Frequently Asked Questions
International Professional Service Semester
What should I expect from the time I apply to when I start my service?
Writing tests will be held in early April for all IPSS applicants.
Accepted applicants will be invited to an orientation meet in early May after they have received notification that they have been accepted to the program. Students will spend the early part of the summer updating career collateral—like their resume and cover letter. Depending on the student’s organization, contact may start during the summer, although a majority of the communication with organizations will take place during the first three weeks of September.
The fall through January preceeding the start of IPSS internships, students will maintain contact with their future supervisors, organizations and develop a Terms of Reference (work plan).
The OPTIONAL pre-departure training will take place in January. Students will depart for their assignments in late January through early February.
Is there funding for the program?
Participating students pay tuition for one semester (12 credits) and in return receive faculty supervision of the academic offerings and assignments outlined above. In addition to tuition, students cover expenses of travel airfare, rent, and other living expenses.
Participating students may apply for a loan through the Monterey Institute's Office of Student Financial Planning for expected expenses while on assignment. Loans are approved by the Office of Student Financial Planning in consultation with the IPSS Director.
Organizations are asked to facilitate the locating of appropriate housing for the student, and any other assistance they deem appropriate.
IPSS Fellows are encouraged to apply for immersive learning scholarships through the Monterey Institute Student Services office. IPSS fellows may accept paid internships or consultancies as their IPSS assignments. Some past fellows have secured additional funding through family grants or travel scholarships outside of the Monterey Institute. Crowdfunding is also encouraged, either through the Monterey Start platform or other sites like Indiegogo or Start Some Good.
For more thorough information, visit the IPSS Funding Information page here
What types of positions are available?
There are positions available in many different fields of international policy. Please see the list of previous IPSS Participants and Participating Organizations to learn more about the types of positions available.
When is IPSS offered?
- IPSS is offered in the spring semester, with an optional 2-3 week pre-departure training taught in January and 6 months of on-site work with an international organization (February-July/August). Students can only go on IPSS in their 3rd or 4th semester at the Monterey Institute.
Tell me more about the field project and presentation...
(NOW OPTIONAL) IPSS fellows participate in 2-3 weeks January professional training prior to departing for their assignments. This course will focus on:
- Understanding host organizations and organizational perspective
- Acquiring key consultancy skills
- Research and project design
- Essential excel, web, and social media tools
- Interpersonal communication and public speaking skills
- Insight and lessons from distinguished practitioners and IPSS alumni
- The cornerstone of the academic component of the program is an ambitious field project completed by IPSS fellows while on assignment. The project should present value for their host organizations and help fellows apply and advance skill and expertise essential for their own career aspirations. The fellows will benefit from peer feedback and mentor guidance while working on their field projects.
- All IPSS fellows will present their work to their organization by August. A recording of this presentation will be reviewed by IPSS faculty and students will meet remotely with faculty in mid- August for feedback on this presentation.
What is the difference between IPSS, DPMI Plus, and FMS?
So what is the difference between IPSS, DPMI Plus, and FMS?
Hint--It's in the details.
When deciding whether to do IPSS, DPMI Plus, or FMS, students should consider the following:
1) Which training program(s) should I complete?
The DPMI program provides participants with practical training in development project management, social entrepreneurship and strategic partnering, and facilitating participatory development. During the training, students learn new technologies used in the development field, work in teams representing various non-governmental organizations that are selected, ad hoc, during the program, and facilitate simulated trainings among their peers. By the end of the training, participants will have acquired a unique set of tools and techniques that they can apply in the field.
The IPSS pre-departure training covers organizational analysis, consulting techniques, technical skills, applied research design, and professional preparation and communication workshops. The training is designed by Dr. Mahabat Baimyrzaeva, with workshops led by different experts. IPSS fellows present their final work to their peers during the final part of their internships and then meet remotely with a faculty panel for feedback. Projects can be done individually or in teams.
The Frontier Market Scouts 12-day certificate training in social enterprise management and impact investing is offered in January and May/June each year. The training covers designing a business model, introduction to social entreprise and impact investing, scaling high-impact social enterprises, and social enterprise management and due-diligence.
2) What is the difference in the application processes?
Application standards are approximately the same. All programs seek students who have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA at the Institute.
DPMI Plus participants should apply online in the semester preceeding their desired internship start date. Dr. Levinger and Carolyn Meyer review all applications.
