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aaronayoung

Graduate Institute, Geneva

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I am curious what people think about the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. From the very little I have heard/investigated it seems like the school and its programs are pretty legit - pretty much the equal of most of its peers stateside but a little less known, a little less traveled by Americans. There has been very little feedback/talk of the school on this and other forums, making it a little more difficult to assess the relative merits compared to some of my other options stateside - SAIS with a little money, Fletcher, and SIPA. Frankly the idea of being in Geneva is pretty attractive, and the price point has become a pretty strong selling point. That said, there are obvious concerns about developing a network abroad that is a little more difficult to tap into post graduation as an American and the transferability of the degree back to the states. It is obvious there are disadvantages - just hard to gauge how handicapped I would to not have gone to a school like SAIS or Fletcher with a great reputation and connections not only in the states but also abroad. They do have exchanges with both Fletcher and GW that would let me return to the states for a semester or two, a nice consolation of sorts if I am concerned about developing allies back home.

Anyway, I imagine I am not the only one considering jumping across the pond to Geneva so if anyone has thoughts on the school, and maybe more specifically the international affairs track, I and perhaps others would love to hear them. What are the strengths/weaknesses?

And maybe a bit more selfishly, if anyone feels like responding the following question, I would be curious to hear your take: am I crazy for considering it over some of the options I have back home in the states?

Thanks in advance.

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I'm in a similar situation. No money from SAIS v (at least in 1st year) full tuition + stipend in Geneva. Stark financial difference, but I'm still deciding. If you're interested in int orgs, particularly in the humanitarian field, Geneva is obviously a great place to be, and I have no doubt the Graduate Institute has a very good reputation in Europe. I'm not American, but have an interest in working in the US at some point. In that respect, the exchange options (Fletcher, Elliott, Yale) are a bonus.

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aaronayoung

If I can ask you a question, what are your thoughts on the course offerings in the International Affairs track at the Graduate Institute in comparison to SAIS? And what concentration at SAIS did you apply to? A clear difference to me in Geneva is the small selection of international economics courses. How important a factor that is, however, depends on what kind of work you would like to pursue after graduating.

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can-bra:

i am a bit concerned that the curriculum doesn't leave much flexibility. choosing 4 classes from 2 of the 3 concentrations seems somewhat limiting, especially when there isn't much variety within those areas. add in the required classes (4 + 2) and there i'snt much room left to explore the rest of the schools offerings - two electives. i chose the IA track somewhat reluctantly bc one of those 3 concentrations - global and regional integration - happens to be more or less what i think i intend to study. in a sense i regret having chosen this route over one of the more established MA IS programs - its just a hunch (i really dont know the history) but the IA track seems to be a bit less mature, cobbled together to fill a need. though more narrow in scope, the offerings in the MA IS programs seem greater. that said, i do really like the IA courses, however inflexible, but not sure i want be that constrained. you would get econ in the integration concentration. sadly i think geneva has a ton of great econ classes in the international economics MA program - just not much flexibility to go take them.

sais obviously provides some greater choice (more courses) in coursework, but not necessarily a ton of flexibility (a fair amount of required courses). and yeah, from an econ stand point sais makes it easy to cover those bases. i applied to european studies which in truth is now scaring me off as well. the regional route seems narrow/potentially less job friendly as an american. i'd be in bologna first year which sounds great but in the end its just another cool european city, far from geneva's relevance.

anyway, i wish i could rationalize geneva but i think i will end up stateside. i'm leaning toward fletcher and a mountain of debt.

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aaronayoung, what decision did you end up making?

I'm close to d-day and leaning towards Geneva (largely to avoid the SAIS mountain of debt). If Geneva is my final choice I would apply for an exchange to Fletcher in my second year.

Have managed to speak to a former MIA student at Geneva who said the faculty is very strong in some areas (int law, pol sci, eco) but weaker in others (dev, hist). As the school is relatively small, there's plenty of opportunity to establish close relationships with professors. It appears as well that you can get around some of the curriculum rigidity by waiving out of one of the core classes as well as going on exchange. Apparently the connections in to the int orgs and NGOs in Geneva are first rate. The course also sets you up well for a PhD later down the line (stats, research methods, thesis) should that interest you.

