So, after much debate, consideration, and talking to a wide variety of people (from those who have worked in the field to economics professors), I think I have finally decided to pursue a master's program in development studies/international development.
I ruled out PhD programs because my first interest is not in academia. It would be nice, but I can't realistically see myself spending 5-6 years getting a doctorate, and I wouldn't want to undertake that kind of commitment without knowing that I would be able to handle it. Also, I don't think I could gain admission to most of the truly good PhD programs, since my economics and mathematics background is relatively.....weak (mostly lower-division courses).
I'm hoping some folks will comment on my general chances at top-flight programs like the London School of Economics, SAIS/Johns Hopkins, etc. I'm also open to comments on alternatives, like PhD programs (unlikely), other MA programs, or other paths that I haven't considered.
I'll be finishing school in August with a degree in political science and a minor in economics, from a reasonably good (but not top tier) large private university. The econ department is quite quantitative-oriented but because it's only a minor I don't have the same skill set that some have. My math experience is limited to a single class of calculus and the math required to get through undergrad-level economics courses and (wait for it...) the math learned in the political science department (alright, now laugh hysterically at poli sci students learning about chi square).
My grades are not great. My cumulative once I graduate will be 3.5 exactly, with slightly higher departmental. My last 4 semesters will be higher--some mistakes the first year of my studies are still taking their toll. I took nearly 6 years to complete school after entering as a second-semester sophomore, but I worked full time for 3 years in the middle (not in a related field--just in a dead-end job). Once I finally became motivated last fall I've been back in school full-time.
Once I finish I'm planning on completing an internship/fellowship for 6 months while applying to graduate schools for fall 2010. The fellowship involves research and publication throughout a 6-9 month period.
Anyway, all of this is just a roundabout way of asking about my potential for admission, and suggestions for alternatives. My Father worked in development economics for 30 years, but his advice has been--how should I put this?-- "less than helpful."
Any thoughts/suggestions? I'm happy to provide more information if necessary, but I think this is long enough for a start. I'm probably testing people's attention spans already. I have some options since I have an extra semester where I could take courses before starting the fellowship program. I could pursue a development minor at my university, or--god forbid--spend two semsters and complete a major in economics. I'm not sure what else I could do with that time other than work for a local NGO, and that's my fallback plan if I don't get admitted to the fellowship program in January 2010 (before applying for grad. schools).