Member Profile

Johns Hopkins University

Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Students at Johns Hopkins SAIS are encouraged to study with purpose and tailor their coursework to best fit their career interests. Learning from accomplished faculty across three global campuses gives students a strong understanding of economics and theories of international relations, as well as regional expertise, diplomatic skills, language proficiency, and the capacity to apply theory to real-world problems. This is the Johns Hopkins SAIS Advantage.

Johns Hopkins SAIS’ three campuses are strategically located to better understand the rebalancing of the world: the economic growth of Asia, the political and demographic changes in Europe, and the evolving role of the United States in the world. A physical presence within three continents provides expanded professional opportunities.

Through a curriculum strongly rooted in the study of international relations, economics, and regional studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS students learn to address multifaceted challenges facing the world today. With more than twenty regional and policy areas from which to choose, students are encouraged to tailor their academic coursework to align with their career interests.

The Johns Hopkins SAIS language program trains students to gain foreign language proficiency to discuss and debate important policy issues, while also expanding professional opportunities overseas. Whether you are discussing expansion strategy with global partners, using diplomacy to mitigate regional conflict, or connecting with underserved populations on humanitarian missions, using a native language to communicate will open doors to cultures and countries.

Journalists, politicians, academics, and the private sector turn to Johns Hopkins SAIS as a source for timely policy analysis. Scholars from our research centers and institutes analyze difficult foreign policy issues while convening academics, policymakers and leaders of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to debate alongside students.

Degree Programs

  • HNC Certificate in Chinese and American Studies
  • Master of Arts in International Studies
  • HNC Certificate in Chinese and American Studies + Master of Arts
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Arts in Global Policy
  • Master of International Public Policy
  • Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance
  • Master of Arts in Global Risk
  • Master of Arts in International Affairs
  • Diploma in International Studies

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During spring break,  Ambassador Carlos Ruiz Hernandez, current MIPP student and former Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Panama, traveled to the United Nations with Professor Ruth Wedgwood and her class. He was able to take his c…

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Capstone residencies are essential components of the Global Policy Program. These intense, multi-day exercises take students outside the standard classroom and challenge them to apply lessons learned from their coursework.

During this month’s three-day simulation, GPP students worked in teams representing major states to negotiate a resolution meant to address a crisis in a fictitious country plagued by famine and civil war. After 15 hours of countless meetings in both formal and informal sessions, an agreement was reached—at 12:30 am.

View more pictures of the simulation (and past simulations) here.

The GPP is designed as an executive program, and all applicants must have a minimum of seven years of work experience after completion of an accredited undergraduate degree. For more information on the Global Public Policy program, please visit our website, attend an MIPP/GPP Information Session, and ask us about our Saturday open office hours.

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Christian Flores is a first year HNC Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) student from Queens, New York. Christian desires to work in the Foreign Service and obtain a PhD. He is involved in HNC’s Book Club and Hit Workout group on campus. He also started the bilingual Multicultural Interest Group, which explores the student diversity of HNC. Previous events have included Chinese oral histories, led by two Chinese professors, and a discussion on the movie Moonlight. Read below for Christian’s journey to HNC, advice on the MAIS thesis process and advice on preparing for studying at the HNC.

How has your background influenced your study at the HNC?
I was born in Ecuador and immigrated to the United States at a very young age. I grew up in a bilingual household where we used both Spanish and English mainly because my father spoke limited English. My parents encouraged me to pursue programs in school that were bilingual, especially Spanish programs. This encouragement eventually led me to study Chinese in high school and then partake in the Chinese Flagship Program during undergrad. The Flagship program is a U.S. government sponsored language program that aims to make students fluent in Chinese after four years. When I started studying Chinese, I saw a lot of cultural similarities between Ecuador and China. Emphasis on family and children taking care of their parents as they get older were aspects of Chinese culture that I could relate to the Ecuadorian part of my culture. This lens on viewing China still impacts me today.

