Know thyself -- that's tough advice. But what's the best way to get starting trying to "know" about the options for graduate school? One approach is to visit the website for the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA for short). This is an organization of the best grad programs in international affairs in the U.S. and around the world. This site won't tell you where you should study, but it gives you a useful starting menu of programs with an interdisciplinary approach and the expected links and contact information.
APSIA is sponsoring a graduate school forum in Seattle on October 21. Read all about the forum and regester online here (scroll down to the Seattle event link):
Some of you may be trying to decide between grad school and the Peace Corps. Well, the Peace Corps has partnered with a number of grad schools to offer the Master's International program , which integrates the Peace Corps Volunteer experience into a program of graduate studies and provides financial resources, too. Here is some information from the Peace Corps website:
Master's International (MI) has made the truly unique opportunity of complementing a master's degree with overseas service available in a variety of fields at over 50 academic institutions nationwide. Established in 1987, Master's International addresses the first goal of the Peace Corps: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women. Master's International students serve in over 70 different countries and participate in every aspect of life overseas.Click here to view a list of participating graduate program.
As a prospective student, you will apply simultaneously to both the Peace Corps and the participating graduate school(s) of your choice. After being accepted by both, you will complete a year to two years of graduate course work at your respective university while continuing to prepare for work overseas. Each MI Program is autonomous. Your academic institution will have its own requirements and will award credit for Peace Corps service accordingly.
After completing your initial course work and receiving your Peace Corps placement, you will travel to your respective site and begin training. Once overseas, you are given an assignment according to the needs and requests of your host country. Participating faculty recognize that while overseas, your primary responsibility is the project and community to which you have been assigned. Rather than determining a research topic in advance, you will allow your volunteer assignment to shape your academic requirement.
Depending on the institution, that assignment may be a thesis, professional paper, or other culminating project, under the direction of your faculty and with the approval of Peace Corps overseas staff. You must be flexible and, in some cases, creative when transforming your volunteer service into your graduate work. Other possibilities offered are graduate credits for Peace Corps service and tuition or fee waivers.
After completing your Peace Corps service, you will return to either finish your graduate course work or begin your career. Now, you have the advantage of actually having implemented some of your ideas and applied theory to practice, while living overseas. You will have returned with a world view and the skills and education to change that world.
A couple of years ago we asked Matt Ferchen, an IPE graduate before there was an IPE program, to write down some of his thoughts about the best way to choose a graduate program. Click on the link to read his Guide to Choosing a Graduate Program. (Note: Matt did development fieldwork in Latin America after UPS, then a Masters degree at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies a.k.a. SAIS in Washington DC. He is now in China working on research for his PhD from Cornell.)