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American SIS - Summer and Fall 2018


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Hello,

I have just wrapped up and submitted my application to American University's School of International Service for Fall 2018. I applied for an M.A. in IR. I listed U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security as my concentration, but upon thinking about it I should switch it to Global Security if I get admitted and to an adviser. I also plan to get a Graduate Certificate in U.S. Foreign Policy. 

I have a 3.4 GPA, 3.75 in the last 60 credit hours, 3.97 in my major in political science. I also have experience with graduate school when I attempted to get a Masters in Christian Theology with a 3.7 graduate GPA. Unfortunately I got a debilitating illness and was never able to finish that degree. My GREs were waived by American. My big hope is some funding to offset the cost of attendance, as I cannot attend without some funding. This and Johns Hopkins SAIS are my two top options.

Anyone else applying to American?

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  • 1 month later...

I got my confirmation of acceptance last Friday. I bombed the quant section of the GRE and have little practical experience in IR, but I have a 3.7 gpa and solid LORs. I too applied for the M.A. in IR and U.S. ForPol. Still waiting to hear back on funding. 

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5 hours ago, AddSmith said:

I was accepted to the MPP is the SPA school, and also didn't hear anything about awards. They said they're reviewing all candidates after 2/15, the priority application deadline, and then releasing awards! 

Congrats. I was surprised how quickly notifications went out. I wasn't expecting to hear anything until mid-March at minimum. Still waiting to hear back from GW. 

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21 minutes ago, irapplicant1776 said:

Congrats! I'm finishing up the SIS USFP program this semester.

Congrats on wrapping up your studies at SIS irapplicant1776. Can you give us any insights on this particular program at SIS? Have you done any internships, and do you have any idea where you'll end up upon graduation? 

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On 2/14/2018 at 7:54 AM, AddSmith said:

I was accepted to the MPP is the SPA school, and also didn't hear anything about awards. They said they're reviewing all candidates after 2/15, the priority application deadline, and then releasing awards! 

Also was accepted to the MPA at the SPA school! I just got off the phone with an admissions counselor however and she seemed to think that all merit based aid decisions would have gone out with your acceptance.... 

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18 minutes ago, BuffySlays said:

Also was accepted to the MPA at the SPA school! I just got off the phone with an admissions counselor however and she seemed to think that all merit based aid decisions would have gone out with your acceptance.... 

Hmm. At least for SIS the acceptance letter said that funding decisions would be released separately in mid-March. 

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4 hours ago, Nico Corr said:

Congrats on wrapping up your studies at SIS irapplicant1776. Can you give us any insights on this particular program at SIS? Have you done any internships, and do you have any idea where you'll end up upon graduation? 

Hmm do you have any specific questions about the program? I can tell you that I've been happy with it in general. The professors are more than willing to help you advance your career outside of class. There's been some professors I've really loved, and a couple I'm not so happy with. I do wish some of the courses had less long papers and more practical writing.

My first semester I completed a public diplomacy internship at the Embassy of Peru. I took over the position from someone a year ahead of me in the program. Last semester I was hired as a Program Associate at US-China Education Trust, an international exchange non-profit. I was actually interviewed by a woman who got both her B.A. and M.A. from SIS, and the professor I work for as an RA at SIS recommended me to the president, as they are friends. I work here part time now, and will work full time after I graduate. 

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On 2/16/2018 at 11:54 AM, Nico Corr said:

Congrats on wrapping up your studies at SIS irapplicant1776. Can you give us any insights on this particular program at SIS? Have you done any internships, and do you have any idea where you'll end up upon graduation? 

Nobody asked me, but I'll share anyway.  I'm finishing up GGPS this semester (security focus).  GGPS is pretty much your standard, general MA IR program (more so than the other SIS programs).  In contrast to USFP, it's less rooted in U.S. institutions and policies, being more broad in scope and academic (as opposed to policy-oriented) in nature.  I've done a couple of government security-related internships (as well as a couple at lobbying firms before I started the program).  I'm going to be going on orders for a long period of time after graduation (I'm a reservist), so I haven't really been looking for a job too aggressively.  If anyone has more specific questions about it, I'll try to answer.

As far as overall feelings about the program: no serious complaints.  Mind you, if I could do it all over again, I would not have gone into this field or come to DC, a city whose yuppie monoculture and population of phony, conformist ladder climbers I've grown to despise.  But that's not an issue with the program.  If I had any specific complaints: large class sizes, and an unsatisfying quantity of concentration courses (only four).

On the plus side, many of the professors are indeed very good, and the American/SIS brand is moving up in the world (from a pretty decent starting place).  I have a theory that the AU-tier is at a sweet spot, where you're as prestigious as you can get before you start getting professors that are celebrity prima donnas with little interest in or aptitude for teaching (that thought and $3 will get you a latte).

Edited by tairos
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15 hours ago, MrBP22 said:

@tairos Did you find it hard to find security related internships and stuff? I just got accepted to the GSPS program and I was thinking about doing the security concentration as well.

Security is reputedly one of the more difficult sub-fields to break into, but I haven't had much trouble.  Of course, unpaid internships are different ballgame entirely from getting a paid position later.  The days of government agencies being able to easily hire their interns are long over.

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On 2/17/2018 at 6:45 PM, tairos said:

Nobody asked me, but I'll share anyway.  I'm finishing up GGPS this semester (security focus).  GGPS is pretty much your standard, general MA IR program (more so than the other SIS programs).  In contrast to USFP, it's less rooted in U.S. institutions and policies, being more broad in scope and academic (as opposed to policy-oriented) in nature.  I've done a couple of government security-related internships (as well as a couple at lobbying firms before I started the program).  I'm going to be going on orders for a long period of time after graduation (I'm a reservist), so I haven't really been looking for a job too aggressively.  If anyone has more specific questions about it, I'll try to answer.

