- Annual Enrollment:
- Average GRE (Master of Arts in International Relations):
- GRE VERBAL 158 - 165; GRE QUANT 156 -165 (GRE not required for most programs)
- Average GPA:
- 3.43 - 3.84
- Work Experience:
- 2 years
- Countries Represented:
- % International:
- Employment sectors:
- 46% Private Sector, 19% Public Sector, 18% Nonprofit Sector, 11% Multilateral Sector, 6% Fellowships/Further Study
- Additional degrees offered:
- Master of Arts in Global Policy, Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance, Master of International Public Policy, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of International Affairs, Master of Arts in Sustainable Energy (online), Master of Arts in Global Risk (online)
- At SAIS Europe:
- Master of Arts in European Public Policy, Master of Arts in Global Risk, Master of Arts in International Affairs (research-oriented program), Diploma in International Studies
- At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center:
- Master of Arts in International Studies (for Mandarin speakers), Certificate in Chinese and American Studies (for Mandarin speakers)
Innovative Curriculum Through an innovative curriculum rooted in the study of international relations, economics, and policy studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS prepares the next generation of global leaders to solve multifaceted 21st century global challenges. Focus on areas of greatest importance to your career, choosing among topics such as Development, Climate, and Sustainability; International Economics and Finance; Security, Strategy, and Statecraft; States, Markets, and Institutions; Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation; Ethics and Leadership; Data Analytics; and Geopolitics. Flexible degree options and broader use of technology complement in-presence education and align with an ever-changing world. The school’s diverse student body includes approximately 1,200 students in Washington, D.C., Bologna, Italy, and Nanjing, China.
A Global Footprint Johns Hopkins SAIS’s three campuses in Washington, Italy, and China are strategically located to align with the rebalancing of the world: the economic growth of Asia, political and financial transitions in Europe, and the evolving role of the United States. A network of partnerships with leading global educational institutions also provides expanded global exposure for students.
Thought Leadership The school's faculty members are renowned as real-world practitioners, leading scholars and public intellectuals. Our students learn from diplomats who negotiated international treaties, theorists who wrote the books on nuclear deterrence, great power competition and grand strategy, and thought leaders whose editorials drive public discourse. The school’s centers and institutes convene academics, policymakers, and leaders to analyze difficult foreign policy issues alongside students.
Interconnected Global Alumni The alumni network at Johns Hopkins SAIS exceeds 20,000 accomplished leaders, from private-sector chief executives to entrepreneurs, leaders of nongovernmental organizations to ambassadors, and think tank experts to policymakers. The school’s alumni include Nancy Birdsall, founder and president, Center for Global Development; Pamela P. Flaherty, former president and CEO, Citi Foundation; Timothy F. Geithner, former Secretary of the Treasury; Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the U.S.; Michele Kelemen, Diplomacy Correspondent for National Public Radio; Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy; and Jeffrey Raider, Co-founder of Warby Parker and Co-founder and Co-CEO of Harry’s Inc.
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Why is it important to study international affairs?
At no other time in our living memory have so many factors been in such flux both within societies and on a global scale. The world is changing before our eyes in real time; COVID-19 has rendered bare many fault lines across the world, and we should expect to see many changes in the years to come. How fundamental the changes will be in this new, post-pandemic world remain to be seen, but it is not a stretch of the imagination to say some of the key international institutions, norms, and players of the past century will face deep challenges. How do we think about these changes? What trends will we see, and what can they point to? What will new configurations of polities, societies, and powers look like, and how can we best study them? How do we think about policymaking in the midst of these shifts? These questions will not be mere intellectual exercises anymore. Our classrooms will take on a new urgency as we learn about these shifts together. If there was any time to study international affairs, this is it.
How do current events underscore the need for practitioners of international affairs?
In the past two years, we have witnessed young generations rising up, taking to the streets and clamoring for change in the United States, Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, and Hong Kong, among others. These protest movements are concerned with local issues as much as they are with broader trends of global economic systems and regional and international politics. On these streets, across social media, and at universities, we see lively debates erupt over some of the fundamental political, economic, social, and cultural norms and policies that have undergirded our international political and economic system for decades. Regardless of where one’s political allegiances may be, these global uprisings point to massive discontent over existing logics that have resulted in extreme global inequalities. We need new generations of practitioners of international affairs to learn, understand, and offer new ideas. The world is changing in drastic ways, and the need for new ideas and leadership at all levels is acutely obvious.
