Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How to Prepare for the SAIS Europe Interview

After  weeks and months of preparation, you have submitted your application to SAIS Europe. Now what?

In the coming weeks, SAIS Europe Admissions will be reaching out to you to schedule a Skype or an in person interview, depending on your location.

The interview process is an opportunity for prospective candidates to complement their written applications with additional information. Interviews at SAIS Europe are conducted by senior staff and faculty, and are an important element of your application.

For many, preparing for an interview may appear daunting.  Don’t fret!  We want to assure you not to worry.  The SAIS Europe interview provides an opportunity for applicants to not only expand on their submitted application, but also to provide the interviewer an opportunity to elaborate on the academic and student experience at SAIS Europe.

So this begs the question: how does one prepare?

Although interview styles can vary, SAIS Europe Admissions wanted to provide applicants with some guidance by asking our faculty and senior staff  interviewers directly what they look for.  Below is a transcript of their words of wisdom for applicants.

Prof. Mark Gilbert
Professor  Mark Gilbert teaches History and International Studies at SAIS Europe and is a resident faculty member at SAIS Europe. This Spring, he will teach two courses, Peace and War  and Intellectuals and Politics. “ I look for students who show curiosity about international affairs,  who have a clear idea about why they want to do a SAIS degree”, he  states.  “I look for students who know what their intellectual interests and professional goals are.”

Professor Erik Jones is Director of the European and Eurasian Studies Concentration at SAIS Europe and Professor of European Studies and International Political Economy. He underlines the following:

“A strong interview is where the candidate answers the questions and reveals something about themselves along the way.  That is not the same thing as providing every bit of information you can remember about the subject of the question.  It is about being selective.  It is about being analytical.  And it is about knowing what is important and why.  Answer the questions, tell me why that is your answer, tell me why I should agree with you, and then tell me why I should care.  If you do all those things in short order, I will be impressed.
Professor Erik Jones

The best way to prepare is be natural and be yourself.  You are not going to know everything and there are always some things you won’t know at all.  Don’t be afraid to admit that.  The purpose of the interview is not to find the next editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  That said, you should know something.  And you should know at least something about the most obvious things.  If you don’t know about the war that just broke out, the president that was just elected (or impeached), the economy that just collapsed, or the treaty negotiations that just concluded, then it will be fair for us to ask how much you are really interested in studying international relations."

David Unger  is Adjunct Professor of American Foreign Policy at SAIS Europe and a longtime member of the New York Times Editorial Board. True to his direct journalistic style, he tells candidates the following: “Be prepared but don't have a script; listen to the questions asked and tell the interviewer something about you he/she would not know just from reading your application.“

Assistant Professor of International Political Economy Matthias Matthijs teaches graduate courses in International Relations, International Economics and Comparative Politics. A SAIS graduate, he tells students to “structure your answers and try to be analytical in what you say. Have a story and try to be well versed in general IR issues. Make me understand your point of view with clear arguments.”

As Director of SAIS Europe Admissions I often travel around the globe to meet with prospective students. The advice I give applicants who are thinking of graduate school is simple: applicants should have a general idea of their professional goals and apply to graduate school only if this is a necessary step in their career development. I view graduate school as a long term investment that should be well thought out. If an applicant can't describe where he/she wants to be in five years, the applicant should continue working until he/she has clarity. You don't come to graduate school to figure out your future. You know where you want to go and graduate school is the tool to take you to the next level.

Lastly, as prospective students prepare their interview, Professor Jones has these  pointed comments:

“The interview and the application process are about fit and not about good and bad.  We want to find the right students for our program and we want to find the students for whom our program is right. You can be the most brilliant and capable student the world has ever seen and yet still not fit the SAIS experience.  If that is the case, we need to know and so do you.  There is no good reason for us to encourage you to invest as much time, energy, and financial resources as a SAIS education requires if it is not going to help you achieve your personal objectives.”

We hope the guidance above has given you the necessary insight to approach the interview process with focus. Best of luck with the process!

Daniela F.Coleman
Director of Admissions, SAIS Europe

Friday, December 16, 2016

Open Day at SAIS Europe: questions and answers

Last week, dozens of visitors attended the Open Day at SAIS Europe.

Participants had a full day's schedule and got the chance to learn more about SAIS.

Below are some of the questions that came up during the day. The questions touched on a number of topics: Academics, Student Life, and Career Services.

