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MA vs PhD of SAIS


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Hi, everyone. I'm going to apply for SAIS Fall 2021. I'm very interested in the International Development concentration. But I'm wondering if I should apply for its MA program or the PhD program. So I'm here to ask for some advice. 

I've received my Master's degree from the joint MAIS program of SAIS and Nanjing University. Now I'm a missionary in Laos. However, I don't have any publications. I'm afraid it's very difficult to persuade the admission committee that I have the ability to conduct research. 

My background is listed below. 

Schools/Programs Applying To: JHU SAIS Idev
Undergraduate institution: 2nd-tier provincial university in China
Undergraduate GPA: 90/100 (major), 86/100 (minor)
Undergraduate Major: International Politics/Business English
Graduate GPA: 3.95/4.0

Graduate Major: International Relations

TOEFL Score: 114 (speaking 26 and writing 29)

GRE Quantitative Score: 152 (I'll take it again soon)
GRE Verbal Score: 162
GRE AW Score: 4.5 
Years of Work Experience: 5 (counting internships)

Describe Relevant Work Experience: I had worked in a telecommunication company constructing infrastructure in rural China for two years before I started my MA program. I’ve been living in Laos for almost two years. I’m basically doing a rural English education program and clean water and sanitation in rural Laos. I’m also participating in a microfinance project for rural women entrepreneurs. Strength of SOP: If I take the microfinance project as my research topic for the PhD program, I can get data from the program coordinator directly, do quant research, and conduct yearly follow-up field research back in Laos. Because of my Christian background, my research might be from a different perspective. Besides, in most Southeast Asian Studies programs, Laos is less focused on than Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. My experience in Laos might help me somehow.

Strength of LOR's: I’m sure that I can get two recommendation letters from my professors in the graduate school. They are very familiar with me and they are among the faculty of the SAIS Nanjing Center. One of them is the codirector of the Center. If necessary, I can get recommendation letters from the coordinators of my current organization.


Should I apply for another MA in DC or directly apply for a PhD? I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much

Edited by Mayaya
not finished writing
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