*Why Fletcher, in General


*Why Fletcher, in General

From a previous Fletcher Student:

"Largely from the admissions office, I got the impression throughout the application process that Fletcher was much more personable and attentive to the needs and interests of individual students than any other school I applied to (I applied to Georgetown, GWU, SAIS, and UCSD IR/PS). Now that I've been here for almost a year, I still feel that way. Fletcher is an amazingly friendly and collaborative environment, and it encourages intellectual exploration and creativity.

"In addition, I think Fletcher has an unmatchable diversity of backgrounds and experience among its student body. If you are interested in just about any topic but don't know very much about it, you can email the social list and are almost guaranteed to find someone who has dealt with that issue academically or professionally.

"If prospective students are worried about not being in DC, which I was, they can rest assured that will have chances to interact with professionals in DC through the career trip and also by virtue of the Fletcher name. They should realize that, after two years, they can come out with a degree from Fletcher, and they will be able to find work in DC if that's what they want to do. Not only that, but while they're at Fletcher, they have all the academic resources of Boston nearby, and being able to cross register and build relationships with professors at other schools is an enormous plus."


you'll hear this from everybody here - but Fletcher's community and alumni network cannot be matched. I think we have the most fun - and stay connected long after Fletcher.


*Thoughts on MSFS:


MSFS is "very foreign service-tracked."


"I chose Fletcher because the financial aid package was amazing, because I wanted to be able to choose my own classes, and because I felt so welcomed by students, faculty and staff who made sure all my questions were answered. I went to Georgetown for undergrad, so I have a pretty good idea of the program, and Im SOOOO HAPPY I came here. The atmosphere is so much more, um, congenial?"


my choice came down to fletch vs. georgetown. i had a great conversation w/ someone very senior at sfs whose son came to fletcher. in her words, both institutions are top quality. fletcher would provide a student, a tight community, 2 years of in depth study (the amount of academic work/ and reading in is more.) georgetown would offer great connections in DC--sfs student intern concurrently while doing classes. (subsequently student community dynamic may be different--b/c everyone is also working.) sfs is also very small (smaller than fletch) community. it may really come down to what one wants to study--if they know, they should def look at # of classes available in their field. (in the case of fletch-who will be teaching next yr.)

"the plus w/fletch is the flexibility of filling requirements. msf i am pretty sure makes everyone fill their requirements the first semester."


*Regarding SAIS:


SAIS seemed far less interdisciplinary and didn't have the same sense of community as Fletcher. Also, while econ is important, I would rather take take econ classes that I can choose, and that are tailored towards my own specific interests.


I've told many people this anecdote but it was key in my deciding to choose Fletcher over SAIS. First of all, I loved both open houses equally and found all students really engaging. I confessed to a SAIS professor (who happened to be a Fletcher PhD alum) that I couldn't decide between the schools and she gave me the best advice ever: take both course catalogs and choose the 16 classes you want to take. When I did that I realized about 30 Fletcher classes really appealed to me yet I only wanted to take only 4 or 5 classes at SAIS; at that point all the other SAIS perks like Bologna and being in DC fell to the wayside.


I picked Fletcher over SAIS basically because of the exceptionally responsive and involved administration, the friendly students and accessible faculty.

When I was trying to choose between the two, I came and visited Fletcher and had personal one-on-one meeting with the Admissions Director, Laurie Hurley. She talked with me for 30 minutes, answered all my questions, and when I had more, offered to put me in touch with a student who had been in a previous situation a couple years earlier. A day or so later, before I even had sent a thank you email to Laurie, I had a lengthy email from the student she had told me she would put me in touch with, offering his advice.

As for the faculty, my adivser, Prof. Glennon had meetings with all his advisees during the first day of orientation. He knew things from my resume that I had even forgotten I had put on there, and was just incredibly friendly and helpful.

These are just two examples of many I could give. The professors here are dedicated to the students and teaching. The administration is incredible and really cares about the school and the students.


I waited until the last final hours (minutes?) possible to make my decision between SAIS and Fletcher. Basically, what it came down to was 1) flexibility and 2) community.

SAIS has, admittedly, a great econ program but I knew that although I was interested in international economics, I wanted a better understanding of how the global economy ties into security issues. The Fletcher curriculum was more more flexible in this regard and I felt as though the school offered me a better opportunity to pursue both interests - economics AND security - than SAIS.

Further, I talked with a number of alums from both schools and all of them had great things to say about each program. Yet I was shocked that every single Fletcher alum had a story about how they tapped into the alumni network before even graduating for career advice and assistance. Never once did any of the SAIS alums mention anything about being connected to the larger alumni network. For me, being part of an influential, supportive professional network is really important and this ultimately sold me on Fletcher.

I paid my deposit to Fletcher at the very last minute and never looked back!


