Admissions Blog

Application Tips for International Students

By Karoline Marum '23
Posted Jul 13 2023

Applying to graduate school in the United States can seem a little intimidating, especially if you are an international student who has never gone through a similar application process before. I am from Norway and I remember feeling overwhelmed with the application process compared to what it was back home. Every graduate program has its own unique requirements. The key to submitting a successful application is to start early, stay organized, and prepare the necessary documents.

In order to submit a complete application to SIPA, you must submit the following:

  • English Standardized Test Scores
  • Written Essays
  • Quantitative & Language Resume/CV
  • Video Essay
  • At least two Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume/CV
  • Academic Transcripts
  • GRE/GMAT (Recommended for 2024)
  • Optional Fellowship Essays

Once you have prepared all these documents, you must pay the $95.00 USD non-refundable Application Fee and submit your application! Here are a few tips to tackle and ace some of the steps in the application process:

Plan Ahead for the English Standardized Test Scores

  • If the language of instruction at your undergraduate institution was in another language than English, you will need to take either a TOEFL or IELTS test to demonstrate English proficiency.
  • Plan ahead. Look into where the closest test center is and what the available times are. Depending on where you are located, the nearest test center may require some travel. The time slots tend to fill up relatively quickly, so allow yourself enough time to prepare for the test, take the test, and receive the results well ahead of the application deadline.
  • Prepare for the test. Study the material and prepare for how the test is structures, it takes around three hours to complete.

Proofread your Written Essays

  • The written essays are an opportunity to show who you are! You want to be precise. Tie in your motivation for attending a public policy school and make sure you are answering the prompt.
  • This is not only your opportunity to show who you are, but also a test of your writing abilities. Be sure to proofread and get it read over to ensure that you submit a very polished piece.

The Video Essay

  • The video essay is your chance to show how you think on your feet and demonstrate your verbal skills. You can practice as many times as you need and test your webcam beforehand.
  • Before starting your Video Essay, it may be useful to practice on your own with made-up prompts to get in the rhythm of answering short prompts in 90 seconds. No matter what the question is, you can plan ahead for how you want to frame your answer.
  • Make sure the internet connection is stable and that your sound is clearly audible.

Stick to the U.S. Format for the Resume/CV

  • Resume format and standard vary from country to country. Especially in regards to page length and personal information, such as pictures or personal interests.
  • Your resume should be clear and provide relevant information about your previous experience, history, and activities. The resume may be as long as three to four pages if necessary. Include any relevant professional experience, internships, volunteerism and skills most relevant to your program of interest.

Quantitative/Language Resumé

  • The Quantitative/Language Resume helps to instill confidence that you are adequately prepared for the rigorous coursework at SIPA. Make sure you follow this template and list all relevant coursework and experience.

Here are some tips as to what you can do while waiting for the application to open. Good luck with the application process, and reach out should you have any questions