Current Student Highlight: Chris Hicks

chris hicks

Meet Chris – He is a first year student in the MAIA Program where he is focusing on International Development and Latin American Studies. Here he tells us what brought him to Foggy Bottom and how his first year has gone so far.

I had always wanted to do a Master’s program in International Affairs since I was an undergraduate in Michigan at Grand Valley State University, but I took a rather long and winding road to get here as I kept refining what exactly it was that I wanted to pursue – from international business and economic development to diplomatic service, and finally, educational development, which is what landed me here at George Washington University.

I had interned with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s local Export Assistance Center as an undergrad and went on to working in sales after graduation. However, a little less than two years after graduation I made the decision to move to Peru to teach English. This, in turn, morphed into coordinating academic and intercultural exchanges – first in Peru, then in Costa Rica and Guatemala – and this is where my interests started to coalesce around promoting these exchanges and the value they bring.

From there, I knew the starting point for anything “international affairs” would be in Washington, D.C. – especially so when it came to intercultural and educational exchanges where there are countless NGO’s and government offices here involved in just that (In fact, I’m still able to teach English as a volunteer for a local NGO that helps immigrants prepare to take their naturalization exams). After that, I narrowed it down to George Washington University based on its faculty, the flexibility its International Affairs program offered someone like me, and finally its proximity to those NGOs and government agencies involved in international education. What didn’t factor into my decision at all – but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with – was how many different things there are to do and places to go in and around D.C. – outside of the typical tourist loop. There are so many distinct neighborhoods within the District and, of course for me, an amazing range of restaurants all over the city. There are also countless community interest groups active around the city that you can join either professionally or just for fun. As for me, I am involved in some Latin American interest groups and language exchanges to keep up on my Spanish since moving back to the U.S.

For all the reasons I just mentioned, I couldn’t be happier I chose to study at Elliot – and in Washington, D.C. in general. The faculty is made up of both academics and practitioners and they are the ones on the news, giving talks both at GW and at various other organizations around D.C. and generally informing debates and shaping policy. The program itself lets me focus generally on both Latin America and Development while drilling down further in these areas into Central America & Mexico and Educational Exchanges in particular. Finally, for anyone not familiar with D.C., there are literally too many events from countless organizations for one person to go to no matter what their interests are – and they are almost all completely free. All of these factors make Foggy Bottom the easiest place in the world to get involved, get informed, and keep busy.

Elliott School Evening Information Session


Join us at 6:30 PM for an information session with our graduate admissions counselor! The session will last an hour, and will cover programs, admissions and application tips, study abroad, career, faculty, research, and funding! At the end, students can get all of their questions answered.

This is a great opportunity for DC’s working professionals to learn about our evening course offerings and how an Elliott graduate program can make a difference in your career.

Register here, or feel free to show up and we can register you at the door! Information sessions take place at our office, 1957 E Street NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20052!



Now is the best time to apply for additional tuition scholarships!


Now is the best time to explore, and apply for, additional fellowship opportunities to help offset the cost of a graduate program. While students are automatically considered for ESIA fellowships so long as they apply by our January 7th deadline, there are additionals funds students can make separate applications for.

At GWU, there is an entire office dedicated to compiling funding sources for GW students, that Elliott School students and applicants qualify for! Be sure to explore the Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships in-depth.

*It’s worth noting that many fellowship opportunities have deadlines that occur PRIOR to learning an admission decision. You will want to be sure to apply by the deadlines listed on the GW Fellowship page. Most fellowship opportunities will notify you AFTER you’ve heard your admission decision. 

Additionally, we encourage students to explore outside opportunities for funding. A great place to start is by visiting the Association of Professional Schools in International Affairs (APSIA).

Below are a few of the opportunities that can be found on our website:

Opportunities for U.S. Citizens and/or Permanent Residents:

  1. Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Academic Year and FLAS Summer Fellowships (Deadline: February 1st @ 12:00 PM)
  2. Americorps Matching Award (Rolling Deadline)
  3. Grad2Grad, for current GWU undergraduate students (Rolling Deadline)
  4. McNair Fellowships (for students who were McNair fellows as undergraduates)
  5. Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program
  6. Scottish Rite Endowment Graduate Fellowships
  7. The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program
  8. Walter Green (Deadline: March 10, 2017)
  9. Wolcott Foundation Fellowship, students must have a 3.8 GPA or higher to be considered (Deadline: January 31st)

Opportunities for International Students:

  1. Global Leaders Fellowship (Deadline, February 5th, 2017)
  2. Humane Studies Fellowships 
  3. Carlos Slim (for students from Mexico)


There are many opportunities available, and these are not limited to what is provided on our website. We strongly encourage all applicants to explore and review as many sources as possible. Be sure to check our website for up to date opportunities as well.


Submitting Your Application: Reasons Not to Panic!

We understand that this week is stressful for many of you that are submitting applications to graduate school! Don’t worry- the Elliott School’s got your back! Based on phone calls and emails that we’ve received, we wanted to address some common concerns.

