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Doctor of Philosophy

We encourage you to review all of the application instructions before beginning the application. 

A man in a library

Applying for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD program is for individuals who have already earned an advanced graduate degree and seek to further their expertise as scholars and practitioners of international relations. Applicants must either hold a Master of Arts in International Relations degree from Johns Hopkins SAIS or comparable academic qualifications from another institution, or be a current student in our Master of Arts in International Relations degree program with at least twelve courses toward the degree. In rare instances, someone with only a bachelor’s degree but with extensive research experience may be considered for the PhD.

While all PhD students begin their studies in Washington DC, students can explore opportunities to study at SAIS Europe, the Hopkins Nanjing Center, or at other prominent global institutions during the dissertation stage.

PhD Application Checklist 

All materials, including official standardized test scores, must be received by the Office of Admissions in advance of the deadline.

  • Online application
  • Application fee, $85 USD
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of purpose
  • Dissertation topic
  • Writing sample
  • Transcripts for all college-level course work
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • English Language Examination (non-native English speakers) 

We encourage applicants to submit materials as early as possible before the applicable deadline. You are responsible for making sure all supporting documents, including letters of recommendation and academic transcripts, are submitted on time. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

PhD Application Instructions

  1. Name: Please list your full legal name. Do not include any suffixes such as “Jr.,” “Sr.,” etc. If you have a maiden name or alternate name that you previously used legally, please list it in the "Other Last Names Used" section.
  2. Addresses: Please list both your permanent and mailing addresses. If your mailing address expires before admissions decisions are rendered, then any posted correspondence will be sent to your permanent address. If your current mailing address changes at any time during the application process, please notify the Office of Admissions as soon as possible.
  3. Email Address: Please provide an email address that will be valid throughout the entire application process. Take care to ensure that emails from Johns Hopkins SAIS are not filtered to a junk folder because we will communicate with you primarily through email.
  4. Phone Number: When entering your phone number, if you are listing a non-US phone number, please include the country code when entering the number, leaving out any parenthesis, dashes, or other symbols.
  5. Citizenship Information: Please select your citizenship. Dual citizens should select both nationalities. If you do not have a current Immigration Status, please select "OUT" from the drop down menu.
  6. Social Security Number: This is required if you have a US Social Security Number at the time of application.
  7. Race/Ethnicity Optional: This data is collected as required by the US Federal Government and does not influence our admissions decisions. We encourage you to answer both questions. Ethnicity definitions are provided.
  1. Degree Type: Please select “Full-time” as your degree type.
  2. Program: Please select “Doctor of Philosophy” as your program of choice.
  3. Choice of Concentration: Please select your first and second choice from the dropdown menu. 
  4. Location: The Johns Hopkins SAIS PhD is only available at the Washington DC campus
  5. Anticipated Start Term: Please select your anticipated start term. If your term of interest is not visible, we are currently not accepting applications for that term.

All applications and supporting documentation become the confidential property of the Johns Hopkins SAIS Office of Admissions and cannot be returned.

Please list all university-level work, including study abroad and transfer course work, at which four or more courses were completed. Use the "type ahead" option in the institution name to search for the College/University you have attended. Selecting your institution through this feature will automatically populate some of the fields below and ensure that the identifying information for this institution is formatted properly in our records. If your institution code is not available, please type the name in "Institution."

Submit Transcript: You must submit transcripts reflecting all university-level course work listed on the application. You may upload unofficial transcripts via the online application, or submit official transcripts via hard copy or electronic copy, either from the college/university directly or via a transcript clearinghouse.

You should not list: 1) institutions at which three or fewer courses were completed, or where courses were only audited or taken on a non-credit basis, 2) executive education programs, 3) non-credit language institutes, or 4) non-credit certificate programs.

Mailing Transcripts: Transcripts in hard copy should be sent to the Office of Admissions in Washington DC:

Johns Hopkins SAIS
Office of Admissions
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

Transcripts in electronic copy should be sent to [email protected].

Unofficial transcripts: Admitted applicants who submit unofficial transcripts as part of the application process will be required to submit official copies prior to enrollment.

