Finding the Perfect Graduate Program for YOU

Whether you are an admitted student weighing your acceptances or just starting your graduate school research, there are some things you should consider as you compare/contrast graduate programs.

  1. Size – This may mean many things: average class size, program size, school/university size, faculty size and more.  There are many different effects dictated by the size of a program such as course offerings, access to professors, diversity of ideas, etc.  Explore the various sizes of programs and see how you want to fit into them.
  2. Offerings – Explore the curriculum of the programs you are researching.  Some schools offer one international affairs degree with various concentrations (similar to majors).  Others (like the Elliott School) offer many degrees with various concentrations/specializations within them,  Reviewing the curriculum of the many programs will give you a sense of how your classes could be structured. **This will also shed light on the foundation of the programs whether that be theory or practice as well as the flexibility of each program.
  3. Fellowship Opportunities – It is important to recognize the cost of any graduate program.  We encourage potential applicants/admitted students to research fellowship opportunities within a specific school (ie. the Elliott School), the university (ie. GW), and third party organizations.
  4. Career Development – It is important to research what other alumni/current students are doing with their degree.  Many schools will offer employment data on their website so you can see where alumni are working within the field. This will help you decipher if students in your desired program have taken similar paths to what you wish to do.

These are obviously only four of the many factors you can use to determine the perfect graduate program for you, but they are a great starting point.  Happy researching!

A Message from Dean Michael E. Brown

(This message was originally published in the March issue of the Elliott School Briefing)
In January, the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey ranked GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs in the top ten for the study of international affairs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The survey—a poll of more than 1,600 scholars—is the only one that ranks international affairs academic programs.

The Elliott School is a superb place to study international affairs because of our extraordinary comparative advantages. We are in the process of recruiting our next class of undergraduate and graduate students, and we are about to send a new generation of graduates into the world, so this is a good time to reflect on the special attributes of an Elliott School education.

First: our people. The Elliott School has some of the top international affairs scholars in the world. In the latest TRIP survey, Professor Martha Finnemore was identified as one of the most influential scholars in the international affairs field. In January, China Foreign Affairs University placed GW Professors David Shambaugh and Robert Sutter on its list of the top 20 China experts in the United States. New GW faculty member Sabina Alkire has been recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as one of its “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for her work with Maria Emma Santos and GW’s James Foster on poverty measurement.

In the field of international affairs, the challenge is to cover a big world well. The Elliott School’s faculty members represent more than a dozen disciplines, and their expertise spans the globe. In this issue of Briefing, six Elliott School faculty members analyze some of the challenges facing the world in 2015.  Allison Macfarlane, a geologist by training and recently the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, looks back on the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and draws lessons for the future. Skip Gnehm, former U.S. ambassador to Kuwait, provides background on political rivalries in the Middle East. These are just a few highlights of the many ways in which Elliott School faculty are helping to shed light on global developments. Elsewhere in this issue of Briefing, you will find more examples—from op-eds and press clips to congressional testimony.

Elliott School students are another component of our “people power.” Elliott School students come from around the world, and they are deeply committed to making the world a better place. For example, in February, several Elliott School students traveled to New York to take part in the UN ECOSOC Global Youth Forum, where they had the opportunity to engage with international leaders about global development and other issues.

The second part of the Elliott School’s equation: our proximity. Washington, DC is one of the best places in the world to study international affairs, and the Elliott School’s location in the heart of Washington is truly unique. The IMF and the World Bank are a two-minute walk from the Elliott School building. The State Department and the White House take five. Many students gain professional experience during their time at the Elliott School by working or interning at U.S. government agencies, international organizations, think tanks, or nonprofit advocacy organizations.

The Elliott School’s academic reputation and central location, combined with its nonpartisan nature and outstanding facilities, generate exceptional convening power. The Elliott School sponsors an unparalleled program of special events—more than 300 lectures, panel discussions, and conferences every year. These programs provide our students with excellent opportunities to engage with policymakers, diplomats, scholars, and other experts from around the world.

