University of Waterloo or McGill for MA in Politial Science?
September 19, 2019 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Hi. I am from Canada, and I am not sure which MA programme would be best for me. uWaterloo offers an eight month co-op placement with their MA in Political Science programme. McGill also offers a twelve week internship placement with their Political Science programme.

Would it be better to go to uWaterloo, even though the ranking is lower than McGill? McGill is my dream university. I could always do a second MA at McGill in the future. Just not exactly sure what to do. I do not have a whole lot of professional experience and it seems that a co-op and internships are a good ticket to getting your foot in the professional work place.
posted by RearWindow to Education (5 answers total)
Have you actually applied yet? It's always a good idea to apply to more than one school. Your decision may end up being out of your hands anyway if one of the schools doesn't accept you. I'm not Canadian and haven't attended a Canadian University, so I don't know how it works in terms of funding but if you were to be accepted into both universities, you can also consider what they offer you in terms of financial relief.
posted by acidnova at 11:22 AM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

You mentioned that you don’t have a whole lot of professional experience. Is one of your major goals in getting an MA in Political Science to land a good job? If so, I would look into:

(a) Where people at Waterloo get their co-op placements. Can you get this info from the admissions office or co-op placement office? If you can, get a list of where students have gone on co-op over the past five years, how many went where, and how many resulted in job offers. How many of these places are places you would want to work post-MA? Are they located in the geographic area(s) where you would want to work/live? How competitive would you have to be to get placed into the co-op(s) you want, and are you prepared to be that competitive?

(b) Same as (a), but swap out co-op with internship and Waterloo with McGill.

Also, can you bulk up on internships before and during school? My background is law, so YMMV, but most people’s first jobs post-law school were at the firms where they interned in the summers between years at law school. The really savvy people lined up internships at prestige firms before law school began so they could pretty much count on a job offer before they had any law school grades. Other savvy people lined up those types of internships for the first summer (before their second semester grades came out), so they jumped ahead of the rest of us slowpokes that got firm jobs for the second summer. I even had a friend who split one summer into two internships, one at a law firm and another at McKinsey—so she had two job offers at the end of the summer, which helped her negotiating position with both.

This is all to say that internships/co-ops lead to jobs, and very directly so in the legal world. I don’t know how direct this path is in your world, but I would start seriously researching internships now. Are you more likely to land the specific opportunities you might want coming out of Waterloo vs McGill? Ranking may play into this, but so will geography and the strength of the school’s networks and partnerships with certain employers. Other than that, how hard will you have to hustle at each school, and are you willing to hustle at that level?
posted by saltypup at 12:01 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Echoing everything above. Are you pursuing this degree with a specific career path in mind or is it just to stay in school longer (no judgment, I think it’s a perfectly valid reason!) If the former, do as saltypup suggests and see where students get placed for their co-ops/internships. That will give you a good sense of which program is a better fit. If the latter, choose based upon the city, the size of the school, that sort of thing.

And don’t worry about whether one school is “better” than the other. Honesty, when you get into the professional world no one will care. I work with plenty of poli sci and IR grad students who were all led to believe that their academic paths would be like a golden ticket. In reality, managers care about your smarts, your confidence, how you speak and present, and whether your personality seems like a good fit for the office.
posted by fso at 1:04 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you visited both cities? Kitchener-Waterloo and Montreal have very different vibes. You would probably have to drive to any co-op placements in Waterloo. Do you have a license/car and can you afford one? How's your French? You don't have to answer these questions, just food for thought.
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:53 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

You would probably have to drive to any co-op placements in Waterloo. Do you have a license/car and can you afford one?

For what it's worth, you're not limited to KW for your co-op term.
posted by avocet at 12:41 PM on September 20, 2019

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