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Applications for the IHEID / The Graduate Institute in Geneva - 2013-2014

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Hello!

I have sent my application for the graduate institute last week which should be examined before December according to the schedule they posted. I am looking forward to hearing from them even though I am unsure to be admitted -I applied for the MIA by the way.

I thought of creating this thread for the 2013 round of applications so as to share our remarks here.

Has anyone else already sent his application?

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Hello!

Good to hear from someone else who has gone for the November deadline. I submitted my documents last week, and apart from checking if my last recommendation was sent in, am just waiting for mid-December at this point. I applied for the Master in International Law, my top and only choice at this stage so I am hoping for good news.

I wish there was more info about the acceptance and application rate in the first round, or a breakdown between different programs, but they only give general statistics.

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Me too. I am applying for Master in Development Studies though.

Good luck guys.

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Hi folks! Hopefully you'll get a positive reply!

If I may ask, iShale, what has prompted your choice for the Master in International Law at the Graduate Institute? They seem to be reallly strong when it comes to international public law and more specifically certain areas within the field for sure. I am a lawyer myself and have considered this option though I finally went for the MIA as it seems better for my personal project.

Edited by Lud

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... Also, I read on a thread in this very forum that someone from the Graduate Institute was calling attention on the fact that interdisciplinary Masters (International Affairs and Development) are less intellectually challenging that the other disciplinary Masters (International Law, Sociology, Political science and so on) which might be particularly suited for a future PhD. More surprisingly, the person who posted this said it was actually possible to change the Master you wish to follow even once you've been admitted for another degree. I haven't seen any official information on that though. It suprises me since your application inevitably details your interests for a specific degree and I don't see how there could an easy change for a new one at the last minute.

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Hey guys, I wanna ask something about IHEID application. The motivation letter limit is 800 words but I already wrote 1000-word essay and I couldn't find anything to cut off. What should I do? I wonder whether the admission office would read my letter if it ran over the word limit :(

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You'll have to find, I don´t see why they should grant you or anyone exceptional conditions -though you might wanna ask them also but I wouldn´t have big expectations.

What is so long in your letter? Are you detailing your academic and / or professional experience? I´m asking you that because I learned on this very forum that the first common mistake we do is precisely that, we tend to focus on describing our past while your resume should suffice for that. Your letter should focus on the future and how the degree you apply to happens to be the best move to go.

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You should take a look at , extremely useful thread in my view.

I don´t know if you have done like I did first, but I started writing a SOP detailing my recent experiences (starting 3 years ago more or less) as they are all very relevant given my objective. Though by doing that I more or less consumed all the space already and had virtually no possibility of adding something else, I mean something substantial, say on the Master´s degree itself or on how my future is going to be connected by these specific studies. Then I realized, namely thanks to this forum and its wise members, that I had been really wrong by doing so... I started a totally new SOP virtually excluding any details on my recent background (my resume is quite detailed anyway) and at this point I had no problem with space constraints whatsoever :)

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laminhphoung, I have to agree with Lud and there is really no need to risk anything like that giving a bad impression to the admission committee. I also found this forum to be a great resource and decided not to repeat anything that is already stated clearly in the CV or application form when I was cutting down. That said, you send a printed version of the essay so as long as it does not look like it, I am sure you can go a bit over the limit if absolutely necessary:)

Lud, I think that the MIA program is great. I picked IL because I already have a solid interdisciplinary background and am looking for some academic and intellectual growth. A lot of the program resonates with my professional aspirations, particularly those courses with great professors in the area of human rights, conflict/migration and the role of IL within international affairs.

I just checked my application status and it is officially complete. Good luck to everyone!

Edited by iShale

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You guys probably already know but there's an official Facebook group "The Graduate Institute Geneva" and it's actually interesting to take a look a it: applicants and the administration talk about various things on it, very useful

One thing that is a bit stressful to read I've found there: "The Admission office is overwhelmed by applications - we are surprised by the numbers (!)." And about the statistics "the figures have not been sorted out yet by programmes but apparently a clear majority of applications went to the MIA and MDev". It´s curious that so many applications have been sent this year... Hopefully we'll be part of the happy few!

