Friday, October 31, 2014

Admissions: Open Day at SAIS Europe and upcoming online information sessions

On November 28, SAIS Europe will open its doors to prospective students. 

During the day, visitors will meet professors, current students and staff members. It is a great opportunity to get gain insight into SAIS.

There are lots of graduate programs in international relations and choosing the right ones to apply to is not easy. Open Day helps in understanding whether SAIS is the right fit for you.

Visitors can ask questions to professors and to students. Professors will talk about the different programs available at SAIS and members of the Student Government Association (SGA) will be available to answer questions on their experience.

Visitors will be able to attend a class or two. Prof. David Unger, adjunct professor of American Foreign Policy and long time member of the New York Times Editorial Board, will teach his course on the Emergency State; Prof. Edmund Amann will teach his course on the Economics of Latin America.

In addition, there will be Q&A sessions with Career Services, Student Services and Admissions.

For those coming from neighbouring European countries, several budget airlines fly to Bologna.

Some current students have offered to host visitors. If you are interested in staying with a current student, please send an email to 

If you plan on attending, we would kindly ask you to register here so that we can be sure to have a welcome pack for everyone and we know how many people we should expect at lunch time and at the Happy Hour at the end of the day.

We understand that most of our prospective applicants live far from Bologna and may not be able to attend. For this purpose, we plan on running a post on the questions that are asked during Open Day shortly after the event.

Moreover, in coming weeks, we will hold a few online information sessions. These sessions are another great way to learn more about SAIS. To connect, you will need a computer and an internet connection.

We have changed the times of the sessions to accommodate as many people as possible in different time zones. Below are the details to connect. You should enter the virtual meeting room as a "guest".

- November 10 at noon Italian time (1100 GMT) 
  Link to connect:

- November 21 at 6 pm Italian time (1700 GMT or noon EST)
  Link to connect:

- December 5 at 6 pm Italian time (1700 GMT or noon EST)
  Link to connect:

You can reach us and get information on SAIS also via Skype (jhubc.admissions), via email or by phone +39 051 2917 849.

Amina Abdiuahab

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Concentrations at SAIS: Strategic Studies

The study of national security issues at SAIS dates back to the founding of the school in 1943. The Strategic Studies (STRAT) concentration specifically explores the relationship between politics and the many kinds of military power, but also includes work in closely related fields such as intelligence, cyber war, and leadership studies.

Students at SAIS Europe concentrating in STRAT familiarize themselves with diverse approaches to strategic thought from both Western and Asian perspectives. They gain this knowledge through panel discussions, student clubs, travel opportunities, and coursework such as Strategy and Policy, East Asian Security, Alliances and International Relations, and Thucydides on War. STRAT concentrators in Bologna have the opportunity to visit World War II sites and attend security conferences in Europe.

Olga Belogolova reporting in Congress (2013)
Olga Belogolova is a Strategic Studies concentrator at SAIS Europe. Below, she discusses why she chose Bologna and her specific field of study.

My interest in the Strategic Studies concentration at SAIS stems from my reporting background, my interaction with SAIS alumni and military personnel in Washington D.C., and my personal interest in national security.

Over the last four years, I have worked as a reporter covering energy policy and defense budget in D.C., interviewing policy makers and military officials in Congress and at the Pentagon.

As someone who was born in Ukraine and speaks Russian, I am further interested in pursuing a career of advancing U.S. security interests through an understanding of the Eurasian sphere.

Beyond this background, my time in Washington has also allowed me to meet a number of SAIS students and alumni, who have spoken enthusiastically about SAIS and specifically about the Strategic Studies program.

Spending my first year in Bologna, Italy gives me the opportunity to develop a better grasp of the transatlantic relationship, integral to U.S. national security. And, well, why not spend a year in Italy?

As someone who's lived in Washington for the last four years, I understand the value of getting away from the grind and getting some perspective (with the added benefit of living in the food capital of Italy).

Olga Belogolova
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Admissions: Writing the Analytical Essay

Most graduate programs in international affairs ask applicants to submit a statement of purpose. SAIS goes one step further and asks its applicants to additionally submit an analytical essay.

Below, I've outlined some tips on tackling this essay.

Choosing a Topic
The topic for the analytical essay is completely up to you. The only requirement is that it be related to international relations and under 600 words.

So, how do you choose a topic? Below are three options you can consider:

1. Write about what you know: Leverage your previous experiences to write on a subject you've already worked on or studied.

2. Write about what you want to know: Maybe you don't have an international relations background. In that case, you'll have to do a little more research to define a topic and an argument.
If you're completely unsure of what to write about, a good way to develop a theme is to look at SAIS' policy concentrations as "umbrellas" under which you can narrow your topic: International Economics, American Foreign Policy, Conflict Management, International Law, Strategic Studies, and Energy & the Environment.

Or, take a look at the SAIS course offerings on the Integrated Student Information System. Read the descriptions of classes that sound interesting and begin researching a specific topic.

