From the monthly archives: October 2008

The first of the year’s language proficiency exams was offered last weekend. To graduate, all Fletcher students need to demonstrate proficiency in a second language.  For non-native English speakers, their second language is, well, English.  For everyone else, the language exam is the opportunity to show their stuff.

There’s an oral component to the exam, which is scheduled by students individually.  The reading exam is a big community event.  And here are the languages in which the test was offered Saturday:  Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese.  In other years, other languages might find their way onto the list, depending on student interest.

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Who needs rules?  Well…we do.  And you do, too.

Let’s fast forward a few years.  You’ve applied to Fletcher and have been admitted.  You enroll and study for two years.  Now you’re looking at the job hunt and your future career.  When you tell potential employers that you have a degree from The Fletcher School, don’t you want it to mean something?

That’s where we bureaucrats come in.  It’s our goal to ensure that your degree has value.

I plan to use this theme, “Who Needs Rules,” now and then, when I feel it could be beneficial to provide detail on an admissions policy.  Today, I’m going to explain one of the guidelines for applicants to Fletcher’s PhD program.

Generally, I’m the Admissions Office contact for PhD applicants, and one of the most challenging questions I need to answer goes like this:  I saw on the Fletcher web site, that to enter the PhD program directly, I need to have a master’s degree from a program that required full-time study for one and a half to two years.  But my master’s program only lasted one year.  May I apply to Fletcher’s PhD program?

The answer, I’m afraid, is no.  Not that long ago, all students in the PhD program had completed our two-year MALD.  Then the faculty decided to open the doors to applicants from comparable programs at other universities.  I wasn’t part of the decision making, but I reckon they were expecting the applications would come from graduates of our closest peers — APSIA schools.  And some do.  But many don’t.  And then we need to figure out if the degree is comparable.  Step one:  Did the program last roughly as long as the MALD?  No?  Then the degree program is not comparable.

This policy has potential to irritate many applicants, but the ones who object most often are graduates from master’s degree programs in the U.K., where a one-year master’s is the norm.  Sometimes there are challenges involved in going from one education system to another.

Why does the faculty stick with the policy?  Because they believe that a degree program similar to the MALD is what prepares students best for PhD study here.  Thankfully, there are many other programs out there to accommodate all the different types of pre-PhD education.  And prospective students always have the option to start at Fletcher in the MALD program, and move on to the PhD later.  Either way, I know that the future PhDs will find a place that meets their educational needs.  Meanwhile, we’ll do our best to ensure that everyone admitted to the program has the academic platform on which to rest their future study.


This morning, we all typed our fingers to the bone during the admissions season’s first on-line chat.  Today’s post is from Peter, our resident chat moderator.

If you are reading this blog, chances are you’re a frequent visitor to our website.  This means you’ve probably already taken a look at the faculty pages, student profiles, course listings, and admissions deadlines.  You’ve likely spent some time looking over the career services section and glanced at our alumni network. You’ve probably also noticed the liberal use of the word “connection” on our website — between disciplines, fields, sectors, students, faculty, alumni, employers, etc.  As you’ve inevitably gathered, this word is important to many aspects of the Fletcher experience — including the pre-Fletcher experience.  While many of you have signed up on the “Connect With Us & Learn More” page, others may be a bit put off by mailing lists and have decided to remain anonymous until your application is finally submitted.  While this is certainly understandable, you may be missing out on some important pieces that will help you through the admission process.  By connecting with Fletcher, you’ll receive important information we send out, including:

–Fletcher publications, such as our Viewbook, Course Bulletin, and The Fletcher News (our alumni newsletter).

–Fletcher “News Flashes,” showcasing events, news items, and publications from the extended Fletcher network of students, faculty and alumni.

–Invitations to online chats with staff, current students and faculty.  (Those of you currently signed up are already aware that the first chats of the season are this week!)

–Information about potential admissions visits or invitations to alumni events in your area.

That said, we are always mindful of the technological hassles and environmental implications of an overflowing inbox/mailbox and do our best not to inundate you with frivolous mailings—of either the physical and electronic kind.  I wish you the best of luck as you explore your graduate school options and we look forward to connecting with you!


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