UPenn vs. Georgetown

I plan to study a combination of international relations/studies and business/economics in college. The Huntsman Program at Penn and the BS in Global Affairs and Business at Georgetown seem to be perfect programs for me. I am drawn to Penn because of the high ranking (especially in the business school) and competitive academics, but the Wharton culture seems overwhelming. I am drawn to Georgetown because of its emphasis on a more globally minded business education and opportunities in DC, but I want to choose the better program. Ultimately, I am planning to ED/EA to one of these options (if I am not accepted into Huntsman at Penn, I may still ED as an International Relations major in the CAS and then apply to pursue a second major in Wharton after my freshman year). Which of these programs/schools do you think would be the better option?

What do you mean “ if I am not accepted into Huntsman at Penn, I may still ED as an International Relations major in the CAS and then apply to pursue a second major in Wharton after my freshman year” ? Do you mean you will list IR as a second choice on the application if you ED at Penn?

Georgetown is noticeably superior for IR vs Penn, and Wharton is somewhat superior for business vs McDonough, so it partly depends where you really see your focus.

Yes, I mean that for my single-degree program choice on the Penn application, I apply as an IR major in hopes that I will be able to pursue a uncoordinated dual degree between the CAS and Wharton after my freshman year if I choose Penn, that is, if I apply and am accepted into Wharton for a second major. If I ED to Penn for my dual and single degree choices, I was wondering if potentially not getting into Huntsman and having to pursue the IR major in hopes of combining it with business is a better option than only applying to Huntsman ED and hoping that I will get into Georgetown BS in Business and Global Affairs RD if I don’t get into Huntsman. I know that my chances of getting into Penn RD are slim, so I feel like if I only apply to my dual degree program ED, one which is super selective, I will not get into Penn at all and will have to completely rely on getting into Georgetown, which is what I am worried about.

I am extremely passionate about both IR and business, and would like to combine both in a future career, so I wouldn’t say that one outweighs the other.

Well, if you do decide on Penn then ED will be your best chance, although note the admit rate may look artificially high for unhooked students as it is when legacy and other hooked applicants need to apply. (That said, it’s still likely to be your best bet.)
For Georgetown, EA offers no such advantage - the admit rate is actually slightly lower than RD as (from an info session we attended) they take only those they are absolutely certain they’d choose from any pool of applicants, and defer most to RD.

Have you had a chance to tour either campus? I’m assuming your profile is top-notch aiming at these, but of course they are both reaches for everyone. Do you have good matches and safeties on your list too?

Thank you so much for all of this info! It is extremely helpful.

No, I was not able to tour any schools due to COVID but love DC though I have never been to Philadelphia. I have safeties on my list as well, these are just my two top schools that have the best programs for what I would like to study.

I would be happy at either of these schools, just having trouble deciding statistically what is the best way for me to get into either of them as well as which at which school I could have better academics and opportunities for both IR and business.

It feels like Penn has the advantage on one side because of the higher acceptance ED option, as well as the world-renowned Huntsman Program (that is, if I can get in), and a higher ranking overall (especially in business, and IR isn’t far behind Georgetown). On the other hand, it also feels like Georgetown would be a better fit because of its prime location for my academic areas of interest and focus on global business (especially with the BS in Business and Global Affairs) in the MSB, which is important to me, as I am combining both IR and business. I really don’t know which is the better program (I am also greatly considering the options I will have coming out of college with a degree from Penn vs. Georgetown, and I don’t know which of these schools will provide me with better opportunities) and which I have a better chance of getting in taking advantage of either ED or EA.

Georgetown does rank higher in international business, however.


Depends what “rankings” you use too. Penn is not one that normally comes up on the radar as an obvious IR choice - I know it’s top 10 in some rankings but in some others it’s way down. (My personal preference is to use the poets & quants rankings for business and Foreign Policy rankings for IR, I know many here prefer USNews.) The international business rankings are an interesting context too.

I don’t really think there is going to be any material difference in job market opportunity coming out of either of those colleges.

One more caveat, I am personally not a fan of using ED as a strategic option and particularly not when you have not had a chance to visit the campus (or much less the city in your case). There is much more to fit than ranking. My opinion is that you should have no doubt that your ED choice is your clear number one choice.

Are both Penn and Georgetown affordable per their net price calculators?

Are you applying test optional to Georgetown (meaning you have not taken either the ACT or SAT)? If so, I do wonder how Georgetown will treat TO applications, whether TO apps will have the same chance of acceptance as a similar app with a score.

More difficult than choosing between two reaches is identifying match schools, and at least one affordable safety school, that are strong in your areas of interest…have you done that?

Are you a serious contender for Huntsman? for UPenn 'regular" Admissions for Huntsman last I looked were in the 5-7% territory- iow, HYPSM rates. Even Wharton’s rate is (or was) higher. I am not trying to rain on your parade- reaches are reaches- but you are tying yourself up in knots trying to parse comparative odds- start with the basics of being realistic.

Fyi, you can apply to do a dual CAS/Wharton degree as a sophomore at UPenn. If you major in International Studies at Penn, you have the core of the Huntsman program (obvs not the cachet of the name, or the fun extras that come with it).

More importantly, look more closely at where you want to go and what you want to do after university- which I suspect is not, in fact, IR*. From the programs you are interested in, it sounds more like you are interested in international business. If you are a contender for Huntsman you already have a second language at intermediate level, so wherever you end up, plan on getting internships and/or studying abroad in that country, so that you build it to professional fluency.

how much do you actually know about what IR is as an academic subject? I have known rather a lot of students who think that they want IR- and don’t like it *at all when they start taking the classes. Many realize belatedly that they were using IR to mean “international stuff”. IR as a field tends towards roles in public policy / ngo / academia / government sectors- not business. It also almost always requires a Masters about 5 years later.

