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Frenchy looking for Security Studies


Baki
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Hi everyone,

I am creating this new topic 'cause there are many things I'd like to ask you guys about.

First, I should introduce myself.

I am a French student currently enrolled in a Masters degree (International Relations) at Toulouse Political Science University (Sciences Po Toulouse). Once I completed my masters, I plan to come to the US to get enrolled in a Security Studies degree.

Through the web, I figured out that the best place for this is DC, with Georgetown, GWU, American, etc... But actually I'm a total noob at this. What could you tell me about it ?

One particular thing I'd like to ask you about is the admission conditions for international students. Indeed the fact is that I am not precisely in a university, but in a French "Grande Ecole", sort of college with a highly selective entrance examination right after High School. As my cursus is pretty selective, the volume of work is larger and the exams are harder. So I have rather good marks, but not really highest rankings,which in my school are impossible to achieve anyways...

Do you think I still have a chance to get accepted in a American university ? I was told it was soooo selective. Now I am worrying...

I am opened to any sort of advice you could kindly provide about security studies in the US

Thanks in advance,

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One particular thing I'd like to ask you about is the admission conditions for international students. Indeed the fact is that I am not precisely in a university, but in a French "Grande Ecole", sort of college with a highly selective entrance examination right after High School. As my cursus is pretty selective, the volume of work is larger and the exams are harder. So I have rather good marks, but not really highest rankings,which in my school are impossible to achieve anyways...

Do you think I still have a chance to get accepted in a American university ? I was told it was soooo selective. Now I am worrying...

Most of the American universities with Int'l Relations programs know about international universities. They'll know what a 14 on your transcript means without "translating" it to our GPA system. As for Security Studies, I'd look up the pro/con threads running for Georgetown SSP, GW's Security Studies, Fletcher, and many more...it's not my area of expertise, but quite a few people here are looking and have posted plenty of info already.

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Hi Baki!

I'm afraid I can't comment much on the international student side of things, though I imagine that most schools have some method of recalculating/translating your current work into the American system. (For literal translations of your transcripts and such, they'll usually want you to provide a certified copy, and they'll specify whether or not you need to muck about with changing the grades to "American.")

What area of Security Studies are you interested in? It seems like many schools lean towards a specific type of security studies - Security Policy, or International Security, etc. You'll want to make sure that the school's coursework is related to your area of interest. Also, you may discover that defining your focus actually gives you new options outside of what is strictly termed as "security studies" - for example, I'm primarily interested in terrorism in the FSU, so I applied to area studies programs, as well.

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It's important when you're choosing a Security Studies program that you make sure you're picking the one which best fits your interests, are you interested in defense analysis, arms control or terrorism? Some of the best, most highly-regarded Security Studies programs are NOT in DC - for example Kansas State University's program is very highly regarded and is nowhere close to DC. Most good Security Studies programs in the US are located near large military installations - Kansas State's program is located near Ft. Leavenworth. The Korbel School at the University of Denver is located near NORAD - there's a reason these programs are highly regarded despite them NOT being located in DC, the Naval Postgraduate School is another outside of DC - located in Monterey, CA.

If you want to stay in DC Georgetown's program in Security Studies is an excellent one but it feels like a part-time program because all of the classes are at night and it's also only 1.5 years - in addition it doesn't require a second language which makes it somewhat suspect in my eyes - if there's any field which SHOULD require a second language it's Security Studies. For the study of terrorism Columbia and Georgetown are really tops in NY and DC - Syracuse is another good option outside of the beltway.

When making your choice try and consider some of the things I've written here as well as your own interests - but please do not listen to any advice which tells you you MUST go to school in DC or you won't "make connections." That advice is completely and totally untrue.

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Hi everyone,

I am creating this new topic 'cause there are many things I'd like to ask you guys about.

First, I should introduce myself.

I am a French student currently enrolled in a Masters degree (International Relations) at Toulouse Political Science University (Sciences Po Toulouse). Once I completed my masters, I plan to come to the US to get enrolled in a Security Studies degree.

Through the web, I figured out that the best place for this is DC, with Georgetown, GWU, American, etc... But actually I'm a total noob at this. What could you tell me about it ?