I chose Fletcher over SAIS. I was admitted to Bologna - DC program at SAIS.

1. I realized that it would be more beneficial for me to spent 2 years in the U.S. (I guess this applies only to international students) and have access to academic community beyond my own school (Harvard, MIT).
2. I chose Fletcher for its flexible curricula. It could meet my academic needs and professional plans better. Fletcher gives you a lot of freedom to take courses beyond chosen concentration and pursue wider interests. Moreover, students can develop their own field of study.

3. I realize that I would be suffocated with too much econ at SAIS and that studying biz at Fletcher would meet my interests better.

4. Fletcher community - I had opportunity to visit SAIS both in Bologna and DC and meet a lot of amazing students there. I have never been in Boston before I came to study at Fletcher. However, the responsiveness and friendliness of Fletcher student bought me. I had been in email exchange with 5 - 6 Fletcher students, who were willing to share their thoughts and impressions. I was amazed that people had time during busy April to answer my questions. More over, none of them was like "Fletcher is so much better", but "we wish you make the best choice for you". Also, I was impressed with posts at Fletcher blog. People sounded so thoughtful, analytical, professional, yet very fun.

5. Professors - I wanted to work with some Fletcher professors in the INCR field.
6. The responsiveness of Admissions Office - I got impression that Fletcher cares about students a lot. I was contacted by several students from Fletcher, just to congratulate to me and ask if they can help.

Bottom line, my main 2 reasons were - Fletcher curricula - flexibility and fields of studies itself (I realized that's where my heart was. Not in econ) and the possibility to have access to wider academic community (Boston as one of the best places to study in the U.S.).

I was aware that in term of jobs, it would be better to be in D.C., but I consciously made that trade off.

p.s. when I was applying to schools, SAIS was my choice No.1! I have never regretted my decision to come to Fletcher.


SAIS has more robust East Asia, SE Asia and international economics programs which were my main areas of interest. However, due to cross-registration privileges with Harvard schools I was able to do the SE Asia and investment classes I wanted here in Cambridge and have no regrets about choosing Fletcher. For students with similar interests to mine, SAIS may appear to be the easier choice since all the classes are there but I very much enjoyed the coursework at Harvard and would recommend Fletcher.

A good friend of mine now doing a PoliSci PhD at Stanford went to SAIS at the same time I was at Fletcher and he complained that there was a significant contingent of party animals attempting to relive their u-grad days and generally lacking in seriousness. I did not see this at Fletcher and am glad.


I'm sure you have already received a lot of responses already, but I just thought I'd add some reasons why I chose Fletcher over SAIS.

-- the excellent course offerings in human security; I think Fletcher is the best place to go for studying conflict -- all aspects of it (human, military, legal, humanitarian etc) -- it didn't seem like other schools had the breadth and depth of programming on conflict that Fletcher has

-- the interdisciplinary nature of all of the programs -- Fletcher doesn't see problems in isolation

-- the sense of community, the understanding that we all get through this together

-- why boston -- access to excellent resources at other schools (if you can't find book at fletcher, go to harvard, same with classes); wanted to be able to focus intently on learning for two years instead of splitting my time between learning and interning (have the sense that at SAIS school is considered a part time commitment)

-- I didn't want to spend half of my time taking economics classes

-- very strong alumni network

-- very helpful career services office


I had to make the Fletcher v. SAIS decision, and as I see it these are some of the strengths of Fletcher compared to SAIS.
-Way more flexibility to craft your degree according to your desired career (ex. at SAIS it would have been difficult for me to study the Balkans and Central Europe). I would either have to be in the Europe program or the Eurasia program, but neither really suit my interests. At Fletcher I can strategically choose my classes to make my own concentration
-As a result we don't have "cookie cutter" degrees, rather we are uniquely specialized
-We have stronger offerings in human security, humanitarian, and human rights fields then SAIS
-I think we have way stronger Law courses then SAIS
-I can still take all the econ class I want to, but at Fletcher I am not forced to like I would be at SAIS. Also, at SAIS they tell you you need to be an economist to survive in the IR field. I would say you need some econ, but you only need to major in economics if you really want to do econ. In fact, people who aren't all that interested in econ at SAIS might end up in an econ career just because they have taken so much of it, but it is not what they really wanted to do.
-While both SAIS and Fletcher have very big and successful Alumni networks, I get the sense that because of the amazing Fletcher community, Fletcher alums graduate more committed to actually taking the extra step to help out others in the Fletcher community.
-Besides our amazing course offerings at Fletcher we have courses at the Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law, MIT, and many other schools at our fingertips. I think being able to take classes at other top institutions and meeting practitioners and scholars from Harvard and the Boston area is a huge advantage over SAIS. As far as I know SAIS and Georgetown have no cross-registration agreement.
-Professors are more accessible because they aren't constantly in the mill of DC craziness.

