Monday, December 23, 2019

Winter 2019-2020: Information Session and Coffee Chats

Virtual Information Session - Q&A For Regular Decision
Coffee Chats:

  • December 27, 2019 at 10:30am: Chicago, IL
  • December 27, 2019 at 2:00pm: Washington, DC
  • December 28, 2019 at 3:30pm: Ann Arbor, MI
  • December 29, 2019 at 10:30am: Burlington, NC
  • January 4, 2020 at 4:30pm: Tel Aviv, Israel
  • January 4, 2020 at 1:00pm: Bangkok, Thailand
  • January 9, 2020 at 10:30am: Beijing, China
  • January 10, 2020 at 10:30am: Washington, DC

    Monday, November 25, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Application fee waiver

    Did you know that you might be eligible for an application fee waiver? Not a lot of applicants realize that if they are/were part of a certain professional development program, they can receive a fee waiver.

    These are the following professional development programs:
    • Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship
    • Public Policy in International Affairs (PPIA)
    • McNair Scholars Program
    • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program
    • Teach for America
    • Teach for China
    • Fullbright (those currently on fellowship)
    • Peace Corps

    Are you eligible? If so, here are the steps to make sure that you get your fee waived.

    1. In the online application form, select the option to pay by check.
    2. Submit any official documents confirming your participation in the appropriate program by sending it to our email at
    3. Once we receive your documents, our office will waive the fee.

    For students applying to SAIS Europe, the application fee is waived.

    Have a question? Send us an email or call us at (202) 663-5700.

    Thursday, November 21, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Transcripts

    We get a lot of questions in the Admissions Office about transcripts: where to send them, what formats we accept, if we require translations and/or evaluations, etc. Here are some answers to those questions.

    What does “official transcripts” mean?

    An official transcript is issued to Johns Hopkins SAIS from the college, either electronically (via a service such as eScrip) or in hard copy (paper).  To make the process quicker, we prefer receiving transcripts electronically from your school; however, if you decide to take the paper route, you can (and should) request that the school send the transcript directly to Johns Hopkins SAIS.  If you choose to deliver the transcript to our office yourself, it still needs to be sealed in the original envelope, with your college registrar’s stamp over the seal.

    Can I submit unofficial transcripts?

    Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts as part of the application process, but will be required to submit official copies prior to enrollment. 

    Where do I send my transcript?

    Transcripts in hard copy should be sent to the Office of Admissions in Washington, D.C.: 

    Johns Hopkins SAIS 
    Office of Admissions 
    1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW 
    Washington, D.C. 20036 

    Transcripts in electronic copy should be sent to

    What does “all college-level coursework” mean? Isn’t my degree-granting transcript enough?  

    Most students have at least a few transfer credits on their undergraduate transcript for various reasons, ranging from study abroad to summer programs to switching schools.  You will need to submit transcripts for ALL of your coursework.  We want to see how you’ve done in all your coursework–not just some of the schoolwork.
    If they list the course titles AND grades for all transferred credits on your degree-granting transcript, then you don’t need any additional paperwork.  If they don’t, ask if they have copies of the other school’s transcript in your files and ask them to include copies with your degree-granting transcript. 
    If neither of these options works for you, you’ll need to contact multiple schools to request all the transcripts you need.  Additionally, if you’ve taken any additional coursework post-graduation (for credit) you’ll need to supply those transcripts as well.

    What about international transcripts?  

    • What if I received my bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution and I completed a semester or two abroad?

    The first thing you need to do is check your undergraduate transcript and see how the courses are recorded. We need to see both the courses and the grades listed on your transcript. If the transcript lists both, then you’re covered and you won’t need to do anything else. However, if your school only lists the courses as transfer credits, you’ll need to provide an official copy of your study abroad transcript.
    This is easier than you might think. Any U.S. school that accepted study abroad credits will have an official copy of your study abroad transcript in your student file; all you have to do is ask them to send a copy of it to the SAIS Admissions Office and you’re ready to go.

    • What if I received my bachelor’s degree from a non-U.S. institution?

    First, you’ll need to determine if your school will issue a transcript in English. Many international institutions are prepared to do so; if your school is an international institution, you’ll need to acquire an English-language copy in a sealed envelope (don’t open it!) and forward it to our office.

    If your school does not provide transcripts in English, you are asked to provide an official translation of the entire transcript and an explanation of the grading system of the university. You are strongly encouraged to use a credential evaluation service, particularly if you are not sure of how to obtain original transcripts or face difficulties obtaining them. See the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of providers. Transcripts and translations must be received by the Johns Hopkins SAIS Office of Admissions before the relevant deadline, so please make any requests well in advance.

