Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Preparing Your Application: The Analytical Essay

This is the sixth and final post in a blog series discussing best practices for preparing your application for Johns Hopkins SAIS. Today, we'll be covering the Analytical Essay. This one only applies to certain applicants, as other programs, such as the MIEF and GPP, don't require the 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:
What type of essay are you looking for? Should I write about something related to my concentration choice? Should I include citations?
These are just a few of the questions we receive.

So let me give you my breakdown of the Analytical Essay. We want to know how well you can convey your ideas and thoughts in the written form, and we want to see you thinking critically and analytically about your topic of choice.

The form of the essay isn't important. Some applicants write op-ed style essays, others write their essay in the form of a policy memo. Still others write what amounts to a mini research paper, with citations and all. (And as a side note: No, citations don't contribute to your word count.) Consider which writing style best suits you and your topic of choice.

Speaking of topic, we don't require the topic be related to your intended area of study, but it's probably a good idea to choose a topic relevant to what you choose to study. If your planning on spending the next two years studying conflict resolution in the Caucuses, you'll want to demonstrate that you already possess some knowledge on the topic and can discuss it thoughtfully.

Basically, we intentionally left the topic vague because we want to see what you choose to do with it. It's going to tell us a lot about you 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.

Do you have questions about the analytical essay? Leave them in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading!

--Erin Skelly, Associate Director

More in this series
Letters of Recommendation
Class Visits
Statement of Purpose
Standardized Tests