SAIS is, admittedly, a very strong school and deserves some detailed comparison. Deciding between SAIS and Fletcher depends on what you want to study


SAIS definitely has a stronger Economics dept, hands down, and their regional studies courses are much deeper and there is a lot more variety of regions covered in detail. However, the curriculum design is very restrictive. An Economics concentration is mandatory, so everyone has one Econ major regardless, and you get to choose only one other major for which you have to take 6 courses. So the maximum number of electives you'll have is 4, unless you do the pre-summer. I have been crunching numbers for the last 7 years and needed change so the curriculum was too restrictive for me.

Fletcher, on the other hand, offers a lot of breadth and flexibility. I might end up doing Int'l law as a major just because I had the opportunity to get exposed to it and discover my interest, something a SAIS curriculum would not have allowed. Environment, conflict resolution, international law are all disciplines not well covered at SAIS. Further, since I was contemplating a dual degree at the time, I also considered that Fletcher is much more cooperative and easy to design a dual masters with. SAIS is strict about waiving its requirements or helping you design your own education.

Fletcher faculty is a good mix of academics and past practitioners. SAIS boasts that it has practitioners who know "what the real world is like," something academics don't. I disagree. These are mostly people with jobs in the US govt or the World Bank in DC, so they teach at SAIS on the side or when they're out of jobs. And then those in jobs, pull their colleagues in when they return. So SAIS being in DC has that effect. It does not necessarily mean their faculty is better at teaching. In fact, having been in one of those jobs would probably shape your perspective in set ways. Fletcher, contrarily, has dedicated academics, many of whom have been notable practitioners. I would presume they didn't choose to come to Fletcher because when they retired or were out of a job, there happened to be an international affairs school in the neighborhood.

There is no disadvantage to not being in NYC or DC. We still have more events here than we can attend. Plus, we have access to so many other schools in the area.

Yes - the close knit community is a factor. The type of people we attract here are from much more diverse backgrounds than at SAIS. I lived in DC for two years and went to SAIS events often and knew many students there. The campus is a bit nicer, but it is spread all over. You don't have a proper campus and hence, students are scattered all over as well. Even though I am not a big fan of Fletcher buildings and facilities, having the whole Tufts campus around helps a bit.

And yes, Fletcher is out in the middle of nowhere, with a small cringy campus, and to be honest, it disappointed me at first. But I guess being out in the middle of nowhere draws the community closer. You do not have the same sense of community at SAIS.

Plus, SAIS people in general are a bit narrow in their career focus. World Bank, State Dept, finance, and that is about it. Fletcher brings people from all sorts of backgrounds and sends them to all corners of the world in all different disciplines. And the Mafia [the Fletcher alumni network] is strong as ever.

Nowhere else will the faculty wait on you at a dinner, or people will strip naked for the follies, the Dean will rap with you, you will start to adore resident Blakeley mice, have a 2am snowball fight


SAIS:
1) Main advantage: Location in D.C. could make it easier to transition into a job in the area. Allows you to pick up an internship during the academic year too.
2) Also has a "traditional" approach to education in my opinion, less cutting edge. I was not impressed with their Middle East offerings as a regional field. A friend who went there and focuses on the Middle East in her professional life, but ended up pursuing a concentration in a different regional area to avoid the Middle East department and its associated biases. I.e., "less perspective" there perhaps. 3) Good econ background if that's what you're after, but again, this is probably going to be uber traditional. 4) Their academic program seems to be fairly limited for my taste - so students should make sure their interests fall into the subject areas available.

Fletcher:
1) Main advantage: Cutting edge. Fletcher classes and professors encourage new insights, additional perspectives and academic paradigms in a way the other programs, institutionally and otherwise do not encourage. In this way, I think it is more practical and useful than the other degrees. It prepares us to take on the world.
2) More global perspective. It really is more international and more global than KSG and SAIS. I think both those schools still have "diversity," but I think a lot of the foreign students still have an "Americanized" perspective. There are a lot of foreign students here that are coming to the U.S. for the first time. And a lot of these students will go back to take up significant positions in their respective governments. It's my understanding that this doesn't happen as often at KSG and SAIS, with their more Americanized foreign students. I kept getting thrown off at a KSG class I took, where the teacher, despite the fact that he's a German national, kept referring to "us" and "we." "Us who?" I thought. He meant "us Americans." Weird, it didn't seem to be just Americans in the class. Double weird since he's German. That doesn't happen in Fletcher classes, or hasn't happened in my classes, especially when the class is not about US foreign policy. "We," almost always refers to "we Fletcherites," or "we with a global perspective." Another observation: The "Message from the Dean" on the Fletcher website is in 17 different languages. I just haven't seen this kind of thing from the other schools, and I think its indicative of The Fletcher School's focus.
3) More subject matter perspectives. I think Fletcher does a good job of attracting/admitting people that will go off into every different career path. Apparently a huge of proportion of KSG students go into the consulting world. That's lucrative, but not that diverse. I really don't feel like I'm going to be competing for jobs with anyone here from Fletcher - because I don't think anyone has the exact same set of interests that I do. Probably about a third of Fletcher graduates go into business, a third into foreign or domestic government work, and a third into non-profit work. We Fletcherites have a good mix of career interests.
4) Faculty that are stars, but that are also here because they care about education - not because of the pure prestige of Harvard or the convenient location of SAIS. KSG for example probably has a smaller percentage of tenured professors. Faculty here are more likely to still be around when we come back for reunions.


