I'll be graduating with an MPA in July 2011 from Singapore's National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and I will be looking to further my studies with a master's degree in urban/regional planning, coupling it possibly with a transportation systems engineering degree (I have a BS in engineering from Boston University). When I graduate I expect to have an A- GPA in all graduate courses taken, and I anticipate getting no lower than a combined 1,200 in the Quant/Verbal section of the GRE. In addition, I have 10+ years of international work experience in (political) development and technical assistance, including long-term "tours of duty" in Mexico, Iraq, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, with the UN and international NGOs. In addition to English, I speak Spanish, Bahasa Indonesia and can get back to Portuguese proficiency quite easily. I am 39 years of age.
Why do I want to keep studying?
There are essentially two reasons. The first is that I want to broaden my skills in order to transition to more short- and medium-term impact economic development work rather than the long-term impact development work that I've been involved in so far. I can always keep doing what I've been doing, but I want to diversify so that I have two careers or fields of work, so to speak. The second reason is to acquire more techy, nuts & bolts skills for economic development work in the field. I have no interest in working in the U.S. as a planner, or for an international organization sitting in New York or Washington,DC. I am a field guy through and through. My broad thematic interest is development, and my narrow interest is infrastructure, the "hardware" of growth. My regional interest is Asia-Pacific, particularly Indonesia.
Putting all of that together and after internet research about schools and programs, I have preliminarily narrowed the field to MIT, Berkeley, Cornell, USC and possibly NYU. My queries are as follows:
1.) Subject to good recommendations and good statements of intent, what are my chances of getting in and securing decent funding at my top choice, MIT?
2.) The state of California is broke. What are the chances of funding, provided that I get in, at Berkeley?
3.) When I apply to MIT, do I apply to DUSP only? Or do I apply both to DUSP and to the Master of Science in Transportation so that I double my chances of getting in? Or will a two-pronged approach be a waste since with my qualifications I will either be admitted or rejected by both?
4.) I am a New Yorker, and my parents live there so obviously Northeast USA has priority. Do I want to put up with having to buy a car and live in LA by applying to USC?
5.) How are my career (and salary) prospects after graduation?
Any other insights or comments are welcome. Many thanks in advance.