We know the Q&A below is not exhaustive. If you have more questions, please know we stand ready to answer your questions over the phone (+39 051 29 17 811), via Skype (jhubc.admissions) or over email (

Q: What's the class size and is there room for discussion in class?
A: Most classes are small and leave a lot of room for debate and exchange of ideas. Prof. Cohen, director of the Strategic Studies program, noted that at SAIS students come from different walks of life and that diversity adds to the discussion in class.

Prof. Erik Jones, director of the European and Eurasian Studies program, mentioned that he changed
the structure of one of his classes, by making the lectures available to students as a podcast, to use the time in class for discussion.

Q: How many courses in economics do students take?
A: It depends on the program they pursue. Those in the Master of Arts (MA) program, the most popular program at SAIS, are required to take four economics courses and a quantitative reasoning course. Students in the Master of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA) take four and Students in the Master of Arts in Global Risk take

Q: Can students take another concentration in addition to International Economics and the second concentration?
A: Yes, this is done in the form of a minor.

Q: Do the students in the Master of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA) travel to do their research for the thesis?
A: Students in the past have traveled. Whether or not one is able to do so depends on they plan their research.

Q: Is there diversity from a teaching standpoint?
A: Yes. Our professors bring to the classroom perspectives from Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East.

Q: How many language courses can students take?
A: Students can take one language course per semester.

Q: How does one set up a student club?
A: Anyone can start a students club. At the beginning of the academic year, we host a Club Fair which introduces students to all the clubs that will be set up for the year. Some clubs have been in place for a long time, but almost every year at least one new club is formed.

Q: What kinds of events does the Student Government Association (SAG) host?
A: Several events a year. The first one is the Halloween Party in late October. In addition, the SGA organizes a Thanksgiving dinner where students, faculty and staff get together to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many of the non-U.S. students it's their first Thanksgiving celebration while for many of the U.S. students it's the first time they do not celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. The event is very special.

Q: Do you recommend that one takes courses in pre-term?
A: Yes. It's a great way to start your studies at SAIS.

Q: What is the work-life balance?
A: The course load is quite heavy. However, with good organizational and time-management skills, students find sometime to travel and enjoy life in Italy.

Q: How does Career Services help students?
A: Students do a professional development course at the beginning of the academic year. The Office of Career Service provides career coaching and advising and organizes career treks.

Q: What kind of careers do SAIS graduates pursue?
A: SAIS graduates can work in virtually any sector. As you can see from the report here, SAIS students enter the public, private, multilateral, not-for-profit, and non-governmental sectors.

Amina Abdiuahab

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Applications Countdown Begins

In less than seven weeks, applications for the 2017/2018 are due.

Before submitting on January 7, 2017, be sure to reach out to us if you still need more guidance. We understand that you may have lingering questions.

To start an application, you need to create an account here and you can consult the application instructions here.

We encourage you to join one of our upcoming virtual sessions on either November 25th or December 7th

Another great way to learn about SAIS Europe’s academic programs is to attend our annual Open Day in Bologna, held this year on December 5th. 

Open Day is the best way to learn about SAIS Europe's Master's programs and get a first-hand look at the campus before applying.  On this day, SAIS Europe opens its doors to prospective students who are considering their post-graduate school options to offer them an opportunity to get to know the faculty, staff and students.

In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have listed some important tips regarding some elements of your application below.  Remember, if you still have questions about your application, you can always email us at: SAIS Europe Admissions Office

A resume should ideally be between one to two pages. Make sure to highlight all relevant internships, employment, volunteering and student organizations.

Statement of Purpose
This should be less than two pages.  We want to understand why you are applying to graduate school at SAIS. What are you professional goals? Why is our program right for you? How would you contribute and enrich the study body? This is a personal essay about what makes you unique and why our program would be the right fit for you. Tell us something we can’t gather from just looking at your transcripts or CV.

Analytical Essay
This should be on a topic of  national or international importance.  This gives us a sense of how you write. Are you ready to write at a graduate level in English? Can you write an essay presenting a clear argument and support with facts, citations, etc.? This can be on any topic of interest to you – but be sure to present a logical and clear written essay.

Two (2) letters of recommendation
A good rule of thumb is to ideally have one academic letter and one letter from a supervisor (This is strongly recommended for applicants to the Master of Arts in Global Risk (MAGR))  Give your recommenders enough time to write a letter and tell them in detail why you are applying to this program. (Remind them of that class you took, that paper you wrote with a top grade, those extra-curricular activities you were involved in, that important project you delivered on, etc.) The more you prepare them, the better letter they can write about you.  Note: it is better to choose a recommender who knows you well rather than someone who has an ‘impressive title’ but can’t comment on your work ethic, intellect nor character.