Why did you choose the HNC?
Throughout my undergraduate experiences in China, I gained a passion for Chinese language and society. When I graduated from college, I began to think of programs that would meet these interests. During Flagship, HNC representatives often came to talk to students about the graduate programs they offered. Since HNC combined the skills and knowledge I needed for my career pursuit, I applied for the program. Meanwhile, I started working in the private sector as a translation project manager. I was a liaison between clients and translators, which meant that I checked English to Chinese and Spanish translations to make sure they were impeccable before they were sent back to clients. This kept up my interest in Chinese while I waited to hear back from HNC.

However, when I received my HNC acceptance, I didn’t make my decision until I received the Boren Fellowship. The Boren Fellowship is a U.S. government program that sponsors American students to study critical languages. After completing a Masters program, they require minimal years of service in the U.S. State Department. The combo package of HNC and the Boren Fellowship was enough to satisfy my career-oriented outlook. Both are helping me achieve my goals of becoming a Foreign Service Officer and obtaining a PhD.

HNC Students partake in Chinese Oral Histories led by Chinese professors during the Multicultural Interest Group earlier this week. Christian calls it a platform that showcases and celebrates the diversity within HNC through both Chinese and English.

How did you pick your MAIS thesis topic?  
I decided to base my thesis topics off of something I really liked. As an undergraduate, I studied International Political Economy (IPE), which is a very interesting realm within international relations. For the Boren fellowship, I wrote about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which is an international organization established by China in 2013. It’s new and the U.S. is unsure about the prospects of the organization in Asia. Since I took an IPE course during my first semester at HNC, my interest in the AIIB increased. After speaking with my advisor, I decided to write a thesis on the future of the AIIB by looking at the circumstances for success or failure. I will mostly focus on comparative research on China’s past experiences with foreign direct investment. This summer I have to do a lot of reading!

How did you choose your MA thesis advisor?
During the first semester, HNC encouraged us to begin thinking about choosing an advisor that taught in our target language. So I decided to explore and take a lot of courses. During my first semester, I took 6 classes, 3 courses in Chinese and 3 courses in English. The English courses were very writing intensive and interactive while the Chinese courses had two types. Traditional Chinese classes typically include the professor lecturing for an hour and a half in front of the classroom. He may or may not ask questions about the readings in class but requires students to understand the information. The other style for Chinese classrooms at HNC is more liberal with a lot more reading-based discussion and intensive sessions.

Fortunately, I took an IPE course instructed in Chinese and tried my best to do well and stay engaged in the coursework. At the end of the semester, the professor took our class out to dinner. After I discussed with him about IPE and the AIIB during dinner, I asked him to be my advisor right then and there.

What’s your advice for prospective HNC students?

Advice for Choosing an Advisor
The key begins with building a relationship. Start as early as possible and get to know the professor a little bit more. Go to office hours and talk to them to see if both of your research interests match up. Stop by other professor’s office hours to ask for advice and talk about interests as well. You could choose an advisor from a class you didn’t take. If you have an interest in your concentration, which you choose in your first semester, make sure you take courses in your concentration during that period.

Advice for Chinese Language Preparation

  • Take a language intensive course in the summer before HNC. It’s a productive way to spend your summer as opposed to doing an internship. You’ll have a lot of opportunity to take internships when you come to China. A language program helps you refresh vocabulary, learn new grammar and immerse yourself in Chinese culture again because it does take time to adjust. When you don’t use a language for a long time, there’s a gap in acclimating to the language environment. 
  • Talk to your current Chinese professors to get resources to help you study Chinese in the summer.
  •  Read Chinese newspapers. Go into Chinese databases for Chinese academic papers and try to read on topics that you’re interested in. These help you become familiar with grammar structure and common words. Start getting used to that level of reading in Chinese because it takes time.  
  • Refresh! Wherever your Chinese level is, it doesn’t hurt to refresh on what you already know.

All the best!