The IPSS application process is also online. Applications are due nearly a year in advance (in late March for the subsequent spring class). Students who make it to the second round of the IPSS application process, will be asked to complete a writing assignment in which they complete a problem analysis excercise. This exercise simulates a task that most IPSS students will need to complete while on assignment. Dr. Baimyrzaeva, Carolyn Meyer, and a faculty/staff panel review all applications.
Frontier Market Scout students should apply by October 1 (early review) or November 1 (regular admission) for the January training and February-July field program. Scouts interested in the summer training and February-December field program should apply by March 1 (early review) and April 1 (regular review).
3) Which faculty member would be most suited to supervise my field research?
All DPMI Plus projects are supervised by Dr. Beryl Levinger, the DPMI academic director.
During an IPSS assignment, fellows will work with Dr. Mahabat Baimyrzaeva and other relevant faculty members to define and create their IPSS projects.
FMS students in the MPA program will work with the MPA capstone advisor and take the MPA capstone course while on assignment. FMS students from other degree programs may complete a field course with Dr. Yuwei Shi or Dr. Fredric Kropp. Many MIIS students complete the FMS field program for no credit.
4) What are the deliverables for each of the programs? How are the deliverables graded?
The 3-week DPMI training is worth 3-6 units of credit. The DPMI Plus field course is worth 6 units of credit and may fulfill the MPA capstone requirement and a seminar requirement.
Training: Each of the three weeks has a different set of deliverables that pertain to the type of work done that week. All students that wish to receive a certificate of completion for the DPMI program are required to submit a comprehensive development philosophy statement that reflects on themes and concepts discussed during the three week training. Projects are reviewed on a pass-fail basis.
Field Course: Students should propose approximately 7-11 deliverables for the DPMI Plus course by the third week of their internship. These deliverables should relate to the skills presented during the DPMI training and might include an indicator plan, core competency matrix, partnership strategy matrix, baseline survey, logical framework analysis, etc. Students will also need to complete a cover sheet for each deliverable and one case study report.
The IPSS program includes a 6 pre-departure workshops in January, followed by a 6-unit capstone course from February-August. The pre-departure course is described in question one. The IPSS field course includes an applied project, peer review, and a reflection paper. Letter grades are assigned for the IPSS field course, but the pre-departure training courses are evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis.
Training: MIIS students can take the FMS training for 6 units (6 workshops at 1 unit apiece). Completion of all workshops are required before completing a field assignment. MIIS students can take the FMS training as a certificate program for a program fee of $1,500 in lieu of taking the training for credit. Starting in January 2014, all MIIS students participating in the training will be required to pay a $1,500 program fee.
Field Program: Frontier Market Scouts field placements are for six months (two-month summer option available in 2013). Field placements take place February-July, July-August, and July-December. MIIS students may take the training and complete the field program in a subsequent semester if they so choose.
5) How much peer support and pre-departure preparation would I like to have prior to starting my professional service assignment?
DPMI Plus participants develop a strong set of professional contacts through the three-week, intensive training, although only a small percentage of participants from a specific training will be departing on DPMI Plus assignments at the same time. Students can stay in touch through email and social-networking sites.
IPSS January workshops have the added benefit of helping students build a peer support network prior to departing for their IPSS assignment. Students go through the experience with a group of students, and participate in a peer review process in groups while completing their IPSS project. IPSS brings together a group of peers working across a broad range of policy sectors, thereby giving students broader exposure to different policy fields.
Frontier Market Scouts participate in a training than includes Scouts headed on assignments as well as those only participating in the training. Participants are exposed to a number of guest speakers and experts in the field. A majority of participants in this program are not current Monterey Institute students.
6) When do I want to complete a professional service assignment?
DPMI Plus is offered spring, summer, and fall (or any combination of subsequent semesters) and can range in length from 3-9 months (May-January being the longest range). Some students completing DPMI Plus during the "summer semester" can graduate with 60 credits one season ahead of schedule if they take the maximum amount of credits offered for DPMI and DPMI Plus and are not required to return to Monterey. Regular tuition costs for 60 units (One degree program) apply. Note: financial aid is only awarded for four months (standard semester) or 3 months (summer semester) for DPMI Plus students. Participants choosing to complete an internship longer than four months should budget accordingly and not depend on financial aid to support themselves for month 5, 6, etc. Students may be able to register for 6 units in the summer and 6 units in the fall to lengthen their fellowship experience. DPMI Plus should be completed in your third or fourth semester.
