International Graduate Study
KEY THOUGHTS ABOUT PURSUING A GRADUATE DEGREE:
- The current recession has increased the competition for the best graduate programs.
- As interest in international employment grows, competition for positions increases, raising the qualifications for international assignments.
- Many legal and health-related international careers require a graduate or professional degree.
- Acquire as much international experience as possible while completing your graduate degree.
- Studying abroad in graduate school will greatly improve your language skills, allow you to complete more internships, and gain international experience.
- Plan your curriculum based on your career interest: international banking, international communications, international law, government, etc.
A QUICK DECISION-MAKING GUIDE FOR GRAD SCHOOL:
- Start by deciding what field of study you wish to pursue. Remove the word "international" and think about what career field you want. Business? Education? Law?
- Determine if a graduate degree is necessary to pursue this career field. For example, if you wish to be a lawyer, you will need to go to law school. However, if you are considering a legal assistant position, no graduate work will be necessary.
- Look at your education and experience to determine if you qualify for immediate acceptance into graduate school. If you aren't an ideal candidate now, a few years of relevant work experience and a strong score on an entrance exam can make you a stronger candidate in the future.
- Do you have at least a 3.0 grade point average?
- Is your g.p.a. strong in courses related to your proposed plan of study?
- Do you have (or can you get) strong reference letters?
- Are your scores on entrance exams within the range of the schools to which you're applying?
- Have you acquired the kind of experience and/or leadership activities that the graduate program is seeking?
TIMELINE FOR APPLICATION TO GRADUATE SCHOOLS:
- Investigate schools, degrees, and programs.
- Review the courses to determine if you will receive the type of education you are seeking.
- Talk to your professors to learn if they are familiar with the programs to which you are applying. Get their suggestions for other programs or degrees to consider.
- Research the professors at the graduate program: what are their areas of expertise?
- Determine what exams (if any) you will need to take and start preparing for them. The most common exams are the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT.
- Schedule your exams for spring of junior year, or the summer after junior year.
By Early Fall of Senior Year
- Review the requirements of the programs and determine the schools to which you want to apply.
- Consider applying to a "safety" school, several schools where you realistically expect to be admitted, and a "reach" school that you'd like to attend but may not accept you.
- Review their websites and request any necessary catalogs, application forms, or financial aid information.
- If appropriate, contact professors in the graduate program and express your interest in their research and/or the program of study at their institution. If you receive a reply, thank them.
- Ask your professors and other individuals to serve as references. Give them a copy of your resume and a copy of the essay you plan to send.
- Begin filling out a rough draft of the application and write sample essays as needed. Seek feedback on your essay from your professors or other knowledgeable individuals.
By Late Fall of Senior Year
- Complete and submit your applications as soon as possible.
- Even though the deadline may not be until February, many schools use a rolling admission system and you may lose out on scholarships or other financial aid if you apply too late.
- Make sure you've given all the necessary forms, envelopes, and other information to your references.
RESEARCHING GRADUATE PROGRAMS
- Look for graduate schools with a proven track record in the international arena of your field of interest. The program should offer: training in the content area of the degree; study abroad and work (or internship) abroad opportunities; and intensive language and cultural training.
- Consider the graduate program's placement rate, geographic location, cost, financial aid opportunities, the quality and adequacy of the facility, the quality of the faculty, and the school's overall reputation.
- Some graduate schools offer joint degree programs (such as a JD and MBA). Consider these programs if your specific career plan requires both degrees. Many times you can get by with one degree and save yourself time and money.
- Use the websites below to research graduate programs. Many guides to graduate study are available from these organizations as well as in your local bookstore.
U.S. News and World Report
Publishes an annual guide and ranking for graduate study.
Princeton Review Publishes an annual review and ranking of graduate schools.
Liberal Arts Career Services and UT Sanger Learning & Career Center Provide a helpful listing of websites for more information about graduate study in general.
GRADUATE DEGREES RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL EMPLOYMENT:
MBA (Master's in Business Administration)
- Required by many banks, businesses and consulting organizations
- Usually best to have at least two years experience prior to enrollment
- Not all programs have a strong international component
- Ask about recruiting/placement statistics, international opportunities, etc.
Over the past few years, the following American programs have been listed in various surveys of international business programs, as the "best" schools for international MBA degrees. While any listing is by its very nature arbitrary and should only be used as a guideline, you might want to consider a degree from the following schools, all rated highly for their international business programs:
You might also consider getting an MBA or similar degree from an international graduate school. It may be harder to get into one of these schools, but the degrees are prestigious. Schools to consider include:
Belgium: United Business Institutes
England: London Business School
England: University of Manchester Business School
Italy: SDA Bocconi
The Netherlands: Erasmus- University of Rotterdam School of Management
The Netherlands: Niyenrode
Links for more information about MBA's:
US News & World Report Graduate Schools for International Business
Financial Times Top 50 Global MBA rankings provides a comprehensive list of US and International business schools.
ForeignMBA.com lists information on the top MBA programs as rated by a variety of sources.
MPA (Master of Public Affairs or Master of Public Administration)
This degree is popular with government agencies and tends to be interdisciplinary in nature combining courses dealing with politics, economics, sociology, business, and other disciplines. Different institutions have specialties and concentrations within their curriculum; research the institutions to determine which one offers the experience and training you are seeking.
NASPAA The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration's site contains helpful information on careers in International Public Affairs including resources for finding graduate programs.
Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy
Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs
JD (Law Degree)
A law degree can be helpful, but unless you plan to be a lawyer, you may find the MBA or MPA a more practical degree for international employment. In general, you should seek your legal training in the United States so that you are eligible to take the bar exam. Some law schools offer international law as a specialty; many have study-abroad options within their curriculum.
Attend the best law school possible and seek one with a national reputation which will give you the greatest flexibility for employment.
Internet Legal Resource Guide An on-line collection of legal study abroad material. Contains information, brochures, and contact information for all ABA-approved study abroad programs and contact information for Foreign Law Schools in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, North America, Latin America, and Western Europe.
Other Degrees To Consider:
MD or Other Health Degrees
Individuals with medical and health-related degrees such as physician, nursing, dentistry, optometry, or other technical training are particularly sought by international volunteer and development organizations.
MA in a Foreign Language
A Master's degree in a foreign language can be particularly helpful to those pursuing a teaching or translating career.
MA in International Affairs
A Master of Arts in International Affairs provides excellent preparation for a doctorate, but unless you take some content courses in business or a specialty area you may find that it is not much more useful in the job market than a bachelor's in international affairs. Most international affairs majors work in the public sector. The Ph.D. in International Affairs is helpful for those who plan an academic career or for certain areas of consulting and international relations.