If youve made it this far, you should know there are people who take SERIOUS issue with the Fletcherites cant do math myth (especially now that the MIBs have brought with them a bunch of new business programs).


While strong points have already been mentioned, I gotta stick up for the economics program at Fletcher. We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that our school has the weaker economics curriculum compared to SAIS.

Much has been made of SAIS' strong economics or quantitative element. I see this point mentioned time and time again on graduate school discussion boards (yes, I do troll these things from time to time). From what I've gathered, this assumption appears to rest on the fact that SAIS requires an international economics concentration. As a result, the argument goes, students at SAIS will inevitably come out with a stronger professional economics background than students from other international affairs schools.

That is true...when you compare them to Fletcher students not focused on economics or only pursuing the minimum (like myself). But for students intent on becoming professional economists or economic policy analysts, there is ample choice selection and flexibility at Fletcher to craft an economics curriculum that matches or even exceeds that of SAIS. A quick browse through the economics courses at both schools reveals that classes and content tend to match one other---give or take differences in courses packaging, naming and niche/elective course offerings. For the important standard economics courses---advanced micro, macro, econometrics, dev. economics, natural resource economics, finance, trade theory, etc.---both schools offer them, so it's difficult to say that one curriculum trumps the other in this aspect.

Again, not to belabor a point that's been repeated over and over again (for good reason), but anything absent at Fletcher can be taken at partner schools. If you're just dying to wrestle with game theory, for instance, or anxious to delve into the intricacies of the economics of health (both offered at SAIS), then head over to KSG or the Tufts Economics department. I suspect that the Fletcher administration knows this, and is probably one of the reasons why they don't fund these courses at Fletcher. Perhaps they believe that school resources could be better spent on developing cutting edge or specialized economics courses, as Rachel mentioned, or expanding other fields of studies more needful of the money.

Finally, I do admit that the economics course listing at SAIS is impressive. And it's probably true that they offer courses not even found at Fletcher partner schools. But given that MALD students have so many elective spaces and the resources at hand at partner institutions, I still believe that at the end of the day, a student can formulate a well-rounded, comprehensive and quantitatively rigorous economics curriculum at Fletcher quite comparable to SAIS.


*Kennedy School Comparison:


KSG is a very, very strong school, but again, you can't compare it to Fletcher. Fletcher is an international affairs school, whereas KSG focuses on domestic policy planning more, and to the extent it addresses international issues, it does so somewhat from a US centric perspective. Fletcher, you'll find country agnostic. So basically, KSG and Fletcher can't be compared on apples to apples basis really.


Main advantage: Globally recognized name of Harvard. It's obvious, but this is one reason that some students do choose to go to KSG. You can pay for a name. It's like "Starbucks," people have just heard of it. . . . what's a MALD? Hmm, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, so you study law? Ah, a concentration in Southwest Asia, so you know a bit about Asia? . . . .

2) Lots of classes. Good faculty- lots of stars. Though, a lot of the stars are "passing through" faculty as well.

3) Very traditional type of education. A lot of old-school paradigms. Very traditional.

4) More required courses in the first-year. Eight out of eighteen are required courses.


*For those considering joint programs with Law School:


for those thinking about getting a JD - Fletcher has far and away the best law program. that includes international law (with Glennon the superstar; also international criminal law); comparative law offerings (eg, comparative legal systems, EU law, etc.); and less traditional courses for people that want to use law to help developing countries and conflict situations (eg, Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies; Transitional Justice; and a host of negotiation and conflict resolution offerings)
*Why Fletcher, in General

From a previous Fletcher Student:

"Largely from the admissions office, I got the impression throughout the application process that Fletcher was much more personable and attentive to the needs and interests of individual students than any other school I applied to (I applied to Georgetown, GWU, SAIS, and UCSD IR/PS). Now that I've been here for almost a year, I still feel that way. Fletcher is an amazingly friendly and collaborative environment, and it encourages intellectual exploration and creativity.