3. Weave together options 1 and 2:

Valerie Tan, an M.A. student from the Philippines concentrating in International Development, went with option 3. In her essay, she discussed the issues faced by refugees. Understanding issues of migration and the systems in place to deal with those problems is why Valerie wanted to go to grad school, and so it was fitting for her to choose it as her essay topic. Not only was it a way for her to demonstrate her academic interest, but it was a way for her to unpack the challenges of a sector she hopes to work in after SAIS.

Having lived in many places, she has often been branded as "international" or as an expat. This identity, and her experience living in the U.S. on a student visa, also influenced her topic choice. Valerie's essay stood out to the admissions committee because it seamlessly weaved her personal connection to the topic with a high level of professionalism and analysis. Read her essay here.

Making an Argument
The admissions committee wants to see how you structure your thoughts into a coherent essay rather than what type of argument you make. Don't feel as if you have to write something profound. As applicants, you're not expected to have all the answers to the world's problems -- that's why you need a SAIS education!

Structuring your Argument
It's okay to use the first person. If you read Valerie's essay, you'll see that she used the first person POV. That's OK -- just remember to keep the framework of the essay analytical. I too brought in a personal narrative into my essay, but doing so is not necessary.

Write from the "bottom up": Many people make their strongest argument at the end of the essay, but with only 600 words to work with, bringing your main argument to the top will strengthen the analysis.

Concluding your Essay
What's the relevance of your topic? Why should the international community care? This should have been addressed at the beginning of your essay in some way, but ending with a statement on the relevance of your topic to the future of foreign affairs will give the reader something extra to think about.

Good luck!

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Concentrations at SAIS: Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE)

The Energy, Resources and Environment Program (ERE) is one of the largest and fastest growing programs at SAIS Europe.

Students in this concentration take both energy and environment courses, giving them the knowledge of the deep links between the two areas. An understanding of the "iron triangle" of energy, water and food security, the threats posed by global climate change, and possible solutions to these daunting problems, is a critical component of the ERE graduate's tool kit.

Studying ERE in Europe has its advantages. For one, students get to learn from professors with a unique set of international experiences related to energy and the environment.

Dr. Manfred Hafner, a visiting professor from the International Energy Masters program at Sciences-Po Paris with experience in energy security and technologies in Europe, Russia and the Middle East, is teaching this semester's course on Politics & Economics of International Energy.

Next semester, Dr. Kenneth Keller, former director of SAIS Europe and current senior adjunct professor of science and technology policy, will be teaching a course on Science, Technology & International Affairs.

Waleed Khoury
Students studying ERE in Bologna are well connected to the program in D.C. Waleed Khoury, a current M.A. student at SAIS, is the ERE Student Liaison in Bologna. His main role is relaying the interests of the Bologna ERE cohort to the program based in D.C., and then interfacing between the D.C. and SAIS Europe centers to facilitate a fulfillment of those interests.

According to M.A. student Brianna Lazerwitz, studying ERE in Bologna also allows students to discover new paths within the concentration.
Brianna Lazerwitz

"Before coming to SAIS, my main interests in ERE were with water-related issues. I didn't expect to discover that I'm also interested in energy and risk analysis, which I credit to the Politics & Economics of International Energy and Risk in International Political Economy courses offered in Bologna. Being here has let me explore IR and other academic interests that I can then tie into my focus in ERE in D.C., and into a career after graduation."

To learn more about the ERE concentration and its requirements, visit the program's webpage.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Careers: Making Financial Moves in London

The M.A. program at SAIS is, above all else, a professional development program.

To give its students the best advantage in a competitive job market, Career Services organizes sector-specific treks to cities across the world. At SAIS Europe, those include visits to London, Brussels and Geneva.

On these treks, students are given the opportunity to visit employer sites, hear alumni speak about their careers and gain insight into the hiring requirements of some of the program's top employers.

Last week, students traveled to London to meet with employers working in finance.

Read what Carlotta Munini, an Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) concentrator at SAIS Europe, has to say about her experience as one of the participants:

The London Finance Career Trek is one of the unique opportunities SAIS offers. Those of us with a strong passion for the financial sector had the opportunity to visit the world's leading financial institutions for two days. 

As "temporary insiders" we were able to approach and engage with some of the SAIS alumni that hold prestigious positions in these institutions. 

The alumni were always excited to address our questions and concerns regarding their jobs, the challenges they face every day and the working opportunities within the field. Getting such straightforward and honest answers was crucial in helping us develop a more accurate idea of what working in the financial field means.

The next career trek planned for SAIS Europe students takes place in Geneva and will focus on UN agencies, trade-and environment-related organizations, think tanks and non-profits.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet the Admissions Team

The SAIS Europe Admissions Office has hired five students to help with the recruitment and admissions process for the 2014-2015 academic year. Student assistants will be responding to prospective students' emails, reaching out through social media, and will be available during Open House events to help prospective and admitted students learn about SAIS Europe. Get to know them below: 

Chelsea Boorman
Chelsea Boorman is from Miami, FL and has a B.A. in Global Studies and Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to SAIS, Chelsea interned at the U.S. Embassies in Ottawa and Paris, and conducted research in Rwanda on post-conflict reconciliation and international law. At SAIS, she is concentrating in General International Relations and Economics. Chelsea is a dual U.S. and Jamaican citizen.

