Below, find answers to the most frequently asked questions about:
- Economics Prerequisites
- Language Proficiency
- Standardized Tests
- International Students
- Statement of Purpose
- Letters of Recommendation
- Dual Degrees
- Visiting MSFS
- Deferral or Reapplication
- Other Issues
Can I still apply if I haven't already taken Macro-Economics and Micro-Economics?
Yes. In this scenario, admission to the program will be based on the "condition" that you take one course in each, for a total of two courses in Macro-Economics and Micro-Economics, earning a grade of B or higher in each, prior to August 1. Any outstanding economics requirements must be satisfied before starting courses in the Fall.
On the Supplementary Data Sheet, explain how and when you plan to obtain this course work before August. If you are in the process of taking the courses during the Fall or Spring, include this information on the Supplementary Data Sheet and fax a copy of your final grade if it is received after January 15.
Do political economics courses count toward the Macro-Economics and Micro-Economics requirement?
No, the requirement is one course in Principles of Macro-Economics and one course in Principles of Micro-Economics for a total of two courses earning a B or higher in each course.
Can I take the Macro-Economics and Micro-Economics courses anywhere?
Yes, but they should be for a grade and at least three academic credits. The only exception to the three academic credit rule are courses offered through graduateschool.edu.
Courses may be taken at any accredited institution, whether online, overseas or at a community college.
I don't know if my economics course fulfills your requirement. May I send a syllabus for your review?
Due to our large volume of prospective applicants, MSFS is unable to assess individual syllabi until applications have been submitted and the admissions process is underway. However, it is possible for you to receive "Conditional Admission" to our program if your course does not fulfill our economics prerequisite. In other words, you may be admitted on the "condition" that you will fulfill the prerequisite prior to August 1.
Do AP or IB courses count for the economics courses?
No, unless other advanced economics course work has been taken. The MSFS program expects all students to take at least two university-level Macro-Economics and Micro-Economics courses and earn a B or better in each prior to August 1.
What if I have taken an Introduction to Economics course that combines micro and macroeconomics?
If it was a 3-credit course, you would only have to take one additional course, either in micro or macroeconomics, to satisfy the requirement. If the course lasted two semesters (or was 6 credits), your economics requirement would be satisfied.
What if I got a B- in one of my economics courses? Can that still be counted?
Any exceptions to the B or better requirement would be at the discretion of the admissions committee. For example, if you have taken additional economics courses beyond introductory micro and macroeconomics, the admissions committee may take that work into consideration when assessing the requirement.
Is there a language proficiency requirement for admission?
In order to be competitive for admission, applicants need to demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in two languages:
- English, and
- a second modern, spoken language
This is because all MSFS students need to pass a language proficiency exam in order to graduate from the program. Students who do not pass the language proficiency exam during the program cannot receive the MSFS degree. In order to ensure that students are prepared for this graduation requirement, they need to have strong language foundations before they can begin the program.
If your native language is English, you should demonstrate a high level of proficiency in a modern language other than English.
If you are a non-native speaker of English, you will have to provide proof of proficiency in English as a basic admission requirement. You may also test in English as your second language for this language proficiency purpose, or you may choose a different language that is not your native tongue.
What do you mean by proficiency?
Proficiency may be defined as the ability to speak a language in a clearly participatory manner and with sufficient fluency and accuracy to discuss political, economic, and international issues. The linguistic skills necessary to function at this level include the ability to narrate and describe with paragraph-length connected discourse in past, present and future time frames.
For admission purposes, proficiency can be demonstrated by study (three to four years of university level courses, as well as experience in a country where the language is spoken), living experiences (Peace Corps, JET, others), or growing up in a household where the language is spoken.
The admissions committee looks for current usage of the language when assessing an applicant's language ability. An admission condition may be placed on applicants who have not utilized their foreign language in the past three years. The condition would be to pass a course in your target language with a B or better by August 1.
Are specific languages required for admission?
Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English and one additional modern, spoken language. While there is not a list of specific languages for admission purposes, students should be aware of the parameters of the proficiency exam in the program: namely, students who choose to demonstrate proficiency in a language not offered by Georgetown should be aware that they must arrange their own proficiency testing once they arrive in Washington.
Consult this list to see which language exams are offered through Georgetown.
What language should I put down as my proficiency language on the Supplemental Data Sheet/Foreign Language Proficiency form? What if I speak more than one language?
Native-speakers of English with knowledge of more than one foreign language should provide the evaluation in their strongest language, which should also be the language used to complete the graduation requirement.
Non-native speakers of English may choose to evaluate their abilities in English on the form, or may choose another language that is not their native tongue.
