Graduate IR admissions: strong academics, not a lot of experience?

<p>Hi, everyone. This board seems to contain a lot of friendly, knowledgeable people as far as international relations admissions go, so I have a question! Thanks in advance.</p>

<p>I just graduated from Villanova, which has a pretty well-respected undergrad business program, with a 3.95 cumulative GPA (Finance and International Business major). I scored a 780 Q and a 730 V on my GRE (no word on writing sections yet). I have a LOT of leadership/positions of responsibility on campus. What I don't have is a great deal of international experience. I studied abroad for 4 months in London as a freshman and I am going to be spending the next year (August - July or so) teaching English in Shanghai, but that's kind of it. </p>

<p>Do you think I'd still be a competitive applicant at the top programs? The Georgetowns, SAISes, and Fletchers of the IR world? I really am hoping to attend these sorts of places, hopefully with some sort of generous financial aid package (but that's secondary). Thanks for your help!</p>

<p>@ The Fronde</p>

<p>You seem like a competitive candidate for the IR schools but I would highly recommend you gain some work experience (at least a year) before you apply. The professional master's programs tend to emphasize work experience unless you are a truly unique candidate. Where would you like to work 5-10 years for now? Try to scout those places and start from there.</p>

<p>Thanks for the quick reply, tenisghs. I guess I'm really eager to pursue a Master's upon returning from the gap year in China. I probably will try for a job in a related field if applications to these programs don't work out, but I'd strongly prefer not to wait. My hope is that my academics and time abroad are strong enough to offset my experience weakness.</p>

<p>You seem to have a strong academic background. Tenisghs comment is very usefull, think about future career goals
The best thing you can do it's to seek the perfect master program according to your career goals... not the other way around.
What do you mean by "a related field"? You want your work to be more related to IR or Int. Finance/Business? If it's IR then would you like to persue a career in the public sector, private sector, international organizations, ngos? (i'm guessing you don't want to teach right)
Work experience will not only make you a stronger candidate but will help you narrow your focus.</p>

<p>If I were you, I would definitely apply. If you apply in December, that means you will have had 4-5 months of experience in Shanghai, plenty to come up with a good SOP - IF you do something other than just teach while you are there. Volunteer in the sector you want to work in, EARLY, and you may just be able to wow them and snag a rec....if you are truly proactive, you should get into at least one top program (though funding may be a little more difficult). I think you would be set for the lower-ranked schools like American SIS and GWU....I think it will really come down to your SOP, if you can spin your leadership positions and if you can make the most of your initial months in China....Good Luck!</p>

<p>Thanks for the comments, folks. Imbealkariel, I'm leaning more towards public sector IR work, not international business. It seems like a lot of the positions I'd be interested in treat a master's degree as almost a prerequisite -- that's partially why I'm fixated on doing it now. A lot of it is also a more basic desire I suppose.</p>

<p>Rory123, I definitely plan on applying and appreciate the advice. I guess it's sort of frustrating because I think I have a strong profile outside of that element. I guess that is just a pretty big element! I'm trying to get a sense of how credible a candidate I'd be absent it. The financial consideration is there too, but I'd also be okay attending a second-tier school like GW or the like.</p>

<p>It might be a controversial topic, but I'm also a member of an underrepresented minority. I don't know if that'll play any role or not, but there it is.</p>

<p>that's funny. i'm in a similar situation. i think i'm still going to apply because of what i read on the web pages of these schools. they all say that experience is important but that they do accept some top students right out of undergrad. i have similar grades to yours and study abroad experience, so it can't hurt (though i'm not a minority). i suggest you apply too.</p>

<p>Write a passionate Statement of Interest and you'll be fine.</p>

<p>While I don't think minority status matters a whole lot when it comes to admissions in IR programs, it will probably open up a few more scholarship options...apply to all the top schools, and GWU etc as backup (I don't think you'll need it)...there is also a new program at the Fletcher School (Tufts), Masters in International Business, that may be of interest to you...</p>

<p>Good to know - thanks, everyone.</p>

<p>I really didn't mean to bump an old thread, but GW isn't a "second-tier" school any way you look at it. As far as gaining work experience goes, you may find yourself in the classical IR Catch-22 situation - you can't really get incredible work experience without a Master's, and some programs won't accept you without incredible work experience. I think you're a great candidate for any top-10 IR school, but being in DC during your studies will be an exceptional advantage because you'll have direct, down-the-street access to all the top employers. Plus, you'll be taught by practitioners who know people who know people (and so on) right down the street - another obvious advantage.</p>