Application Processing:

Due to the high volume of applications we receive, it typically takes one to two weeks to process an application. Each item of your application is checked by a member of our team, and the process is entirely manual. If your status hasn’t changed, or your checklist appears incorrect, be sure to give it a little bit of time, as a member of team is probably getting to it soon. Oh how we wish it was instantaneous! 🙂


Once you submit your application, a checklist will appear in your application portal that updates you on the receipt of application items. A few quick tips:

  1. Unknow School is listed in your checklist (how mysterious of us!):
    • This is listed for a reason. It’s because you have transfer credits listed on your transcript, that do not include a grade. We require transcripts for each grade/credit you have received, regardless of when the course(s) was taken.
    • Yes, it’s relevant. Yes, it’s required. 🙂
    • Transfer credits may include the following: Community college coursework, study abroad coursework, language coursework, etc.
    • If you list any additional education in your resume, these will also be added to your checklist and require transcripts or letters of attendance.
    • If you participated in a program that did not give you credits or grades, please plan to provide official documentation from the organization stating your participation.
    • If you believe a mistake has been made, call us, and we’ll explore it together.

Letters of Recommendation:

Once you add your recommender information, and submit your application, your recommenders will receive a link that allows them to upload their letters. Once you submit your application, you can view your Checklist to see who has, or has not, uploaded their letters. Please be aware your checklist may not be updated right away.

If you’re experiencing problems, please try these first prior to emailing or calling:

  1. Your Recommender did not get the upload link:
    • Log back into your application portal and resend them the upload link from your checklist- “send reminder”. Please be aware, this can only be done once your application is submitted.
    • Ask them to check their spam folder, and verify the email account with them
  2. You want to edit/change your recommender information:
    • Log back into your application portal and edit/change/delete this information in your checklist. If a recommender has not been able to submit a letter on your behalf, there are options to “send reminder” or “change recommender”, next to their names in your checklist. If a recommender has already submitted a letter, this information cannot be edited.
  3. If these do not work, please have your recommender email their letters directly from their email address to, and we will upload the letter for them.

**Please note, having your recommender upload their letters via the link is the fastest way for the letter to appear in your application. If we upload the letter, it may take up to a week for it to appear in your application.

Test Scores:

If you have sent your test scores to our institution code (5246) prior to submitting your application, please be aware that this is also not an instantaneous sync (trust us, we wish it was!). Your application and test scores begin their journey to “find♥” each other. Imagine that your application and test scores are both on Tinder. They just need to swipe right. This can take a couple days. A few important things to note:

  1. After you take the test and use our code at the testing center, scores can take up to 15 days to reach our institution.
  2. Once you request a test score to be sent to us via an online portal, it can also take 10-15 days to reach us.
  3. We cannot accept unofficial score reports emailed or uploaded by an applicant.
  4. If after 15 days, you still don’t see your test scores in your checklist, be sure the name you used on your test and the name you used on your application are the same. If they are not, please email us to explain the discrepancy so we can sort it out.

Fellowship Deadline:

You have until 11:59 PM EST to submit your application to be automatically considered for fellowships. That being said, there is a tiny window of wiggle room to have remaining items reach your application after this deadline. Plan to have all of your application materials submitted within one week of this deadline (test scores, letters of rec, transcripts, etc.).

Email Response Time:

Guys. We have like, a billion (∞ not really) emails. We’re happy to have so many emails, and we’re working overtime to get them answered, attach materials to your applications, etc. We REALLY appreciate your questions and your patience. So just know, you’ll get an answer, it just may take a few days! If you have a question that needs an immediate answer, please call us at 202-994-7050 so we can address it right away.


We can’t wait to review your applications!


The ESIA Graduate Admissions Team

Join us tonight for a Facebook LIVE Q&A!

Tonight we’ll have current students and alumni host a Facebook Live Q&A! Like our page to join:


Current Student Highlight: Kira Li


My name is Kira Li and I’m a first year graduate student for the IA program. Prior to coming to Elliott, I studied international development studies at McGill University in Canada and my undergraduate experience had taught me a great deal about developmental issues and the significance they play in making our world a better place. Later on, I had an opportunity to work at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada as an intern for a short while. This experience further fueled my passion toward international affairs as I learned about how we as individuals can contribute to promoting global interactions and bridging the world together. Thus I decided to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs during my last year in undergrad.

The Elliott School was definitely one of my top choices for the excellent program and incredible opportunities it offers. Being located in the center of DC grants the school access to government agencies, international organizations and tons of awesome opportunities pertaining to the field. Although I’ve only finished my first semester here, I already see the improvement in myself. From the theoretic based cornerstone course to having high profile guest speakers over to share their professional experiences, I managed to get valuable insights on international affairs related issues. After graduation, I would like to work at NGOs and probably private firms as well.

Next semester, I will be doing an internship at the Canadian Embassy in DC. I’m very excited for this opportunity and also what my next semester at the Elliott can offer me. It has been a wonderful experience at GWU and I’m learning stuff everyday J

So, as the end of semester is drawing near (can you believe 2016 is almost over?), I just wish everyone enjoy the last month of the year. And most importantly, hope finals treat us all well :’)