Friday, January 13, 2012

FAQs: the weeks ahead for applicants to SAIS Bologna

February 1: Candidates who want to study at SAIS Bologna in the 2012-13 academic year and who do not have U.S. citizenship face that looming deadline to apply.

No wonder then that we are receiving many questions about our procedures and what happens after a dossier is submitted. To make things simple we've identified the most common questions, and we think all candidates will benefit from seeing our answers.

Before we dive into the FAQs, we'd like to remind you that on Monday, January 16 at noon Italian time (1100 GMT) we'll hold our final online information session before the application deadline. Please send us a note at if you'd like to participate in the session.

Q: I have gathered my application documents. Where should I send them?
A: If you are a non-U.S. citizen and you wish to spend your first year at SAIS Bologna, please send any hard copy material to:

Johns Hopkins SAIS Bologna Center 
via Belmeloro, 11
40126 Bologna

U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have chosen BO/DC (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) as their campus choice should mail hard copy materials to the SAIS DC Admissions Office.

Q: I mailed my materials to the SAIS Bologna Admissions Office. When will you acknowledge receipt of my documents? 
A: We are starting to review the application packages. It's difficult for us to email each one of you to confirm your documents have arrived. You'll hear from us if parts of your application are missing.

Q: Am I required to convert my overall undergraduate grade into a GPA?
A: No. You are not expected to provide us with a grade point average of your undergraduate degree if you studied in a country that does not use GPAs. But we do ask that you provide a guide to your university's grading system. Sometimes such a guide is on the back of your transcript. If it is not, you can click on this link to select the country where you studied and a guide to your country's grading system.

Q: The grading system for the country I studied in isn't available on the website you have provided. 
A: In this case, please ask the Registrar's Office of your university to give a guide to their grading system.

Q: I feel the grading scale provided on the website is somewhat incorrect.
A: If you feel your grades aren't being translated properly, please ask your university's Registrar's Office to provide a more comprehensive guide.

Q: Could you give some tips on the statement of purpose?
A: Sure. Please take a look at this post we published some weeks ago. You'll find tips from current students on how they wrote their statement of aims.

Q: Could you give some tips on the analytical essay. 
A: No problem -- here's another post. You'll find some words of advice from a student and the essay she submitted in the past.

Q: Can I go over the word limit in the statement of aims or the analytical essay?
A: Part of the challenge is to convey your thoughts and views while adhering to the word limit. It's best that you stick to the 600-word guideline. If you exceed the limit, cut the essay back.

Q: Should I choose a concentration now? What happens if I change my mind? 
A: In the application form we ask you to indicate a concentration that you'd be interested in pursuing. We also ask you to indicate your second choice. These are not binding. You'll have a chance to change your mind and switch to a different concentration once you get here.

The only concentration that is capped is International Development (IDEV), and it has a separate selection process. Preference is given to students who come from developing countries or have lived or worked in a developing country.

If you are interested in IDEV, you should indicate it as your first concentration choice. It tends to be very popular, and students who indicate it as a second choice are generally not considered for it.

Q: When will I be interviewed?
A: Interviews will be held in February and March. We will announce dates and locations shortly after the deadline.

Q: How will I be interviewed?  
A: You'll be able to interview in person, on the phone or via Skype. There's no advantage or disadvantage in the format.

Q: How is the interview conducted?
A: Last year we published a post in which we asked Prof. Erik Jones to tell us what an applicant should expect of an interview. You can watch the video here.

Q: What happens after the interview?
A: Your dossier will be evaluted by the Admissions Committee. The Committee's decisions, including financial aid packages, will be communicated to candidates in early April.

If you feel there's something we left out, please post a comment or send us an email at We'll be happy to address your questions.

Amina Abdiuahab

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