How does the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) stand out from other schools?
As an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, you might be surprised to see me at SAIS, but I cannot imagine a more exciting place to explore today’s complex global issues. From organizing sold-out art exhibitions and film premieres of Oscar-winning filmmakers to developing an ethnography lab, I’ve learned that the school takes interdisciplinary work seriously. At a time when big data looms large yet comes short in capturing the minute ways that COVID-19 alters daily life, the ethnography lab will help inject different ways of thinking about the pandemic. Students learn to use integrated, multimedia storytelling to disseminate their original research and to connect with a larger audience. To me, this is what the school is about: thinking in different ways and questioning conventional knowledge.
Why is the study of international relations important today?
International relations is an inescapable part of everyone’s life, from the foods we eat to the goods we purchase to whether countries go to war. Everyone is affected by it.
Today, the international order that has made possible the remarkable growth and improvements in quality of life over the past 75 years is at a watershed. Geopolitics are changing; global forces such as climate change exercise power that no state can control; and liberal democracy faces competition and challenges that we have not seen in generations. The world needs leaders who understand these developments, and who have the practical skills to respond to them.
Why study at Johns Hopkins SAIS?
Johns Hopkins SAIS is a unique professional school that was founded in 1943 at a time when the world was in extraordinary flux. Today, our students may focus on different issues, but our tradition of structured learning—rooted in international economics, American foreign policy, strategic studies, international development, and regional studies—combined with practical skills and policy engagement remains as relevant as ever.
We are integrating new fields of inquiry into the study of international relations, such as global health, food insecurity, cybersecurity, and sustainable energy. And while our two-year Master of Arts degree remains our flagship program, we are rapidly broadening our offerings in specialized one-year degree programs in fields like global risk, international economics and finance, European public policy, and energy and sustainability. We have recently introduced a new practitioner’s doctorate and are increasingly offering part-time, online, and hybrid forms of education.
Our graduates are known around the world for their cultural fluency, mastery of complexity, and approach to decision-making informed by the realities of the world as it is. And hands-on learning is a hallmark of the Johns Hopkins SAIS experience. Through summer internships and practicum projects with professional clients, students apply what they have learned in the classroom to complex, real-world problems. They go on dozens of staff rides and study trips each year. In this year alone, they met with officials in Colombia coordinating that country’s response to migration out of Venezuela, analyzed the energy sector in Pakistan, met with authorities planning and overseeing free trade zones and ports in China, and studied democratization and stabilization efforts in Tunisia.
Our faculty of practically-minded scholars and scholarly practitioners, are all committed to teaching and learning. Students gain exposure in the classroom to scholars in the forefront of their field, and to experts who have negotiated treaties and trade pacts, run multimillion dollar aid programs, and commanded military forces in the field. Our global alumni network includes 20,000 graduates working in leading roles in 140 countries. They mentor current students, host group visits, and help students make direct connections to employers in their field.
Studying at Johns Hopkins SAIS means learning from the best, becoming part of a large and growing community, and preparing to adapt to whatever challenges a turbulent world will throw your way.
Graduate study offers talented students the chance to advance their careers and make a difference in the world. Why is the study of international relations important?
The economy is increasingly global and interdependent and so is the bigger picture—quality of life and human development in the future will be driven by solving problems that can’t be contained by borders, such as climate change, water scarcity, financial instability, terrorism, and migration. Professionals who can understand and translate the complexities of a changing world are in high demand. A graduate education in international relations is an excellent platform for those who want to create the greater good.
What will the next generation of students need to succeed in the field of international development?
International development is at an inflection point: Many countries have reached middle-income status and their development needs have evolved. Longstanding poverty, violence, high mortality, and unemployment are likely tied to root causes such as poor governance. The interdisciplinary approach at Johns Hopkins SAIS prepares students to work across sectors and to be effective in multiple fields of practice. Our scholars and practitioners train students to examine problems from different facets of policy: as political scientists, historians, and economists.
