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What type of Master's is best for AI policy work?

by Milan_Griffes1 min read22nd Feb 20197 comments

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AI governanceCareer choice
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80,000 Hours recommends a few different flavors of Master's as entry points into working on US-oriented AI policy: security studies, international relations, public policy, and machine learning.

Does anyone have opinions on which of these types of programs is the best to focus on?

(Clearly a large part of this revolves around personal fit, but perhaps some of these are much more relevant than others in a way that dominates personal fit considerations.)

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I studied public policy at King's College London and wrote my dissertation on AI policy. I'm happy to answer questions about that particular programme.

Awesome!

My first question: did you end up doing something after the program that you wouldn't have been able to do w/o having done the program first?

3Khorton3yNo. I entered the UK Civil Service, which I could have done anyways. I'm probably one pay grade higher because of experience gained during my Master's / because I had a lot of time to apply for jobs rather than taking the first one I could get.
2Milan_Griffes3yOh interesting. Reflecting back, do you feel like you should've just gone into the Civil Service directly, or are you happy with the route you chose?

I'm happy with the route I chose. I love education, so the Master's was very pleasant and a real confidence boost. I also learned a lot about research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, which was one of the goals I had - I don't think I could have taught myself those skills. I also think it's useful to know the theoretical literature even if I don't use it every day because it's changed some of the assumptions I hold.

I also like having more options. It turns out that I really like the Civil Service and plan to stay in it for a few years, but it was good to test my fit in research and know that I could work in a think tank or do a PhD if I wanted to.

That said, I didn't previously know that the Civil Service will pay for employees to do a Master's if they have a reasonable business case. It probably would have been more rational for me to do this on the Civil Service's dime than my own. But overall, I think I made the best decision with the information I had available.

3Milan_Griffes3yThanks, this is really helpful.
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Milan and I spoke about this, so I'm just commenting to let other readers know that I'm happy to be a resource on this, specifically if you're looking at US programs. For context, I'm a Master's student in Georgetown's Security Studies Program, in their Technology and Security concentration, but have considered and think well of other programs, too.