One particular thing I'd like to ask you about is the admission conditions for international students. Indeed the fact is that I am not precisely in a university, but in a French "Grande Ecole", sort of college with a highly selective entrance examination right after High School. As my cursus is pretty selective, the volume of work is larger and the exams are harder. So I have rather good marks, but not really highest rankings,which in my school are impossible to achieve anyways...

Do you think I still have a chance to get accepted in a American university ? I was told it was soooo selective. Now I am worrying...

I am opened to any sort of advice you could kindly provide about security studies in the US

Thanks in advance,

Hi Frenchie ,

In terms of international admissions conditions, you will have to take the GRE, submit your transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc, just as a regular local student would. As a condition for admissions and in order to get a visa you will have to submit a bank letter stating you (or whoever will sponsor you) has enough funds to cover the first year of your program, this figure (which the university will give you) includes tuition, fees, living expenses, etc, which will add to above $40,000 for any major US university.

Most major universities have lots of experience with international students and transcripts from everywhere in the world, which means they will fully take in consideration the difficulty of your courses, the Grand Ecoles are well known for its quality in the U.S. as well so I wouldn't worry about that. They usually have had past students from your country/university and understand the systems. Make sure you do your best on your GRE, especially the math section, the verbal section you will be able to do lower than a local student given that your coming from overseas.

In terms of security programs, I will also add the University of Maryland, College Park to the mix, they are located in the DC metro area (the actual metro connects you there), about 20 minutes from the center. They have a program through their MPP called Economic Policy and International Security. Given that the two things often come into play together, it's a great specialization. They are as well regarded and prestigious as the schools you mentioned with top notch political science and economics departments if you want to take classes there. I am not sure how it works in France, but in the US as a masters student you are allowed to take classes outside your major. All three programs, policy, poli sci, and econ are consistantly ranked amongst the top 20 programs in the US (and the world, specially for the ECON). Hope it helps.

Good luck !

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Thank you so much for your consideration ! I wasn't expecting so many answers in such a short period ! :mrgreen:

Actually I am more interested in peacekeeping and counterterrorism operations fields. More specifically I am currently writing a dissertation about the PMC's.

Would you recommend one particular university for these fields of studies ?

Thanks again to all of you.

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Thank you so much for your consideration ! I wasn't expecting so many answers in such a short period ! :mrgreen:

Actually I am more interested in peacekeeping and counterterrorism operations fields. More specifically I am currently writing a dissertation about the PMC's.

Would you recommend one particular university for these fields of studies ?

Thanks again to all of you.

If those are your areas of interest, I would recommend SIPA at Columbia University. The are both strong in UN/Peacekeeping (arguably the strongest school in this particular field) as well as counterterrorism.

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If those are your areas of interest, I would recommend SIPA at Columbia University. The are both strong in UN/Peacekeeping (arguably the strongest school in this particular field) as well as counterterrorism.

Thanks for the advice.

How hard is it to get into it, for an overseas ? Do you have a specific link showing the degrees in these fields ?

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Thanks for the advice.

How hard is it to get into it, for an overseas ? Do you have a specific link showing the degrees in these fields ?

Hard to say, but I got in as an international applicant, and between 40 and 50% of the students at SIPA are from overseas, so that shouldn't be any hindrance. However the downside to SIPA is that the program is bigger than the other top policy programs (more students, more courses, less intimacy) and they tend to be reluctant in giving out financial aid. I've been following courses as a visiting student this semester, so feel free to pm me with any specific questions.

Also, here's a link to the Master of International Affairs degree program:

http://sipa.columbia.edu/academics/degr ... index.html

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So let Me get this straight.

If I read well, these are the universities I should be looking after :

Georgetown SSP

Columbia SIPA

GWU ESIA

Fletcher

KSU

UD Korbell

University of Maryland, College Park

Am I correct ?

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um, you might also want to add Johns Hopkins SAIS to that list. I've been told SAIS has a great Strategic Studies program, and a couple of the students there have told me that it's probably one of the best, if not the best, program at SAIS. Like Georgetown, SAIS is located in DC and is considered to be one of the best IR master's programs in the US, though one of my French friends who's studying at Sciences Po told me that for some reason JHU SAIS doesn't seem to be as renowned in France as Georgetown or Columbia.

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um, you might also want to add Johns Hopkins SAIS to that list. I've been told SAIS has a great Strategic Studies program, and a couple of the students there have told me that it's probably one of the best, if not the best, program at SAIS. Like Georgetown, SAIS is located in DC and is considered to be one of the best IR master's programs in the US, though one of my French friends who's studying at Sciences Po told me that for some reason JHU SAIS doesn't seem to be as renowned in France as Georgetown or Columbia.