If students wish to take additional language exams after passing the required exam they may do so.
I do not have enough space to list all of my language coursework on the form. What should I do?
If space is an issue, list relevant information for the highest level of coursework you have completed. You may also summarize additional coursework that you have completed (for example, "I have completed 5 Spanish language courses over the past 3 years. The highest level course I have completed is...").
How are languages evaluated once I am in the Program?
Visit this page for more information on language evaluation in the MSFS program.
Which tests do I need to take?
Applicants must submit one set of standardized test scores:
- A) Applicants with a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited college/university where English is the language of instruction must submit either the GRE or GMAT. The one exception to this rule is for Georgetown MSFS/JD applicants, who may submit the LSAT in lieu of the GRE or GMAT.
- B) Applicants who do not have a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited college/university where English is the language of instruction must submit the TOEFL (minimum internet-based score 100) or IELTS (minimum score 7.0).
Deadlines and Score Reports:
- All standardized test results must be received by January 15th. Applications will NOT be considered without test results.
- You will need to order ETS to send original score reports to Georgetown University. All test results are processed by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
- Please enter your test scores in the MSFS supplemental information form. This will ensure that your application can be reviewed, even if there is some problem with receiving the official scores.
Do I need to take any of the specialized GRE exams?
No. Only the general test is required which includes the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical sections.
Is one part of the GRE/GMAT more important than others?
Are there minimum (or cut-off) score requirements for the GRE/GMAT?
What weight does the GRE/GMAT carry in the admissions process?
The GRE/GMAT is one part of the admissions application and we will look at all the material that you submit.
Most students are concerned about standardized tests. If this is the case for you, then consider taking the GRE/GMAT twice. MSFS splits scores, and will take the highest result from each section, to make the strongest combination.
Scores of admitted applicants have varied considerably for the past several years. However, past history has shown that students who do well on the GRE/GMAT do well in the MSFS Program, so you should prepare as much as possible for the exam, read the test books and review the type of questions.
What if I took the exam a few years ago?
GRE scores are valid for five years from the testing date. TOEFL scores are valid for only two years from the testing date.
What if I take the exam more than once?
The MSFS admissions office will take the highest score of multiple exams.
What is the ETS code for Georgetown ?
What is the GMAT code for MSFS?
Are any other exams substituted for the TOEFL or IELTS?
What is the minimum score for the TOEFL or IELTS for admissions consideration?
The minimal TOEFL score for admissions is 600 on the paper exam, 250 for the computer exam, and 100 on the internet-based test. The minimum IELTS score for admissions is 7.0. Students who are admitted with this minimum requirement may still be required to take an enrichment course in English over the summer if the committee has concerns about their preparedness to perform in an English-language graduate program. Previous international students have found that additional English classes have been very useful in preparing them for the reading, speaking, writing, and listening skills particular to U.S. graduate-level courses.
What if I took the exam a few years ago?
TOEFL scores are valid for only two years from the testing date.
I am an international student. What's different?
All processes are the same for domestic and international students.
However, depending on your academic background, you may need to submit the TOEFL or IELTS standardized test rather than the GRE/GMAT. See the section above entitled Standardized Tests for additional information.
All applicants are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Proficiency can be demonstrated by one of the following three ways:
- the receipt of a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (please note that applicants receiving degrees at universities in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, are required to submit the TOEFL or IELTS unless the primary language of instruction at the institution is English);
- submission of an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score report with a minimum score of 600 (paper-based test), 250 (computer-based test), or 100 (internet test) or higher.
- submission of an official International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - Academic Module score report with a minimum score of 7.0.
Students who are admitted with the minimum TOEFL/IELTS requirement may still be required to take an enrichment course in English over the summer if the committee has concerns about their preparedness to perform in an English-language graduate program. Previous international students have found that additional English classes have been very useful in preparing them for the reading, speaking, writing, and listening skills particular to U.S. graduate-level courses.
International students generally do not qualify for Federal loans from the government. For more information on Federal assistance, access the Office of Student Financial Services' information for international students.
Statement of Purpose
What is it?
A 500-700 word typewritten statement of purpose must be included with the application. This is the opportunity for the applicant to include personal information with his/her application. In making decisions about admissions, the Committee will consider personal attributes as well as academic records. Note: While the online application asks for a 500 word statement, MSFS accepts statements up to 700 words.
The Statement of Purpose is an opportunity for you to provide information that is not seen in the resume, transcripts and other application documentation. It is also an indication of writing ability, so should be carefully checked for grammar, spelling and language use.
How important is the statement?