"In addition, I think Fletcher has an unmatchable diversity of backgrounds and experience among its student body. If you are interested in just about any topic but don't know very much about it, you can email the social list and are almost guaranteed to find someone who has dealt with that issue academically or professionally.

"If prospective students are worried about not being in DC, which I was, they can rest assured that will have chances to interact with professionals in DC through the career trip and also by virtue of the Fletcher name. They should realize that, after two years, they can come out with a degree from Fletcher, and they will be able to find work in DC if that's what they want to do. Not only that, but while they're at Fletcher, they have all the academic resources of Boston nearby, and being able to cross register and build relationships with professors at other schools is an enormous plus."


“you'll hear this from everybody here - but Fletcher's community and alumni network cannot be matched. I think we have the most fun - and stay connected long after Fletcher.”


*Thoughts on MSFS:


MSFS is "very foreign service-tracked."


"I chose Fletcher because the financial aid package was amazing, because I wanted to be able to choose my own classes, and because I felt so welcomed by students, faculty and staff who made sure all my questions were answered. I went to Georgetown for undergrad, so I have a pretty good idea of the program, and I’m SOOOO HAPPY I came here. The atmosphere is so much more, um, congenial?"


“my choice came down to fletch vs. georgetown. i had a great conversation w/ someone very senior at sfs whose son came to fletcher. in her words, both institutions are top quality. fletcher would provide a student, a tight community, 2 years of in depth study (the amount of academic work/ and reading in is more.) georgetown would offer great connections in DC--sfs student intern concurrently while doing classes. (subsequently student community dynamic may be different--b/c everyone is also working.) sfs is also very small (smaller than fletch) community. it may really come down to what one wants to study--if they know, they should def look at # of classes available in their field. (in the case of fletch-who will be teaching next yr.)

"the plus w/fletch is the flexibility of filling requirements. msf i am pretty sure makes everyone fill their requirements the first semester."


*Regarding SAIS:


“SAIS seemed far less interdisciplinary and didn't have the same sense of community as Fletcher. Also, while econ is important, I would rather take take econ classes that I can choose, and that are tailored towards my own specific interests.”


“I've told many people this anecdote but it was key in my deciding to choose Fletcher over SAIS. First of all, I loved both open houses equally and found all students really engaging. I confessed to a SAIS professor (who happened to be a Fletcher PhD alum) that I couldn't decide between the schools and she gave me the best advice ever: take both course catalogs and choose the 16 classes you want to take. When I did that I realized about 30 Fletcher classes really appealed to me yet I only wanted to take only 4 or 5 classes at SAIS; at that point all the other SAIS perks like Bologna and being in DC fell to the wayside.”


“I picked Fletcher over SAIS basically because of the exceptionally responsive and involved administration, the friendly students and accessible faculty.

“When I was trying to choose between the two, I came and visited Fletcher and had personal one-on-one meeting with the Admissions Director, Laurie Hurley. She talked with me for 30 minutes, answered all my questions, and when I had more, offered to put me in touch with a student who had been in a previous situation a couple years earlier. A day or so later, before I even had sent a thank you email to Laurie, I had a lengthy email from the student she had told me she would put me in touch with, offering his advice.

“As for the faculty, my adivser, Prof. Glennon had meetings with all his advisees during the first day of orientation. He knew things from my resume that I had even forgotten I had put on there, and was just incredibly friendly and helpful.

“These are just two examples of many I could give. The professors here are dedicated to the students and teaching. The administration is incredible and really cares about the school and the students.”


“I waited until the last final hours (minutes?) possible to make my decision between SAIS and Fletcher. Basically, what it came down to was 1) flexibility and 2) community.

“SAIS has, admittedly, a great econ program but I knew that although I was interested in international economics, I wanted a better understanding of how the global economy ties into security issues. The Fletcher curriculum was more more flexible in this regard and I felt as though the school offered me a better opportunity to pursue both interests - economics AND security - than SAIS.

“Further, I talked with a number of alums from both schools and all of them had great things to say about each program. Yet I was shocked that every single Fletcher alum had a story about how they tapped into the alumni network before even graduating for career advice and assistance. Never once did any of the SAIS alums mention anything about being connected to the larger alumni network. For me, being part of an influential, supportive professional network is really important and this ultimately sold me on Fletcher.

“I paid my deposit to Fletcher at the very last minute and never looked back!”


“I chose Fletcher over SAIS. I was admitted to Bologna - DC program at SAIS.

“1. I realized that it would be more beneficial for me to spent 2 years in the U.S. (I guess this applies only to international students) and have access to academic community beyond my own school (Harvard, MIT).
2. I chose Fletcher for its flexible curricula. It could meet my academic needs and professional plans better. Fletcher gives you a lot of freedom to take courses beyond chosen concentration and pursue wider interests. Moreover, students can develop their own field of study.

