right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

College Selection Advice

markcusmarkcus 4 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
I'm a rising senior and I'm looking for some advice on colleges to apply to/ my chances/ any input really. I'm looking to go into international relations(IR) and foreign affairs. I go to a private school in OH and finances aren't a problem, I'm fortunate enough to be able to pay for pretty much any college.

Quick Resume Rundown:

GPA: 3.75

ACT: 30 (hopefully will reach 31-32 by September 8 date and a superscore of 32 surely)

AP Euro 4*
AP US 5* (predicted)
AP Lang 5* (predicted)

next year
-AP Spanish
-AP Gov
-AP Lit

-Speech Team Captain
-Editor in Chief of School News Paper
- Class Representative (essentially a co-presidency)
- Middlebury Spanish Program (5 weeks)
- Costa Rican Immersion (4 weeks)
-Won some assorted writing/history/journalism awards
- Cross Country and Track Runner


A problem I am encountering with IR schools is that there seems to be no middle ground (e.g. I can def get into American U but not Columbia or Princeton). I'm also willing to look at any international school. No barriers.
13 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: College Selection Advice

  • markcusmarkcus 4 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I've been looking at St. Andrews in Scotland, King's College, etc for international btw
    · Reply · Share
  • PublisherPublisher 7736 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    St. Andrew's is among the very best IR universities in the world. Great choice as a target school !

    Tufts is also a great IR school, but your ACT is a bit low.
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • markcusmarkcus 4 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
    what do you think about Georgetown? As I mentioned I think that there's really nothing between it and American but I think I still have a shot.
    · Reply · Share
  • happy1happy1 22755 replies2239 threadsVerified Member Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    I'd look into GW as a solid match school.
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • cfscollegecfscollege 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited June 2018
    Seton Hall has a great International Relations program. American University, GW?
    check niche
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • aquaptaquapt 1960 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Since Spanish has been your target language, you might consider U of Miami, whose "International Studies" department is primarily IR-focused and leans toward the Spanish-speaking world. http://www.as.miami.edu/international-studies/about-the-department/ Perfect fit for your stats.

    Your stats are also right at median for NYU, though another point or two on the ACT would lock down the odds of acceptance much better. Terrible financial aid, but since that's not a problem for you, it could be a great choice. http://cas.nyu.edu/content/nyu-as/cas/academic-programs/bulletin/departments-and-programs/major-in-international-relations.html

    Tulane https://admission.tulane.edu/programs/46-international-relations-political-science could be a good option, particularly if you're interested in combining IR with business https://admission.tulane.edu/programs/105-international-studies-amp-business-the-altman Northeastern also has similar programs but would be a steep admit.

    And don't dismiss Ohio State https://polisci.osu.edu/graduate/fields-study/international-relations
    · Reply · Share
  • warblersrulewarblersrule 9999 replies170 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited June 2018
    Seconded. Ohio State made Foreign Policy magazine's 2018 list of the best undergrad schools for preparing for a career in IR.

    1 Harvard University
    2 Princeton University
    3 Stanford University
    4 Georgetown University
    5 Columbia University
    6 Yale University
    7 University of Chicago
    8 George Washington University
    9 American University
    10 University of California, Berkeley
    11 University of California, San Diego
    12 Dartmouth College
    13 Tufts University
    14 University of Michigan
    15 Johns Hopkins University
    16 College of William & Mary
    17 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    18 Cornell University
    19 University of Pennsylvania
    19 The Ohio State University
    21 Williams College
    22 Brown University
    23 University of Virginia
    24 Swarthmore College
    24 University of California, Los Angeles

    Macalester and Dickinson are worth consideration as smaller alternatives to the schools above.

    U Denver also has a very good IR school.
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • MastadonMastadon 1730 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The above ranking needs to be considered in context. The source is a survey of "IR Scholars" by the College of William and Mary. The goal of publishing the survey (which includes more than the ranking) is to try to increase the relevance of "IR Scholars" outside of the "Ivory Tower". It is not a poll of practicing diplomats or even government officials, so it is more of a list of schools for preparing for a career in the "Ivory Tower" (i.e. academia), not for preparing for a career as an IR practitioner. Note that the undergrad ranking closely correlates with their ranking of IR Phd programs (see below) whereas a ranking that was compiled from a survey of government officials (several years ago) was more closely correlated with the ranking of Terminal Masters programs (see below).
    Foreign Policy magazine, in collaboration with the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project at the College of William & Mary, is pleased to present the results of the 2018 Ivory Tower survey. The survey provides a snapshot of how top international relations scholars assess their discipline at a moment when the liberal international order — overseen by a U.S. president with little evident attachment to it — is in unprecedented flux.
    Stephen Walt, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and columnist for FP, suggests that IR scholars have more work to do to get their own house in order before advising diplomats on how to do the same.

    (Note that this original source has 50 schools ranked)

    Note that IR is an interdisciplinary applied field (similar to Engineering or Business) so Ivy League schools tend to shy away from offering it at the undergraduate level because it does not fit the pure liberal arts educational model. So Harvard, Princeton and Columbia don't offer undergraduate degrees in IR. Johns Hopkins does offer an undergraduate degree in IR, but the masters program resides on a separate campus in DC, so there is less synergy between the masters program and the undergrad program. Also note that Harvard(Kennedy) is a school of Government (not IR) and that Harvard(Kennedy), Harvard Law, and Tufts(Fletcher) have cross enrollment to leverage each other's strengths.