As far as overall feelings about the program: no serious complaints.  Mind you, if I could do it all over again, I would not have gone into this field or come to DC, a city whose yuppie monoculture and population of phony, conformist ladder climbers I've grown to despise.  But that's not an issue with the program.  If I had any specific complaints: large class sizes, and an unsatisfying quantity of concentration courses (only four).

On the plus side, many of the professors are indeed very good, and the American/SIS brand is moving up in the world (from a pretty decent starting place).  I have a theory that the AU-tier is at a sweet spot, where you're as prestigious as you can get before you start getting professors that are celebrity prima donnas with little interest in or aptitude for teaching (that thought and $3 will get you a latte).

Tairos, 

Thanks for your input. It's greatly appreciated. I thought about applying for the GGPS Track, but I figured USFP would give me a little more flexibility in the way of government jobs/private sector work which is really what I am aiming for. I've read several of the threads on this forum about some poster's overall buyer's remorse about the degree and the field in general. I thought about giving up trying to get in this field and find some other kind of work, but honestly I cannot imagine doing anything else. 

Seeing as jobs in the field are hard to come by, especially if you don't already have an "in" like military experience, Peace Corps work, or friends/family that can get you a job, how would you advise students who don't have any of these going for them to increase their chances of getting a decent paying position in the field? Are unpaid internships a prerequisite? 

 

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On 2/17/2018 at 11:45 PM, tairos said:

Nobody asked me, but I'll share anyway.  I'm finishing up GGPS this semester (security focus).  GGPS is pretty much your standard, general MA IR program (more so than the other SIS programs).  In contrast to USFP, it's less rooted in U.S. institutions and policies, being more broad in scope and academic (as opposed to policy-oriented) in nature.  I've done a couple of government security-related internships (as well as a couple at lobbying firms before I started the program).  I'm going to be going on orders for a long period of time after graduation (I'm a reservist), so I haven't really been looking for a job too aggressively.  If anyone has more specific questions about it, I'll try to answer.

I've been accepted to the GGPS program and would also be considering the security track. It's disappointing to hear that it's more academic than policy focused. I have a few years of international "field" work in security but not so much experience in the policy realm so I'm leaning toward this type of focus in an MA program to balance out my experiences. Do you think the academic focus of the program has been particularly advantageous to you in any way, or has it been a disadvantage compared to other programs (within SIS or other MA programs) that focus on policy?

Edited by doglover5
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On 2/16/2018 at 4:13 PM, BuffySlays said:

Also was accepted to the MPA at the SPA school! I just got off the phone with an admissions counselor however and she seemed to think that all merit based aid decisions would have gone out with your acceptance.... 

According to the emails and webinars and calls, they release in March! 

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19 hours ago, Nico Corr said:

Tairos, 

Thanks for your input. It's greatly appreciated. I thought about applying for the GGPS Track, but I figured USFP would give me a little more flexibility in the way of government jobs/private sector work which is really what I am aiming for. I've read several of the threads on this forum about some poster's overall buyer's remorse about the degree and the field in general. I thought about giving up trying to get in this field and find some other kind of work, but honestly I cannot imagine doing anything else. 

Seeing as jobs in the field are hard to come by, especially if you don't already have an "in" like military experience, Peace Corps work, or friends/family that can get you a job, how would you advise students who don't have any of these going for them to increase their chances of getting a decent paying position in the field? Are unpaid internships a prerequisite? 

 

At the risk of sounding glib: I'm really no more of an authority on career success than anyone else here (and likely quite a bit less).  All I can relate is what others have told me: internships, in demand skills (languages and quant/technical), security clearance (military reserve component is the easiest way to get one of those) and "networking."  Despite having been in DC for years now, I still don't really know what "networking" means, although I have a close enough idea to know that I'm bad at it. 

7 hours ago, doglover5 said:

I've been accepted to the GGPS program and would also be considering the security track. It's disappointing to hear that it's more academic than policy focused. I have a few years of international "field" work in security but not so much experience in the policy realm so I'm leaning toward this type of focus in an MA program to balance out my experiences. Do you think the academic focus of the program has been particularly advantageous to you in any way, or has it been a disadvantage compared to other programs (within SIS or other MA programs) that focus on policy?

I certainly understand where you're coming from.  I had much the same attitude as you when I started -- in fact, all I really wanted to take was methods courses.  As it happens, the notion that the more traditional academic fare is 'impractical' while 'policy-oriented' coursework is 'practical' is fairly erroneous.  There are a number of reasons for this, mostly relating to the fact that degrees of this nature are intended to serve as broad-based signaling to a certain (nebulously-defined) type of employer rather than as pre-training for your first job (which is unlikely to entail writing big-picture policy memos on issues of your choosing).  By way of example, the State Department's biggest issue with an older generation of graduates was apparently not their grounding in policy, which was considered adequate, but an insufficient base of historical knowledge with which to place current events in context.  

In short: the academic leanings probably don't make an appreciable difference in career outcomes, and may even help sometimes.  Your practical experiences matter a great deal more.

Edited by tairos
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18 hours ago, Frosty_McGee said:

I am curious as to what the difference between policy oriented and academic oriented curriculums are. Anyone care to enlighten me?

My understanding, albeit hazy is the academically oriented curriculums focus more on the historical underpinnings of foreign policy and the different theories used to practice foreign policy. Policy oriented programs focus more on the data analysis and case studies of various situations in which the data was pulled from to explain events that are consequential to policy. Someone correct me if I am wrong. 

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