3. I realize that I would be suffocated with too much econ at SAIS and that studying biz at Fletcher would meet my interests better.

4. Fletcher community - I had opportunity to visit SAIS both in Bologna and DC and meet a lot of amazing students there. I have never been in Boston before I came to study at Fletcher. However, the responsiveness and friendliness of Fletcher student bought me. I had been in email exchange with 5 - 6 Fletcher students, who were willing to share their thoughts and impressions. I was amazed that people had time during busy April to answer my questions. More over, none of them was like "Fletcher is so much better", but "we wish you make the best choice for you". Also, I was impressed with posts at Fletcher blog. People sounded so thoughtful, analytical, professional, yet very fun.

5. Professors - I wanted to work with some Fletcher professors in the INCR field.
6. The responsiveness of Admissions Office - I got impression that Fletcher cares about students a lot. I was contacted by several students from Fletcher, just to congratulate to me and ask if they can help.

“Bottom line, my main 2 reasons were - Fletcher curricula - flexibility and fields of studies itself (I realized that's where my heart was. Not in econ) and the possibility to have access to wider academic community (Boston as one of the best places to study in the U.S.).

“I was aware that in term of jobs, it would be better to be in D.C., but I consciously made that trade off.

“p.s. when I was applying to schools, SAIS was my choice No.1! I have never regretted my decision to come to Fletcher.”


“SAIS has more robust East Asia, SE Asia and international economics programs which were my main areas of interest. However, due to cross-registration privileges with Harvard schools I was able to do the SE Asia and investment classes I wanted here in Cambridge and have no regrets about choosing Fletcher. For students with similar interests to mine, SAIS may appear to be the easier choice since all the classes are there but I very much enjoyed the coursework at Harvard and would recommend Fletcher.

“A good friend of mine now doing a PoliSci PhD at Stanford went to SAIS at the same time I was at Fletcher and he complained that there was a significant contingent of party animals attempting to relive their u-grad days and generally lacking in seriousness. I did not see this at Fletcher and am glad.”


“I'm sure you have already received a lot of responses already, but I just thought I'd add some reasons why I chose Fletcher over SAIS.

-- the excellent course offerings in human security; I think Fletcher is the best place to go for studying conflict -- all aspects of it (human, military, legal, humanitarian etc) -- it didn't seem like other schools had the breadth and depth of programming on conflict that Fletcher has

-- the interdisciplinary nature of all of the programs -- Fletcher doesn't see problems in isolation

-- the sense of community, the understanding that we all get through this together

-- why boston -- access to excellent resources at other schools (if you can't find book at fletcher, go to harvard, same with classes); wanted to be able to focus intently on learning for two years instead of splitting my time between learning and interning (have the sense that at SAIS school is considered a part time commitment)

-- I didn't want to spend half of my time taking economics classes

-- very strong alumni network

-- very helpful career services office”


“I had to make the Fletcher v. SAIS decision, and as I see it these are some of the strengths of Fletcher compared to SAIS.
-Way more flexibility to craft your degree according to your desired career (ex. at SAIS it would have been difficult for me to study the Balkans and Central Europe). I would either have to be in the Europe program or the Eurasia program, but neither really suit my interests. At Fletcher I can strategically choose my classes to make my own concentration
-As a result we don't have "cookie cutter" degrees, rather we are uniquely specialized
-We have stronger offerings in human security, humanitarian, and human rights fields then SAIS
-I think we have way stronger Law courses then SAIS
-I can still take all the econ class I want to, but at Fletcher I am not forced to like I would be at SAIS. Also, at SAIS they tell you you need to be an economist to survive in the IR field. I would say you need some econ, but you only need to major in economics if you really want to do econ. In fact, people who aren't all that interested in econ at SAIS might end up in an econ career just because they have taken so much of it, but it is not what they really wanted to do.
-While both SAIS and Fletcher have very big and successful Alumni networks, I get the sense that because of the amazing Fletcher community, Fletcher alums graduate more committed to actually taking the extra step to help out others in the Fletcher community.
-Besides our amazing course offerings at Fletcher we have courses at the Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law, MIT, and many other schools at our fingertips. I think being able to take classes at other top institutions and meeting practitioners and scholars from Harvard and the Boston area is a huge advantage over SAIS. As far as I know SAIS and Georgetown have no cross-registration agreement.
-Professors are more accessible because they aren't constantly in the mill of DC craziness.”