What do students gain from their experiences beyond the classroom?
Hands-on learning is a hallmark of the Johns Hopkins SAIS experience. Through study trips, summer internships, and extracurricular activities, students are encouraged to apply what they have learned in the classroom to address complex, real-world scenarios.
Several programs of study offer students the opportunity to work across sectors with clients who are at the forefront of tackling challenging global issues, and nothing makes academic concepts they have learned in the classroom more real than running a project for a client on their own. For example, students in the International Development program have recently partnered with clients to investigate the sanitation and nutrition environment of street vendors in India, identify best practices for financing young entrepreneurs in the Philippines, and develop a business case to manufacture and distribute water filters in rural Cambodia.
Students also have the opportunity to explore the real-world impact of international policy through dozens of study trips each year. Recent study trips have included meeting with officials at a migrant intake center on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, analyzing the technology transfer and market adaptation of green power projects in China, and exploring Islamic finance in the context of access and religious norms in Malaysia.
How should aspiring foreign affairs professionals think about their futures?
Most of the issues that concern international policy are bipartisan. We need to work on creating more bipartisan consensus by being fact-driven and focused on effective outcomes. The next generation of international relations professionals will need to engage with people who don’t agree with their views. A constructive dialogue leads to better analysis, better findings, and the shared understanding which makes it possible for people around the world to pursue better lives. The school’s unique community of diverse and passionate faculty, staff, and students challenge and inspire each other to achieve their goals.
How did your experience at Johns Hopkins SAIS prepare you for your current role?
Disrupting the status quo in energy infrastructure is a big—but necessary—task. My nonprofit organization develops business models that bring clean and affordable energy services to populations that have never before had electricity. Energy intersects with finance, policy, community engagement, international relations, technology, and a million other things. My studies deepened my thinking about infrastructure planning and financial modeling and informed my thinking of these adjacent issues. When it comes to successful execution, it really comes down to getting all of the details right, and Johns Hopkins SAIS is great for helping lay the groundwork for managing all of those details.
What advice would you share with someone interested in studying international affairs?
Whether you’re interested in working on Wall Street or building a social enterprise from the ground up, I would encourage prospective students to explore what they care about and how their studies will help them achieve their career goals. Second, I would recommend gaining meaningful work experience before starting graduate school. Finally, I would advise that prospective students speak with current students, faculty, and graduates of their top choice schools. Everyone I met at Johns Hopkins SAIS was really open to answering my questions and very supportive. Their enthusiasm for the institution was a great motivator in my choosing to apply.
What would you say to someone planning to study at Johns Hopkins SAIS?
Actually, I have a friend who was recently accepted into the school’s Master of Arts in Global Policy program and I am thrilled for her. I have told her, and would tell others, that she is headed to a school that has truly earned its reputation for being a leader in the field of international affairs. I know she will be afforded incredible opportunities to gain new perspectives, meet great people, and learn concrete skills that will serve her throughout her career. I would also encourage newly admitted students to embrace the school’s welcoming and engaged global community, to leave their comfort zones, and to make the most of their time as a student—whether they are studying in Washington, DC, Europe, or China—because school goes by far too quickly.
The Johns Hopkins SAIS alumni network is known for being a close-knit community. How do you stay involved?
I really appreciate the school’s strong sense of community and return to campus to attend events whenever I can. I’ve also been fortunate to recruit student volunteers for my organization, including one volunteer who spent seven months working on a solar electrification project in Haiti. In fact, the volunteers have been so enthusiastic about their studies that one of my colleagues ended up applying to the school! I have also enjoyed staying in touch with former professors and classmates who work on similar issues and seeing them at events around DC and the world.
Why do you think a background in international relations is relevant in today’s job market?
The combination of economics, regional, and policy expertise, paired with foreign language ability and the emphasis on communication skills really sets Johns Hopkins SAIS students apart. Graduates emerge with a worldview and analytical skills that allow them to process the big picture and communicate in an effective manner.
How did your experience at Johns Hopkins SAIS prepare you for your career?