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hi!

i'm really glad to have found you two on this site - i'm in the exact same boat you guys were in last year. may i know which school you guys ended up choosing and why? i've been accepted by the graduate institute's MIA programme on full scholarship and am trying to decide between that, SAIS and LSE (no scholarships for the other two). do you know if the fact that i don't speak know french (i signed the waiver) would affect my chances of getting an internship at the UN? if so, should i just stick with what i know, ie the anglophone world?

thanks so much!

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I am on the same boat here...

I got into Fletcher (10k), Columbia (20K), Sciences Po double degree with Georgetown and the graduate institute with scholarship and a stipend. I think that the graduate insittue would be a great choice for the location, but I realize that they have some institutional problems sucha s having different locations throughout geneva university... I have to consider the financial aspect as well since I am international without a substantial amount of money to pay for grad school.

I heard the same thing about the institute. The development track that joined the institute quite recently is not as strong as the other programs (MIS and MIA).

boa sorte pra todos...

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I don't know what prompted me to revisit this site, but given the interest in the Graduate Institute (where I'm now studying), I'd make the following observations:

(1) Be cautious regarding financial calculations - it was only after arriving and speaking to second years that it became clear that the majority of scholarships are not renewed (grades seem to be the critical factor - ie, placing top 10-20% in class). Apparently this is a relatively new development, but I'm sure the financial criss will also have some effect. Having said that, I was really surprised by how many students were on a full ride for the first year, and there are plenty of opportunities to pick up career-relevant part-time work in your second year.

(2) French ability is not really an issue unless you want to take Development courses (most are in French). At the same time, this means that if you want to make the most of the opportunity to learn French you'll need to take the initiative. Re working at the UN (or any int org/major NGO), I would say that a good knowledge of French (or one of the other official UN languages) is pretty critical. After awhile it seems like everyone in this town speaks at least 3 languages (or more), so that's the level of competition. I would also keep in mind though that if you're interested in the humanitarian sector, international law or multilateral trade, then Geneva is a pretty incomparable place to be (just work on your language skills).

(3) Choose your programme carefully (it's not too late to switch even after being accepted). The MIS programmes are far more intellectually challenging (though more theoretical), have smaller classes (meaning you develop a closer relationship with professors) and allow you priority entry to courses in your field. The MIA is more career-focused (and the largest programme), but also lacks a departmental 'home', meaning students often miss out on the most popular elective subjects because they don't have priority.

All in all, I'm happy with my choice (Geneva over SAIS, LSE, IR/PS). I can only imagine now how the mountain of debt would have affected me - certainly it would have ruled out the option of considering unpaid internships (most int orgs) and travel.

Edited by can-bra

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I don't know what prompted me to revisit this site, but given the interest in the Graduate Institute (where I'm now studying), I'd make the following observations:

(1) Be cautious regarding financial calculations - it was only after arriving and speaking to second years that it became clear that the majority of scholarships are not renewed (grades seem to be the critical factor - ie, placing top 10-20% in class). Apparently this is a relatively new development, but I'm sure the financial criss will also have some effect. Having said that, I was really surprised by how many students were on a full ride for the first year, and there are plenty of opportunities to pick up career-relevant part-time work in your second year.

(2) French ability is not really an issue unless you want to take Development courses (most are in French). At the same time, this means that if you want to make the most of the opportunity to learn French you'll need to take the initiative. Re working at the UN (or any int org/major NGO), I would say that a good knowledge of French (or one of the other official UN languages) is pretty critical. After awhile it seems like everyone in this town speaks at least 3 languages (or more), so that's the level of competition. I would also keep in mind though that if you're interested in the humanitarian sector, international law or multilateral trade, then Geneva is a pretty incomparable place to be (just work on your language skills).

(3) Choose your programme carefully (it's not too late to switch even after being accepted). The MIS programmes are far more intellectually challenging (though more theoretical), have smaller classes (meaning you develop a closer relationship with professors) and allow you priority entry to courses in your field. The MIA is more career-focused (and the largest programme), but also lacks a departmental 'home', meaning students often miss out on the most popular elective subjects because they don't have priority.

All in all, I'm happy with my choice (Geneva over SAIS, LSE, IR/PS). I can only imagine now how the mountain of debt would have affected me - certainly it would have ruled out the option of considering unpaid internships (most int orgs) and travel.

