Admissions and Financial Aid

Joint MA in Sustainable International Development and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

What is the difference between a joint degree and a dual degree? 

Students in dual degree programs fulfill the complete requirements for each degree, earning degrees for both programs. Joint degree programs are created by special agreement between programs, allowing students to fulfill a modified set of requirements. Please note that students in joint degree programs earn only one degree. The MA in Sustainable International Development/MA in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program is a joint degree.

Fall 2024 Application Deadline

  • January 15: Final deadline for all applicants

Application Requirements

Application Form

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit an online application form. The Heller School strives to reduce waste by minimizing the amount of paper used in the application process. Applying online ensures that your application will be processed quickly and efficiently.

The statement of purpose, resume/CV, and additional application questions must be submitted electronically when you complete the application. Documents should be saved on your computer and uploaded in PDF format. If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types will be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents.

Application Fee

The application fee is US $55.00. This fee is automatically waived for applicants from developing nations and applicants who HBCU alumni, current or returned Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, other service organization volunteers, and members of various academic or professional organziations. 

Statement of Purpose

For your application, you will be asked to respond to multiple prompts, but please upload your response as one Word or PDF document. The statement of purpose must be submitted electronically when you complete the application.  Documents should be saved on your computer and uploaded in PDF format. If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types will be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

Prompt 1:
In essay form, please indicate your reasons for undertaking graduate study. In addition, please describe your qualifications for the master's program and your objectives in undertaking this program. Be sure to describe your plans for your academic and professional career and how the degree will help you attain your goal. Some questions to consider are as follows: Why have you chosen to pursue this program, at this stage in your career? What experiences or activities bear on your qualifications for this program (academic experiences, research papers, job responsibilities, extracurricular activities, volunteer work)? How do these experiences relate to your decision to undertake this graduate program? What main issues or research topics most interest you? Why is this program a good fit for you, and what do you hope to gain from this program? How will this program help you to achieve your long-term goals? (double-spaced, 2-3 pages)

Prompt 2:

Brandeis was established in 1948 to address antisemitism, racism, and gender discrimination in higher education, and today, the university remains dedicated to its founding values of inclusivity and justice. How has your educational or professional experience shaped your perspective on these values? (250 words max)

(Optional) Prompt 3:

If applicable, please explain any major gaps in your education or employment, or explain any other special circumstances that you feel should be considered with your application. (250 words max)


A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or a comparable degree from a foreign academic institution is required. 

In order to apply, you should list and upload transcripts for post-secondary institutions (undergraduate and graduate) if: 

  • You earned or will earn a degree at that institution OR
  • You attended that institution for one year or more AND the courses and/or credits from that institution do not appear on another transcript you are uploading. You do not need to upload transcripts for courses and/or credits if the grades are listed on another institution's transcript that you are uploading (e.g., study abroad coursework credits that transferred to your bachelor's transcript, credits taken at one institution that were transferred to another university from which you earned your degree, etc). 

Transcripts should show the name of each course and the grade received, as well as the year/term in which it was taken. We accept unofficial transcripts at the time of application. Many institutions allow students and alumni to access their grade report online; these reports are sufficient for application file review. 

Please note that transcripts must be in English or be accompanied by an English translation; international applicants whose transcripts are not in English must have transcripts translated by a certified translation agency.  We also highly recommend that if you graduated from an international institution to also include a copy of your degree diploma as additional proof of your degree conferred date. 

Please do not mail paper official transcripts to us until you have been offered admission and you have accepted that offer, or we have specifically requested themThe Heller School reserves the right to require official paper transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between unofficial and official transcript(s) are found.

If you have been admitted, and you have accepted that offer of admission, we will require official transcripts from all institutions that issued a degree, or that you attended longer than one year (unless the credits and/or courses from an institution appear on another transcript you are providing). If you had not completed your most recent undergraduate degree (or graduate degree for PhD students) at the time of your application, please send your final official transcripts indicating the date of degree conferral. Failure to submit this transcript may prevent you from registering for classes.