“SAIS is, admittedly, a very strong school and deserves some detailed comparison. Deciding between SAIS and Fletcher depends on what you want to study…


“SAIS definitely has a stronger Economics dept, hands down, and their regional studies courses are much deeper and there is a lot more variety of regions covered in detail. However, the curriculum design is very restrictive. An Economics concentration is mandatory, so everyone has one Econ major regardless, and you get to choose only one other major for which you have to take 6 courses. So the maximum number of electives you'll have is 4, unless you do the pre-summer. I have been crunching numbers for the last 7 years and needed change so the curriculum was too restrictive for me.

“Fletcher, on the other hand, offers a lot of breadth and flexibility. I might end up doing Int'l law as a major just because I had the opportunity to get exposed to it and discover my interest, something a SAIS curriculum would not have allowed. Environment, conflict resolution, international law are all disciplines not well covered at SAIS. Further, since I was contemplating a dual degree at the time, I also considered that Fletcher is much more cooperative and easy to design a dual masters with. SAIS is strict about waiving its requirements or helping you design your own education.

“Fletcher faculty is a good mix of academics and past practitioners. SAIS boasts that it has practitioners who know "what the real world is like," something academics don't. I disagree. These are mostly people with jobs in the US govt or the World Bank in DC, so they teach at SAIS on the side or when they're out of jobs. And then those in jobs, pull their colleagues in when they return. So SAIS being in DC has that effect. It does not necessarily mean their faculty is better at teaching. In fact, having been in one of those jobs would probably shape your perspective in set ways. Fletcher, contrarily, has dedicated academics, many of whom have been notable practitioners. I would presume they didn't choose to come to Fletcher because when they retired or were out of a job, there happened to be an international affairs school in the neighborhood.

“There is no disadvantage to not being in NYC or DC. We still have more events here than we can attend. Plus, we have access to so many other schools in the area.

“Yes - the close knit community is a factor. The type of people we attract here are from much more diverse backgrounds than at SAIS. I lived in DC for two years and went to SAIS events often and knew many students there. The campus is a bit nicer, but it is spread all over. You don't have a proper campus and hence, students are scattered all over as well. Even though I am not a big fan of Fletcher buildings and facilities, having the whole Tufts campus around helps a bit.

“And yes, Fletcher is out in the middle of nowhere, with a small cringy campus, and to be honest, it disappointed me at first. But I guess being out in the middle of nowhere draws the community closer. You do not have the same sense of community at SAIS.

“Plus, SAIS people in general are a bit narrow in their career focus. World Bank, State Dept, finance, and that is about it. Fletcher brings people from all sorts of backgrounds and sends them to all corners of the world in all different disciplines. And the Mafia [the Fletcher alumni network] is strong as ever.

“Nowhere else will the faculty wait on you at a dinner, or people will strip naked for the follies, the Dean will rap with you, you will start to adore resident Blakeley mice, have a 2am snowball fight…”


“SAIS:
1) Main advantage: Location in D.C. could make it easier to transition into a job in the area. Allows you to pick up an internship during the academic year too.
2) Also has a "traditional" approach to education in my opinion, less cutting edge. I was not impressed with their Middle East offerings as a regional field. A friend who went there and focuses on the Middle East in her professional life, but ended up pursuing a concentration in a different regional area to avoid the Middle East department and its associated biases. I.e., "less perspective" there perhaps. 3) Good econ background if that's what you're after, but again, this is probably going to be uber traditional. 4) Their academic program seems to be fairly limited for my taste - so students should make sure their interests fall into the subject areas available.

“Fletcher:
1) Main advantage: Cutting edge. Fletcher classes and professors encourage new insights, additional perspectives and academic paradigms in a way the other programs, institutionally and otherwise do not encourage. In this way, I think it is more practical and useful than the other degrees. It prepares us to take on the world.
2) More global perspective. It really is more international and more global than KSG and SAIS. I think both those schools still have "diversity," but I think a lot of the foreign students still have an "Americanized" perspective. There are a lot of foreign students here that are coming to the U.S. for the first time. And a lot of these students will go back to take up significant positions in their respective governments. It's my understanding that this doesn't happen as often at KSG and SAIS, with their more Americanized foreign students. I kept getting thrown off at a KSG class I took, where the teacher, despite the fact that he's a German national, kept referring to "us" and "we." "Us who?" I thought. He meant "us Americans." Weird, it didn't seem to be just Americans in the class. Double weird since he's German. That doesn't happen in Fletcher classes, or hasn't happened in my classes, especially when the class is not about US foreign policy. "We," almost always refers to "we Fletcherites," or "we with a global perspective." Another observation: The "Message from the Dean" on the Fletcher website is in 17 different languages. I just haven't seen this kind of thing from the other schools, and I think its indicative of The Fletcher School's focus.
3) More subject matter perspectives. I think Fletcher does a good job of attracting/admitting people that will go off into every different career path. Apparently a huge of proportion of KSG students go into the consulting world. That's lucrative, but not that diverse. I really don't feel like I'm going to be competing for jobs with anyone here from Fletcher - because I don't think anyone has the exact same set of interests that I do. Probably about a third of Fletcher graduates go into business, a third into foreign or domestic government work, and a third into non-profit work. We Fletcherites have a good mix of career interests.
4) Faculty that are stars, but that are also here because they care about education - not because of the pure prestige of Harvard or the convenient location of SAIS. KSG for example probably has a smaller percentage of tenured professors. Faculty here are more likely to still be around when we come back for reunions.”