Probably true. But I wouldn't care. If I make it to the US, hopefully there won't be any going back :mrgreen:

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Probably true. But I wouldn't care. If I make it to the US, hopefully there won't be any going back :mrgreen:

ahaha, yeah, i know a lot of international students from my college who have decided to stay in the US for good. but france seems like it could be a cool country to work in, if you can get a job that is, and if you don't mind the strikes (no offense) :)

i'm sure if you put at least some effort into your application, you'll have a good chance at getting into at least some of those schools. as "selective" as some people might say these schools are, i think they're less selective than, say, many of the Grandes Ecoles in France. And much of the selection process is pretty subjective (a lot of it depends on whether the adcomm thinks you're a good fit for the school and if the school can really help you achieve your goals), so you could get into a school that is higher-ranked and generally more selective while getting rejected by a lower-ranked and less selective school.

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ahaha, yeah, i know a lot of international students from my college who have decided to stay in the US for good. but france seems like it could be a cool country to work in, if you can get a job that is, and if you don't mind the strikes (no offense) :)

None taken, 'cause it's all true. And let me tell you this : France is not anymore a cool country to work in (unless you enjoy working 35h per week, earning peanuts). There is definetely a "work crisis" coming. I don't wanna be there when it happens. You should see the consequences of the economic crisis... Depressing. Why do you think all the young professionals are escaping in the US or Canada ?

i'm sure if you put at least some effort into your application, you'll have a good chance at getting into at least some of those schools. as "selective" as some people might say these schools are, i think they're less selective than, say, many of the Grandes Ecoles in France. And much of the selection process is pretty subjective (a lot of it depends on whether the adcomm thinks you're a good fit for the school and if the school can really help you achieve your goals), so you could get into a school that is higher-ranked and generally more selective while getting rejected by a lower-ranked and less selective school.

pika, you bring me hope there. And I am really in a period when I need it. Bless you.

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yeah, while i haven't actually seen for myself what the global economic crisis is doing to other countries, i have friends and relatives who are living in europe and asia, and i can't believe some of the things they are telling me. as bad as things are here in the US, i guess we're actually kind of lucky compared to other countries...

i'll just add a few more things you might want to keep in mind as you work on your applications. A lot of these IR schools say that the personal statement is the most important part of your application, and I think they're definitely telling the truth there. I was accepted to all of the schools that I thought were a good fit for me b/c I'd made sure to make that clear in my personal statement (or statement of purpose). Not surprisingly, I was either waitlisted or rejected by the schools for which I struggled w/ writing my SOP b/c I wasn't convinced they were a good fit for me, and I think they could sense that too (now I wonder why I bothered applying to those schools at all. You live and learn, I guess.)

Also, it'd be good to have some work experience prior to applying. Many of the top IR programs state that admitted applicants have about 3-4 years of previous work experience on average. I applied and got into Georgetown, Tufts Fletcher, and JHU SAIS with about a year of post-grad work experience, but I think a lot of it had to do w/ the nature of the work I did (interned for another country's foreign ministry, which apparently a lot of Americans think is nearly impossible, lol) and the recommendations I had (one from my supervisor at the foreign ministry, 2 from my professors who I was closest w/ in college). Also, I made sure to tie everything together in my SOP so that the adcomm would hopefully see that even w/ my relatively little work experience, the next logical step for me would be grad school. Of course, there are also some people who get in straight from undergrad, though usually they're IR or poli sci majors and have had at least a couple of IR-related internships while in undergrad, neither of which describes me.

That said, I'm wondering if schools expect most international applicants to have had less work experience in general? Because I know the concept of "internships" and "getting work experience prior to going to grad school" isn't as well-established in Europe (and certainly not in Asia) as it is in the US. So perhaps the IR schools will know that and be more lax about the work requirement for international students? I don't know.

Oh, last thing, study hard and do your best on the GRE. While schools understand that international applicants will generally have a lower verbal (and perhaps analytical writing) score than American applicants, they still would like to see a high score on the quantitative section. And, of course, if you can get a high score on the verbal, so much the better!!

Whew, this was longer than I originally intended. Hope this helps, and good luck! :)

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