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If your question is not addressed here, please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-1646 or

Admissions and Application

Incoming Fall 2022 class (on-campus graduate degree programs):

  • 80% US citizens/20% non-US citizens
  • 38% (of US students) indentify as a member of a domestic minority group
  • 88% have international work, internship, study abroad, or volunteer experience
  • 93% have foreign language experience
  • 15% identify as first generation college graduates
  • 92% received SIS funding upon admission
  • The average GPA was 3.53/4.0
  • The average age at the time of application was 25
  • 26 students have prior experience as full-time service volunteers (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, JET) and 18 came to SIS as part of an external Fellowship program (Bonner, CLS, COLFUTURO, Fulbright, Gilman, Pickering, PPIA, Rangel, etc.)

You must submit the online application (and $55 application fee), transcripts from all institutions attended, applicable test scores, resume/CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. All required materials must be submitted before your file is reviewed. 

For more details, visit the Required Materials page.

Once you have submitted an online application form, log into your My Account page and scroll down to review your list of missing and/or received supplemental items. If all required supplemental items show as received, your application is pending preliminary review by an admissions team member. We will contact you individually if additional information is required to complete your application.

Yes, you can submit supplemental items by email or mail. You can also submit supplemental items through the online application system by going to your My Account page.

Send application documents via email to

If you mail any materials to our office, we suggest that you submit your materials together in one envelope and use a mail service that can track delivery to our office to speed up the processing of your application. You should address the envelope as detailed below depending on what type of mail service you are using. Due to the high volume of mail received by our office during this period, allow 7-10 business days to process your application materials after they are received.

By standard mail

Office of Enrollment
SIS Graduate Admissions
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-8081

By courier or overnight service (FEDEX, DHL, etc.)

SIS Office of Enrollment
4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20016-8001


If you have any questions regarding your application status, check on your My Account page or contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-1646 or

We neither require nor offer formal admissions interviews as a part of the application. If you would like more information about SIS programs and the admissions process, we encourage you to RSVP for an information session or SIS event.

You can submit a brief writing sample with your application, although it is not required for admission. The review committee will look primarily at your transcript, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation to gain a sense of your writing and analytical ability.

Any supplemental information, such as a writing sample, that you would like to include can be uploaded into the "Addendum" section of your online application.

Proficiency in a second language is not required for admission to SIS, though it can certainly improve an applicant's profile.

Proficiency in a modern foreign language is required for graduation from most SIS programs. SIS does not offer academic credit towards degree completion for language courses. Find out the full details of how students meet the language proficiency requirements.

Master's applications received after the priority deadlines are reviewed on a space-available basis. We encourage prospective students to apply by the posted deadlines to ensure consideration for the semester to which they applied. Applications completed after the deadline may be postponed to the next cycle for review, depending on available space in the class.

Applications completed by the priority application deadlines receive guaranteed consideration for merit-based aid. Applications received after the priority deadlines are considered on a funding-available basis.

You may defer up to one year from your semester of admission with approval from the Graduate Admissions Office and upon receipt of your non-refundable deferral deposit. The deferral deposit is an additional $400 beyond the $400 enrollment deposit. The entire $800 deposit will be credited to your student account to be applied towards your tuition when you matriculate. To request a deferral, send an e-mail to Graduate Admissions at indicating the reason for your deferral request and the semester to which you want to defer.

Any merit award granted for your original semester of admission cannot be carried over to your deferred semester.

BA/MA applicants cannot defer.

All admission decisions are final. Should you have any questions about how to improve your file for future admissions consideration, please contact our office within one month of the date of your decision letter.

Students denied admission to SIS must wait one academic year from the date of their original application to reapply. Such candidates are encouraged to contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-1646 or for advice on strengthening their applications.

BA/MA candidates may reapply the following semester as traditional MA students.

Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-1646 or for guidelines.

Graduate students seeking to return to SIS to complete their previously-started degree should follow the instructions on the Readmission Guide. Students with specific questions about previous coursework should contact the SIS Office of Graduate Advising at 202-885-1690 or Students with questions about the application/admission process should contact the SIS Graduate Admissions Office at or 202-885-1646.

SIS Applicant Profile

The average median undergraduate GPA of admitted students is 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

SIS recommends students have at least two years of relevant experience at the time of application. While this is not a minimum requirement, incoming students typically have substantive work experience in their area of interest.

The median age for incoming students is 25.

No. We see applicants from many different backgrounds, with every major discipline represented. Applicants to SIS are encouraged to have completed at least 24 hours of coursework relevant to international studies. These may include courses on economics, political science, history, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy, among other disciplines.


In most cases, applicants who attended US-based (domestic) institutions may upload unofficial transcripts through the online application for admission review. Each submitted transcript must show the institution name, course title, grade and credits earned in each course, and the degree earned (if applicable).

