Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Starting your application

Some of you will want to mark this date on your calendars: January 7, 2014.

That's the deadline for applications to SAIS for 2014-15.

Two months might seem a long way away. But it takes time to compile a strong dossier, and the best applications tend to come from students who've thought long and hard about why the want to go to graduate school and why SAIS.

Here are some suggestions on how to get started -- if you haven't already.

To start your application click here.

If you are a non-native speaker of English, you should book the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) exam as soon as possible. You want to make sure you have enough time to prepare for one these tests. 

They are not difficult, but you're best to familiarize yourself with the format to achieve the best possible scores. You might consider taking the test more than once if you're not happy with the results.

If you're unsure whether you qualify as a native English speaker, take a look at this document.

GRE or GMAT: Are they required?

U.S. applicants and non-U.S. applicants who wish to start their SAIS studies in Washington or who are open to starting at either campus must submit the results of either the GRE or the GMAT. Non-U.S. applicants who want to start in Bologna are not required to take either of these tests, but we strongly recommend that they do so.

In September we held an online information session on standardized tests with current student Jenny Lu. If you'd like to listen to it, send an email to

This is the most personal part of the application. The statement should capture your persona and personality, your reasons for wanting to study at SAIS and your future goals. Admissions Committee members enjoy reading statements, but remember that they read many of them. Think of ways in which you can make yours stand out.

Earlier this month, we discussed the statement of purpose in an online information session with current student Lauren Hartel. If you'd like to hear her tips, send us a message at

In addition, here is a post by Nora Sturm (BC13/DC14) and here's another one by Irena Peresa and Sebastian Ernst (BC12/DC13).

Here's your opportunity to give a sample of your writing and analytical skills. The Admissions Committee wants to see you tackle a topic of your choice, demonstrating sensitivity to different sides of an argument, in no more than 600 words.

Ally Carragher (BC13/DC14) wrote about an issue that interested her and was relevant to what is studied at SAIS. You can find her essay here.

We will be discussing the analytical essay during an online information session on December 12. Send us an email if you'd like to participate in the session.

You probably have a CV that you used when applying for a job or an internship. Make sure you don't leave out the experiences you've had that are relevant to SAIS.

We are often asked how long the CV should be. There's isn't a page limit, but even a senior person can capture their career in two pages or less.

You can submit almost all of your documents online
If you haven't done so already, you might want to inform your referees of your intention to apply to graduate school. The earlier you inform them, the more likely they are to submit their letters in support of your application on time. 

You should tell them why you want to apply to graduate school. You might want to share your statement of purpose with them. It will make writing the letters easier for them.

Referees can submit their letters online or via snail mail. Make sure you ask them how they wish to provide their letters before you indicate it in the application form.

The next information session on November 26 at 10 am Italian time (0900 GMT) will focus on letters of recommendation. Send us a message if you'd like to participate.

To ensure we receive your transcripts on time, you should get in touch with your undergraduate institution as soon as possible and ask them to provide your transcripts to our Admissions Office in Washington.

Transcripts that are not in English need to be translated by an official translator. You can use one of the credential evaluation services indicated in the application instructions, which you can find here.

If you have any questions, please comment on this post or write to us at

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