Thank you for your post can- bra !!! I just received info from JH that they are giving me half tuition over there more factors to put on my equation.... I want to work in the same field as you (humanitarian affairs). If it is no timposingt too much I would like to ask you if you could tell us a little bit more about the geneva job market for IHEID graduate`s. You said a lot of students had good offers for internships during their second years ? did they secure a ositonf after graduation ?

I saw on the website some information about the reseearch on conflict, development and peacebuilding, do you know if this research center is open for MIS students and how do we get to be a part of it ?

Thank you again for your post and help !

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Hi!

I am graduating this May, and I've decided to take a year off to gain some work experience. The Graduate Institute really caught my attention especially by the bi-lingual environment. Is anyone aware of how Americans are admitted into their International Affairs Masters, if they even have a set number. How is funding for international students? How competitive is admission into the program? I would like to work with international organizations, so I thought Geneva would be a great place to apply. Any suggestions on making my application more competitive? Thanks!

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Anything else to add about IHEID? Just got in, would love to hear new perspectives about the school and program.

Also, how do students switch programs? I am not necessarily interested, but I'm curious.

Edited by lecorbeau

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Same here. Really interested in everything you've gotta offer in terms of information on the school. Still waiting on fellowship decision, should be out tomorrow.

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I've spent some months in Geneva for UN and WTO.. And believe me IHEID is one of the best place to study IR and International Economics... And Geneva is very strategically located in Europe! One of the best International Affairs School in Europe!

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Hello! I've received an offer by the Graduate Institute but I'm waiting for the scholarship . I'd like to know if somebody have news about it. (in my status of application is written "waiting list")!!

Thanks a lot.

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Rox87 - The scholarship 'waiting list' means that you might still get one. If the people who have been offered scholarships do not take their place at the Institute then their scholarship will go to someone on the waiting list. I have been refused a scholarship for this year :( , but my girlfriend is also on the waiting list and she rang up to check what it means.

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Does anyone have any views or information on the Masters course in International History at IHEID. I got accepted with full scholarship and the institute sounds great and Geneva, very well located for work experience, but I'd love to know more.

Also, what are the chances of them renewing the scholarship offer for the second year?

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I'm pleased to have found this forum - I've been trying to research the Graduate Institute, Geneva as I'm wanting to apply for their Masters in Development Studies. I have so far heard good things about this Grad school, but I'm just wondering if anyone can provide me with further information on the following:

1. Are there any other grad schools that you would recommend for Development Studies?

2. I have a Philosophy & Theology BA from Oxford and two years commercial experience - are these qualifications enough to apply?

3. Is it very hard to get in?

Appreciate any help or advice that is given. Thanks!

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Hi Alicia, on this thread () you might find a few things.

On the number 1, my personal advice would be that you should try to narrow down what interests you more in the "development affairs". Say you could select a sub field such as health -and working / volunteering experience would be great for that so you would be actually sure that s what you want. Once this is done, you should search good univerisities that are specialized in these sub fields and organize your application on that basis. Just my 2 cents.

I have no personal knowledge of development MAs but I remember some friends who enjoyed studying at Lund, Oxford and I think Mc Gill, so maybe you could take a look into that.

On the 2 just as a general comment I think it's ok to work for the private sector before going in development related careers; since competition is generally (overly) tough to get non-profit jobs, it is even a very good move to get a significant corporate experience before shifting your caree while using the skills you got. I know people at the UN who got there after studying management and working for banks / financial services for 10-20 years. Also something to look into.

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Does anyone have any thoughts of IHEID (anthropology and sociology of development) vs. SOAS (MSc violence, conflict and development)? I'm looking for more information on both

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Hello!  I'm so glad to have found this forum! 

I seem to be in a similar situation with the Graduate Institute and a decision due soon. I'm choosing between the Graduate Institute ,(MIA, Security Route), LSE (Economy, Society, and Risk) and the Korbel School at University of Denver (International Security). I didn't receive funding at the Graduate Institute or LSE, but Denver is still the most costly (it's two years at US tuition). 

I know that I want to work in the US (I'm from the States) and with International Security/Peace building. For those who decided on IHEID, do most graduates stay in Europe? I don't speak any French, will this be a large obstacle? What are opinions on one yr MA v. two yr programs? Does anyone have any views on the Korbel School or the particular program at LSE? I've heard rumors that some programs arent stellar for job placement, though the brandname is tempting.

This is such a large financial decision for me I'd appreciate any advice considering the three programs! 

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