TOEFL or IELTS scores, or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (non-native English speakers)
All non-native speakers need to submit one of these. If you have taken one of these exams within the last two years, it is still valid. (Remember, you need at least 100 in the TOEFL or a 7 overall in the IELTS to apply.)  If you think you may be exempt from taking this exam, please do get in touch with us. Remember that at SAIS your native /dominant language is the one that meets two out of three criteria below:

(a) The main language of communication between you and one of your parents or caregivers.
(b) An official language in the community where you grew up.
(c) The language of instruction in the high school you attended.

Do consult the application instructions for more details. We wish you the best of luck!

Daniela F. Coleman
Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions, SAIS Europe

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Student Government and Student Clubs

Earlier this month, students at SAIS Europe elected five classmates to become the members of the Student Government Association (SGA). 

The SGA is the liaison between students and the administration. It plays a very important role as the Association organizes many of the student-led activities and acts as a point of contact for classmates. The SGA President and the other four members have different responsibilities, which range from academic affairs, career services, cultural and social activities and treasurer.

Below, Khrystian Pereira, a current student in the MA program, reports on his meeting with a member of the SGA.

Things are finally in full-swing at SAIS in Bologna.

After having conquered pre-term, language placement tests, waiver exams and the class selection process, we are now enjoying everything that the School of Advanced International Studies has to
offer at the Bologna campus.

Recently, the Student Government Association (SGA) held its first Club Fair of the academic year, which brought together all the students at SAIS with one main aim: to get students involved. The SGA is the leading student organization on campus. I was able to spend some time with one of its representatives to get the scoop on everything Student Government related.

I met up with Jane Schott, a classmate from the United States. Jane is the newly elected Social Events Coordinator for the SGA. I asked Jane a few questions.

Q: Why do you think the SGA is important to SAIS Bologna and what are its responsibilities?
Schott: The SGA's main job is making sure that the faculty and administration work together as efficiently and harmoniously as possible. We are a large and diverse group of individuals here at SAIS and it is important that we have input into the administration and express our concerns as needed. Throughout the year the SGA will work as a bridge between the administration and students to foster strong communication between the two. We work with the student body and administration to troubleshoot any concerns that may come up throughout the year and work towards making changes that will positively reflect students' quality of life and education.

Q: How will the SGA cultivate a sense of community at SAIS?
Schott: We put on social events and sell SAISwear (SAIS clothing) throughout the year to help form a stronger community and to fund raise for our events.. Furthermore, we are in charge of overseeing the Student Clubs and organizing a number of social events, such as the annual Halloween party, a Thanksgiving dinner and the Vienna ball.

Q: How does the SGA help students at SAIS?
Schott: If there are topics that the student body or students would like to address, the SGA’s works with the administration to foster communication and provide alternative solutions and working plans. We are also always available to meet and listen to students who may have ideas about how to build a stronger community here at SAIS Europe.

The Global Women in Leadership table
Q: How does being involved in clubs at SAIS help with life after graduate school?
Schott: I think the most concrete benefits students gain from joining clubs at SAIS are the opportunities to network and to benefit from the professional experience clubs offer.

Several clubs at SAIS are long-standing ones that are based on professional development, which provide large networks of alumni for club members to interact with. Many of our groups also work closely with professors to help organize activities, like guest speakers and study trips, which also provide  an added academic value to joining a club at SAIS. Finally, clubs are a great way to make friends. Who doesn't want that?!

As a new student at SAIS, one can become overwhelmed by all activities to choose from. It can sometimes be difficult to decide which opportunities to participate in. Following the Club Fair, the SGA officially registered twenty-one student-led organizations,  ranging from lifestyle clubs, to entertainment clubs, to great academic clubs. Here is the official clubs list for this fall semester:

Jews and Pals
Gastronomy Club
Consulting Club
Coding Club
Energy and Environment Club
Model United Nations
Net Impact
Pan-Asian Club
Global Women in Leadership
Eastern Europe/Russian Club
Runner’s Club
Latin American Studies Program
Debate Society
Defense and Intelligence Club
The SAIS Observer
The Middle East & North Africa Club
Global Security and Conflict Management Club
Football Club
Yoga Club
Cinema Society
Pride Club

The Global Security and Cinema Society table

As you can see, there is definitely a club interest for everyone. However, creating a new club is quite simple. All ones needs to do is advertise one's organization at the fair, recruit a few number members, and  file an official form registration with the Student Government.  Once completed, the student is on his/her way to establishing a new organization at SAIS.

Like may of the SGA organized events, the Club Fair offers a very effective way of bringing our students together. The SGA events provide opportunities to bring diverse groups of students with varied backgrounds together to share common interests and  passions.

