USC vs Georgetown SFS

Hi all! Recently admitted to USC and Georgetown SFS. I am really happy about both schools, but I am worried about making the right decision. USC has always been my dream school (love the football games, social atmosphere, campus, location in Southern California), but Georgetown’s SFS better fits my academic interests as a hopeful IR major (and they have a science, tech and international affairs major which I am really interested in). With that being said, I know that USC’s IR program is pretty good too (but GT’s is probably the better choice). Likewise, Georgetown’s social life and campus is great too (but USC has stuff like Peaks and Professors, and great football games). I am leaning a little more towards Georgetown because I would hate to turn down the great opportunities SFS has to offer for IR, but I also really, really want to go to USC.

Can anyone speak to any of the factors aforementioned? Does anyone know how USC’s IR program compares to GT’s in detail? Alternatively, how does Georgetown’s social life compare to USC’s? I am big on the outdoors, so are there any outdoors-y activities at GT (like backpacking with professors at USC)? With the whole COVID-19 crisis, I can’t really visit the schools in session, so I would really appreciate anything anyone has to say about the social atmospheres! Also, I have a pretty laid back personality, so I am a little nervous about SFS’s reputation of having a pretty cutthroat, competitive atmosphere (and there is always the possibility of me deciding to switch majors completely, in which case I feel USC would be the better choice).

Note: I have visited both schools before when they were in session. Financial aid is the same for both schools.

Hi OP: My son had the same choice last year! He said that there are plenty of outdoorsy opportunities at GT (like Escape) and social life is strong–and DC is a great city (having lived in both myself and a UCLA grad, I’d take DC by far).

It is definitely easier to change colleges at USC (my impression is USC seems to encourage taking classes and double majoring between programs). And yes, SFS (and GT in general) can be pretty competitive–USC definitely has a more-relaxed vibe (hard to get stressed in 7o degree weather).

You probably already know that SFS is probably the most prestigious program in the country for foreign service and international relations–but my son confirmed that you have to work for it. Interestingly, he mentioned that a number of kids at GT were accepted at both schools. I don’t think there’s a clear choice–both have advantages depending on what you want, and, of course, having a preference for east or the west coast (we’re from California so my son really wanted to experience the east coast). Good luck–you absolutely cannot go wrong. Post back when you’ve decided!

Hi @FlyerDad ,

Thanks for your helpful response! I ended up choosing Georgetown! Just paid my deposit yesterday and looking forward to the next four years!

Wow–fantastic! Congratulations–getting accepted into SFS is quite an achievement (although either school would be a great choice). If you have any questions at all about Georgetown, my son would be happy to answer them for you. Hoya saxa!

Hi! I don’t know if you are going to see this now, but I’m facing the same dilemma. I have been committed to USC since my acceptance in May, but I took a gap semester and stayed in my home country because of COVID-19. So while I was expecting to start school in the spring at USC Dornsife (as an IR major as well), I got off the waitlist at Georgetown SFS. For me, Georgetown has always been my dream school but I just didn’t expect this, (especially so late into the semester) and was finally settling down and getting prepared to go to California in 2 months, so I guess I was a bit thrown off guard. If you see this, I wanted to ask what your main or final reasons were for your decision. I am also leaning towards Georgetown! But congratulations! I hope you’re having a great time at Georgetown.

Hi, I just saw your reply. Let me just start out by saying I still think both are amazing schools, and I honestly think I’d be really happy at either school. I ended up choosing Georgetown because of the SFS’s unique opportunities for someone really interested in IR. SFS also had a lot of information about specific career paths like the foreign service or consulting companies, that I just couldn’t seem to find on USC’s site. It gave me the impression that GU is more focused on helping you find a career in IR, especially service based (which is what I’m interested in), and USC’s seemed more academic research focused (though I’m sure you could have great career opportunities through USC too).

Now that I have finished my first semester at GU (online), I can say that I have learned so much about IR, the professors are really great, and the community of fellow IR enthusiasts is great. I will say that on a more practical note, the GU administration has not been very helpful during the pandemic-- very hard to reach and usually nothing gets solved. My sibling goes to USC and with their large endowment, they have been able to dedicate a lot of resources to helping students. Ultimately, both schools are great choices.