    • What if I took non-credit language courses abroad?
    SAIS doesn’t require official transcripts for non-credit language courses, so you don’t need to submit these transcripts - you can indicate language experiences on your application and your resume. If you want to send us photocopies/scanned copies as proof of these courses, you’re certainly welcome to do so, but we don’t require them.

    Monday, November 18, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Letters of Recommendation

    Here are some helpful answers to FAQs about letters of recommendation. Make sure you get a head start on these!

    How many letters of recommendation do I need?

    The Johns Hopkins SAIS application process requires two (2) letters of recommendation, but you can submit up to three letters of recommendation. It's up to you if you decide to submit 2 or 3.  Personally, I always think it's good to ask for 3 just in case one person forgets to submit a letter on time. The last thing you want is to stress over a missing letter even though you completed the application on time.

    How do I submit my letters of recommendation?

    All letters of recommendation are submitted electronically in our application portal. Having it submitted electronically instead of by snail mail makes it easier for our office, you, and the person writing your letter. Once you start working on your application, you can fill out the contact section for your referrals, and we will send them a link to where they can submit your letters.

    Who should I ask for my letters of recommendation? 

    Should they be professional, academic, or one of each? We don't have a preference for one type over another.  Rather than acquiring specific types of recommendations, you should look to solicit letters of recommendations from individuals who can best speak to your suitability as an international relations professional.  For those who have been out of school for a few years, that may mean all your recommendations are professional.  If you're younger, that might mean all your recommendations are academic in nature. That's okay. Just make sure you ask someone who can really speak well about your strengths for the program.

    How should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

    When you approach someone about writing a recommendation letter for you, make sure they know about the program.  Be prepared to tell them why Johns Hopkins SAIS interests you, and why it's a good fit for you.  If you want them to focus on specific items in the recommendation, make sure they know.  If you haven't seen this individual in some time, you may want to spend some time catching up and letting them know what you've been doing lately and what you plan to do after graduate school.  I always think it's a good idea to give a copy of your resume/CV to help them use as a reference while writing your letter.

    You should also ask them well in advance.  You never know how many other people are asking them for letters of recommendation, and you need to give your recommender enough time to write a strong recommendation. Remember, they're doing you a favor, so make it a smooth process for them.

    Can it be in another language?

    Sadly, our office of Admissions does not speak every language in the world. Although this would be a nice skill to have, we ask that all letters of recommendation be in English. If your recommender does not speak English, he/she will need to get a translator, but we ask that your letters are in English.

    Will I be able to see the letter of recommendation?

    Unfortunately, you will not be able to see any of the letters since your recommender will submit it electronically through a separate link sent to them. However, you can see if they have submitted the letter through the application portal.

    What if I am done with my application and I am only missing the letter of recommendation?

    We strongly encourage students to get all of their documents ready prior to the deadline. If your referral did not write you a letter, you should reach out to them directly and send them a reminder. Chances are they might have forgotten in the midst of their other work, which happens. It wouldn't hurt to send a reminder, but make sure you're not overdoing it by sending them emails after email. Last case, find another person to write your letter.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email!

    Friday, November 8, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Analytical Essay

    The Analytical Essay topic is, to put it bluntly, pretty vague:
    Discuss an issue of national or international importance and its concern to you.
    Not surprisingly, we get a lot of questions about this: topic, format, word limit, etc. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive. 

    What is the format of this essay?

    There is no one format for writing this essay. Some applicants write op-ed style essays, others write their essay in the form of a policy memo, and some even write in the style of a mini research paper with citations. Think about which writing style can help best express your thoughts clearly. 

    Are citations required? 

    If the style of paper you choose to write calls for citations, then go for it; however, it is not required.

    Will citations contribute to my word count?

    No, it will not, but make sure you still remember to keep the 600 word limit in mind. Some of the most successful essays are the ones that are concise and clear.

    Does the topic need to be related to the concentration I indicate on my application?

    Not necessarily, but most applicants do choose to write on a relevant topic. Why is that? Because most applicants select an area that they already have some experience or knowledge about the topic. You should choose a subject matter that you're well-versed on; now is probably not the time to write about something new (to you).

    Basically, we intentionally left the topic vague because we want to assess how you choose to examine a topic that matters to you. It's going to tell us a lot about your perspective as a candidate and as a person. There's no right or wrong answer to this one. It's more about getting to know who you are as a student of international relations and future leader impacting the world. 

    Wednesday, November 6, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Work Experience

    Most of our students coming into Johns Hopkins SAIS enter with at least 1-2 years of work experience. We often get questions about how much work experience is needed to apply. Let me break it down for you based on some of the most frequently asked questions.

