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    Hi there,

    I would to inquire about my chances to get into two very competitive grad school programs (UC Berkeley – Sociology; Stanford – Anthropology) in light of my academic background.

    I am a Swiss national and have so far earned the following degrees:

    B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies (Major) and Political Science (Minor); University of Berne, Switzerland (“insigni cum laude”, which is a sub-distinction between summa and magna cum laude)

    M.Sc. in Middle East Politics; School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK (“merit” degree)

    My undergrad classes included language training, area studies courses, social science methodology training as well as the odd anthropology seminar. So, while I have not earned a degree in the disciplines I’m applying to yet, I feel prepared and bringing along a broad awareness of the topics and ideas usually discussed in Sociology and Anthropology.

    Furthermore, I have accumulated some work experience during my undergrad, in between the two degrees and since the completion of my Master’s:

    – co-founder of “Aiducation” a non-profit organisation raising funds for education projects abroad by organising charity concerts and events; PR responsible (2002-2005)
    – junior research assistant, Institute for Sociology, University of Bern (6 months)
    – internship with UNHCR in Amman, Jordan (4 months)
    – freelance consultant in renewable energy markets in the Northern Africa region (3 months)
    – research assistant, Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, University of Bern (9 months and ongoing)
    – internship as political risk analyst (Islamism) with a government agency

    I have not been active in any fraternities, clubs or other social collectives.

    I will take the GRE soon, aiming to get a good score too. English shouldn’t be a problem either, I will have to take the TOEFL as an older test (IELTS, score 8.5 out of 9) has recently expired.

    So, here’s the big question then, how would you assess my chances to get into the abovementioned programs in light of my past experiences?

    And, more generally, are there other criteria an admissions board would search for that I have not mentioned so far?

    I would appreciate your comments and thank you,


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