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I work pretty closely with applicants to the PhD program, and I should write more to help them.  The deadline for applications is December 20.  That’s a little less than three months off and, given the requirements of the application, it’s definitely not too late to get started.  There’s only one deadline each year, and only September enrollment is possible.

The PhD application requires all the usual elements (transcripts, test scores, essays, etc.), but applicants must also submit a master’s thesis (or major research paper) and a preliminary dissertation proposal.  While the proposal should be well developed, it’s understood that a student’s ultimate dissertation will reflect learning and growth from three semesters of Fletcher classes.  Though it is not required that applicants contact members of the Fletcher faculty before applying, I can say that nearly all of our successful applicants have done so.  Reaching out to Fletcher professors gives you a chance to confirm that your interests are aligned with theirs.  All admitted PhD students are assigned an advisor, and the expectation is that students will stick with that advisor all the way through.

Beyond that, most successful PhD applicants will include two recommendations from professors who can reflect on their work, and most will be asking professors from their master’s-level work to write the recommendations.

I should pause to note that applying directly to the PhD program requires a master’s degree.  Students without a master’s degree, or those who have a degree that lasted only one year, need to start with the MALD (usually) or MIB (also possible) degree.

We’ll be conducting two virtual information sessions, on October 15 and November 16.  There’s also more information that I can pass along.  If you’re interested, please contact us!

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♦  Come up with a plan for fall interviews, including NEW Skype interviews: CHECK
♦  Train students volunteers to conduct interviews: CHECK
♦  Assign students to each of the 35+ interview timeslots each week: CHECK
♦  Dust off the furniture in the interview rooms: CHECK

I guess we’re just about ready to kick-off the fall interview program on Monday.  “Just about” ready, because I haven’t yet identified the inevitable glitches that will occur.  But we’re excited to get started, especially as the interview calendar is filling up nicely!  We were fully booked for the first two Mondays until we added a few extra appointments yesterday.  (Please grab one of those new slots if you were disappointed to have been closed out!)

As I always hasten to say, interviews are an optional part of the application process, but now that applicants have the choice of both on-campus and Skype interviews, I hope that many applications for January or September 2016 enrollment will include an interview report.  It’s a great opportunity for applicants to share a little of their own story.  And through the conversation, they can hear about the experience of their student interviewer, too.


Lost in the whirlwind that characterizes the start of the semester is attention to our applicants for January enrollment.  It just seems impossible that our first application deadline of 2015-16 could be less than a month away.  (I wrote that in mellow lower case, but what’s going through my head is “LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!!!)

Though most students start their studies in September, there are lots of good reasons to think about January as a good MALD or MIB enrollment option.  The Januarian group tends to be (and remain, throughout their two years) very close.  It’s an instant peer group — far more manageable than the wave that rolls in each September.  The option to take two summers for internships also works well for students who are exploring more than one career path.  If those reasons, as well as the general timing, make sense to you, then it’s time to start your application.

There’s no time like the present, then, to share some tips with the applicants who may be our next crop of Januarians.  Because the application timeframe may creep up on you, just as it has for me, I suggest that you start an application right away, if you haven’t already done so.  You don’t need to do much with it yet, but make sure you know what will be required.  The essays are straightforward, but they may take you some time to perfect.  Don’t wait too much longer to start drafting them.

At last week’s APSIA fair, I was reminded how often we’re asked for our advice on how to put together a good application.  My best, if most basic, advice: Follow the directions.  Yep, if everyone followed this simple advice, we would see a lot more high quality applications.  More advice can be found in a post from last December.  And you should also check out our Application Boot Camp from last fall for more ideas.

Finally, if you hope to include an evaluative interview as part of your application, you need to schedule that now.  The first week of our interview calendar (which starts September 28) is nearly full already.  Whether you’re able to visit campus or you prefer to take advantage of the new Skype option, you’ll want to schedule your interview for before the application deadline of October 15.

We’re looking forward to reading some great applications in October!  As ever, if you have questions, be sure to contact us.

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Yesterday was my first day at Fletcher following the start of classes and I was reminded what a busy place it is.  Lots of new students stopping by the office to be redirected to the people who could actually solve their problems (Once they have started classes, the answer is rarely found in the Admissions Office.) and lots of continuing students popping in to say hello and catch up after the summer.

The shift from slow summer to fast fall happens so abruptly that it catches me by surprise each year.  Suddenly, we’re in the thick of the travel season.  (Since the NY fair that I attended on Tuesday, we’ve participated in two more APSIA fairs — Laurie staffed the Boston table, and Liz was in Pittsburgh last night.  More coming next week.)  The first applications (for January enrollment) will arrive in just a month.  It’s Admissions time!

Which brings me to this: there are lots of ways to connect with Fletcher Admissions — either on campus or nearer to you.  There are visit events, information sessions, and opportunities to interview on campus.  And we offer online information sessions and interviews via Skype if you’re not able to visit.  The Skype interviews are new this year, as are program-specific online information sessions.  We’ll offer a session for MIB applicants on October 8, for PhD applicants on October 15, and for Map Your Future applicants on October 28.  Check the schedule for general sessions and the November/December calendar.

As ever, we hope to hear from you.  Contact us if you have questions about the School, the admissions process, or opportunities to meet us on campus or on the road.  We look forward to being in contact during the application process.


Today is the first day of the 2015-2016 academic year.  Orientation wrapped up last Friday, and on the agenda today is Shopping Day, during which faculty can share information about their classes and students can gather details that help them decide which classes to register for.  The Shopping Day schedule is glued in below.  Note that the emphasis is on new or revised classes — not every class is included on the Shopping Day calendar — and students can attend two presentations during each time slot.  Learn more about the different classes here.

