Currently viewing the tag: "Exchange programs"

In a week when much of my time has been dedicated to newly admitted students, I’d like to turn to one of our 2011 graduates.  Imad Ahmed arrived at Fletcher with a varied set of experiences behind him during the five years after he had completed his undergraduate degree.  While in the MIB program at Fletcher, Imad pursued an exchange semester in Paris, and five years out, he’s continuing his education.

My Fletcher MIB taught me International Finance and International Business and Economic and Law.  Though I had read economics for my undergrad degree at University of California, Berkeley, my five years prior to Fletcher had nothing to do with either of these fields.  I co-ran a successful fundraising office for an unsuccessful U.S. presidential campaign in 2004, documented national and provincial campaigns to encourage women to run for office in Pakistan in 2005, worked as a journalist, and finally worked as an entrepreneur in London, seeking to create jobs in Pakistan.

After Fletcher and my semester at HEC Paris, I returned to London to work in frontier market private equity.  I was excited about the jobs we would and did create.  I was less excited about extracting value from negotiating hard against an African parastatal.  The Rwandan government then recruited me to assist them in negotiating infrastructure with private developers, which I did for four years, as well as serve as a Special Policy Advisor to their Secretary to the Treasury.  I served competently, in large thanks to my Fletcher education and subsequent investment associate training.  Also in large part due to Fletcher, I was never short of friends in Kigali, where I proudly held our flag and congregated our community.  I met 100 Fletcher classmates (sometimes while out dancing after midnight!), student interns and alumni (sometimes on the opposite side of the negotiating table!).

With Fletcher friends Sophia Dawkins and Bart Smit Duijzentkunst for the weekend. All smiles after a self-rescue mission when their kayak disastrously started sinking into Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Bart is an Associate Legal Officer at the UN and Sophia is now pursuing a PhD in political science at Yale.

Besides providing me with new skills and networks, Fletcher reoriented my mindset.  The uber-travelled student body motivated me to double the countries I’d lived in, and to add a fourth continent to match the class average. (With six countries to my name now that I’m five years out, I might have fallen behind!)

The mature students at Fletcher doing their second master’s degrees brought rich tales and richer philosophies.  One of them started work life as a chef, before becoming an international banker.  His words about periodically returning to school to sharpen one’s toolkit and to reflect remained with me, and allowed me to think of my own return later.  (He himself is now a research director and PhD student at Fletcher.)

The consistent theme to my career has been that I’ve operated as a critical idealist, finding gaps in the value of my work.  Following on from my work in Rwanda, I am now pursuing a PhD at University College London.  I am assessing how governments can prioritize infrastructure projects for the purpose of most effectively reducing rural poverty.

Remarking at the Financial Times Africa Infrastructure Summit on how infrastructure provides one of the more concrete paths to development.

Remember the very quick survey that invited you to provide ideas for the blog?  (Why yes, you certainly can still take the survey.  Thank you for asking.)  Anyway, readers have provided lots of good suggestions for me, and I’ve been lining up writers and posts to describe student curricula, student organizations, and other topics.  Today, though, I’ll tackle a topic that won’t turn up too much in other posts: Exchange and dual-degree programs and Fletcher certificates — options for students in the MALD and MIB programs.

Exchange programs first.  Fletcher has partnerships with a number of different graduate schools in the U.S. and beyond, at which Fletcher students can spend a semester.  The details vary slightly, but the basics are that students apply in the winter of their first year to spend a semester (usually the fall) of their second year at the other institution.  One student blogger who pursued an exchange is Tatsuo, and you can read about his Fall 2016 semester at Sciences Po.  Fletcher also hosts exchange students from those partner organizations.  The exchange can be a great way to broaden your experience or to focus in on a subject that is a strength area for the other graduate school.  Students work with the Office of the Registrar to make the arrangements for the exchange, and there’s generally an exchange option for students who want one.

Dual (or joint) degree programs are different from exchanges, though some of the partner institutions are the same.  Students who pursue a dual degree apply separately to the two institutions (Fletcher and a law school, for example) and, if admitted, they’ll potentially receive a semester’s credit from each school for coursework done at the other.  For example, the MALD is a two-year degree and law school generally takes three years.  By pursuing a dual degree with one of our partner institutions, the student can complete the two degrees in four years, rather than the five years it would take to do the degrees separately.  That same one-year reduction can also apply to other programs.  Naturally, some administrative procedures are required, but it’s fairly straightforward.  At the end, the student receives two separate degrees, the MALD and the JD, for example.

Unlike exchange programs, it is also routine for students to arrange their own dual degrees.  That is, students are not limited to Fletcher’s official partners when they seek a dual degree.  To arrange an “ad hoc” dual degree, the application process is the same — apply separately to both schools.  Once admitted, students arrange the timing for their coursework and, ultimately, petition to have four courses from the other institution count toward their Fletcher degree.  A similar process would take place at the other institution so that four Fletcher courses count toward the second degree.  With only a modest amount of homework and preparation, students usually find that Fletcher is supportive of their plans to pursue a law/business/other degree alongside the MALD or MIB.  The wrinkles are usually at the other institution, and students are encouraged to work closely with both registrar’s offices to be sure that they can achieve maximum benefit from pursuing the two degrees together.  One last point: Fletcher students cannot point to a previously completed degree and ask for credit — the two degrees need to be pursued as an intentional whole.  More questions?  Contact us.

And now to Fletcher certificates.  Reading through the information on the website will give you the basic information you’ll need.  The questions we are asked most often lean toward “why would I do a certificate?”  The answer: the decision to pursue any of the certificates is completely up to you.  You might want the additional credential to bolster your post-Fletcher job hunt.  Or, you might be new to your field and want the curriculum structure that pursuing the certificate can provide.  (The certificates lay out more of a roadmap than the standard requirements do.)  I think they can be very useful in both of these ways, but pursuing a certificate is strictly optional and not necessary for everyone.  You don’t need to make the decision right away after enrolling, but you’d probably want to check in with the Registrar’s Office during your first semester if you know that you’ll want to pursue a certificate.

What all three of these study options have in common is that they represent ways for students to create a Fletcher curriculum to meet their individual needs, and that flexibility remains a key characteristic of the Fletcher experience.

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