    Johns Hopkins SAIS Career Fair

    What exactly is considered work experience?

    Work experience is a full-time job. We value internships and volunteer experience, which you can include in your resume/CV portion, but the term "work experience" specifically means professional experience.

    How important is work experience for my application?

    Work experience is one of the many factors we consider when looking at your application. The average work experience for the incoming class is typically 2 years, but that also depends on which degree you apply to.

    How many years of work experience should I come with?

    About 88% of our incoming MA students come with at least one year of work experience. These jobs range from being directly related to international relations to a wide range of other experiences in the financial sector, teaching abroad, consulting, Peace Corps, private industry, and law.

    What if I just finished undergrad studies and have little to no full-time work experience?

    Each year, around 10%-12% of the incoming MA students enter Johns Hopkins SAIS right after completing their undergraduate studies. Many of these younger candidates come with internship experience in internships related directly to the field of international relations, some do not.

    What if I have more than 7+ years of work experience?

    All of our programs are open to candidates with varying levels of experience. For experienced professionals with seven or more years of work experience, and wish to advance in their career, there are two programs to consider: a 9 month Masters of International Public Policy (MIPP) and a 16 month Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP) for working professionals. For more information, click here.

    Are there any part-time degrees?

    Our degree programs are full-time, though experienced professionals with 7 or more years of work experience can be employed full-time and pursue our Master of Arts in Global Policy degree. In order for students to maximize their full experience at Johns Hopkins SAIS, we encourage students to take full advantage of the various academic and social offerings such as panel discussions, co-curricular activities, special workshops, lectures, guest speakers, and student trips.
    If you are interested in pursuing part-time coursework, you may consider taking the part-time non-degree courses that are offered throughout the year through our Part-Time and Non-Degree Office.

    Can I work while I study?

    With the exception of our Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP) for working professionals, it is very difficult for students to maintain a full-time career while in school. However, many of our students work part-time jobs on campus which have flexible hours or participate in one of the many internships offered through our Global Careers Office.

    Monday, November 4, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Statement of Purpose

    The Statement of Purpose essay (sometimes also referred to as the Personal Statement) is an integral piece of your application. I like to think of the Statement of Purpose as the keystone of an application - when executed well, it pulls all those pieces together to create a cohesive whole.

    So, what is the Statement of Purpose? It's your story. Who you are, where you are, where you're going, and how Johns Hopkins SAIS fits into that picture. Your Statement of Purpose is how you personalize your application to show the Admissions Committee the real person behind the transcripts, recommendations, and test scores. With the Statement of Purpose, we expect you to not only show us why we should admit you but also why Johns Hopkins SAIS is the best fit for you.

    A couple of tips for your Statement of Purpose:
    • Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement essays questions can be pretty similar from school to school. Resist the temptation to write one generic essay and submit it to every school.  International relations schools are each different, and we look for different things in an essay. A good essay for SAIS might be a poor fit for another school and vice versa.
    • The first rule of writing anything (not just an essay) is to think about your audience.  Your audience is the Admissions Committee and faculty.  Ask yourself, what does the committee want to know about me?  What information are they looking for?  
    • Good writing is concise writing.  A concise writer can express more in 500 words than a mediocre writer writing 2000 words.  The word limit on the Statement of Purpose is 600 words. 
    • Make sure you revise, revise, and revise.  
    • Revision means that you'll end up spending a lot of time working on this essay.  Don't expect to dash off your essay a few nights before the application deadline and think it will be the best representation of your abilities.  Start brainstorming now, give the essay the amount of time and attention that it deserves, and submit the best version of the essay.

    Friday, October 25, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Résumé/CV

    When it comes to writing the résumé for your Johns Hopkins SAIS application, it's important to write it in a way that will really highlight and strengthen the many skills you've developed through your experiences.

    How long should my résumé/CV be? 
    Many recent college graduates are told their résumé/CV should be no more than a page long, which is true if you’re applying for a job and you don’t have a lot of work experience under your belt. However, for a graduate school application, you can get away with a longer résumé - assuming you have enough experience to warrant it.

    What should I emphasize on my résumé/CV?
    We are looking for two things when reviewing an applicant’s résumé/CV: professional readiness and leadership potential. Keeping that in mind, there are a few things that you’ll want to highlight. You’ll want to demonstrate progressive responsibility in terms of your work so we can see how you’ve grown professionally.  Since we’re looking for leadership potential, you’ll also want to list not only leadership experiences in extracurricular or volunteer activities but how your work experience helped you to develop leadership skills.

    Is there a specific format?
    Nope. We don't have a specific template we're looking for. Just make sure it's clear and easy to read.