IPSS is only offered January-August and lasts 5 -6 months. IPSS students are required to present their final project to a group of colleagues, tape this presentation and submit it to IPSS. The recorded presentation will be played for a group of faculty mentors as well as the fellow's IPSS research advisor in late August. The fellow will participate in a remote feedback session with faculty after his or her presentation is shown. IPSS should be completed in your third or fourth semester.
Frontier Market Scouts can complete field assignments February-July, July-August, or July-December (variable lengths may be accepted although six months is preferred). Students receive a minimum stipend of $200/month for up to six months. FMS can be completed in any semester or prior to entering the Monterey Institute if desired.
7) What kind of career development approach do I prefer?
DPMI Plus assignments are most often secured by the student with document review and strategic support from their career adviser and the GSIPM special programs manager. Certain DPMI Plus assignments are secured for students by DPMI staff if the student's internship interests match a contact of the DPMI Plus or career advising team. DPMI Plus staff work continually with students to ensure that an appropriate internship is secured and may contact an employer on behalf of the student to describe the DPMI Plus program and the student's credentials. DPMI Plus participants are expected to apply to relevant positions on their own as well.
Through the IPSS application process, students list his or her first, second, and third organization choice. IPSS staff and a fellow's career advisor provide organization contact hints and resources to empower the student in securing his or her IPSS organization. IPSS staff work continually with students to ensure that appropriate internship are secured, sometimes moving to a third or fourth organization choice.
Frontier Market Scouts are placed with social enterprises around the world (including the US). The Scout is actively involved in the selection of his or her placement, however, acceptance of the Scout's application and background by the partner social enterprise is required.
Another Important Point to Consider:
- 1) DPMI Plus is best suited for MPA and IPS students interested in international development or IEP students specifically interested in working in a program management capacity for international conservation NGOs.
- 2.) IPSS or the IONP programs are best suited for MANPTS students.
- 3.) IPSS is best suited for students seeking internships at think-tanks.
- 4.) FMS is open to MBA, MPA, IEP, and IPS students interested in social enterprise and impact investing.
How many credits will I receive?
- With successful completion of IPSS, students will receive 12 credits consisting of 6 credits for the January pre-departure training (with pass/no pass grade) and 6-credits (with a letter grade) for the field deliverables produced during the internship assignment.
Who is eligible for IPSS?
This program is for highly motivated, academically prepared, and well qualified students that display exceptional commitment to their academic work and have proven interests in working at an international governmental or nongovernmental organization.
All students enrolled in the International Policy Studies, International Environmental Policy, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, and Public Administration graduate degree programs are eligible to apply.
Both International and U.S students are eligible. International students may be subject to certain visa requirements depending upon the assignment.
How can I connect with past IPSS fellows?
Current IPSS fellows, IPSS alumni, and those interested in learning about the program can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How do participants select an organization?
We recommend that students start their brainstorming process by reviewing organizations with which the Monterey Institute has an established relationship. Please see our list of organizations in the "participating organizations" section.
A student can work with IPSS faculty, staff, and career advisors to research potential IPSS organizations.
The focus of the work of the organization must be international or transnational. One of the key selection criteria is that the assignment fits the academic specialization and career interests of the participating student. Faculty and career advisors are available to assist in identifying an appropriate organization.
Participating students may wish to go to a specific region or country. The "language of work" in that organization/country may have a direct impact on whether a student is accepted into the program. Local NGOs and local/national branches of IGOs may require specific languages of work.
Students should also consider visa needs. Check with the relevant embassy websites for the countries in which organizations are located.
What materials are needed to apply?
- Outline of four semesters of completed and potential graduate coursework showing how the student plans to complete degree requirements and do IPSS. This can be done using degree your map.
- Undergraduate transcript*
(*if applying for program during first semester at MIIS; send to Carolyn Meyer)
- Personal statement
- Resume or CV
- Completed application form
- Contact details for three organizations (enter in online application), ensuring that information provided is specific to the department or program in the organization
If I am accepted to IPSS, what are my next steps?
All conditionally accepted students will be invited and are required to attend an orientation session in May (the year before the start of their IPSS assignment). At this meeting, IPSS faculty will explain academic requirements and the placement process.
Students must continue to demonstrate high academic achievement and completion of required coursework through the fall semester leading up to IPSS to maintain their status in this academic program.
Students will work on career documents such as resumes and personal statements during the summer prior to IPSS.