Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tackling your questions

It's quite natural that candidates who have been admitted to SAIS will have questions.

In my earlier incarnation as a journalist, I used to say, "There is no such thing as a stupid question. Only stupid answers."

Be that as it may -- funny how some journalists' questions now can seem off the mark to me -- rest assured that we want to answer any question admitted candidates have.

To that end, SAIS is organizing online information sessions: three hosted by our colleagues in Washington, DC, next week, then another two with Amina and me the week of March 25. There will be a sixth session on April 3 with SAIS Dean Vali Nasr.

SAIS will be in touch with admitted candidates via email about these sessions. If you are interested in the ones that Amina and I will be hosting -- we'll be accompanied by current SAIS Bologna students -- and want to mark your calendar, here are the dates and times:
  • Wednesday, March 27 at 5 pm Italy time (1600 GMT)
  • Thursday, March 28 at 10 am Italy time (0900 GMT)
Here are three questions we've heard since admissions letters were sent out earlier this week:

Q: I've been admitted to SAIS Bologna for my first year. Can I study at SAIS DC for my second year?

A: A student who has been admitted to SAIS Bologna in the MA program is automatically admitted to SAIS DC for a second year provided their academic performance is satisfactory in Bologna.

Half of SAIS students start their MA studies in Bologna, the other half in DC. Virtually all of them spend their second year in Washington.

(Some students in Bologna are working towards the MA in International Affairs (MAIA), which is a degree awarded by SAIS Bologna. Some of these students spend two years in Bologna, while others spend one year in Bologna and combine it with a year at one of our partner universities to obtain two master's degrees.)

Q: I was not admitted to the International Development (IDEV) concentration. Do I have to chose another concentration now?

A: IDEV is the only concentration with a cap on enrollment; candidates are required to apply for IDEV as part of their application.

Students who are not enrolled in IDEV can chose any other concentration. The choice does not have to be made now. Students will be assigned a faculty adviser upon arriving at SAIS Bologna, and each student also meets with Margel Highet, who is director of Student Affairs and an academic adviser.

Many students start their studies aiming to complete one concentration and end up switching. The important thing is to make sure you can meet all of the concentration requirements over the two years. (Keep in mind that all students are required to meet the International Economics requirements before graduating.)

Also keep in mind that SAIS has a multi-disciplinary curriculum. Concentrations are not hermetically sealed silos; courses are open to all students who meet the courses' entrance requirements. While students in a concentration may have priority for places in a course that satisfies a requirement for that concentration, most SAIS classes can accommodate all interested students. In Bologna, it is quite rare for students to have to bid for spots.

Q: I'm confused about the economics requirements. Why do you say I need to take economics this summer?

A: All incoming students need to have passed university-level courses in introductory microeconomics and introductory macroeconomics with at least a B- before being able to start any course work at SAIS.

Candidates who have not satisfied this requirement at the time of admission can study during the summer to prepare themselves. SAIS offers an online course in Principles of Economics that is tailored specifically to SAIS students' needs. This summer's course for Bologna students runs from May 22 to August 15. Registration is due by May 15, and tuition for the course is due by May 21. Here is a post featuring prof. Larson who will teach the course in the summer.

We will post more Q&A in coming days and weeks.

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