Written by Tarela Osuobeni, HNC Certificate ‘17 

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Did you know that Johns Hopkins SAIS hosts hundreds of events each year, many of which are free and open to the public? Offering a wide spectrum of viewpoints on current global issues, these events give students the opportunity to interact with thought leaders in various industries. While many of these events are exclusive to Johns Hopkins SAIS students and alumni, a number are free and open to the public. We invite you to join us for some of the events below.

October 19, 2016: Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, His Excellency Matteo Renzi joined the Johns Hopkins SAIS community for a Conversation on Trans-Atlantic Relations, Global Security and the Future of the European Union.

Tuesday, March 28

The arrival of the Trump administration has raised a myriad of questions about the prospects for continued U.S. global development leadership. Amid a 28 percent proposed cut to U.S. international affairs spending, might USAID be consolidated into the State Department? After the elimination of Obama’s Global Climate Change Initiative, will his other marquee development initiatives on food security (Feed the Future) and energy (Power Africa) survive? Are there any areas in which there might be room for bipartisan cooperation on global development? RSVP here.

Wednesday, March 29

Mozambique is currently facing a severe economic crisis after news broke out last year that the government had not disclosed nearly $1.5 billion of debt, violating its IMF borrowing agreement as well as its own laws. Since the discovery of the hidden debt, the IMF has suspended its loan disbursements and a number of other donors, including UK, EU, and the World Bank, have also temporarily suspended support. The government is heading toward default as it is unable to deliver on its sovereign guarantee on the loans of the state-owned companies involved. RSVP here.

Thursday, March 30

Panelists will discuss the extent to which we can talk about a ‘resurgence and spread’ of populism, why are we seeing populism in some areas but not in others, and the risks to the private sector in this political climate. RSVP here.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty, the first major international treaty or convention in the domain of space law. On this occasion, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Steven M. Schneebaum International Law Society and SAIS International Law and Organizations Program will host a conference on space law. It will bring together academic and practical perspectives of the development of space law, and allow academics and practitioner in the front of the field to exchange their views. RSVP here.

Dr. Jessica Chen Weiss from Cornell University will speak on the China Forum. Please RSVP here.

If you are curious as to what an event as Johns Hopkins SAIS is like, we encourage you to review The Recap, a new blog designed to capture important events across our three campuses. Visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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An integral part of the graduate school experience is participating in professional development opportunities. Across our three campuses, Johns Hopkins SAIS students participate in professional development courses, lunch discussions, and informational …

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In today’s student blog post, second-year MA student Ileana Valle reflects on her experience being admitted into Johns Hopkins SAIS.

As I look back two years ago, I remember the feeling of anxiety, excitement, and fear all wrapped up into one. For me it was March 13, 2015. I spent much of that day checking my email to see if I had received anything. For me, as I am sure is the case for most in this selection cycle, everything depended on that email. I think back now and feel extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Now that two years have transpired, so has my outlook on my academic and professional career. For one, I have learned to be more open-minded. When I first got accepted into SAIS I was steadfast on doing the International Development concentration, but I had been waitlisted for it and ultimately had to opt for my second option: Latin American Studies (LASP). This has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions I have made. This is mainly due to the LASP internship I did last summer in Medellín, Colombia that afforded me the experience of a lifetime. Not to mention the cohesiveness of the department that trickles down to its cohort.

Furthermore, studying at SAIS has also given me such a broad perspective, particularly, at the intersection of policy and economics. Not coming from an economics background, the compulsory economics component has not been free of challenges; however, the new set of skills that I have acquired has allowed me to see policy-making from a different angle and I feel properly equipped and a well-rounded professional that can make tangible contributions from the public to private sector.

Congratulations to the incoming 2017/2018 cohort! Whether you’re starting in Nanjing, Bologna, or Washington, DC; this is the beginning of an incredible journey.

Welcome to the SAIS community!

Ileana Valle (MA’17)

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