The Statement of Purpose is one of the most important parts of the admissions process. It should:
- Assess what you have achieved in your studies and/or career, with particular emphasis on the skills acquired and international experiences you may have had that enhance your capabilities to undertake advanced studies in international affairs
- Explain your motivation for graduate study in the MSFS Program and Georgetown
- Discuss your professional goals and objectives
What if I go over 500-700 words?
The Statement should consist of no more than 500-700 type-written words.
Part of a graduate school education is following directions and learning to be concise.
Is an additional essay required?
Not for MSFS.
Any advice on writing the Statement?
- Proofread and edit!
- Do not tell the Admissions Committee what you think they want to hear - be natural, write in an authentic voice.
- The statement of purpose is an opportunity to "interact" with the admissions committee, which is comprised of faculty, staff, visiting scholars, alumni and second-year students. Write with this audience in mind.
- Don't discuss financial aid requirements in the statement of purpose.
- Emphasize your strengths and accomplishments.
- Be specific and present evidence - if a work experience is described, explain it in some depth, i.e., where did it occur, challenging aspects, duration, etc.
- Explain the desire to attend a specific graduate program - show evidence of research into the program, its professors, concentrations, etc.
- Don't write an entire autobiography.
- Do your own work!
Letters of Recommendation
How many do I need?
We recommend that you request three letters, but only two are required for review by MSFS.
Who should write the letters?
It is strongly recommended to include at least one academic recommendation and at least one professional recommendation.
If you have been out of school for three or more years, you may wish to submit two letters from professional referees. However, it is recommended to have at least one academic recommendation letter.
Letters should be written by individuals who will be able to tell us more than your resume or transcript can tell us. A big, important name who writes one or two lines is not as impressive as a professor or lecturer who can speak to your particular strengths and experiences.
Can I send more than three letters of reference?
It is not recommended nor necessarily welcomed.
Can I see the letters?
All application materials become the property of Georgetown University and are not returnable. Most students waive the right to see the letters prior to application and this is recommended.
Can I submit paper/hardcopy letters?
MSFS Admissions strongly prefers that recommendations be submitted online; however, if the evaluators are unable to do so or request to write a hard copy version, these will also be accepted. Hard copy recommendations can be written on the recommender's letterhead (there is no paper-based recommendation form). The recommendation letter should be in a sealed and signed envelope and can be mailed to the following address:
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Graduate Admissions, Box 571004
3520 Prospect Street, NW, Room CB-207
Attn: MSFS Application (FSER)
Washington, DC 20057-1004
You will still need to type the names and email addresses of your recommenders into the online application in order to submit it. Evaluators who are sending a hard copy recommendation should be informed that they can disregard the email they will receive from Georgetown University requesting that they complete and upload a recommendation.
You do not have to wait until your recommenders have submitted their recommendations before submitting your application. The recommendations will be attached to your application when they are submitted.
What dual degree programs can I pursue?
Visit our Dual Degree page for a full listing of program offerings. Click on the program that interests you for more information about the curriculum.
Can I do a dual degree with a program at another University?
No. Georgetown University has agreements only with programs within the Georgetown University community.
Do I have to submit separate applications for the dual degree programs?
MSFS/JD and MSFS/MBA
Applicants to the dual law (MSFS/JD) or business (MSFS/MBA) programs must file separate applications to those programs, because they are administered by separate schools within Georgetown. Hard copy documentation also needs to be submitted separately to each program.
MSFS/MAGIC and MSFS/MA in Economics
Because of a recent change in the application system, students must submit a separate application for each program. Transcripts and test scores will be shared, but all other documentation (personal statements, recommendations) needs to be submitted separately to each program.
Because of a recent change in the application system, students must submit a separate application for each program. Test scores will be shared, but all other documentation (personal statement, recommendations) needs to be submitted separately to each application.
Any hard copy documentation for the Public Policy program must be sent directly to the Public Policy Institute, separately from hard copy documentation for MSFS:
The Georgetown Public Policy Institute
Old North, Suite 100
37th & O Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20057
Do I have to take the LSAT and GRE for the dual JD/MSFS?
The LSAT may be submitted in lieu of the GRE or GMAT for applicants to the JD/MSFS dual degree program. A paper copy of the LSAT score should be sent to MSFS.
Do I have to take both the GMAT and GRE for the MSFS/MBA?
No, the MSFS Program will accept either the GMAT or the GRE.
Does the admissions decision of the one program affect the other?
The admissions decisions of each program are reached independently and the decision of one program will not affect the decision of the other.
When is the deadline for the dual degree programs?
There is no separate deadline for the MSFS application for dual degree applicants. The MSFS application deadline is January 15.
