Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dual degrees: Extending your horizons

SAIS has dual-degree agreements that can extend students' academic horizons and prepare them for a host of careers. The agreements allow a student to obtain twin graduate degrees from SAIS and other leading universities in a shorter period of time than would normally be required. Marc Pickering is pursuing dual degrees with the INSEAD business school and SAIS. He arrived in Bologna at mid-term after a year at INSEAD and writes about his transition below.

When I flew in to Bologna in mid-January, a snowstorm was raging and the city was covered in snow. Most students were finishing up their last exams and heading out to exotic destinations for winter break. I gave myself a couple of weeks to discover the city, learn some Italian at a local language school and prepare for waiver exams in economics. From the get-go, the SAIS Bologna community -- students, faculty, administration -- brought me in to the fold.

Marc Pickering
My experience at the Bologna Center has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s been almost two months since I arrived in Bologna, and overall it has been an uplifting experience. I was nervous about starting midway in the academic year and a quarter of the way through the MA program. Many of my MBA peers were beginning new jobs or jumping back into their career following our intense, year-long MBA class. I had set out on a different course: more school.

As far as I know, from my MBA graduating class of 500 people, I am the only one who decided to pursue another degree.

I decided to do an MA after my studies at INSEAD because of my interest in the relationship between the policy world and the business world, and how government impacts business. Pairing a business degree with a policy degree made a lot of sense, and the idea had been in the back of my mind for some time. In the end, SAIS alumni and current SAIS/INSEAD dual degree students helped me decide that the program was right for me. They highlighted the complementary aspects of the degrees and shared their own motivations for pursuing the dual degrees.

The INSEAD/SAIS MA/MBA is a relatively new partnership. While more and more people are taking advantage of it, it’s not as established as some other programs linking U.S. business schools and international relations programs. I believe I am the first MA/MBA to go from INSEAD to the SAIS Bologna Center, which is quite a privilege. I hope other students take up the mantle.

SAIS Bologna shares many similarities with INSEAD: the academic standard is very high, the professors are outstanding, the student body is extremely diverse -- not to mention good socializing. SAIS is a bit more academic, so I’m finding I have my head down in books a lot more than at INSEAD, where there is a lot more emphasis on group work.

Bologna is a beautiful city. I've been living out of two suitcases for a little over a year, in France and then Singapore -- great places to live. But Bologna is in a league of its own: the people, the culture, the history and the food. It’s an extremely rich and authentic place. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the city, but there you have it. It’s going to be very hard to leave Bologna in May.

I've already had a few fun trips in Europe -- to Brussels (for a SAIS Career Trek), Vienna (for the Austrian Ball, also with SAIS) and to Switzerland for a ski weekend -- as I am acutely aware I have only a few more months to take advantage of the great traveling one can do from Bologna!

I’m now beginning to prepare for my midterms and firming up my plans for a summer internship.

I’d love to help answer questions if any SAIS or INSEAD student wants to talk about the dual-degree program or anything else.

Do you have a question for Marc? You can send it to admissions@jhubc.it or write a comment at the end of this post.


saurabh somani said...

You did a dual degree course for MAIA, right? What is the criteria for admission and career opportunities for the students?

Nelson Graves said...

Thank you, Saurabh. SAIS Bologna has dual degree agreements with the Diplomatic Academy (Vienna), the University of Bologna, the University of Bologna Forli and Sciences Po Lille which allow students to study for one year at the partner university and one year at the Bologna Center and receive two master's degrees, including the MAIA from SAIS Bologna. The criteria for admission and career opportunities are the same, whether the student is in the MA or the MAIA program. For more information, you can read pages 20-22 of our catalog (http://www.jhubc.it/ADMISSIONSBLOGDOCUMENTS/SAIS%20Bologna%20catalog%202012-13.pdf).

Anonymous said...

Hi there - this is a very useful post! As INSEAD has two classes each year, could you begin the SAIS program (assuming you study at INSEAD first) in either September or January, depending on when you graduate from INSEAD? If so, is there any difference in terms of the SAIS program structure?

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Additionally, do the application deadlines for SAID differ depending on your INSEAD graduating class? Thanks again!

Nelson Graves said...

Thank you, Anonymous. Although SAIS Bologna rarely allows students to start at mid-year, we are flexible. Indeed in the case of Marc Pickering, the author of this post, he started in February after finishing his work at INSEAD, spent one term in Bologna and will be spending 2013-14 at SAIS DC. So this is a possibility. With respect to the sequence at SAIS, the main requirement is that a student doing a dual degree should spend at least one semester at SAIS DC. Finally, the application deadlines for SAIS remain unchanged: November 1 for anyone hoping to enroll in the spring term, and January 7 for anyone hoping to enroll in the fall. Feel free to send an email to admissions@jhubc.it if you have other questions. We would like to have more students doing the dual degree with INSEAD.

Nina Buchmann said...

Thank you very much for all the helpful information! Nelson, you didn't mention INSEAD in your list of potential partner universities when pursuing the MAIA. Does this imply that the dual degree with INSEAD is only possible with the MA? Basically my question is whether it would be possible to pursue the double degree with INSEAD while still writing a thesis at SAIS. Thank you very much!

Nelson Graves said...

Nina - Thank you for your question. As currently structured, the dual degree with INSEAD involves the SAIS MA in International Relations, and a participating student needs to spend the last of their three semesters at SAIS on the DC campus. Having said that, SAIS is willing to consider ad hoc dual degree proposals. I take it you had an INSEAD-MAIA combination in mind. If you'd like to discuss this, please drop me a note.

masud said...

Hi Nelson, I know it's been a while since this post has been active but hopefully I'll get an answer to my query. I'm an INSEAD MBA applicant and I wanted to know if an acceptance into INSEAD ensures a seat on the SAIS MA program or do I have to apply and get accepted separately? Secondly, I have already mentioned in my application that I want to be a candidate in the dual degree but when can I receive a confirmation?

Johns Hopkins
SAIS Europe

Thank you for your interest in SAIS. Nelson Graves left SAIS a while ago. To do the dual degree SAIS/INSEAD, you need to be admitted to each institution. Well done on indicating your desire to pursue a dual degree in the application form. Once you enroll at SAIS, academic affairs will get in touch to help you plan your course of studies. We would be delighted to give you more information over email or Skype. Please send us an email to sais.eu.admissions@jhu.edu

Amina Abdiuahab