Here at SAIS,  one  does not only network with the students in your classes and in your clubs. Here, you become a part of a community of like minded individuals, who are keen and motivated to embark on internationals careers with passion and meaning, ready to  address the challenges and the opportunities of the future.

Khrystian Pereira,
SAIS Europe 2017

Photos by May Gabato, SAIS Europe 2017

Friday, October 7, 2016

Speakers at SAIS: Adding depth to the curriculum

Students at SAIS have access to world-class faculty. They also have access to visiting experts.

At SAIS Europe, the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR), organizes the Seminar Series, which attract policy-makers, academicians and practitioners across the world.

Students have the opportunity to listen to the experts and, most importantly, to ask them questions.

General John R. Allen talks about the Evolution of ISIL

Whatever one's interests, they can be sure there will be experts coming to SAIS to talk about the topics that whet their appetites. What's more, attending the talks gives students the opportunity to learn about and become interested in subjects they had not previously considered.

Below we list some of the speakers coming to SAIS in the month of October. For a full calendar of events, click here.

Prof. Christopher Hill will deliver a lecture on "Emerging Populism and Foreign Policy", a topic of great relevance in Europe nowadays.

Prof. Riordan Roett, director of the Latin American Studies Program, will visit the SAIS Europe campus also to talk about the rising of populism. However, Prof. Roett will look at the topic from a different prism in his talk titled "Populism is on the rise across the world, but not in Latin America, Why?".

Irene Khan, Director-General, IDLO

Ratna Kapur, will talk about religion and constitutional law in India in her seminar called "Faith in Law: The Politics of Secularism, Religion and Hindu Majoritarianism in Indian Constitutional Law".

Prof. Gary Sick is here for the month to deliver a four-week seminar on U.S.- Iranian relations. Here's a previous interview with prof. Sick.

Award-winning journalist Tina Brown, will talk about "Women Leaders Making a Difference on the Global Stage".

Irene Khan, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in Rome, will talk about "International Migration: Crisis or Opportunity?".

Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the US, will discuss "The Current State of US-Russian Relations.” 

Amina Abdiuahab

Friday, September 30, 2016

Careers Services: Helping students succeed

The excellence of the Career Services Office sets SAIS apart.

Throughout their time at SAIS, students receive extensive help and guidance to prepare to achieve their professional goals.

Today, we want to introduce you to Lucia Botindari, Career Counselor at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe. We asked Lucia some questions on her role and the operations of the Career Services Office.

Q: What is your role at SAIS Europe?
Botindari: I'm a Career Counselor at SAIS Europe. Most students in Bologna are in their first year of study and, as part of my role, I help them identify and learn about the numerous career paths they can pursue after SAIS.

Regardless of whether or not students arrive at SAIS with a plan for their future careers, our Office helps them learn more about what will be available to them.

Lucia Botindari during office hours

Q: How does the Career Services Office help students?
Botindari: Our goal is to help students succeed. We want to make sure students focus on their careers from the day they arrive in Bologna.

We provide support through different channels: one-on-one counselling, training, career trips, and we provide a platform for networking.

Students who wish to benefit from the services of our Office are required to do a Professional Development Course (PDC) shortly after they arrive. The course is the foundation to a successful job search.Through the PDC and various workshops, students learn how to build their CV and compose cover letters. They learn interview and salary negotiation techniques as well as how to use social media to search for internship and employment opportunities.

In addition, we provide several skills courses, such as advanced finance courses, advanced Excel, STATA, and other software. These courses give students the practical skills that aren't necessarily part of the curriculum, but which are important to be more competitive in the job market.

After students complete the PDC, I meet with them individually and we begin the counselling process. The one-on-one meetings are mutually beneficial: students learn more about their goals and the job market, while I learn more about the students, which ultimately helps me, help them.

Each year, we organize career trips to London, Brussels, and Geneva. Each of these trips has a focus on a particular field. For example, one of the London trips -- we organize two trips to the UK capital-- is geared towards those interested in learning more about the Financial Services sector. The second trip to London, is more focused on consulting and political risk, while the trips to Geneva and Brussels focus on primarily, but are not limited to, the multilateral and non-governmental sectors.

Student panel on working at the U.S. State Department

As we plan our activities, we keep an eye on students' needs. In some cases, we've been able to organize courses and trips based on students' suggestions. For example, last year, a considerable number of students was interested in election monitoring and thanks to the help of our expert faculty and our highly motivated students, we were able to set up a workshop called "Election and democracy assistance".