If you’ve made it this far, you should know there are people who take SERIOUS issue with the “Fletcherites can’t do math” myth (especially now that the MIBs have brought with them a bunch of new business programs).


“…While strong points have already been mentioned, I gotta stick up for the economics program at Fletcher. We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that our school has the weaker economics curriculum compared to SAIS.

“Much has been made of SAIS' strong economics or quantitative element. I see this point mentioned time and time again on graduate school discussion boards (yes, I do troll these things from time to time). From what I've gathered, this assumption appears to rest on the fact that SAIS requires an international economics concentration. As a result, the argument goes, students at SAIS will inevitably come out with a stronger professional economics background than students from other international affairs schools.

“That is true...when you compare them to Fletcher students not focused on economics or only pursuing the minimum (like myself). But for students intent on becoming professional economists or economic policy analysts, there is ample choice selection and flexibility at Fletcher to craft an economics curriculum that matches or even exceeds that of SAIS. A quick browse through the economics courses at both schools reveals that classes and content tend to match one other---give or take differences in courses packaging, naming and niche/elective course offerings. For the important standard economics courses---advanced micro, macro, econometrics, dev. economics, natural resource economics, finance, trade theory, etc.---both schools offer them, so it's difficult to say that one curriculum trumps the other in this aspect.

“Again, not to belabor a point that's been repeated over and over again (for good reason), but anything absent at Fletcher can be taken at partner schools. If you're just dying to wrestle with game theory, for instance, or anxious to delve into the intricacies of the economics of health (both offered at SAIS), then head over to KSG or the Tufts Economics department. I suspect that the Fletcher administration knows this, and is probably one of the reasons why they don't fund these courses at Fletcher. Perhaps they believe that school resources could be better spent on developing cutting edge or specialized economics courses, as Rachel mentioned, or expanding other fields of studies more needful of the money.

“…Finally, I do admit that the economics course listing at SAIS is impressive. And it's probably true that they offer courses not even found at Fletcher partner schools. But given that MALD students have so many elective spaces and the resources at hand at partner institutions, I still believe that at the end of the day, a student can formulate a well-rounded, comprehensive and quantitatively rigorous economics curriculum at Fletcher quite comparable to SAIS.”


*Kennedy School Comparison:


“KSG is a very, very strong school, but again, you can't compare it to Fletcher. Fletcher is an international affairs school, whereas KSG focuses on domestic policy planning more, and to the extent it addresses international issues, it does so somewhat from a US centric perspective. Fletcher, you'll find country agnostic. So basically, KSG and Fletcher can't be compared on apples to apples basis really.”


“Main advantage: Globally recognized name of Harvard. It's obvious, but this is one reason that some students do choose to go to KSG. You can pay for a name. It's like "Starbucks," people have just heard of it. . . . what's a MALD? Hmm, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, so you study law? Ah, a concentration in Southwest Asia, so you know a bit about Asia? . . . .

2) Lots of classes. Good faculty- lots of stars. Though, a lot of the stars are "passing through" faculty as well.

3) Very traditional type of education. A lot of old-school paradigms. Very traditional.

4) More required courses in the first-year. Eight out of eighteen are required courses.”


*For those considering joint programs with Law School:


“…for those thinking about getting a JD - Fletcher has far and away the best law program. that includes international law (with Glennon the superstar; also international criminal law); comparative law offerings (eg, comparative legal systems, EU law, etc.); and less traditional courses for people that want to use law to help developing countries and conflict situations (eg, Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies; Transitional Justice; and a host of negotiation and conflict resolution offerings)”
quote
The sense of community is fostered by small classes, accessible faculty members, and a strong network of alumni. The Schools flexible multidisciplinary program of study allows students to design a curriculum that meets their own academic and professional goals.

And of course great professors: S.W. Bosworth, Vali Reza Nasr, R.H. Schultz, J.P. Trachtman, etc.
The sense of community is fostered by small classes, accessible faculty members, and a strong network of alumni. The School’s flexible multidisciplinary program of study allows students to design a curriculum that meets their own academic and professional goals.

And of course great professors: S.W. Bosworth, Vali Reza Nasr, R.H. Schultz, J.P. Trachtman, etc.
quote

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