I came to Johns Hopkins SAIS with an undergraduate degree in philosophy and an interest in international development. The Asian financial crisis occurred between my first year—spent in Italy at SAIS Europe—and second year—spent in Washington, DC. I learned in a moment the impact of macroeconomics on a country’s development trajectory. My fascination with the event, and ability to see how it could happen in other regions, became a career maker. Being a student in the Latin American Studies program empowered me with a distinct skill set when married with the economics training and has served me well to this day.
What trajectory has your career taken since graduation?
I was hired by Morgan Stanley’s Private Wealth Management group to work on the Argentine desk right out of Johns Hopkins SAIS. After the Argentine default I dedicated myself to sovereign risk analysis and transitioned to Firm Risk Management. Over the next dozen years I learned how to analyze companies and countries, evaluate derivatives and lending transactions, and most rewardingly I learned to manage people—many of whom I hired from Johns Hopkins SAIS. Before transitioning from Risk Management, I served as Chief Risk Officer for Latin America and Global Head of Country Risk. I left Risk to become the Global Head of Emerging Markets Strategy and Business Development within our Fixed Income Division. All of these experiences provided the background and runway for my current role as Chief Operating Officer for Latin America.
The Johns Hopkins SAIS alumni network is known for being a close-knit community. How do you stay involved?
Johns Hopkins SAIS is a wonderful community. Over the years I have enjoyed the company of SAIS friends across the globe from Norway, Turkey, Tunisia, Hong Kong, and South Africa. We’ve hosted happy hours in Sao Paolo and had dinners in Brussels. I served as the co-president of the SAIS New York Alumni Club for five years, a group which typically hosts four to five events per year. I also visit the Washington, DC campus once a year to deliver a talk on Wall Street careers and host students participating in the career treks. My biggest area of focus now is with the SAIS Global Women in Leadership group. While I do not feel that being a woman has been an impediment to my career, I’m often the only woman in the room. I want to see more women in leadership roles and am working towards making that a reality.
Since its founding, SAIS has created not only thinkers but also practitioners of international relations in a world that is in constant economic and political flux. SAIS was built on the conviction that tackling the world’s problems required a comprehensive, fully immersed, and interdisciplinary approach, one in which economics, diplomacy, regional studies, international law, and foreign languages merged to better determine global challenges and solutions. Its presence on three continents—Asia, Europe, and North America—through its campuses in Bologna, Italy, Nanjing, China, and Washington, DC, further created the opportunity for students to develop a truly global perspective.
How does SAIS’s interdisciplinary approach add to the competitive advantage students have over their peers in the global marketplace?
The highly advanced combination of international economics, regional studies, in-house language training, and functional areas provides students with a kaleidoscopic but specialized perspective which, unsurprisingly, makes them the best analysts, problem solvers, and leaders wherever they are placed after graduation. Our school is peerless in this respect.
You have experience in teaching at various educational institutions around the world; what do you find unique about SAIS?
I have found two fundamental differences: first, a majority of students who come to SAIS have extensive previous professional experience from all walks of life. In the classroom, this translates into diverse and mature, well-grounded discussion about real problems in the real world, rather than in the universe of theory. Second, the public policy perspective at the heart of the school’s teaching and research begets a community that is concerned with and participates publicly in whichever international issues are capturing the day’s global headlines.
What is your perspective on Latin America’s role in the world and how the region’s politics affect global foreign policy?
Latin America is never a boring area of study because its political and economic swings tend to be frequent and substantial in width and depth. At the same time, deep-seated structural conditions such as entrenched inequality, weak rule of law, and high prevalence of violence and criminality check such swings; the result tends to be more often than not weak progress and prosperity for a majority of the subcontinent’s population. At the same time, nothing is preordained, so we should not give in to fatalism. Currently, issues such as the most productive way to invest windfalls from the commodity boom of the 2000s; the incredible growth of economic exchange with China and more broadly the Asia-Pacific; the growth of middle class strata in many of the region’s countries; and the continued effort to strengthen political and economic institutions to enhance accountability, justice, productive investment, high growth, and—crucially—fair and significant redistribution to narrow the great inequality gap are all areas that hold promise for major improvements. Through courses and hands-on experience, including internships and fellowships in Latin America and study trips to China and other countries, students of the Latin American Studies Program bring their education to their practice and careers in investment banking, business consulting, government, diplomacy, international development, and academia, among other sectors.