    Any other tips? 
    1. Talk to your school’s career services office about how to format your résumé/CV. There are also lots of resources online and books that can provide guidance. A well-formatted résumé/CV is crucial to a successful career. 
    2. Make sure you give us information/detail about your job responsibilities, not just the job title. Many job titles are organization-specific and don’t really tell us what you did in your job.
    3. Know when to balance relevancy with gaps in your résumé/CV. You don’t want to just list things that aren’t relevant, but if you do have a big gap in your résumé, and you feel that it is important to explain the gap, let us know.

    Monday, October 14, 2019

    Important Deadlines: Johns Hopkins SAIS Applicants

    As application season continues, we wanted to remind you of the important deadlines for Johns Hopkins SAIS applicants:

    • November 1, 2019: Early Notification Application Deadline
      • Notification by Dec 20, 2019
    • January 7, 2020: Regular Decision Application Deadline
      • Notification by Mar 6, 2020
    • February 15, 2020 US Federal Aid Priority Filing Date
      • Notification by Mar 6, 2020
    Submitted your application? What's next?
    All applicants will receive an email confirmation of materials received (or missing) no later than two weeks after the application deadline. We make every effort to work with our applicants to ensure their application is completed and given full consideration.

    Still have questions about the application process?
    As you work on your application, we are available to speak with you about the application and your degree program of interest. Please contact us at; phone 202.663.5700 (Washington, DC Admissions Office), or; phone  + (SAIS Europe Admissions Office) to speak with an admissions officer.

    To start (or complete) your application, please click here.

    Saturday, October 12, 2019

    2020 Admissions Guideline: Standardized Tests

    As you are getting your application together, you may be thinking about the standardized tests and language competency exams. We get a lot of questions about them and wanted to demystify them for you.

    Are Standardized Tests Optional?

    For some, submitting GRE and GMAT scores is optional. Only our Masters of International Economics and Finance applicants, as well as our PhD applicants are now required to submit scores.
    If you decide to submit scores for either the GRE or the GMAT, Johns Hopkins SAIS will only accept scores directly from the testing service. Please arrange for all standardized test scores to be sent in advance of the application deadline. The GRE code for Johns Hopkins SAIS is 5610-0000; the GMAT code is KGB-GX-99.

    If you have completed an exam more than once, please list your most recent scores. In addition to listing the scores in the online application, applicants must also send official test scores via the appropriate testing services.

    Do I take the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT? 
    We’re perfectly happy to accept either the GRE or GMAT; however, we do not accept LSAT.

    What is the minimum test score for the GRE or GMAT?

    We don't have an arbitrary cut-off for our test scores. These scores can be a bit controversial, and it's not uncommon to hear people discuss the cultural bias of standardized test scores. So we recognize that strong candidates can perform poorly on standardized test scores, and we don't use a minimum test score as a baseline to eliminate candidates. 

    We may reject someone with poor test scores, but that applicant was rejected because his/her application contained a series of weaknesses-not because of test scores alone.

    What is the minimum test score for the TOEFL/IELTS?

    We do have minimums for these exams, but we don't do this so we have an easy way to eliminate applicants. We have a minimum score on the exam because we want to make sure that all of our students are well-prepared to succeed in our program. If we admitted an applicant with less than minimum scores, we would be doing a disservice to him/her, because we would know that they would be unable to keep up with the intensity of our program.

    A TOEFL score of at least 600 for the paper-based exam, 250 for the computer-based exam or 100 for the internet-based exam is required. Students who choose to submit the IELTS exam results must meet a minimum of 7.0.

    If you are applying to our Bologna campus, you can take the TOEFL, IELTS as well as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English. If a candidate takes the Cambridge test, a passing grade is required for admission.

    Can I take the GRE and GMAT multiple times without adversely affecting  my application?

    The reviewer will not see that you've taken it multiple times. They will only see the best scores you've received.

    We only consider the best sub-scores you receive in each category...

    ...even if they are from different test dates. Say you take the GRE three times, and each time you max out score-wise on a different section. We will use whichever quantitative score is best, whichever verbal score is best, and whichever analytical writing score is best, even if all three scores came from three different dates.

    You might get your scores instantly, but we won't.

    It takes up to 10 business days for our office to receive official GRE/TOEFL test scores (and potentially longer for GMAT and IELTS), even though the testing center will give you unofficial score results for the verbal and quantitative section on the same day. To ensure that your official test scores reach Johns Hopkins SAIS on time, you should take the appropriate examinations and request your official score reports at least a month before the deadline.

    So, when planning for your application, make sure that you take the standardized exam well in advance of the application deadline to make sure we get your scores in time.