The start of the new academic year is also what I consider to be opening day for the blog.  So…welcome, all!  I encourage you to check out some of the blog’s features, such as the Student Stories and Faculty Spotlight, as well as alumni posts from graduates one year and five years post-Fletcher.  We’ve had an Admissions blog since September 2006 (WOW!) and it has changed over time.  These days, I try to balance straightforward admissions news and tips with posts that describe the rich Fletcher student experience.  Consider subscribing for email delivery of each blog post, or simply check in often.  If the content of one day’s post doesn’t interest you, the next day’s probably will.

And today marks Day One for the Admissions travel schedule.  From now through November, one or more staffers will be on the road just about every day.  This week, three of us are attending three different APSIA fairs, with more next week.  Surprisingly, I’m the first to head out.  I’m not the staff member with the busiest travel schedule, which makes it unusual that I should be the first to hit the road, but I’m in NY for tonight’s APSIA event.  If you’ll be there, please plan to say hello.  An alum with lots of admissions experience will be with me.

And that’s the wrap-up for the day — first day of the academic year, the blog year, and the travel calendar.

Shopping Day, Sept 8



Today is the last day at Fletcher for Christine.  You may have met her during a visit, or you may have heard from her by email.  Even if you haven’t had any direct contact with Christine, if you plan to apply, or applied last year, you will benefit from her work.  Christine was one of the Admissions staff members who did the work behind the scenes to make our new online application platform a reality.  And once Slate was launched, Christine did most of the maintenance for us, and has been the source of the answers we need when we’re trying to do something new with it.

During her years in the Admissions Office, Christine was our clear leader on all matters “fun.”  She spurred us to celebrate birthdays, created a “Slatebration” (Slate Celebration) last December after we had received and reviewed our first applications successfully, and has generally made sure that we take time to enjoy ourselves now and then.

Having just gotten married in July, Christine decided the time had come to try a new career, and she will be moving on to a human resources position at a local tech company.  I’ll miss her around the office, and we all wish her well!


Following a few weeks during which it received a refreshing, the application for admission to all Fletcher programs in January or September 2016 is now available.  Most 2016 applicants will greet this news with a shrug: they’re planning to apply, but the deadline seems so far away and they don’t see any special reason to do anything just yet.

I would encourage you to resist this line of thinking.  Instead, take a look at the application and note what’s involved.  You can work on it at whatever pace you choose, but you’ll benefit from knowing the requirements and the questions asked on the application form.  Once you’ve checked it out, you can start compiling the information you need.  As we get closer to whatever deadline you are aiming for, you’ll be glad to have moved ahead.


It’s hard for us to believe, but today will be the last day of a mostly student-free Hall of Flags.  On Monday, the pre-session begins, bringing MIB students and those interested in Design, Monitoring and Evaluation onto campus, ahead of the new students who will attend Orientation on August 31 and the returning students who will arrive a week later.  The pre-session students stay pretty busy throughout the day — they won’t be hanging out in the Admissions Office — but their arrival is still a marker in the wrap-up of summer.

Liz and I walked out of the building together yesterday and we agreed that we feel like we worked pretty steadily throughout the summer, but we’re still going to need to scramble to finish all the summer tasks.  No big deal.  A little scrambling never hurt anyone, and we both have vacation weeks in front of us.

Mostly, we’re really looking forward to meeting the students we talked about in Admissions Committee meetings last winter, and to hearing about the summer activities of the returning students.  It will be great to have students in the building, keeping the place lively.  If we’re lucky, we’ll also manage to finish off all the summer work first.


Among the other projects I’m working on this summer is the overdue launch of evaluative interviews via Skype.  Up to now, the great majority of our evaluative interviews have been on campus and face-to-face between the applicant and interviewer.  We also offered the opportunity to record an interview online, but the resulting videos, though still helpful in the application review process, couldn’t measure up to the more natural and interactive format.  We all had a voice whispering in our ears that the time had come to offer Skype interviews, but we needed to be sure we had all the pieces in place to do so successfully.  Now we think we do.

The new Skype interviews will capture many of the features of our on-campus interviews.  Evaluative interviews are offered to interested applicants from mid-September through early December.  (That is, usually before applications are submitted.)  Interviewers will generally be current students.  There will be plenty of opportunity for the applicant to ask questions.  And whether on campus or via Skype, interviews (however helpful they are for interviewers and the Admissions Committee) remain optional.

We’re still ironing out one wrinkle in the registration process, but we should have that settled next week.  (It could be settled in half an hour, but vacation schedules rarely put us all in the same place at once.)  When the registration question is decided, the early set-up work will be complete and we’ll share a link to the interview registration page.  Note that the Skype interviews are really intended for applicants outside the Boston area, and we will ask you to share your résumé and Skype user name before the interview.  Though there are bound to be some bumps in the process, we’re excited to be able to extend the face-to-face interview opportunity to applicants who aren’t able to visit campus.

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Though September/October/November is when the Admissions team is most likely to be on the road for recruitment travel, we also make occasional trips in the spring and summer.  On the schedule this time of year is “Summerfest,” an evening reception and information session activity cooperatively organized by us and our friends at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA); Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service; Johns Hopkins University, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); Princeton University, The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Summerfest events are held in New York City and Washington, DC, and the New York event is tonight, July 16!  If you’re interested in attending the New York reception, you can sign up here.

Two DC events were scheduled for the summer, and the second is coming up on Tuesday, July 21.  If you’d like to attend the DC reception, sign up here.

We’ll have a member of the Admissions staff and alumni or students at each event, and we hope to see you there!


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