Study abroad grades and transfer credit: Transcripts listing study abroad grades and/or transfer credits are required unless both the grades and credits are reflected on the primary undergraduate transcript.

Non-English-language transcripts: If your transcript is in a language other than English, you are asked to provide an official translation of the entire transcript and an explanation of the grading system of the university. You are strongly encouraged to use a credential evaluation service, particularly if you are not sure of how to obtain original transcripts or face difficulties obtaining them. See the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of providers. Transcripts and translations must be received by the Office of Admissions before the relevant deadline, so please make any requests well in advance.

Please list your official scores for the GRE and/or GMAT, and if required, your official English competency exam scores. If you have completed an exam more than once, please list your most recent scores. In addition to listing the scores in the online application, applicants must also send official test scores via the appropriate testing services.

  1. GRE or GMAT scores: Johns Hopkins SAIS will only accept scores directly from the testing service. Please arrange for all standardized test scores to be sent in advance of the application deadline. The GRE code for Johns Hopkins SAIS is 5610-0000; the GMAT code is KGB-GX-99.
  2. English Langauge Examination: You must submit an official English competency score if (1) English is not your native language and (2) you do not hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in a country where English is an official language and where English is the language of instruction. Official test scores must be received for admissions consideration. For more information and instructions, please review our English language examination policy.

Please provide details of your three most recent professional positions.

  1. City of Birth: Please type the name of the city where you were born.
  2. US Military: Please indicate if you are an active duty or former member of the US Armed Forces in the space provided.
  3. Current Residency: Please provide the country and city, where you currently reside.
  4. Diversity: Johns Hopkins SAIS receives applications from a diverse pool of candidates. These questions ensure we have the clearest possible understanding of each candidate’s background. Your answers will be kept confidential.
  5. Affiliations: The Office of Admissions offers application fee waivers to participants or alumni affiliated with the following professional development programs:
  • AmeriCorps Volunteer
  • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Program Fellow
  • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Participant
  • Fulbright (for those currently on fellowship)
  • Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship (IIPP)
  • McNair Scholar
  • Peace Corps
  • Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow
  • Teach for America Member
  • Teach for China Member
  • Teach for India Member
  • Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow
  • U.S. Military Active Duty
  • U.S. Military Active Duty
  • Other

To receive a fee waiver, please upload official documentation confirming your participation in the selected program. On the "Review" page, select "Finalize Application and Pay," however do not complete payment. Please contact the Office of Admissions at [email protected], our team will review and confirm your request. Please note: we cannot grant fee waivers for financial hardship.

6. Languages: Please list your native language; bilingual applicants should list their dominant language. Your native/dominant language is the one that meets 2 out of 3 requirements: it is (a) the main language of communication between you and one of your parents or caregivers, (b) an official language in the community where you grew up, (c) the language of instruction in the high school you attended.

You should indicate levels of proficiency for up to two additional foreign languages in the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension. Any language experience beyond these should be included on your resume.

7.  Time Spent Abroad: You should use this section to indicate any time spent living, working and/or studying outside of your home country. Please list the most significant experience abroad first.

8. Financial Aid: If you are eligible for financial aid, indicate in this section that you wish to apply for Johns Hopkins SAIS scholarships.

Please note: in order to be considered for scholarship funding, you must answer “yes” to the question in this section. Applicants who answer “no” will not be considered for any scholarship funding.

For more information on financial aid eligibility and forms, visit Financial Aid.


Before starting your studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS, you must have earned the equivalent of a B- or higher in separate college-level courses in introductory microeconomics and in introductory macroeconomics. A single, semester-long college level course in introductory economics covering both micro and macro will be considered minimally sufficient.

Use this section to indicate your background in economics coursework. Please indicate the economics courses that you received a grade of a B- or better. Under "Advanced Economics Coursework," please include field courses. If a course was taken as a high school Advance Placement (AP) course, and college credit was received, please indicate by including this information in the "Other" section.

Do not list courses not taken for a grade.


