The Graduate Institute of International and Developmental Studies is an academic paradise for students seeking careers in international affairs. Set in beautiful Geneva, Switzerland, the Graduate Institute goes beyond standard broad-sweeping course offerings. They conduct highly specific programs that allow degree candidates to delve deep into their interests and passions.
Graduate Institute enrollees choose from several intensive programs upon entering the school. These include masters of art degrees in international affairs and development studies. They also have the option of enrolling in an interdisciplinary masters program with a focus on anthropology/sociology of development, international economics, international history and politics, international law, and international relations. For particularly committed students or those with a long-term plan, there is also a 5-year combined master’s-Ph.D. program.
The Institute takes pride in its self-described cosmopolitan student body, in which 100 diverse nationalities are represented. High-profile alumni include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Pulitzer Prize winner Saul Friedlander, and the 2007 Nobel Prize winner in economics Leonid Hurwitz.
Canadian student Marc Pronovost, who is studying for a masters degree in development studies, named the international student population as a highlight of the school.
“My studies at the Graduate Institute have given me the tools to think critically about development, its projects and mechanisms,” Pronovost said. “But my Master program is more than simply an academic experience. Being in such an international group of students coming from all over the world, I have been able to meet and confront new opinions, extend my network and understand different realities. Being here, I feel that I am already taking an active step in my future.”
Admission to the school is competitive. At minimum, applicants to one of the master’s programs must have a bachelor’s degree, or equivalent from their native country. Fluency in English is essential, and knowledge of French helps as well. The Graduate Institute maintains a bilingual campus, and while students who do not speak French can apply, they are required to learn the language within their first year with the school.
“Having studied and researched in four different countries, I appreciate the diversity that the Graduate Institute community offers,” said Graduate Institute Student Association President Ali Karami-Ruiz. “With over 100 nationalities represented, you can imagine why the flow of creative ideas never stops! The school was also an ideal choice for me because I could continue studying in French and English, two languages that I am passionate about. In addition, it is an institution that truly prepares its students to face the international challenges of our generation.” Karami-Ruiz, a native of Mexico, is working toward a master’s in international affairs.
International economics student Massimo Fiorin of Italy also had high praise for the Institute.
“The Institute is one of the few academic institutions in the world that host an open and respectful debate on sensitive current affairs,” he said. “This debate is fueled by curiosity rather than by people’s desire to persuade others. Students derive great benefit from this environment because they are encouraged to explore all facets of a subject critically and impartially. Seeing that the Institute offers classes on topics such as working conditions in China or agricultural subsidies makes me proud to be an alumnus.”
When it comes to career opportunities and continuing education, the Graduate Institute is nearly unparalleled in terms of resources. The Career Services department provides coaching services, hosts recruitment days and job search workshops, and publishes a weekly newsletter listing the latest job and internship openings in relevant fields.
Their executive education degree programs are designed to help industry professionals further develop their skill sets while simultaneously advancing their careers. These part-time programs include an executive masters in international negotiation and policy-making, an executive masters in oil and gas leadership, and an executive certificate in advocacy in international affairs, among others.
The Institute also sponsors the Global South Scholar-in-Residence Programme, in which university instructors who hold a Ph.D. apply to spend a semester at the Institute, researching and teaching in their fields of expertise.
Special summer seminars zero in on specific subjects, so that participants can focus their energy and understanding on real-life questions facing some of the largest and most powerful governing bodies in the world. For example, this July, the Institute will hold a program on the World Trade Organization, International Trade and Development.
By all standards, the Graduate Institute is a quality institution, and one of the best international affairs and development resources in the world. At every level, their standards of excellence and commitment to continued learning exceed many others internationally.