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Am I competitive enough to apply for a Masters?

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**Crossposted with Political Science in Professional Programs Forum, Moderator, I don't know which forum it's more appropriate for**

Hi. There's so much I want to ask, but just to give a quick background of myself:

Background: I'm from east africa. Working at an large and prominent International Organization (under the UN system) in Washington, DC. Not as a professional position but admin work. Pretty much I'm an admin assistant. I'm 27 yo. Graduated undergrad 5 years ago, in Political Science. Not the strongest undergrad GPA, it wasn't impressive. Honestly I figure I shouldn't even bother with Georgetown. SAIS I can't because of my work. Basically, I'm looking to get back into school and do a masters in International Affairs. I am in the process of learning the Italian language. I am currenlty on a ~40K salary. Unfortunately, because of my living situation (married, live in a different country from immediate family) I will have to work through graduate school.

Goals: I'd like to stay in the UN system organization - DC, Geneva, Rome, Paris or Nairobi (I think thsoe are the main cities with UN agencies). I left out New York, as I don't want to live there. I wouldn't mind working with an Embassy in a consulting role. I'm weighing focusing on security/strategic focus or development. I am very weak in numbers, charts and formulas, but I love to write.

Now given my age, and my modest and probably unimpressive work experience, what I'd like to ask is:

- Is it siginifcantly harder to apply and be accepted into grad school after having worked that long, as opposed to straight out of school?

- Given my goals, what are the advantages or disadvantages of development vs. security studies? Should I be looking at communications as a third option?

- How long does a typical MA in International Affairs take if one is doing it part-time as opposed to full-time?

- If I'm to get a loan, are payments immediately due, or they're due after graduation?

- Are all the DC are aschools - American, GW, George Mason (Public Policy), Maryland (Public Policy) similar in prestige?

- What's the typical salary jump from where I am now to entry-level positions in similar organizations AFTER I get my masters?

This is an exciting field, and I'm eager to see where I can go. I love that there is the win-win scenario of impacting the world as well as travelling and experiencing new cultures as part of your job.


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