Monday, November 12, 2018

2019 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.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

2019 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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2019 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 5, 2018

2019 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!

Rebecca Chun
Admissions Coordinator

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Marielle Franco Fellowship Fund

Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Latin American Studies Program (LASP) is delighted to announce the establishment of a newly-endowed fellowship fund.  The work of Brazilian politician, feminist, and human rights activist Marielle Franco, carries on in a memorial fellowship, awarded on an annual basis, to support underrepresented students and/or students committed to advancing social justice, equality, and broader political representation.

Eligibility criteria:  An incoming MA graduate student with a Latin American Studies concentration will be selected for this inaugural fellowship.  For this award, the program will select a candidate who demonstrates commitment to advancing social justice, equality and broader political representation.  All MA applicants to SAIS, selecting the LASP concentration, will be considered for this fellowship.  The fellowship is renewable for year two as long as the recipient maintains a cumulative GPA of 3.4.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

November Events 2018

Virtual Information Sessions:

On-Campus Information Sessions:

Off-Campus Information Session:

Taster Lecture:

APSIA Fairs:

Office Hours:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2019 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, October 25, 2018

2019 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 22, 2018

2019 Admissions Guideline: Who do I contact?

As an Admissions Coordinator, one of the most common questions I get asked is "who do I contact to get more information about ______________?" Although most of the contact information is on our website, it takes a lot of time navigating the site to find the exact person or department, so for this post, I put together a list of contact information in one place to help you find the contact person for your questions. For general questions, you can always contact the Admissions Office and someone will be more than happy to help you; however, if you have a specific question and you want to talk to someone from a certain department, use this directory to get in touch with the right person.


Admissions Office in DC

+1 202.663.5700
Hopkins-Nanjing Center in DC

+1 202.633.5800
SAIS Europe in Bologna

Telephone (+1)

African Studies

Allison Janos

American Foreign Policy

Starr Lee
China Studies

Zhaojin Ji
Conflict Management

Isabelle Talpain-Long
Energy Resources & Environment

Shonda Hurt
European & Eurasian Studies

Cristina Benitez
International Development

Ada Ho
Nicole Kazi
International Economics

Savannah Altvater
International Law & Organization

Tiffany Basciano
International Political Economy

Starr Lee
IR General, Global Theory & History, Canadian Studies

Starr Lee
Japan Studies

Sarina Khan
Korean Studies

Seo Ho Lee
Language Studies

Jacqueline Manuel
Latin American Studies

Michael Weiner
Middle East Studies

Allison Janos
South Asia Studies

Sarina Khan
Southeast Asia Studies

Sarina Khan
Strategic Studies

Thayer McKell

Rebecca Chun
Admissions Coordinator

Thursday, October 18, 2018

2019 Admissions Guideline: Preparing for the interview

Did you know that Johns Hopkins SAIS offers optional interviews for MA applicants both on-campus and on Skype?

Interviews are a great way to individualize your application and to shine your personal strengths in addition to what's written in your application. In other words: an interview makes your application more competitive and adds an extra touch to your application. It also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you have the professional focus and preparation to thrive at a place like Johns Hopkins SAIS, as well as the chance to show your interest in our program.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your interview.

Tip #1: Sign up early

Slots for interviews are limited, and because interview slots fill up rather quickly, it is in your best interest to register as soon as you are certain of your availability. You do not need to start or submit an application in order to sign up for an interview.

To learn how to sign up for an interview, check out this blog post.

Tip #2: Show up early

Whether you're planning to do an in-person interview or a Skype interview, make sure you show up early. First impressions are always important, and the last thing you want to do is make the interviewer wait for you to show up. If you show up early, you can make sure you have all your documents ready, calm your nerves, and if you're Skyping in, you can make sure that the internet is connected and working.

Tip #3: Dress the part

You should dress the way you want to be remembered. First impressions can have a lasting impression, so it's a good idea to come dressed professionally.

Tip #4: Have your resume/ CV ready

It should be noted that we do not share any piece of your application with your interviewer, so be prepared to provide a copy of your resume or CV so that the interviewer can have some background information. If you interview in person, that means bringing along an additional hard copy. If you interview via Skype that means sending the resume or CV digitally through Skype.

Tip #5: Practice and be prepared

Practice with questions that might be asked. Trust me, you'll be less nervous if you prepare. You should expect the interview to be evaluative as well as informative. This means your interviewer may assess any and everything from your intellectual curiosity to your professional acumen.

Among other topics, be prepared to discuss your goals, how a Johns Hopkins SAIS education will help propel you towards these goals, and what unique qualities/experiences you might contribute to the SAIS community. Our advice is to prepare for this interview as you would any high-stakes interview.

Tip #6: Ask questions

During the interview, ask your interviewer thoughtful and relevant questions to assess if the program is a right fit for you. Our interviewers are second-year MA students currently in the program so they can help provide honest answers about the school and the program.