Jump to content

Looking for input on part-time international affairs/policy masters programs in the DMV area


Recommended Posts

Hello GradCafe,

Here's the bottom line up front: I'm looking for some input and thoughts on pursuing a part-time international/affairs program in Washington, DC—if you've done a part-time program in international affairs at Georgetown SFS or Johns Hopkins SAIS as a full-time professional (not as an intern), or if you've done extensive research into the aforementioned programs, I would greatly appreciate feedback on your experiences and recommendations.

 I live in the DC area, am a few years out of undergrad (B.A. in International Studies), and I have professional experience in both the private sector and the public sector (government contracting/consulting and foreign policy, respectively). Now, I'm looking to apply for and hopefully pursue a graduate degree in international studies or international policy in the next couple years. I'm not concerned about the cost of attendance, but being a public servant—and looking to remain one for some time—I'm not able to take off two years to do a full-time degree, so I've decided that a part-time program would be the best course of action. I won't go into great detail regarding my career goals (as they completely relevant to the question at hand), but for context, my aspirations writ are to work in an executive-level foreign policy or security council or for a similarly-focused congressional organization. 

I've done a bit of research on part-time programs in the area, and I'm only looking to pursue a degree at a top international studies university program. This isn't meant to sound pretentious, but if I'm going to invest the time, money, and effort required for a graduate degree that will allow me move up higher in the government, I want it to be from the very best institution. Specifically, I've identified Johns Hopkins SAIS and Georgetown SFS as my two likely candidates. I want to make a specific note that I've explored the Georgetown's School of Continuing Studies, as well as Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs, and I'm not interested in the degrees offered there. I'll include the specific degrees within the schools and line of reasoning to better inform the readers:

  • Johns Hopkins SAIS 
    • Master of International Public Policy (MIPP)
      • This program definitely seems like it is an MBA-style program for mid-career professionals in international affairs, in the sense that the course load is not particularly rigorous and the program is more focused on making connections across the government/international organizations. I certainly don't think that the degree itself is as well-known as the MAIR from SAIS, but I am not concerned since the SAIS title alone carries enough weight. It also is marketed as being composed of primarily part-time professionals, which is appealing, but I'm not sure how well the academic content would hold up over the long run.
    • Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP)
      • Compared to the MIPP, the MAGP appears to be geared toward international policy practitioners and the curriculum is a bit more rigorous. As someone who is not the average age (nor having the average years of experience), I do wonder if that might make it more challenging for me to be admitted. This is the program I would be most interested to hear about, if any readers have completed it.
  • Georgetown University
    • Security Studies Program (SSP)
      • Widely-regarded as one of the best (inter)national security policy programs and would greatly enhance the network of connections. Out of all of the programs, it seems like this program is best suited for full-time professionals and has a strong alumni network. My only concern with this program is the applicability of the curriculum outside of the realm of (inter)national security. That being said, I know that there are a number of different concentrations in which learned skills could be extended into the economic, development, and humanitarian sectors.
    • Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) 
      • Again, one of the best—if not the best—programs for those looking to make a career in foreign policy. The broad applicability of skills and courses are definitely a strong draw for me, but on the other hand I'm not sure if the curriculum would be too academic-focused versus practitioner-based. It's my understanding that the "MSFS mafia" alumni network has a strong influence in DC and might go the furthest when it becomes important to rely more heavily on networks for career opportunities. That being said, I'm not sure how much of the MSFS cohort is enrolled in the degree part-time; I have heard that it is an option, but it doesn't seem like the program is marketed for full-time professionals.

To reiterate, I'm hoping some readers will be able to share their feedback on:

  • Personal experiences of how rigorous it is to complete one of the above degrees as a full-time professional;
  • Important considerations to keep in mind while selecting and applying for a program; and
  • General recommendations and evaluations of Georgetown SFS vs Johns Hopkins SAIS.

If anyone feels strongly that I should be considering part-time international affairs/policy programs at other universities (American, GW, GMU, etc.), feel free to express those opinions and I will certainly take them into consideration. Thank you to all who take the time to read this!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use