    Terminal Masters

    1 Georgetown University (Walsh) 60.53
    2 Harvard University (Kennedy) 49.43
    3 Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) 48.30
    4 Princeton University (Wilson) 37.58
    5 Columbia University (SIPA) 37.45
    6 Tufts University (Fletcher) 30.90
    7 George Washington University 29.38
    8 American University 21.06
    9 London School of Economics 18.16
    10 University of Chicago 13.75
    11 Stanford University 9.08
    12 University of Oxford 8.07
    13 Yale University 7.82
    14 University of Denver 7.31
    15 University of California-San Diego 5.42
    16 Syracuse University (Maxwell) 4.67
    17 University of Cambridge 3.78
    18 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3.28
    18 University of Michigan 3.28
    20 University of California-Berkeley 2.40
    20 University of Pittsburgh 2.40
    22 New York University 2.14
    22 Sciences Po-Paris 2.14
    24 Duke University 1.77
    25 School of Oriental and African Studies 1.53


    1 Harvard University 62.51
    2 Princeton University 53.17
    3 Stanford University 48.76
    4 Columbia University 32.44
    5 Yale University 21.80
    6 University of Chicago 21.37
    7 University of California—San Diego 16.00
    8 University of Michigan 15.68
    9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 13.43
    10 University of California—Berkeley 12.03
    11 University of Oxford 8.59
    12 Cornell University 7.30
    13 London School of Economics 6.66
    14 Ohio State University 5.48
    15 Georgetown University 5.37
    16 University of Cambridge 4.51
    17 Johns Hopkins University 4.08
    18 George Washington University 3.22
    19 New York University 2.69
    19 University of Wisconsin—Madison 2.69
    21 University of Minnesota 2.26
    22 American University 2.15
    22 Duke University 2.15
    22 University of Rochester 2.15
    25 University of California—Los Angeles

    · Reply · Share
  • warblersrulewarblersrule 9999 replies170 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited July 2018
    Mastadon wrote:
    The above ranking needs to be considered in context
    While the list is not perfect, I have no interest in nitpicking between the top IR schools. My only point was that Ohio State is an excellent in-state option. Do you disagree?

    As for Tufts, it is as much of a reach for OP as the Ivies unless that ACT score comes up.
    edited July 2018
    Post edited by warblersrule on
    · Reply · Share
  • MastadonMastadon 1730 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member

    @warblersrule - it depends.

    If the OP wants to go on to get a Phd, or other advanced degree then your list is fine(only I would recommend the version in FP with 50 schools) and I agree that Ohio State is a good option. If it is in-state, then that makes it even more attractive.

    If the OP wants to go directly into the working world in an IR related position, then I would recommend using the Masters list (the version in FP with 50 schools) with the caveats I mentioned. In this case I am less enthusiastic about Ohio State, but if it is in-state that would make it more attractive.

    Note that the ranking of the masters program for Ohio State is 39, but the Phd program is ranked 14 which would explain why the undergraduate program was ranked highly by the surveyed population. If one looks at the link in the post by @aquapt , Ohio State features their placement in Phd programs (not government/NGOs) If one clicks on the undergraduate tab, one sees that IR is set up as a 4 course specialization within Polysci, not as a separate interdisciplinary major with a larger number of course requirements.

    Also note that your recommendation of U Denver is ranked at 14 for masters, 34 for Phd and is not on your list.
    So, I would say that it is a good option if the OP wants to go into an IR related career. If one goes to their website, one will see that undergraduate IR is a distinct major within their School of International Studies.

    Syracuse is another school that is less "reachy", but ranked highly at the masters level. It also offers IR as a separate, interdisciplinary major at the undergrad level.

    Note that U Denver is also the regional site for the US government's Diplomat in Residence program, which is the regional recruitment program for jobs in the US State Department. This list is also a good reference for those looking to go into an IR related career. It includes Tulane, which was recommended by aquapt.

    U Denver
    U New Mexico
    U Oklahoma
    UT Austin
    U Illinois Chicago
    City College of NY

    · Reply · Share
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41736 replies450 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Look into Middlebury, very strong preparation for IR jobs. A reach but not out of reach if you can get your act together 32 and you have good course rigor.
    Dickinson and Macalester are also extremely strong for this field and matches for you.
    U Denver and Kalamazoo would be low matches to safeties.
    Express interest as soon as possible.
    · Reply · Share
  • tk21769tk21769 10643 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    A problem I am encountering with IR schools is that there seems to be no middle ground (e.g. I can def get into American U but not Columbia or Princeton)

    Your definition of "IR schools" may be too restrictive.

    In terms of admission selectivity, many colleges occupy a middle ground between AU and Princeton.
    Not all of them have IR departments, majors, or schools. However, virtually all of them do have political science (/ government) departments. Just to give one example, Bowdoin does not have an IR major, but it does seem to have a respected government department (one that offers some courses on international/comparative subjects.) You may be able to put together an interdisciplinary/dual major that covers much of the IR space you'd find at schools with dedicated IR programs.

    As for the distinction between preparing for a career in academia vs. preparing for a career as an IR practitioner, keep in mind that at most top schools (or at somewhat less selective schools with good reputations in government/IR), most professors are likely to be professional academics with PhDs in political science or related disciplines. At some top schools you'll also find former practitioners, but even some of those folks may have advanced degrees. For example, Madeleine Albright and Chester Crocker (Georgetown) have PhDs. An internship can be a good way to complement what you learn in the "Ivory Tower" with more-or-less hands-on experience.
    · Reply · Share
  • aquaptaquapt 1960 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    SLU would be a solid low-match school for you. They have an IR major both at their main campus and at their Madrid campus, and they have a plan that allows students to spend their first two years in Madrid and then return to the St. Louis campus for the last two years. Could be an interesting option for you. Their Honors Program would be a possibility if your ACT goes up.
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity