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FP Guide

2017 Applying to Grad School

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American University, School of International Service (SIS)


“Successful candidates to SIS make a thoughtful and concerted effort to understand who we are and what we do as a school,” says Jia Jiang, director of graduate enrollment management at the American University School of International Service (SIS). “They understand that SIS’s key vision and mission is to be of service to the international community, and that we understand service to be a mindset and not just a moment.”

Students come to SIS working toward their individual ideas of service. Some do it through social justice and poverty alleviation, or through people-to-people educational and cultural exchange. Others do it through global governance and security or foreign policy. “At the core of these approaches, we have an incredibly collaborative learning culture that is built around our strong commitment to public service,” says Jiang. “People who come here often find some common ground in their core values and their interest in making a positive impact on the larger communities around them.” Such values connect students with each other and with faculty.

“SIS is committed to creating a diverse community of international relations professionals who are ready to lead through service. We want our students to behave with an unfailing spirit of inquiry and make a positive impact on the larger communities around them.” –Jia Jiang, Director of Graduate Enrollment Management, American University, School of International Service (SIS)

Successful applicants to SIS have a strong academic background and multiple indicators showing how they can succeed at SIS and beyond. They also have a compelling rationale for choosing the specific program to which they are applying.

“Many of our successful applicants actively interact with the SIS community before applying,” says Jiang. Talking with faculty, students, and staff helps applicants understand the school’s degree offerings, learning expectations, global opportunities, opportunities to be involved in scholar-practitioner-led research, and ways to pursue their unique interests within the school’s structured, but flexible, curriculum. Applicants’ early interaction with SIS helps them put together a focused and thoughtful application that reflects their achievements and potential.

“We consider GRE scores as one of many indicators for understanding an applicant holistically,” says Jiang. She notes that less robust GRE results can potentially be mitigated by other factors, such as:

“SIS prides itself on combining knowledge and practice, so having relevant work experience is really valuable for our students,” says Jiang. Even students who came straight out of undergrad have usually completed at least one substantive internship, volunteer program, and/or study-abroad program.

Recommendations focusing on an applicant’s academic performance and potential, work ethic, and commitment to public service can help to enhance an application. Another type of recommendation might help offset an applicant’s weakness: If quantitative GRE scores are a concern, for example, a letter from a supervisor who managed the applicant’s successful quantitative analysis in a job could help to reveal an important strength.

Master’s Degree Program Options: MA in Comparative and Regional Studies; MS in Development Management; MA in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs; MA in Global Environmental Policy; MA in Global Governance, Politics, and Security; MA in Global Media; MA in Intercultural and International Communication; MA in International Development; MA in International Economic Relations; MA in International Economics; MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution; MA in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development; MA in United States Foreign Policy and National Security; MA in International Relations (online); MA in Social Enterprise (online or on campus); Executive Master’s (online or on campus) and other degrees.

Fall 2018 Application Deadline: Master’s applications completed by January 15, 2018, will receive priority consideration.
Standardized Exam Scores: See american.edu/sis/admissions/required-materials.cfm for more info.
Recommendation Letters: Two required for master’s degree applications
Application Checklist: https://cms.american.edu/sis/admissions/required-materials.cfm

Participates in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and matching program for Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

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