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Required Materials

Applications to SIS consist of the following elements (each described in more detail below). Please see the column to the right for specific requirements for your program of interest. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found in our online FAQ.

Online Application 

The application to SIS can be completed and submitted completely online - you do not need to complete the application in one sitting, although we strongly encourage you to submit the form as early as possible to allow time for your supplemental items to be received. Applicants may only apply to one SIS program per semester.

Review our detailed Application Tips and Instructions guide

The application fee for SIS graduate programs is $55. The application fee is waived for:

  • Active duty members or veterans of the US military
  • Active or returned Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America volunteers. Participants in other nationally or internationally recognized volunteer programs may also be eligible for an application fee waiver. See the dropdown list(s) on the application form for a full list of eligible organizations.
  • Current AU students, AU alumni, or staff/faculty members
  • First-generation college students
  • Candidates for, or recipients of, eligible nationally or internationally recognized fellowship or scholarship programs. See the online application form for full details. 
  • BA/MA applicants (current SIS undergraduates)


All applicants to SIS graduate programs must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution by the date of anticipated enrollment at SIS. Applicants are required to submit transcripts from all institutions attended. SIS allows applicants to upload unofficial transcripts from most U.S.-based colleges and universities for admission review purposes. Applicants who attended institutions outside of the U.S. are required to submit official paper transcripts prior to the application deadline. All admitted students are required to submit official transcripts prior to enrolling.

For more information about transcript requirements, please visit the Transcripts section of the FAQ or download the SIS Transcript Guide PDF. For more information about requirements for submitting transcripts from institutions outside the United States, please visit the International Students section of this website.

Priority Application Deadlines 

December 15 (Fall)

Master's Programs
January 15 (Fall)
October 1 (Spring, domestic applicants)
September 15 (Spring, international applicants)

Executive Master's Program
July 31 (Fall, domestic applicants)
July 1 (Fall, international applicants)
November 1 (Spring)

BA/MA Program (for current AU undergraduates only):
March 1 (Summer/Fall)
June 15 (Fall)
November 15 (Spring)

JD/MA Program (with Washington College of Law):
April 1 (Fall)
October 15 (Spring)

Graduate Certificate Programs:
June 1 (Fall)
November 1 (Spring)


Your resume/CV allows the review committee to review your background and previous experiences. We encourage applicants to be detailed and thorough in preparing their resume, and to include internship and volunteer experience in addition to traditional full-time work experiences. You will be asked to list your most recent employers on your online application - please note that your resume will serve as the detailed source of information for employment.

Statement of Purpose 

Your statement of purpose should clearly state your reason for undertaking graduate studies in your chosen field, what you expect from the program, and how you can contribute to the program. It should include your research interests and your academic and career objectives. As the statement is an opportunity for the committee to know you, discussions of your relevant qualifications and experiences will be highly helpful. The statement should also demonstrate your composition skills and analytical ability. While there is no minimum or maximum length, we suggest a length of approximately 1,200 words.

Letters of Recommendation 

All applicants to SIS graduate programs are required to submit two letters of recommendation to support their application. PhD applicants are required to submit three letters. Letters of recommendation should evaluate the applicant's academic performance and suitability for graduate study in international affairs. For the MA program, we require that at least one of your two letters of recommendation be from a faculty member who knows your work well.

Requesting your letter of recommendation:

Applicants provide contact details of all recommenders in the online application - recommenders then submit their letters electronically. If your recommenders would prefer to submit their letters in hard copy, please download the recommendation cover form and have your recommenders submit this form, along with the letter, in signed and sealed envelopes to SIS Graduate Admissions.

Visit the Recommendations section of the FAQ.

Official Test Scores (if applicable) 

Applicants to SIS graduate programs are required to submit official standardized test scores directly from the appropriate testing agency if applicable (see below). For more information about how test scores are used in the admissions process and our typical applicant profile, please visit our FAQ.

For Students Holding a US-Accredited Degree

See below for GRE requirements by program. Applicants to SIS master's programs who hold an advanced degree (masters or doctoral) at the time of application are encouraged, but not required, to submit official GRE scores.

SIS Program

GRE Requirements


GRE required of all applicants.

Executive MIS

GRE not required.

Master's Degrees


GRE required. Social Enterprise applicants

may submit the GMAT or GRE.

Graduate Certificates

GRE not required.

BA/MA Program

GRE not required.


LSAT required in lieu of GRE.


GMAT or GRE required.

The SIS institution code for GRE score reporting is 5007. There is no department code.

For Students Holding a Degree From a Non-US Institution

Official results, reported directly to SIS from the appropriate testing agency, of the TOEFL, IELTS or Pearson Test of English (PTE) are required if your native language is not English. This requirement can be waived if you hold a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited university whose language of instruction is English in a country where English is also the official language. In countries where English is one of the official languages, TOEFL may be waived but additional English proficiency assessment may be required upon arrival. Please visit the CIA World Fact Book for country and language profile. SIS accepts the following tests of English language proficiency with these minimum scores:


Minimum Score



100 (internet-based test)
250 (computer-based test)
600 (paper-based test)





The SIS institution code for TOEFL score reporting is 5007. There is no department code.

For master’s applicants, official GRE scores (reported directly from the testing agency to institution code 5007) are required if you hold a bachelor's degree (or will hold before attending AU) from a university whose language of instruction is English. It is waived if you hold a master’s degree or higher at the time of application. It is also waived for the executive master’s degree (MIS) applicants. For PhD applicants, official GRE is required regardless of your educational background.

View more details about applying as an international student.

Highly Recommended

Applicants are highly recommended to have:

  • completed at least 24 hours of coursework in the social sciences relevant to international studies.
  • completed coursework in microeconomics and/or macroeconomics prior to their graduate studies.
  • an undergraduate GPA of a 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • foreign language skills.
  • substantive relevant work experience.

For more information on the typical profile of an SIS student, please visit our FAQ.

Program Requirements

Some SIS programs have different (or additional) requirements to the general requirements listed to the left. Please select your program of interest below to view specific application procedures. 

Visit SIS in Washington, DC

Come to the nation's capital to visit American University and the School of International Service. In addition to meeting with an admissions specialist, we offer a variety of events on campus including Open Houses and classroom visits. Learn more and RSVP here.

Why SIS?

video still of someone talking as members of the SIS community describe the School of International Service

Members of the SIS community describe the distinctive features of the School of International Service in their own words.