Questions from an Admitted Student

To all of you who have been accepted to Maxwell, CONGRATS! I’m sure you are all anxious, excited, and a bit nervous, I know that I was. I was recently talking to an accepted student who had a lot of questions. I’m sure you all have very similar questions. I have posted the questions and my corresponding answers. What other questions do you have? Please comment here and I will answer them as best I can.

1. How will the summer sessions work? I understand they will have classes every day. When will I be able to register for classes? How is the best way to do that, particularly because I won’t be in Syracuse probably until mid-June.
Summer session will start the first week in July. You will have a colloquium the first week, a great introduction to meeting classmates and hearing from alumni, faculty, and professors. You will have Public Administration and Democracy (PA&D), a great overview class that goes over the seeds of Public Administration, some of its founding principles, and delves into where the field is heading. You will have class Mon. through Fri. from 9AM to 12PM, with a healthy amount of reading each day. That class will run for 3 weeks, and then you will start Public Budgeting with the same Mon.-Fri., 9-noon schedule.

You won’t enroll for fall classes until you arrive on campus, so no need to fret over that matter!
2. When looking at the academic calendar, I see there is a Winter Intercession but then it says something about it being optional. What is that?
Intercession is absolutely optional. Some students (definitely not me) choose to take a class during winter break to lighten their spring course load, but it is not required. Also, they suggest against 5 classes in your fall semester, but I had no problems and it makes sense if you assume to be traveling for interviews and trips in the spring.
3. I will likely take the Environmental Policy concentration. I have already taken two online classes with American Public University System. What are the procedures for possibly getting credit for previous academic work? Do you recommend doing that? How do you like that concentration? What are you going to do with it afterward?
 I am not sure how transferring credits would work, I would contact Nell. Her e-mail is She can help you a lot more on how that would work/if it can work. Those classes might be able to be applied to a certificate or an additional concentration if you desire.

I am currently in environmental economics with Prof. Wilcoxen. The guy is a genius, and deeply committed to students understanding his models. It’s a very interesting spin on environmental topics you probably understand. You will also have access to SUNY-ESF classes. ESF is a great environmental science school with lots of great professors, especially for policy classes!
As far as afterwards, I have been branching out greatly in my job search; City management, NGOs, private environmental firms, public agencies, you name it I’ve probably sent something out. I am very excited about an upcoming assessment from the NY/NJ Port Authority for a leadership fellow program they have. They have a crazy amount of environmental initiatives so it is a great place, but I never would have known that without branching out. Hopefully some more opportunities coming!
4. What are the academic credit breakdowns for the summer sessions and semesters? How heavy is the load? How intense is the homework and the reading? I was great in undergraduate but it’s been quite some time since I’ve been a full time student so I’m a little anxious! 🙂 In a good way, I suppose!
The breakdown is as follows: 7 credits in 1st summer session (Colloquium, PA&D, and Public Budgeting), 27 credits (at least) in fall and spring semesters (with required classes of Intro. to Stats, Managerial Economics, Public Organizations & Management, Quantitative Analysis, ), and 6 credits in the 2nd summer session.

The Masters is 40 credit hours in 12-months, you’ll start the first week in July and graduate the last week in June. I think the course load is very manageable and everyone is dedicated to helping you succeed. Lot’s of people have 20 hour per week GAships and have lots of time to socialize, go to talks, have interviews, etc. I understand your concern with getting back into your academic swing, but the summer session gives you a great running start and the faculty are great.
5. What I’m really trying to plan right now is where I’m going to live. I have been poring over Craigslist and OrangeHousing. Unfortunately, I have pets so that limits some of the options. Do you have any suggestions on where I can or should live? I have been looking downtown. Do you think it’s crazy to walk a mile to the school? Are there any grad students now who live in places that have pets that I might be able to take over? If I do live far away, how is the parking on campus?
Housing is abundant and cheap. No exaggeration, I pay $340 per month. You will pay a bit of a premium, in terms of space and money, to live downtown. Lot’s of landlords will work with you on your pets, but they might charge you rent for them (nothing too bad in my experience). I would suggest forgoing downtown to be closer to campus. The convenience for nightlife will be cancelled out by the horrific parking on campus and in Syracuse as well as the winter month walks. Most grad students live in the Westcott area. I would stay within the square of Genesse, Meadowbrook, Colvin, and Comstock or roughly that area. The classifieds on the Daily Orange ( will probably be a better resource for you.

You can wait quite some time and the listserv for the incoming class will have many students looking for roommates and the like. I’m sure you can find something with some classmates. Parking on campus is BAD, to put it nicely. Driving to South Campus to park ($80 a semester) and riding a bus to campus is a viable option though.
Enjoy the weekend everyone, I look forward to your questions and comments!


In the depths of another snowy winter, Gershwin’s Summertime provides a pleasant outlet. A large part of the Masters of Arts in International Relations program is summertime. While the next round of MPA’s are slaving through public budging, some MAIR students will be fighting actual slavery. Yes in this century, slavery is still an issue in Ghana. I am not talking about the slave castles in Cape Coast and Elmina but children forced to fish on Lake Volta.

Back to summertime, MAIR students are required to do a Global Internship between the summer and their final fall semester.  The program is very flexible on what students do and even when. There are Global Programs in Washington, D.C. for the summer and for the fall. You can even find your own internship. Many students opt to do both, simultaneously look for their program while applying to one of the university’s programs.

Syracuse runs a fairly new program called Survey of Current Issues in African Migration with International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Ghana office. If migration sounds dry, check out what is actually going on in Ghana. There are many development issues tied to displaced populations. From educating students on the dangers of child slavery on Lake Volta to assisting displaced foreign nationals from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and other neighboring countries, IOM works to address a host of migration issues.

What do students actually do? IOM offers placement in the field or within their local headquarters in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Field work usually supports local staff with their projects which draws on new knowledge and skills from two semesters of practical coursework. There is also a possibility of creating a community needs assessment under the supervision of a local supervisor. Presenting the assessment to relevant community leaders caps off the experience. It is the sort of work which international development organizations find relevant during the hiring process and serve almost as a more practical version of a thesis.

Stay tuned for more. Regardless of where I go, there will be blog posts!