Required Materials Checklist

After you’ve found a graduate program that's right for you, begin the application process. To complete your application, you will be required to submit an application form and additional documents and materials through our online application system. Below is a checklist of the required documents and materials that will be requested of you.

International students have an additional set of requirements that must also be met.

Need help applying?

Please email us at sisgrad@american.edu to request an online application tips guide.

Required materials

The graduate application to SIS is available online and can be saved and completed at your convenience. We strongly encourage you to submit the application form as early as possible and to allow time for your supplemental documents to be received by the application deadline. Applicants may only apply to one SIS program per semester.

The application fee for SIS graduate programs is $55. Fee waiver discount codes are provided within the application form* to students meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  • 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)
  • Applicants to the JD/MA dual-degree program with the Washington College of Law

If one or more of these criteria apply to you, please proceed into the application form, and take note of the fee waiver code provided as you complete the required questions. 

*In rare cases, additional fee waiver codes are provided to students participating in approved programs or partnerships. Students eligible for these waivers will be provided a unique code offline.

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. For admissions review purposes, SIS allows applicants to upload unofficial transcripts from most US-based colleges and universities; however, applicants who attended institutions outside of the US are required to submit official paper transcripts prior to the application deadline. Prior to enrolling, all admitted students are required to submit official transcripts.

Learn more about US-based transcript requirements and international transcript requirements.

It’s recommended that your statement of purpose be approximately 1,200 words; however, there is no maximum or minimum length requirement. Your statement should demonstrate composition skills and analytical ability while clearly stating your reason for undertaking graduate studies in your chosen field, what you expect from the program, how you can contribute to the program, your research interests, and your academic and career objectives. The statement is an opportunity for the committee to get to know you, therefore discussions of your relevant qualifications and experiences are encouraged.

Your resume/CV allows the review committee to assess your background and previous experiences and will serve as the detailed source of information about your employment. We encourage applicants to be detailed and thorough in preparing their resumes, and to include internships and volunteer experiences in addition to traditional full-time work experiences.

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 MA programs, we strongly recommend that at least one of the letters be from a faculty member who knows your work well.

Requesting your letter of recommendation

After submitting the online application form, you will be prompted to provide contact information, including a professional email address (.edu, .gov, etc.), for each of your recommenders. We strongly encourage recommenders to submit their letters electronically. The application portal will provide the recommender with a recommendation form as well as the ability to upload a letter directly into the system.

Visit the recommendations section of the FAQ.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Effective for Fall 2019 admission, applicants to SIS’ on-campus graduate programs are not required to submit results of the GRE except for the PhD program in International Relations and the MA program in International Economics.

If you have taken the GRE and wish to submit your scores as a supplemental piece of information for your application, please have ETS send official test scores to AU directly. All scores must be valid at the time of application.

If you have previously submitted GRE scores to SIS and no longer wish the scores to be reviewed with your application, please email sisgrad@american.edu.

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


TOEFL/IELTS/PTE

If your native language is not English, official results, reported directly to SIS from the appropriate testing agency, of the TOEFL, IELTS or Pearson Test of English (PTE) are required in your application. This requirement applies to any master's, PhD, or graduate certificate program you are applying for at SIS.

This requirement can be waived if you hold a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited university where English is the only language of instruction and is also the official language of the country where the university is based. In countries where English is one of the official languages, TOEFL may be waived, but additional English proficiency assessment may be required. 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:

TOEFL
minimum of 100 (internet-based test)
minimum of 250 (computer-based test)
minimum of 600 (paper-based test)
IELTS
minimum 7.0
Pearson
minimum 68

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

View more details about applying as an international student.

Program-Specific Requirements

Some of our programs require additional materials with the application.

Supplemental Essay

While the Statement of Purpose in your application tells us who you are, the Social Enterprise Supplement gives us an idea of what you want to do. Social entrepreneurs are people who tackle some of the world’s most difficult and intractable problems. Please give us an idea of how you think about a specific issue that you would like to address at some point in your career using the skills and knowledge you would acquire in the Social Enterprise program.

In a 1–2-page single-spaced document, please answer the following questions:

  • Provide a tightly focused definition of a specific problem you are most interested in tackling. What are the consequences of the problem for the people it affects?
  • What is its root cause? What “feeds” it? Why is it so difficult to remedy?
  • How did you come to be interested in this issue? What experience have you already had addressing it? How would you know you were making progress on it?
  • Who else is trying to ameliorate it? What approaches have they used to solve this issue? How successful have they been? Have you seen approaches that have successfully dealt with other, possibly unrelated, issues that can be applied to your problem?
  • How, specifically, will you make use of the curricular resources of the Social Enterprise MA program to sharpen your ability to deal with this problem?

Your response to these Social Enterprise Supplement questions should directly follow your Statement of Purpose when you submit your application electronically. Be as concise as possible. Make it as easy to follow as possible; use paragraph headings (examples: “Problem Definition:” “Consequences:” “Root Cause:” etc.)

Notice that we are not asking for your solution to the problem you are describing. Please do not describe what you hope to do about the problem. Too often social entrepreneurs become so excited about their proposed remedy that they don’t think hard enough about the nature of the problem they want to address.