What's more, we help students network. During the career trips, students have the opportunity to talk and meet with alumni. These meetings are highly beneficial for students who are able to hear first-hand what it means to work in a given sector or for a given company.

We also encourage students to network among themselves. Many of our students have several years of work experience under their belt and we invite them to share their knowledge and experiences by organizing student career panels.

During the Alumni Weekend -- a weekend where over 300 alumni return to Bologna -- we organize dozens of career panels and a Happy Hour to enable alumni and current students to meet. We take advantage of the presence of our successful and dedicated alumni who are happy to sit down for a morning with students to talk about careers.

Q: Which aspect of your job do you like the most?
Botindari: There are a number of things I enjoy about my job. However, if I had to pick one, I'd say counselling students is what I enjoy the most. I'm a social psychologist with a PhD in the field and my background allows me to help students in the long and complex process of self-discovery, self-assessment and growth. I find it extremely rewarding to be able to witness their metamorphosis.

Through a number of workshops and one-on-one meetings, I help students understand how their professional, social and personal skills can be applied to the job market. In particular, we look at the students' skills and aspirations to understand how they can reach the goals they've set for themselves.

I also enjoy the diversity there is at SAIS Europe. Our students come from all walks of life and from several countries. Each year, we have students of diverse demographics as well as diverse cultural, professional and educational backgrounds. Being in a such a diverse and multicultural environment is highly motivating as I, too, learn a lot each year.

Amina Abdiuahab

Friday, September 16, 2016

Summer School in Montenegro: A grounding and reassuring experience

The Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDDis a joint venture between the School of Law of the University of Bologna and Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe. It focuses on research in the field of comparative constitutional law. Students from both institutions interested in international law and democratic development are able to work an internship doing research and teaching projects.

As part of the activities, the CCSDD, headed by Prof. Justin Orlando Frosini, organizes trips to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and to Igalo, Montenegro.

Today, Chelsea Rodstrom of the U.S. and a current student in the Master of Arts (MA) program at SAIS, tells us about the trip to Igalo, Montenegro.

Early in the summer, I came across the opportunity to take part in the Summer School in Montenegro organized by the CCSDD. When I learned that some of the focus of the discussions would be on Brexit and the migration crisis, I became extremely interested in participating: as an American going to study international affairs in Europe, this was the perfect opportunity to delve into European issues.
Chelsea Rodstrom

Besides my interest in law --I had previously considered law school and worked at a law firm in New York and volunteered with an organization that handles asylum cases -- I was interested in the general issues of the migrant crisis and the fallout from Brexit.

For the majority of the week-long summer school, we examined how European constitutional systems and international law affect current economic, social and political crises. The British, Serbian and German professors led hearty discussions on the merits of each system, while we students engaged in relating these systems to the fallout from the economic crisis, Brexit and the migrant crisis.

Peppered into the practical round-tables and debates were contentious and abstract discussions on human rights, globalization, and the philosophy behind integration schemes and the EU Project.

We became especially impassioned while contextualizing the varied international legal systems within the debates on Brexit - inclusive of the merits of both the Leave and Remain platforms in the UK debate - the consequences of integration and disintegration of the EU, and the pending international migration crises.

After our daily lectures and round-table discussions, we spent time getting to know our colleagues - which included lawyers and students - from around the EU and potential EU member states like Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia. Learning about the Balkans from Serbian, Montenegrin and Albanian perspectives was especially invaluable and informative; likewise, the organized events, including a tour of Tito’s Villa and Bunker and a lovely boat trip, were enormously helpful in familiarizing a non-European to the history and current integration debate in the Western Balkans.

As someone who focused on Latin America studies in university, I was surprised to find many parallels, politically and from an integration standpoint, between Latin America and the Balkans.

Chelsea and her classmates in Igalo
The end of the week forced us out of the academic and somewhat removed realm of intellectual debate and threw us all into the harsh realities Europe is currently facing. On Thursday morning, one of our French-British colleagues was heartbroken in class, worrying about her family that was vacationing in Nice when the horrendous attack occurred late the night before. Just 36 hours later - at our goodbye dinner - we learned of an ongoing coup in Istanbul and Ankara. We all tried to comfort and offer solidarity to our colleague from Turkey, who was unsettled by what was going on in his home country.

The summer school in Montenegro was a grounding and reassuring experience; it brought us collectively to the conclusion that working together and in a critical manner is no longer an option - whether legally bound by a framework or not. Rather, it is imperative that Europe remain vigilantly cooperative and united on security, migration and economic issues.

Chelsea Rodstrom
SAIS Europe 2017