Use this section to indicate your background in mathematics. Please begin by indicating the number of college level calculus courses taken followed by the course titles, grade received and year taken. If a course was taken as a high school Advance Placement (AP) course, and college credit was received, please indicate by including this information in the "Other" section. Also please list any mathematics courses taken beyond calculus along with the year and the grade received. Do not list courses not taken for a grade. Note that having a background in math is not required for admission.

Upload the relevant required documents here for your program of interest.

  1. Résumé/CV: Provide a current résumé or curriculum vitae, which includes your education, employment history, awards and accolades, international exposure, publication credits, and leadership roles in any volunteer and/or extracurricular activities.
  2. Statement of Purpose: Discuss your goals for graduate study and for your professional career. What experiences have most contributed to your desire to study international relations? How will this degree program serve to meet your academic and professional goals? If you have selected International Development as your first choice concentration, it is important to also address your interests in your second choice concentration as your application may be reviewed by both programs. If you intend to pursue a dual degree you should address this interest as well. (no more than 600 words in length)
  3. Dissertation Topic: Describe your proposed dissertation topic, including research methods and plans for fieldwork. The essay should indicate the Johns Hopkins SAIS faculty members with who you are likely to work with and the relation of the dissertation topic to your work. (no more than 600 words in length)
  4. Writing Sample: Submit a piece of analytical writing between 15 and 40 pages (double-spaced). The most useful sample is a research paper based on sources in the field of specialization to which you have applied at Johns Hopkins SAIS, but a piece of analytical writing in another field is acceptable. You must be the sole author.

You are required to submit two letters of recommendation and have the option of submitting a third. Recommendations should be written by individuals well placed to discuss your qualifications for graduate study and a career in international affairs.

Please note that Johns Hopkins SAIS will accept letters of recommendation only through our online application system or in hard copy directly from the recommender. Recommendations submitted via email or fax will not be accepted. Please list all your references in the "Recommendations" section, including recommenders who prefer to submit their letter in hard copy.

If your recommender prefers to submit a hard copy letter of recommendation, please advise them to mail to:

Johns Hopkins SAIS | Office of Admissions
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001


All required fields must be completed before your application can be submitted. Required fields are designated by an asterisk.

To submit your application, click the button that reads “Finalize Application and Pay." Please note that you must complete all required fields in order to submit your application. Any missing fields will appear on the "Review" section. Prior to submission, please review all application sections to check for any errors or incorrect data.

After you have submitted your application, confirmation of your application status as “submitted” will appear on the online application dashboard. A checklist of all application materials will also be visible in order for you to track the status of supporting documents.

The $85 USD application fee is payable through the application system via credit card, debit card, or e-check. 

If you were granted a fee waiver: When submitting the online application, on the "Review" page, select "Finalize Application and Pay." If you are routed to the Payment Net website, do not complete payment and please email [email protected].

The following participants or alumni affiliated with the following professional development programs are eligible for an application fee waiver:

We encourage applicants to submit materials as early as possible before the applicable deadline. You are responsible for making sure all supporting documents, including letters of recommendation and academic transcripts, are submitted on time. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

All applications and supporting documentation become the confidential property of the Office of Admissions and cannot be returned.


The Office of Admissions retains application files for one year after a decision is rendered. If you applied for an academic year before last year you are not considered a re-applicant, and must resubmit all application materials. If you applied last academic year, you do not have to resubmit all materials and can follow this checklist:

  • Online application form
  • Application fee, $85 USD
  • Updated résumé/CV
  • Re-applicant essay: How have you improved your candidacy since your last application? This essay should be no more than 1000 words in length.
  • New transcripts: Transcript(s) of any additional courses you have taken since you last applied (include grades not finalized at the time of your last application).
  • Recommendation letter: One new recommendation letter, preferably from your current employer. If you have already used your current employer for a recommendation, please choose someone else in a supervisory role or a client.
  • Revised dissertation topic (optional): if you wish to change your dissertation topic from your previous application you should submit a revised dissertation topic.

PhD Application Deadline

  Enrollment Term Application Deadline Notification By
Enrollment-Regular Deadline Fall 2024 December 15, 2023 March 21, 2024

Contact Us

Washington, DC
Office of Admissions
The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

+1 (202) 663-5700
+1 (877) JHU-WASH (US toll free)

[email protected]