What is the difference between the different PSIA programs at Sciences Po?

In response to my article about choosing between Sciences Po and LSE (London School of Economics), a reader wrote me with the following question about the various PSIA programs:

I am really interested in applying for the Human Rights & Humanitarian Action programme at PSIA. Could you tell me how this program stands in relation to the other ones at PSIA.

Understanding the difference between the various programs at PSIA can be a little bit tricky.

The thing is, all of the students at PSIA (Paris School of International Affairs – Sciences Po) take classes together. Technically the school offers eight different master’s programs:

  • International Security
  • International Economic Policy
  • International Public Management
  • Environmental Policy
  • International Development
  • International Energy
  • Human Rights and Humanitarian Action
  • Development Practice

In reality, though, many of these master’s have overlapping themes. The most blatant case is that of Development Practice and International Development, which study the exact same things– the only difference being that the former takes one year to complete and only accepts students with significant work experience.

Other cases are less obvious:
International economic policy can be the same thing as environmental policy. In order to achieve international development, you need to understand how to make economic policy. Respecting human rights is a vital part of effective development policies. Energy is a major international security issue. And so on.

If you are looking at International Economic Policy VS International Development, see my post: Studying Development VS Studying Economics

It is therefore completely logical that these programs be housed under the same school and that many of the students should take classes together. But it does beg the question– what is the difference between studying one master versus another?

This is even more the case when you consider that each student can choose a thematic concentration for their studies. That means you could choose a Master in International Energy with a concentration in Human Rights, or a Master in Human Rights with a concentration in International Energy.

What’s the difference?

Because the process for choosing your actual classes is based on a first-come first-served system that will often throw you in the middle of second, third, or fourth choice courses, the difference between these master’s degrees is… somewhat subtle.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the name you want to have on your diploma. Keeping in mind that concentrations will not feature on your diploma or your transcripts, choose the program whose name best aligns with what you want future employers to think when they look at your resume. That may not sound like a beautiful conclusion to come to, but it is the most practical one.

Read more of my blogs about College Admissions topics.
The US College Personal Statement
The Five-Point Resume Check
Five Ways to De-Stress before a College Interview
Sciences Po: 4 Tips for Writing Your Motivation Letter
The Argument for the Gap Year 


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