In our globalizing, interdependent world, caring about international problems isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. The issues that we study at the Elliott School—from war and peace to poverty and development to democratization and human rights—are life and death issues for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The ability to navigate in our increasingly complex global environment is a vitally important skill, one that is honed by a world-class, international affairs education.

The Elliott School is one of the best places in the world to obtain an international affairs education because of its extraordinary institutional advantages:

People + Proximity = Power

An Elliott School education puts students in a unique and powerful position to make a difference in our world.

/s/ Michael Brown
Michael E. Brown
Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University

Application Review

We are working hard on getting all of the complete application reviewed.  We intend to release decisions in mid-March.  Once decisions are available, we will send an email with directions to how to view your decision.

In the meantime, we encourage you to to stay attuned to what is going on at the Elliott School by visiting

Online Information Session-International Student Tips

Are you an international student?  Do you have questions about the English requirements or visa documents?  Check out this online information session video with Assistant Director, Lisa Curry, speaking on all aspects of applying as an international student.

OIS1415 International Students

It’s All Global Now – Are You Ready?

(This article was originally published for Career in Government and written by Carmen Iezzi Mezzera, Executive Director of APSIA, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs.)

Business. Politics. Education. Public Health. Communications. Job-seekers are realizing a new reality: most careers – down to the local level – have an international component to them. It’s all global now.

Whether you’re interested in the public, private, or non-governmental sector, you cannot escape the internationalization of the job market. An understanding of international affairs is critical for success.

People and products move fluidly around the world. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. One in five American jobs is tied to international trade (Texas alone has seen an 84% increase in such jobs in the last 20 years). The U.S. Department of Commerce expects more than 88 million international visitors per year will come to the United States by 2019, up from 69.8 million in 2013. There are more than 25.7 million immigrants in the civilian U.S. workforce, according to the Migration Policy Institute, so – chances are – dealing with coworkers, employees, or even your boss already requires some cross-cultural understanding.   Health, environmental, and security challenges do not follow national borders either, as the recent situation with Ebola patients in several states demonstrates.

Are you ready for this global marketplace? Can you follow the economic, security, and political factors influencing the places with which you’d like to do business? Do you know how to attract international tourists (and the millions of dollars in revenue they represent) to your community? Can you communicate successfully with your constituents and colleagues from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds? Can you monitor developments around the world, identify challenges, and recommend ways for your organization to address them?

So, How Do I Prepare?

Job-seekers in every sector need to prepare now for the job market of the future with key international competencies.

Know how to evaluate trends across a global landscape. Be ready to succinctly explain other countries’ political, economic, social, and security situations so as to anticipate where opportunities and risks might emerge. Learn to communicate with those from different backgrounds and pay attention to cultural cues to guide a successful conversation or negotiation.

While many presume that the only path to success lies with a law or MBA program, the study of international affairs enables you to master the elements of our complex, interconnected world and sets you apart from other candidates.

International affairs programs equip graduates with an understanding of regions, languages, and global trends, as well as project management, trade and economic development, and analytical skills. Teaching methods stress the application of theory to practical issues. Joint degrees enable students to combine technical programs in public health, business, law, or computer systems with a focus on international affairs. Cross-cultural training is part of the curriculum, as well as a part of daily life when students mix with classmates from a diverse range of backgrounds. More than 800,000 international students attend U.S. institutions of higher education. They are preparing for the international marketplace and learning important cross-cultural skills. Are you ready?

It’s all global now. With training in the competencies of international affairs, you can be a competitive candidate for jobs today and into the future.

Online Information Session-Fellowships

One of the most common questions we get is about fellowships and other funding opportunities.  Yesterday, we hosted an online information session that shared details about Elliott School, GW, and other fellowships applicable to international affairs graduate students.  Check it out and apply today!OIS1415 Fellowships