Another quite useful comment I found there: "You can only apply to one programme. But you can insert a note on your motivation letter that you would be flexible/open for the other programme in case the committee thinks you fit it better, they can "transfer" your file to the other programme committee"

Good luck!

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The Facebook page is such a great resource, thanks for sharing this quotes!

I actually did state that I am flexible if they would rather consider me for the MIA. This turned out to be a really good decision; I managed to get in touch with someone in the Law department too late after submitting my application, and they said admission is very hard without a legal background (despite what the website says).

Some other schools (SciencesPo for example) put a check box in the application for those open to other programs should it appear a better fit. I think that is probably the best way to go about it.

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Hey. I'm a current student in the IR/PS program, and would be happy to answer questions.

I just read through your posts and have a couple of things to say:

1. disciplinary vs. interdisciplinary: In general, the disciplinary courses are more work, more rigorous and have smaller classes, esp. at the beginning. They're also a lot more theoretical, though. I personally changed from MIA to IR/PS, because I probably want to do a PhD afterwards, which can be harder for MIA. At the same time, though, grades are easier in the MIA, and ppl from interdisciplinary programs do go on to do a PhD, although they generally need a B.A. in the same discipline then. Otherwise, there've been some major changes to the MIA and MDev curriculum, which the students were not informed of prior, thus ppl like me applied to different programs than what we're actually getting, which was a bad move on the administration's part. The current programs are up-to-date and unlikely to change drastically anytime soon. The interdisciplinary programs are the two biggest programs, each having about 70 students. That makes core courses really big as well.

However, if you're not interested in doing a PhD, the MIA and MDev will allow you to do internships on the side, and in general take less of your time than the disciplinary programs. IMO, both tracks have their own merits and shortcomings, and although there is a general snobbery between interdisciplinary and disciplinary, you should choose your program based on your own goals. What some people have complained about with the MIA is that it starts off really basic, so your courses in the first semester really are introductory, which can be frustrating if you have a background in the social sciences, which some people do not.

2. Non-lawyers in IL: I know of a couple of people in International Law that have an International Relations B.A., although focusing on international law, with a B.A. thesis in law, so it's possible, but you do really need to have a background in law.

3. Changing after being admitted: It's actually quite easy to change after being admitted, provided you have the necessary background for the disciplinary masters. In general, more ppl switch from interdisciplinary to disciplinary, although switches in all direction are possible. The department head generally decides based on your credentials! I've heard of some people that were transferred from MIA to history when applying, so these things happen, even if there's no note in your SOP.

Right, that's it for now. Hope I adressed some of your concerns and don't hesitate to ask!

Toni

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Thanks Toni that's really great to hear!

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So I have already my first questions for you Toni!

-Regarding the internship, I had not noticed that but according to the scheduled courses there's no possibility of taking one with a disciplinary Master, or at least it would not give you any academic credit. Is that right? I actually find it really surprising. Is it not possible to bargain something?

-When it comes to elective courses, how does it actually work? Do you apply for another course offered by another track, and they'd give you the priority if you have strong arguments? At last, is there any kind of de facto flexibility? Because I have noticed, for example, that it s not possible to take "Migration Law" while studying the MIA, on the paper. Could it be possible to negotiate that? I am asking because it seems there's room for flexibility in many respects at the Institute.

Edited by Lud

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Hey Lud,

about your first question: I don't think there's any way for you to get credits for an internship in the disciplinary masters. I was also surprised by that, but I think their rationale is that these M.A. prepare for PhD work, so getting the coursework done (remember that most European PhDs don't include a lot of course work, if any at all) is more important. However, many people do internships while there, both during the semester and in the summer, you just can't get any credits. In addition, quite a few people do internships in their fourth semester, when they don't have courses any more and are just writing their theses.

2. There's rules for that: 1. as an interdisciplinary student, you can take classes from the other interdisciplinary programs, 2. as a disciplinary student, you can take 2-4 classes from another (or multiple) disciplines. For out-of program classes: Every student can (currently) take two classes out-of-program, one of them in the Graduate Institute, another one at another academic institution in Geneva (e.g. University of geneva, Academy for Human Rights etc.). All of these work on a "space available" basis, however, which means that you'll only be allowed to take them if there's space, i.e. you don't get priority. At the moment, there's not much flexibility (i.e. you can't take both classes at the Institute), but the student association is actually working on changing this at the moment.