Admitted students who uploaded unofficial transcripts from a US institution will be required to submit official transcripts prior to enrolling.

Students who attended institutions outside the US are welcome to upload their transcripts into the online application portal, but are still required to mail official transcripts with degree confirmation and English translation (if applicable) before their application can be reviewed for admission.

An “official” transcript is a document that has been prepared, authenticated, and sealed by your institution. To be considered official, a transcript must be mailed unopened, or released via secure electronic transfer, directly from your institution to our office.

An “unofficial” transcript is a document that has been opened and examined by the student or printed from an institution’s website before being submitted to SIS. Any transcript that you upload to your online application is considered “unofficial.”

Please note that students who have attended institutions outside the US are required to mail us official transcripts with degree confirmation and translation (if applicable) at the time of application. Your application will not be reviewed for admission until our office receives official transcripts from all international institutions attended.

Although we strongly prefer that you submit unofficial copies of original paper transcripts that are scanned and uploaded as PDFs, we will accept grade reports/copies of transcripts downloaded from your institution's website, provided that:

  1. The institution name is clearly indicated
  2. The grade report is printed directly from your institution's online system (with your institution's URL clearly visible across the top of the document) and scanned into our system as a PDF. We cannot accept grade reports/transcripts that have been copied into Microsoft Word or a similar text edit program.

Each submitted transcript must clearly show the institution name, course title and level (if applicable, i.e. 300, 400, etc.), grade earned in each course, credits earned in each course, and degree earned (if applicable).

If your degree is yet to be awarded, the transcript must have some indication of your being enrolled in that degree program.

Yes. However, you are still required to mail us official transcripts with degree confirmation and translation (if applicable) before your application can be reviewed. Please review the following list of transcript requirements carefully before you proceed:

Original/Official Transcripts or Academic Records

Original/official transcripts or academic records are required and must reflect with all courses taken and grades and credentials received. Transcript(s) need to be issued by the appropriate records office of the institution and must be stamped/authenticated. Transcripts must show courses and grades from all years of study, not just the final year(s).

Degree Confirmation

If you hold a degree from a graduate institution, but the transcript from that institution does not bear the title of the degree and the date it was conferred, an endorsed/attested copy of the original diploma is required to be submitted along with the transcript. If you have yet to receive the degree, the transcript must have some indication of enrollment in that degree program.

English Translations

If the original transcripts or degree confirmation are not in English, original English translations must be provided together with the original transcript or diploma. Translations must come from recognized bodies such as university, embassy, overseas EducationUSA Advising Centers, or other certified translation agencies. Translations alone or unattested copies of any document will not be accepted. If you choose to upload an unofficial transcript to your application, translations must be uploaded with it.

Transcript Evaluation

If you attended an institution outside the US, one of our evaluators will do an assessment of your foreign transcripts and credentials. External credential evaluations from WES, ECE or EducationUSA are welcome, but not required.

If you transferred credits between one or more institutions, separate transcripts must be submitted for each institution attended, unless course title, level, grades, and credits earned at each previous institution appear on the transcripts you submit to us.

If our admissions staff is unable to assess your previous performance from the transcripts submitted, you may be asked to provide additional documentation before your application can be reviewed.

In most cases, you should report your study abroad institution and submit study abroad transcripts only if one of the following applies:

  1. your program was longer than one semester
  2. you completed relevant social science coursework while abroad
  3. you earned a credential/degree from that institution

Additionally, for 1. and 2., if the courses and grades of your study abroad are already reflected on your home institution transcript, you do not need to submit a transcript from the study abroad institution.

Test Scores

International applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or Duolingo English Test and submit official test scores directly from the appropriate testing agency. There is no department code for SIS.

Check the information on the International Students at SIS page for further details.

The American University institution code is 5007 for both the GRE and TOEFL. There is no department code for SIS; if a department code is required, enter 0000.

You should only consider taking the GRE if you think it will provide a meaningful piece of information for your application. As a point of reference, applicants prior to the Fall 2019 admissions cycle have presented median scores of 158 on the verbal section, 152 on the quantitative section, and 4.5 on the analytical writing section. Not submitting GRE scores will not negatively impact your application in any way.

GRE scores are typically valid for five years.  Please check with ETS to confirm the validity of your scores.

Minimum required TOEFL scores:

Internet-based test (iBT): 100
iBT Special Home Version: 100
Paper-based test (PBT): 600

The minimum requirement for the IELTS is 7.0

The minimum requirement for the PTE is 68

The minimum requirement for Duolingo English Test is 120

Letters of Recommendation

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. We prefer to obtain information from recommenders who can evaluate your past academic performance and your potential for future academic challenges. Even if you have been out of school for some time, we still suggest that you obtain at least one academic letter of recommendation.