I agree with this and this is why I am leaning towards just applying to Huntsman ED because the chances I get in are not to great but if I did, that would be amazing. I am all for keeping my options open and hopefully finding a time to visit before the commitment deadline if I don’t get into my ED or decide not to ED at all, which would be the ideal scenario if I got into my top schools. I am worried that if I don’t ED/EA, then I will not get into any of my top schools and will regret not EDing. However, I feel like it is going to be hard to decide on a top 100% choice without visiting.

Yes, both Penn and Georgetown are affordable options for me.

Yes, I am applying test optional to Georgetown since I was not able to take the ACT due to COVID.

Yes, these two schools are my reaches and I have 5 match and 5 safety schools.

It is hard to say if I am a good competitor for Huntsman just because my school does not have any comparable stats (GPA, class rank, etc.) and I do not have a test score. I have taken the most rigorous classes throughout high school and have gotten perfect grades, and have experience in both international affairs and business through summer programs and internships. I also could apply to Huntsman with either Spanish or Russian.

Applying to do a dual CAS/Wharton degree as a sophomore at Penn is another good option. But is it better than the BS in Global Affairs and Business from Georgetown? I know that Huntsman is probably a better program than this BS from Georgetown, but is it worth EDing to Penn with my single-degree choice in IR along with Huntsman hoping that I can get into the dual degree later on or is it better to just apply to Huntsman ED and if I don’t get in, I still have the Georgetown option RD?

Yes, I would say I am more interested in international business as a career. I have taken IR programs in the past and find it super interesting to learn about, but I am not sure about how many good career options I can have solely with that degree, which is why I am leaning more towards the business side of things and tying it in with the international aspect, which is a passion of mine. Then again, I have never taken a business/econ class (though I have had an internship as an analyst which I enjoyed), so I do not know if I would be 100% interested in that either, but they are definitely both fields I want to explore in college.

Because you are applying TO to Georgetown, I would choose to ED to Penn.

Georgetown is only TO for students who don’t have an ACT or SAT, my opinion is there’s a good chance that some, maybe many, TO apps get deferred from EA to RD. Just my opinion. What does your HS GC say?

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My GC hasn’t mentioned apps getting deferred from EA to RD if they are TO, but I can potentially see how that would be possible. Another worry of mine is that the Georgetown EA acceptance is even lower than RD, especially for the MSB, so in a way, I would feel like I am throwing away my Nov 1 deadline. But on the other hand, it is really appealing that it is non-binding because I haven’t 100% made up my mind yet and still hope to visit before the May 1 deadline.

My GC hasn’t mentioned apps getting deferred from EA to RD if they are TO, but I can potentially see how that would be possible. Another worry of mine is that the Georgetown EA acceptance is even lower than RD, especially for the MSB, so in a way, I would feel like I am throwing away my Nov 1 deadline. But on the other hand, it is really appealing that it is non-binding because I haven’t 100% made up my mind yet and still hope to visit before the May 1 deadline.

There is no point to applying to Georgetown EA. As posted upthread, they are explicit that they only accept applicants that are at the very top of the pile. At Penn (and others) it actually increases your odds.

At the end of the day the thing that will make the biggest difference at either (any) place is what you do while there. You simply will not be able to take advantage of all the opportunities at either place- there are just too many. Your ability to scout out the ones that are really good for you, then to get them (many/most will be competitive), then to excel in them will be what you have to offer when you go to get an actual job.

One of the reasons that @sj2727 was discouraging trying to make your choice based on calculating odds is that there is a black box at the center of that calculation that is impossible to calibrate. Another is that it ignores the real question of whether one of the programs would suit you better than the other. Do a deep dive into the actual classes that you would take at each place. Look at student profiles and recent alum outcomes. The programs do have differences other than rankings and admissions statistics.

I don’t know about this idea of “wasting” early deadlines. Flip side argument : if you apply to Penn ED and don’t get in, is that a waste? Remember Gtown EA is not restrictive, so you can apply to other non-binding early programs as well. That might be worth it to have an admit or two under your belt going into the RD round. Somewhere like Fordham might be a good solid one to have there (business and international business are well regarded). If your stats are high enough for Penn/GTown you’ll probably get merit too, which will also help you make an informed decision later. Do any of your matches/safeties have unrestricted EA?

I just want to say, sorry if I’m being repetitive, it worries me again the idea of EDing and therefore potentially committing to a place you haven’t even visited …college or city. Everyone, my daughter included, has stories of colleges they loved on paper and just did not love when they visited.

Thank you for the advice. I have looked into both programs and I love both of them. Though there are differences, nothing negative really stands out on either side, and I would love to be a part of either of them. I agree that applying ED to Penn for Huntsman is a a good idea, but I still am not sure if I should also apply ED to my single-degree choice in the College in hopes of being accepted for an uncoordinated dual degree program with Wharton for my sophomore year. Or, if I should apply ED to just Huntsman and see if I get in, and if I don’t, I have Georgetown possibly for RD, which would work out, but only if I actually get into Georgetown.

You bring up some great points, I agree completely about how the idea of wasting early deadlines does not make sense.

I haven’t thought about Fordham, but thanks for bringing it up. I’ll look into it.

I am applying to Northeastern, which has unrestricted EA.

I completely agree with the worry about EDing before visiting, and that is what I am most nervous about. The thing is, I do not know if I will even be able to visit before the commitment deadline in May if I just do RD due to COVID, so not EDing to buy me more time to visit may not even work out. I also know I always have the option to transfer after my first year if I really don’t like it, so right now unfortunately I feel like the only thing I can do is to look at it on paper and choose the best program for me from the information I find online.