, Executive Director for the LGBT Center of Raleigh and Deputy Town Manager of Lexington, Massachusetts.

How is Heller’s program different? Heller’s Social Impact MBA is more than a few extra classes tacked onto a traditional MBA program as a concentration, social impact is woven through our curriculum and baked into every aspect of the student experience. Our six MBA concentrations (Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Management; Healthcare Management; Public Management; Sustainable Development;  Child, Youth and Family Services Management; and Social Policy and Management) leverage many research institutes and centers at Heller, a top-10 school of social policy,  so you have the opportunity to dive deep in the areas that are of interest to you. The program is also only 16 months and condenses two years of study into four consecutive, intense semesters – ideal for people eager to return to the workplace and quickly put their new skills into action.

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