For the MIS (mid-career executive) program, letters from professional sources are appropriate.

If you would like to submit an additional letter, we will certainly add it to your file.

Your recommenders are strongly encouraged to submit their letters online. Once you have clicked "submit" in your online application, you will be prompted to complete the "Recommendation Requests" in the Supplemental Items section. Here you will indicate the names and enter a verifiable academic/professional email address for each of your recommenders. This will generate an email to your recommenders instructing them on how to submit their letters online. When the recommendation letters are submitted, you will receive an email notification.

If absolutely necessary, your recommenders may submit their letter by email or postal mail. You are still required to enter their contact information in the online application. Emailed letters are required to come from a verifiable academic/professional email address and should be sent to

SIS Programs and Academics

It depends on the program. The total number of credits required by standard MA programs varies from 36 to 42.

Students may request to transfer credit for courses taken prior to their admission to a graduate program at American University. No more than six credits may be transferred for a single degree program. In no case may graduate credit be given for coursework designed as solely undergraduate by the institution where the coursework was completed. Proposed transfer courses must have been completed with a grade of B (3.00) or better and must have been completed no earlier than five years prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student is admitted to a graduate program at AU. Some programs may require that the proposed transfer course have been completed more recently than the five years prior and may limit the number of allowable transfer credits to fewer than six.

Courses taken at American University toward a graduate degree earned before admissions to a subsequent graduate program cannot be transferred, but may be shared.

Graduate Program Directors may approve up to six credits to be shared or transferred for graduate students who are enrolled in a PhD Program and have earned a master's degree from American University or another institution.

Once admitted into an SIS degree program, a student must stay in that program for one semester. After the first semester, a student can work with his or her academic advisor to request a program transfer.

Students will have an opportunity to meet with the academic advisor for their program fields once they have paid their enrollment deposit. This first meeting can take place via phone or in person.

Students who have not paid their enrollment deposit but wish to know more about specific requirements are invited to email the Graduate Admissions Office at with their questions. An admissions counselor will make an effort to respond to specific questions.

Yes. Any request to register for non-degree graduate courses (that are not part of a graduate certificate) must be submitted to the AU Central Office.

Non-degree students who later apply and are admitted to a degree program can bring a maximum of 12 credits taken as an SIS non-degree student into their academic program. Successful completion of non-degree study does not guarantee admission to a graduate program.

For more information, visit the SIS Non-Degree page.

Consortium registration is limited to courses that are not offered at AU.

Courses taken through the Consortium are treated as AU courses for registration, billing, financial aid, transcript, and GPA purposes.

All Consortium sources will appear on your AU transcript with the Consortium school code and course number.

Consortium registration is available during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

SIS limits graduate students to no more than two consortium courses during their MA program.

Most DC-area colleges and universities are members of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. For a complete list, visit the Consortium website.

For more information on Consortium registration, including how to register, visit the consortium registration page.

Some programs offer an opportunity to waive one economics course when two courses are required, thus reducing the total number of required credits. In other programs, previous economics coursework may allow you to substitute a more advanced economics course.

Criteria for these options vary by program. Check with the Office of Graduate Admissions at for more details about the program to which you are applying.

To satisfy language requirement for SIS programs, students must be able to conduct research in a language other than English. "Research" for the purposes of this degree requirement means reading comprehension.

All English language speakers will be required to certify proficiency in a language other than English. Proficiency means that students must be able to read at the intermediate level and comprehend an article written in the language using a dictionary only for specialized terminology.

For students whose first language is English, proficiency in another language may be demonstrated in one of several ways:

  • Passing the free Tool of Research (TOR) examination in a language tested by the Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition, and Research (CLEAR) at American University. The TOR is offered in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, and Arabic. Register for the next TOR exam date.
  • Earning a bachelor's degree in the language completed within 3 years of the date of matriculation.
  • Degree from a foreign university in which the language of instruction is not English completed within 3 years of the date of matriculation.
  • Presenting evidence of completion of a continuing education or graduate-level course in the language at the intermediate level with a grade of B or better.
  • If AU's Center for Language Learning does not offer a TOR exam in a language, we will accept certification by an accredited instructor/tutor of the language (please consult with your academic advisor prior to pursuing this option).

Students for whom English is not their native language may be certified on the basis of their native language and English.

Visit the SIS Language Proficiency website to learn full details of how students meet the language proficiency requirements.

  • Full-time study at the graduate level equates to being registered for at least 9 credits (or 3 graduate courses). Part-time students are required to enroll in a minimum of 1 credit each fall and spring and complete the program within 6 years.
  • Students may choose to enroll as full- or part-time students each semester. Tuition (plus applicable fees) is billed based on the number of credits.
  • Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 5 credits each fall/spring semester in order to be eligible for federal financial aid.
  • International students on F-1 and J-1 visas must register full-time each fall and spring semester.

