MSFS Leadership Requirement
The MSFS Leadership Requirement consists of the following:
- Completion of a Leadership Self Assessment prior to or during MSFS Orientation
- Completion of 2 Leadership Statements (submitted at the beginning and end of program)
- Completion of an Internship/Professional Experience and submission of the Internship Completion Form
- Completion of 4 Leadership Development Experiences, to be chosen from a pre-approved list (ideally 1 activity each semester)
The MSFS Leadership Requirement was developed in 2022 based on feedback from students and faculty that focused upon the need to develop leadership through practical experience and self-reflection spread across time, instead of in a classroom setting condensed to one half semester. By reconfiguring existing degree requirements, providing opportunities for reflection, and providing students with a list of leadership training opportunities, we are confident that MSFS students will be better able to explore and practice their leadership skills before they graduate from the program.
The Leadership Requirement consists of 3 Required Activities, and 4 Choose-Your-Own Activities.
The overall Leadership Requirement is composed of three broad segments – self knowledge, observation and reflection on the leadership of others, and practical demonstrations of leadership.
Leadership Self Assessment
Students are required to complete a designated self-assessment test prior to MSFS orientation. The assessment itself varies depending on the year, but culminates in a workshop led by the SFS Career Center during Orientation. Students have the option to follow-up in a 1:1 session with the Career Center if they choose, but completion of the self-assessment will fulfill the degree requirement.
Due in the first semester of the MSFS Program, students write an “opening memo” on leadership.
Students are also required to submit a “closing memo” on leadership with their Oral Exam Application Packet in February of their final semester.
Internship / Professional Experience
Students are required to have worked in at least one internationally-oriented role during their course of study as a graduation requirement for MSFS. MSFS recommends at least 100 hours total for the internship requirement, but will accept less than that. There is not a specific semester during which this experience needs to be completed. The requirement is meant to be flexible to allow for diverse and relevant opportunities for each individual student.
After completing an internship or professional experience, students submit an internship completion and write a reflection, answering at least one of the following prompts:
- What leadership skills did you develop during your internship/professional experience? How can those skills be applied moving forward?
- What leadership skills or structures did you observe during your internship/professional experience?
- What leadership lessons (good or bad) have you taken away from your internship/professional experience?
Choose-Your-Own Leadership Development Experiences
Students are required to complete 4 leadership development experiences over the course of their 4 semesters in MSFS, to be chosen from the following lists. Students are strongly encouraged to complete 1 experience per semester.
These experiences are reported to the MSFS leadership at the end of each semester.
Full Experiences (at least 4 hours)
Half Experiences (Under 4 hours)
Other experiences may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the MSFS Leadership Team.
Internships are an integral part of the MSFS education and our students’ preparation for a career in the international arena. Internships provide students with the opportunity to enhance their academic coursework, gain professional experience and insight into career opportunities, develop contacts in their field of interest, and explore the public, private, and/or non-profit sectors. MSFS students are required to have one internship at an internationally-focused organization during their course of study, but typically students intern for one to two semesters and during the summer between their two years of study.
Internships can be:
- For a semester or a year
- Paid or unpaid
- 15–20 hours per week during the school year, full time during the summer
- An opportunity for potential employers and employees to assess each other
Where do MSFS students intern?
Students find internships across all sectors. During the school year, students work in the D.C. area with a variety of organizations. During the summer, approximately 50% of students intern abroad, while the rest typically work in D.C. or New York City.
When do students typically intern?
Students generally intern for two or three semesters: spring of the first year, the summer between, and the fall of the second year. Approximately 50% of students intern during the fall semester, 50% intern during the spring semester, and 95% intern over the summer.
How many hours a week do students work?
Students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week at an internship during the academic year, and full-time (40 hours) during the summer.
Are internships usually paid or unpaid?
Internships vary from organization to organization. In Washington, D.C. it is not unusual for an organization to offer only unpaid internships. However, 40–60% of MSFS students who intern are paid.
What resources are available to MSFS students?
Once enrolled in the fall, students have access the SFS Graduate Career Center database of internship postings. MSFS staff, faculty, professors, and career development staff will also be available for one-on-one meetings.
Grants are given to qualifying students to help finance the cost of unpaid internships. Internships must be ten weeks, full-time, related to the student’s career/academic interests, and unpaid. Grant amounts depend on several factors, including the number of applicants and the funding available. Qualifying students may receive base stipends (typically between $500 to $1000) to help cover living expenses and travel costs when applicable.