Official transcripts must:

  • Include one or more of the following features: the registrar's signature, the registrar's seal, an institutional watermark, and/or be printed on official institutional paper. 
  • Be issued directly by the institution
    • If sent via electronic database (Parchment, National Clearinghouse, etc) please use as the contact.
    • If sent via mail, this means they must be mailed directly from the institution to Heller Admissions, 415 South Street MS 035, Waltham, MA 02453. 
    • If released to the student to be hand-delivered to Heller Admissions, they must be received by Heller Admissions in a sealed and stamped envelope by the Registrar, unopened by the student no later than Orientation. 
  • An official World Education Services (WES) Transcript Evaluation is accepted as an official transcript if a student is unable to obtain an official copy of their university transcript. We only accept AccessWES digital evaluations sent directly to The Heller School by WES. We only accept 'Course-by-Course' WES evaluations.

The Heller School reserves the right to revoke admission of anyone who does not provide official transcripts prior to their first semester or to rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between unofficial and official transcript(s) are found.

We realize that it can be difficult for international students to obtain more than one official copy of their university transcript. We can accept certified true copies of your transcripts. A certified true copy is one which is certified as an exact replica of the original by either school officials or legal authorities such as embassies or a notary public.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants to the program must submit three letters of recommendation. One should be a professional assessment from a supervisor at the institution at which you are employed or were recently employed. The second letter should be an academic assessment from a former professor or advisor. However, you are not required to submit an academic letter if you last attended university five or more years ago. The third letter can be either professional or academic.

  • We request that letters of recommendation be submitted online directly from the recommender. You will be asked for email addresses of your recommenders as you complete the online application. Your recommenders will each automatically receive an email from us with a personalized link as well as instructions to upload a letter directly into our system online.
  • Please note: It is the responsibility of all applicants to contact their recommenders after beginning the application to ensure that recommenders have adequate time to submit their letters prior to the deadline.
  • When entering your recommender's information, you should enter your recommender's institutional or corporate email address. Your recommender will be asked to provide their letter of recommendation on institutional letterhead. Submissions from anonymous email addresses (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) that are not on institutional letterhead may be subject to additional review.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Applicants should submit a professional resume or curriculum vitae outlining all work and educational experiences, including any volunteer activities, detailing particularly those relevant to their proposed field of study; any academic and non-academic honors or prizes awarded; and publications and research projects with which the applicant has been associated.

The resume or CV must be submitted electronically when you complete the application.  Documents should be saved on your computer and uploaded in PDF format. This is preferable for the admissions committee.  If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types will be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

Critical Writing Sample

A Critical Writing Sample, not to exceed 35 pages, is required. The 35-page maximum may consist of a single critical essay or two shorter essays of approximately equal length. The essay topic should be gender-related. 

Proof of English Proficiency

International applicants whose native language is not English or who have not completed a degree program in the United States must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language exam (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test.

We do not set a minimum required score for either test, but rather, our admissions committees take a holistic approach to reviewing applications and considers every part of the application carefully. That being said, the majority of our successful applicants tend to have a score of at least 94 on the TOEFL, a 7.0 on the IELTS, or a 115 on the Duolingo English Test. Learn more about our English Proficiency requirement here.

You may submit a copy of your unofficial test taker score report to hasten the review of your application, but an official report sent directly from ETS, IELTS or Duolingo must be received to finalize any offer of admission.

TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores are valid for up to two years. Your official test score must be valid at the time your application is submitted. If your test score will expire prior to the start of the program, you must submit your official test score prior to its expiration date.


Official TOEFL scores must be sent directly through ETS to our institution code 3097 at the time that you apply. The Heller School only considers TOEFL scores from a single test date, not MyBest™ scores.


Official IELTS scores must be sent electronically by the IELTS test center. No paper Test Report Forms will be accepted. An institutional code is NOT required. Please contact the test center directly where you took the IELTS test and request that your official test scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system to 'Brandeis University The Heller School'. All IELTS test centers worldwide are able to send scores electronically to our institution.


Official Duolingo English Test scores must be sent electronically through the Duolingo Portal. Once you receive certified test results, you can log into your account, click on the “Send Results” button next to your test results, and select which institutions you would like to receive your results. You can select as many institutions as you like and add more institutions later. An institutional code is NOT required. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of the Heller Admissions officers at We look forward to working with you.

Start your application today!

All applicants must complete and submit our online application from, including submitting all required materials.

Decision Timelines

Applicants can expect to receive a decision 4-6 weeks after your application has been confirmed as complete and once the Round 1 Deadline has passed. All applicants will receive an email notification once a decision is available, directing you to login to your application status page.