Friday, November 16, 2012

The Language Life at SAIS

When potential students think about SAIS, they usually focus on the economics.  It’s what SAIS is known for, right?  But that’s a kind of tunnel-vision view of SAIS, and when you take that perspective, you miss a lot … like our amazing language program.
Language at SAIS is unique.  Unlike many other IR programs, language study is fully integrated into the curriculum with our IR and econ courses at SAIS, and is designed specifically for students of international relations.  We don’t teach conversational usage - these aren’t your standard college language courses!  SAIS teaches students to use language in a professional way, so our students are able to discuss policy, global issues, current events, and economics in the foreign language of their choosing.  In fact, many SAIS students find the topics they discuss in their IR and econ courses frequently spill over into their language courses.
Why do we do this?  Because it’s part of the SAIS philosophy: if you’re going to work in international relations, you need to be prepared to work in a foreign language as well.  SAIS graduates are known not only for their econ skills, but also for their language skills - and not just the ability to speak a foreign language (or several, as many of our graduates do), but for a type of language skill specific to SAIS graduates, because of the unique nature of our language program.
We teach 17 languages at SAIS, a number that continues to grow as the needs of our student body change.  Most recently, we added Persian (Farsi) and Burmese to the list of available languages at SAIS.  To learn more language at SAIS, visit and click on Language Studies.
Thanks for reading!
–Erin Skelly Cameron, Associate Director of Admissions