Can I apply for the dual degree after I am accepted into another Program?
You can apply for the dual degree program during the first year of the Georgetown JD or MBA program, OR during the first year of MSFS.
Since admissions decisions are made independently you are not guaranteed special admission consideration because you are already in one program.
MSFS/MPP, MSFS/MAGIC, MSFS/MA in Economics
You must be accepted to both MSFS and the MPP/MA in Global, International and Comparative History/MA in Economics in the same admissions cycle and start as a dual degree student. Unlike the JD or MBA, you may not add one program after you have started the other.
Does the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service offer a Ph.D. program?
No. The Walsh School trains undergraduate and master's degree seeking students. However, some of the other SFS graduate programs may offer a dual degree option with the Government Ph.D. Learn more.
Deferral or reapplication
What should I do if I want to defer my admission?
Deferral requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Except in rare extenuating circumstances beyond an applicant's ability to predict or control, MSFS does not defer admission. This is due primarily to our relatively small entering class (approximately 95 students) each year.
Can I re-apply if I didn't get in?
Yes, you may. The decision of one year will not necessarily bear any weight on the new admissions process since every admissions committee has its own dynamic.
However, you should demonstrate improvement by taking the required economics courses, continuing work on your language skills, living (working, volunteering, studying, etc.) abroad or obtaining work experience related to your interest area of international affairs.
If you wish to reapply within a year, you may reuse your test scores, but you must submit a new online application with all other supporting materials.
What is the ranking of the MSFS as compared to other graduate IR programs?
Today MSFS is recognized as one of the most selective programs in the world. As reported in the January 25, 2012 issue of Foreign Policy, a recent survey of international relations faculty ranked Georgetown among the field's top professionally oriented master's degrees.
Why is it a Master of Science instead of a Master of Arts? And, why does the degree have the name Master of Science in Foreign Service?
The degree name results from the history of the School and is reflected in our core curriculum which includes the social sciences of political science, economics, history, etc.
In summary, "Georgetown had no copyright on the term 'foreign service' although it adopted the title before the establishment of the professional 'Foreign Service of the United States' in the State Department, which was instituted by Congress through the Rogers Act of 1924."
"As adopted and applied at Georgetown the term 'foreign service' was understood to include all major forms of foreign representation, official and unofficial, governmental and private sector, whether commercial, financial, consular or diplomatic."
Quotes taken from Prof. Seth Tillman's School of Foreign Service : The First 75 Years.
Is a specific academic background required?
Other than the micro and macro requirement, no specific academic degree or background is required. Since the MSFS core curriculum includes courses in economics, history and political science it is recommended that applicants have an interest in this type of course work. However, undergraduate degrees of accepted students have ranged from art history to biology to engineering!
Is there a GPA cutoff?
Undergraduate GPAs should be 3.0 or above. Slightly lower GPAs may be considered on an individual basis and require the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences approval should that student be recommended by MSFS for admission. The average GPA of matriculating students is 3.6.
I applied for Georgetown undergraduate admission and was denied. Will this play any role in my graduate application?
The undergraduate admissions and graduate admissions processes are totally separate. One does not affect the other at all.
Can I use transfer credits towards my MSFS degree?
Please see the Transfer Credit portion at the bottom of the Academics portion of our site.
Are undergraduates discouraged from applying directly from school?
The average age of the enrolling MSFS student is 26, and most of them have 4 years of work experience prior to matriculation. A small number of students (less than 10%) are admitted directly from undergraduate institutions. These students are expected to have exceptionally strong academic backgrounds, study abroad experience, language proficiency and extra curricular activities such as internships, volunteer experience or campus leadership activities.
Do undergraduate students take MSFS courses?
No. MSFS has strict limits on the class size for courses, as well as on eligibility for enrollment in MSFS courses. MSFS courses are only open to graduate students in the School of Foreign Service. Space permitting, a few seats may be allocated to students in relevant graduate degree programs at Georgetown, such as Law, Business, Public Policy, Government, and CCT (Communication, Culture, and Technology). Core courses in the MSFS program are not open to students from other programs.
How does Georgetown's religious tradition impact student life?
Founded in 1789, Georgetown University is the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. Today, Georgetown is a major international research university that embodies its founding principles in the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness, and our international character. Service to others and work for social justice are hallmarks of Georgetown's approach to education. Georgetown University has a rich tradition of embracing individuals from a wide spectrum of faiths, ethnicities, cultures, experiences, and backgrounds.
Georgetown has long been committed to building an inclusive and respectful community, and our students, faculty and staff reflect the greater pluralism of today’s global society. Learn more.