Shuja Malik
Shuja Malik is a M.A. candidate at SAIS Europe concentrating in South Asia Studies. Before coming to SAIS, Shuja was with the BBC working as Producer for the Urdu Service. He was trained as a television presenter and hosted the BBC Urdu flagship radio show, Sairbeen. Prior to this, he spent two years working as a Research Assistant with a doctoral candidate working on the decision-making process of religious political parties in Pakistan. Shuja received his M.Sc. in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and a B.A. in Political Science & Economics from University of the Punjab.

Laura Saiki Chaves
Laura Saiki Chaves holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Although originally from Peru, Laura grew up on Saipan, the main island in the U.S. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and has spent most of her life living in cities along the Pacific Rim. Laura is concentrating on International Development at SAIS and her interests include international trade and Latin America.

Alice Dufeu
Alice Dufeu is from France and is concentrating on Conflict Management at SAIS Europe. Before coming to SAIS, she studied Economics and Political Science at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Alice took a year to gain professional experience and interned with both a UN liaison office in D.C. and a conflict resolution NGO in Brussels. She is hoping to work in political risk analysis after getting her M.A. from SAIS.

Tchi Sogoyou-Bekeyi
Tchi Sogoyou-Bekeyi is from Togo and has a B.A. in International Studies from American University. Tchi is concentrating in International Development at SAIS with interests in education, governance, and corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to SAIS she worked for a cultural exchange international non-profit in Bethesda, MD. She enjoys reading a good book; her favorite book is Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Admissions: Tips for Writing the Statement of Purpose

Students who apply to SAIS are asked to write a statement of purpose. The statement, which has a 600-word limit, is a very important part of the application. It is a window on yourself and a chance for the Admissions Committee to learn more about you.

Below, Chelsea Boorman, a first year MA student at SAIS Europe, offers some tips to help with the writing process.

Many people find writing their statement of purpose to be the most challenging part of the SAIS application – and rightly so! 

It’s one of the most important pieces of one's dossier that gives the Admissions Committee insight into your personality and motivations.

With the memory of writing my personal statement still fresh in my mind, here’s some advice to get you going:

Be memorable. The obvious point here is finding a “hook” that will grab the reader. Try to think of a
“hook” that the Committee has never heard before. Reflect on the moment or experience that influenced you to apply to SAIS, and write about it in your statement. I opened my statement combining my experiences in Rwanda with a State Department internship in Canada.

Be personal. The statement of purpose is where you can breathe life into your application. I re-read my statement before writing this post and realized that most of it focused on personal experiences that weren’t on my resume.

Be professional. Don’t be afraid to be personal IF you can remain professional in your writing. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. SAIS is ultimately a professional development program.

Tell the Committee “why” SAIS. What specific aspects of the program (curriculum, professors, location, seminars, career development, etc.) are important to you? If you really want to impress the Committee, think of a reason that’s not advertised on the website.

Finish strong. There’s always a heavy emphasis on grabbing the reader at the very beginning, yet it’s equally important to end your statement leaving the reader with a (positive) lasting impression.

The easiest thing to do is to reflect on your past experiences and connect them to your future goals.

Writing a statement of purpose for this program is tricky because every applicant has an impressive background, but taking the time to reflect on what makes your experiences unique will help you stand out from the crowd.

Good luck!

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SAIS: One campus with a global presence

Earlier this week, SAIS Europe welcomed Dean Vali Nasr who travelled to Bologna to meet with students, faculty and staff. Below, Chelsea Boorman, a first year MA student at SAIS Europe, tells us what she came away with.
Chelsea Boorman

Dean Vali Nasr’s visit to Bologna on Monday showed that, though we students are oceans apart, SAIS is truly one campus with a global presence.

Speaking in front of this year’s class, Nasr shared his goals for the future of SAIS across its three campuses in D.C., Bologna, and Nanjing.

As a new SAISer myself, navigating the waters of adjusting to grad school, hearing his ideas left me optimistic and even more excited to be a part of this global program.

Studying in Bologna for the first year provides a distinctive experience by exposing students to contrasting European and U.S. perspectives on global issues.

SAIS Europe, at the time called the Bologna Center, used to be the hub for European Studies. Over time, the Center has diversified its curriculum and now represents every policy area as well as concentrations in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

This broadening of the curriculum is important, according to Nasr, because it allows students to integrate academically once at the D.C. campus.

Dean Vali Nasr
Whether by bringing European scholars and practitioners to campus, or through our coursework and discussions with students from all over the world, it is easy to see how studying in Bologna teaches us to think about world affairs in a new way. Combining this unique knowledge with the experience in D.C. sets SAISers apart in the job market – a top priority for us all.

Nasr opened the floor to questions about foreign affairs, which ended up focusing on the Middle East given his expertise. Students from the U.S., Pakistan, Serbia, and the U.K. focused not only on the role of the U.S. in the region, but also of Russia, China, Jordan, and Lebanon.

This showed to me what SAIS is all about: training future leaders to address global problems from multiple perspectives. And where better to do that than at an American graduate institution in an international setting?

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)