Dual-Degree Applicants

The BA/MA program is an opportunity for advanced American University (AU) undergraduate students to begin a masters degree program before completing their bachelors degree.

If you are interested in applying for the BA/MA, be sure to review all information in the "Graduate School and the Combined BA/MA" section of the Undergraduate Advising FAQ webpage (toward the end of the page) before submitting an application.

For the JD/MA program, you need to apply through the Washington College of Law.

Submit your application and all supplemental materials to WCL and then simply complete the online application for SIS indicating that you are applying to the JD/MA dual degree program. The law school will forward all supplemental items (transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.) to SIS.

Jobs, Internships, and Study Abroad

SIS students who have been active in pursuing internships and networks have excellent success in job placement upon graduation. SIS graduates go on to work in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.

Absolutely. Washington, DC, offers students a rich variety of opportunities to interact with professionals in a variety of career fields. Over 90% of our graduate students get at least one internship during the course of their time in SIS. There are several mechanisms for career/internship support in SIS. 

The SIS Office of Career Development is an excellent resource for advice, planning, job and internship openings, resume critiques, mock interviews, career fairs, and merit award assistance. 

Both your academic and your faculty advisors will be valuable in assisting with internship and career ideas and opportunities.

SIS offers a wide array of study abroad programs. These include dual-degree partnerships, semester programs, summer classes, and internship opportunities with over 90 partner organizations overseas.

Learn more about SIS study abroad opportunities.

Students can pursue internships for academic credit after completing one semester at SIS.

Internships (including international and paid internships) registered for academic credit must be related to the student's academic program and be at least 85% substantive (e.g. research, report writing, etc.).

Internships cannot be registered or applied retroactively (i.e. a student cannot register a summer internship during the fall semester).

For more information, visit the internship registration page.

Financial Aid

The application fee for SIS graduate programs is $55.

The application fee is waived for the following:

  • 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) in the application form for a full list of eligible organizations.
  • 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)

If students apply online, the application fee can be paid by a major credit or debit card.

If a student applies online, but chooses to pay by check or money order, an online application fee code of PAYBYCHECK must be entered into the online application portal and students must follow up with a check or money order.

The SIS application fee of $55 and all checks or international money orders must be made out to "American University."

Do not, under any circumstances, send cash.

For SIS students, tuition is assessed on a per-credit basis. View tuition and fees for the current academic year.

In addition to tuition, there are several mandatory fees for graduate students. Be sure to review the "Graduate Student/Non-Degree Graduate" fees table on the Tuition and Fees page linked above.


SIS scholarship and assistantships are offered only at the time of admission through the School of International Service. SIS funding can be awarded in the form of tuition remission and/or stipend associated with a teaching or research assistantship. There is no separate application for funding. All applications must be completed by the priority deadline to receive guaranteed consideration.

Decisions for SIS scholarships and assistantships are made based on a holistic review of an applicant’s file which includes, but is not limited to, your academic performance, relevant experience, motivation for graduate studies in international affairs, and your potential to excel in--and contribute to--a community that has service and social justice at its core. SIS is charged with the mission to not just recognize high achievers but also to make education as accessible as possible and our awarding process reflects this mission.

SIS also partners with a number of organizations, such as Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, to offer graduate funding to eligible volunteers/fellows admitted to the school. Given the large number of partnership students SIS is committed to supporting, we are only in a position to offer one award to each student if the student has volunteered with, or been recognized by, more than one SIS partner. For example, if you are a volunteer with AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps--both SIS partners--you will receive only one award with your admission. Do know that the award you are offered will have taken into consideration your collective achievements and service experience.

Federal Loan

Federal loan is offered by the US federal government and administered through the AU Central Office once a FAFSA application has been submitted. Federal loan at the graduate level usually includes Direct Unsubsidized Loan and Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. Graduate students are NOT eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant nor the Direct Subsidized Loan. Questions about this should be directed to AU Central at 202-885-8000 or All eligible and interested students should fill out the FAFSA form upon application to SIS to begin the FAFSA process; there is no need to wait until you have an admission decision from SIS. The FAFSA code is 001434.


View more information about financial aid for SIS graduate students.


The bulk of SIS aid is awarded to incoming students, though there are a limited number of fellowships available for continuing students.

View more information about financial aid for current SIS graduate students.

International students whose applications are completed by the posted deadline are considered for all types of merit-based aid offered at SIS.

Currently, American University does not provide housing for graduate students.

SIS connects newly admitted students to each other in a private online social networking community that often serves as a great resource for students moving to DC from out of the area.

Visit the Housing and Dining Programs website for additional helpful information on off-campus housing.