Regarding flexibility: I find the institute to be super rigid in administration questions, much more so than my undergrad.

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Any idea on the applicant statistics?

Like the average age of an applicant/qualifications/experience etc

???

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Thanks again Toni, your clarifications very helpful to many of us I'm sure!

What you say about their view on internship / PhD reminds me of what they actually do in France (I did my undergrad there). I still find it excessively rigid; they could at least give some credit as a form of acknowledgment while maintaining the obligation of taking all courses.

It's important to know what you're detailing on 2. especially by putting that with the possibility of changing from a degree to another once the semester starts -which let me think that the Institute is flexible.

Speaking of flexibility and reading your comment, I'm curious, where did you actually study before the Institute? Germany?

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Hey Trinilissabee I had not seen your message,

There are global estimates / general statistics that you can find on the website, some more accurate statistics if you explore all hidden documents (I remember having read that, for example, the admission rate for legal programs is generally around 15 per cent whereas the global average is around 30 per cent). Interestingly, I wonder how these statistics work if you re able to change your program as it seems it so easy to do. And you should be able to get more specific data by contacting directly admissions staff or people in charge of the degree you re interested in.

Talking specifically about what you were thinking of, I think at best we can have guesstimates from those who study there. I remember that, talking to a guy who was taking the MIA, he said the average age would be more around late twenties than early twenties. So maybe you can expect most of students to be in the 25-30 range, which let me think that those people have generally some relevant working experience, but not an extensive one as it seems to be the case in other places (ie Princeton / Woodrow Wilson School). Otherwise as for other schools there s no way to define accurately how competitve you are in the overall pool; the quality of your application should be considered considering a variety of elements (Grades / SOP / References / Relevant experiences / Languages / Relevant publications... ). On that there s a very interesting thread on the forum, in the Government Affairs section I think, that you could consult (something like "Am I competitive?").

But probablyToni and other IHEID students will have more detailed replies for you.

Edited by Lud

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Regarding the statistics. Keep in mind that this is purely speculation from talking to students and TAs/professors:

Generally, MIA and MDev people seem to be older than those from the disciplinary masters. I'd say that MIA/MDev average might be about 25/26, while the disciplinary Masters average is closer to 24. Compared to its stateside peers, people definitely tend to be younger at IHEID. In addition, work experience is not as important in admissions as it is in the US, even for the interdisciplinary masters. I'd say your academic performance and LORs are probably the most important things, followed by your SOP.

Regarding admission statistics: The institute doesn't publish them, I believe. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the MIA is the most "competitive" program in sheer numbers, while "History" and "Anthropology and Sociology of Development" are quite easy to get into.

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IRToni, thanks for taking the time to write and share all this information.

I was wondering, since you mentioned it is possible to transfer to a disciplinary program - have you ever encountered someone going from MIA to Law? Is that even plausible, given the different course requirements? In my case, if my legal background is deemed insufficient for IL, do you think I could potentially transfer after taking some courses from the Law department as an MIA student?

This is all very hypothetical since I pretty much shot myself in the foot by not going for MIA in the first place:)

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On the bright side, you still have a non-wounded foot...

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Applied for Master in IL program, Application was delivered on Nov.14. Status changed to "complete" on Nov. 20. Status changed to "Under Consideration" on Nov. 27. Any one else got a similar status update? I was also curious whether they notify each applicant after they review his/her application or do they just notify everyone on Dec. 14 (for first round of admissions)?

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Yes everyone who sent an application on time should have that status. I think that on FB IHEID staff mentioned decisions could be made (and communicated I guess) as early as the 7th of December. Maybe this could depend on the degree you're applying to since every degree has its admissions commitee -if I got it right. Fingers crossed!

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I am in the same boat as you guys. My application status is "under consideration".

It might be a bit optimistic to expect results by mid December, I read on a different thread that some of last years early applicants didn't get results until January. Iv got my fingers crossed for the MIA, this is my first choice as well.

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