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.

Application Deadlines

Master's applicants are encouraged to apply to their chosen program by the posted priority deadline below. Applications completed by this deadline are guaranteed full consideration for both admission and merit-based funding. Applications completed after this deadline are considered for admission, as well as funding on an available basis.

PhD applications must be completed by the posted deadline. Applications completed after this date will be moved forward to the next admission cycle.

Fall Semester

PhD
December 15
Master's
January 15
JD/MA
April 1
Graduate Certificate
June 1
BA/MA
June 15
Executive Master's (international)
July 1
Executive Master's (domestic)
July 31

Spring Semester

Master's (international)
September 15
Master's (domestic)
October 1
JD/MA
October 15
Graduate Certificate
November 1
Executive Master's
November 1
BA/MA
November 15

Summer Semester

BA/MA
March 1

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)

GRE is not required for any SIS on-campus graduate program except for the PhD in International Relations. 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.

Additional Items (if applicable)

Applicants/admitted students may be required to submit additional documents during or after the application process to be eligible for specific funding opportunities. Be sure to review the following, and complete the required action, if applicable.

EMPLOYER MATCHING GUIDELINES AND ELIGIBILITY

Newly admitted SIS master’s students receiving educational benefits from their employer may be eligible to apply for matching funds from SIS. Availability and amount of support is budget-contingent for each admission cycle. Priority consideration is given to students who have not been awarded other SIS merit funding.

To apply:

  1. Download and complete the application form, or email sisgrad@american.edu with subject line “Employer Matching Funds: Application Request”
  2. Return the completed form to sisgrad@american.edu with subject line "Employer Matching Funds: Application Submission" by the required deadline for your application term:

May 1 (fall admission)
November 1 (spring admission)

Office of graduate studies & research fundING

Students from across the university are invited to apply for various funding opportunities through the OGSR. Visit the OGSR website for more information about available opportunities, application deadlines, and eligibility requirements.

International graduate students requesting immigration documents from American University for an F-1 or J-1 visa must submit supporting financial proof and the Certification of Finances for International Students (CFIS) Form to the Graduate Admissions Office. Begin the immigration process on the International Student & Scholar Services website.