Friday, January 18, 2019

SAIS Europe: The interview

The rush to get your application in is over. You clicked the Submit button and you provided the documents we’ve asked of you. What’s next?

If anything is missing from your dossier you’ll get an email from our Admissions Office and, if you’re an applicant to SAIS Europe, you’ll have received an email asking you how you’d like to interview. Most applicants to SAIS Europe get to interview with a member of the Admissions Committee. We conduct interviews in person and over the phone or Skype. Whether in person, or over the phone or Skype, interviews have the same objectives and are carried in the same way.

The interview serves a number of purposes. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to speak to most of our candidates for admission – it is hard work and it requires a significant time investment— but we enjoy the opportunity to get to know our potential future students in greater detail.

For you, it’ll be a great way to put your best foot forward, to expand on your written dossier, and, not least of all, to ask any questions directly to a member of the Admissions Committee.

As with any interview, you want to prepare and make sure you give your best. But what exactly should you expect of the interview?

The goal of the interview is not to test what you know, but to see how you think. There will be questions aimed at understanding how you inform yourself about current national and/or international affairs, but you’re not expected to know everything. This said, you will need to know something and you’ll want to make sure you keep up to date with the most important latest news. Your interviewer will be interested in learning more about your intellectual interests and career goals.

The interview will be an opportunity for the interviewer (and for you) to assess whether or not the program you’ve applied for at Johns Hopkins SAIS is a good fit for you. A graduate education at Johns Hopkins SAIS requires a great level of investment and we want to make sure this is the right program for you and that it will be your best investment.

The conversation will last around 20-30 minutes and we are sure you will enjoy it. It will help you get more insights into our institution and programs and it will help us get to know you better.

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

SAIS Europe Admissions

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Monday, December 10, 2018

Student Recap: International Dinner 2018

On November 10th the Student Government organized an evening filled with international food and performances. Students prepared traditional dishes from all over the world, and tables with food from Canada to Korea filled the Nitze CafĂ©. 

The Kenney Auditorium was converted into a large dining hall, with a stage set up for performances planned for the evening.  

The event proved to be an opportunity for students to showcase different cultural dishes as well as performances. Traditional dances and songs were showcased, each garnering excitement from the 200+ students attending. We all crowded around the stage with plates filled with chickpea curry and tacos in one hand and bubble tea in the other while we cheered on our peers. 

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Veerle Verhey (MA '19, European and Eurasian Studies)
Veerle is a second-year student in the Master of Arts (MA) program at Johns Hopkins SAIS. She spent her first year at the Bologna campus at SAIS Europe, where she focused her studies primarily on EU discourse and Brexit dynamics and negotiations. After graduating she hopes to work on the nexus between economics and human rights.

Monday, December 3, 2018

December 2018 Events

A Conversation with Madeleine Albright

Virtual Information Sessions:

On-Campus Information Sessions:

    Open Day:
    • December 10, 2018 (9 am EST): SAIS Europe Open Day

      Office Hours:

      Thursday, November 15, 2018

      2019 Admissions Guideline: Standardized Tests

      As you are getting your application together, I'm sure you are thinking a lot about the standardized tests and language competency exams. We get a lot of questions about them, so I want to demystify them for you.

      Who's required to submit standardized test scores? 

      The answer to this question depends on which degree program you choose to apply for and at which campus. Applying to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Masters of Arts in International Economics and Finance (MIEF), or Master of Arts (MA) program in Washington, DC? Then standardized test scores as well as English competency exams such as the TOEFL or IELTS are required for non-native English speakers. Applying to the Master of Arts in Public Policy (MIPP) or Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP) or any program at SAIS Europe? If so, the standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT) are strongly encouraged, but not required. However, the English competency is still required for non-native English speakers.

      If English is NOT your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English), you will need to submit an English competency exam such as the TOEFL or IELTS (SAIS Europe also accepts the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English). If English is NOT your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English), but you hold an undergraduate degree granted by an accredited institution in a country where English is an official language and where English is the language of instruction, then you will not be required to submit your language proficiency test scores. However, in the same case, but with a graduate degree, you will need the approval of the Office of Admissions to be exempt from submitting an English competency exam.

      Do I take the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT? 

      We’re perfectly happy to accept either the GRE or GMAT; however, we don't 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.

      To find the test score range from 2018 applicants, click here.

      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.

      To find the test score range from 2018 applicants, click here.

      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.

      Wednesday, November 14, 2018

      2019 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. 

      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