Ford School Alumni and Current Students

Submitted by Hands Free on June 28th, 2012 at 10:03 AM

I will be a first year MPP student at the Ford School this fall and am looking for input, advice, and any other helpful information from any Fordies in the MGoBlog community.

Firstly, I’m quite excited to be at Ford - I’m a lifelong U-M fan and the Ford School was my first choice for graduate school by a wide margin.

A little about my policy interests: My main interests in public policy include sustainable community development and fiscal policy, and I hope to get into policy research and writing. 

Thanks in advance for your comments.



June 28th, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

Given that there is a small little public policy, um, event, that just went down in D.C., I wonder if most of the Ford School MGoBloggers are somewhere other than here right now.


June 28th, 2012 at 11:19 AM ^

I graduated from the undergrad program two years ago, so I don't really know what to tell a big bad MPP like yourself.  Just enjoy the beautiful building, the fantastic speakers that they host, and never forget about the gate in the stairwell (you will know what I mean soon enough).  


June 28th, 2012 at 10:23 PM ^

They only teach one class each as far as I know.  I didn't take Schwartz's course, but everybody raves about him.  Hills taught campaign stratagies and tactics.  He is a really cool guy and could back up everything with real world experience, being the former head of the Michgian GOP and campaign manager/communcations director for multiple politicians.  


As far as other professors go, I really can't help you.  They change electives a lot, and you don't have any choice for your 320 and 330 profs.  I just looked at the course guide for the upcoming semester and there are some pretty cool looking classes available though.  


June 28th, 2012 at 11:34 AM ^

Class of '93, though. I don't know how much the curriculum has changed since then, and I'd imagine that most of the profs I had are retired. I found a lot of the classes very useful, especially benefit-cost analysis and program evaluation. It sounds like you're in the right program given your interests.

Lorch Hall

June 28th, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

I'm an MPP alum from many years ago. I loved it, but I can give you a little advice from being in the policy world.

1. They put far too much emphasis on the importance of quantitative methods compared to their use in the policy world. Especially if you are going no further than an MPP, it is far more important to learn to network and to reason and write well. 

2.  You'll be well served to try to write in a policy, versus an academic style. This means stating your conclusion at the very beginning of a piece and getting your point across clearly using an economy of words. This contrasts with saving the payoff for the end and using a lot of George F. Will words, as academic journals often do.

3. ???

4. Profit!


June 28th, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

Most academic journal articles start with an abstract that states the question that is adressed and that answer that is given. So I guess I disagree with your characterization of academic writing as mystery novels.


June 28th, 2012 at 11:38 AM ^

I have heard their career services are absolutely amazing, they really invest in that.  They will hook you up if you stay active with them, especially for the MPPs.

Hands Free

June 28th, 2012 at 12:00 PM ^

Great, thanks.  This is what I have heard as well - if you do well and keep close contact with Ford's Career Services, you will most likely find placement at a solid position right out of school.

This was a sticking point for me as I have to leave my job (which I like) to go to Ford. 


June 28th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

I have several friends with MPP's from that program and all of them have good jobs, some of them have very good jobs in DC. Great choice.


June 28th, 2012 at 4:05 PM ^

I'm an MPP and loved my time at Weill Hall. My best advice is to get engaged early in the FSPP community. Connect with career services and really get to know the staff there--the strength of those relationships is a huge determinant of the quality of service that you can expect from them. Don't worry if you're not the first person to line up a summer internship because Michigan's summer break starts crazy early so many students wait up until finals week to learn which one(s) of their internship prospects will make an offer. Learn to book study areas using the online scheduling system to be sure that you'll have a quality place for your study groups to meet. I started and finished the Ford School with very different policy interests, so don't be surprised if your tastes evolve over the next two years. If you're interested in sustainable development, look into the Real Estate Development grad certificate--I was able to complete this in addition to the MPP over the standard two-year time period. You might also consider a dual-degree with SNRE--it seems like everybody at the Ford School is going for dual degrees these days. It's very easy to get accepted into another UofM grad program for a dual degree after you start at the Ford School.

Don't be scared off by the quant nature of the courses. I'm currently a budget manager at a large research university, largely as a result of the strength of the economic analysis curriculum at the Ford School. I've since completed a second grad degree in Finance while working and will start a PhD program in Finance in September at a Pac 12 school. I wouldn't have had any of these opportunities without my time at the Ford School.

Hands Free

June 28th, 2012 at 5:16 PM ^

Thanks for all the great input.

It's nice to hear about your changing policy interests, as I am not decided on sustainable development or fiscal policy.  They currently pique my interest but I know that could change.  I am fairly certain that I want to pursue research and writing, so I am looking into joining the student group that publishes a policy journal.

Being away from heavy quant work for many years has me a bit nervous, but I know I want to have those skills and am ready to dive into the material.

What was your weekly workload?  I want to work part time while in school, but have heard from some that this is difficult with the rigor of the program.


June 28th, 2012 at 7:28 PM ^

My workload was heavy, but I was doing two programs at once so I had at least one additional class each semester on top of the MPP curriculum. An average day began around 8 a.m. and went until around 11 p.m. M-Th. I would usually dedicate an entire day each weekend to homework/study and take the other off. Fridays can be long because of all the study sessions but it's mostly a review of what was covered in class that week.

Part-time work is possible but the opportunity cost can be high relative to the wage. I put my extra time into finding an internship that paid very well and would be valued by future employers, so I earned as much at my internship (about $10k) as I would have if I had worked part-time during the academic year. I don't think this is common though because good-paying internship opportunities are very limited. I also earned more scholarship money in the second year because I concentrated on school during the first year, so I ended up making as much money without holding down a regular part-time job as other students. If you are committed to working, ask every staff/faculty member (especially the research centers given your interest in research) if they have a part-time opportunity and maybe you'll find something inside of the building where you can earn a few bucks without distracting from the concepts presented in the coursework.

Hands Free

June 28th, 2012 at 8:04 PM ^

I'm not committed to working and certainly want to maximize my experience at Ford, but would like to have some inflow of income.  That being said, I received a fellowship and scholarship which should cover most of my tuition expenses this year; so, I may just tap into my savings for living expenses and work to obtain a GSI position for my second year if I can't find any promising employment opportunities.

Many thanks for the thorough input.  Best of luck in your PhD studies.