How to enter a post in Public Policies abroad

The mining company Tatianna Mello had very little time since graduating and already worked in one of the largest law firms in Belo Horizonte. He had studied law at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and did internships that allowed him to learn about the day-to-day professional life of judges, prosecutors and lawyers. Despite the opportunities for growth in the area, I felt I was not in the right place. "I understood that I wanted to work with something that had a greater social importance and I decided to take a master's degree in International Law, also at UFMG, to research ways to promote sustainable international trade and to deepen his knowledge of environmental policies related to the commercial and economic area", account.

In this period dedicated to studies, he realized that an experience abroad would be important for the new area he chose to pursue. He started researching on the internet - "endless possibilities" - several master's and doctorate courses outside Brazil. “I decided to try to insert myself in a state-of-the-art institution, with people of high caliber, developing projects of great impact. However, I knew it would be an immense challenge to differentiate myself from thousands of other candidates, ”he says. Tatianna spent eight months in the process of choosing the best colleges and preparing for the various stages of the different applications, in addition to writing her thesis in the Brazilian master's degree. “The fact that I am studying for my master's degree in Brazil and have more flexible hours allowed me to dedicate time for this important transition period”, he adds.

Schools and scholarships

During research, Tatianna managed to filter the schools to which she would apply a little: she concluded that England offered courses closer to her area of ​​study and also more possibilities to obtain significant financial aid. To do so, he put aside exaggerated self-criticism and applied it to all the scholarships he knew about. “I didn't ask myself: is it worth it? Even when I did not meet all the criteria required for the selection, I risked the candidacy. The most I could get would be a no. ” In Brazil, she tried scholarships at the Lemann Foundation , Fundação Estudar , Instituto Ling (for a master's degree) and Capes (for a doctorate). Abroad, Scholars 4 Devand Chevening .

“I had to make a letter of introduction / motivation for each school, demonstrating that I had specific knowledge about the program offered by the institution, and also explain how I was committed to the development of Brazil”, he recalls. Among the universities to which he applied, Tatianna passed in all: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) , University of Cambridge and University of Oxford . Many scholarships also worked, such as Capes, Chevening and Lemann Foundation. After much thought, he ended up opting for a master's degree in Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford, with a grant from the Lemann Foundation, as he considered it to be the most suitable for his academic and professional time.

Selection process

Tatianna tells that she sought to make clear in the applications her willingness to change the way the policy is made and to contribute in some way, even if simple, for the good of her country. For her, this was a factor that probably weighed a lot when it was selected, since all her colleagues have in common a “generalized restlessness”. Another characteristic that the young woman believes to have been important for stamping in the statement of purpose is humility. “From the profile of the students, I see that the Blavatnik School chooses people with an upward professional trajectory, with many strengths, but who recognize that they still have a lot to learn. In the cover letter, I think it is cool to be humble and leave arrogance aside ”, he says.

Ranjita Rajan, from the admissions office at Blavatnik School, also highlights features of the MPP course that may be useful for those interested in studying at school. “Our master's degree is multidisciplinary, reflecting the need for public leaders who can go beyond the fields of their specialty and find more innovative solutions to our challenges. It is also practical, responding to the demand for subject matter experts, who can use their skills as negotiators, financial managers and communicators. And it is still global, which allows students to learn how the policy is made, implemented and evaluated in governments around the world and locally ”, he points out.

As much as each school has its specificities, there are some requirements in common for those who want to enter postgraduate courses in Public Policy abroad - whose applications have deadlines that vary between mid-December and January. Generally, it is necessary to gather: résumé (curriculum), statement of purpose (a kind of letter of motivation), two or three letters of recommendation, transcripts, TOEFL (or similar) and GRE (Graduate Records Examinations). See more details below:


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the main certificate that proves the candidate's proficiency in the English language. Speaking fluently is essential, as class discussions are an important part of students' academic experience in the best schools in the world. In some colleges, other tests are also accepted, such as IELTS.


Most "top" schools require the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) - an exam that measures the candidate's academic aptitude and indicates whether he or she will be able to follow the master's degree. Some schools also accept the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). A high score on the tests will not guarantee your place, but the grade is qualifying. There are colleges that publish the average of their students in the exams, which can help to establish your goals in the studies.


Most colleges require candidates to prepare a personal statement or a statement of purpose (a kind of letter of motivation), in which they must discuss their professional experience in an elaborate and convincing manner. It is interesting to make it clear how your trajectory aligns with what the course offers, and why the master's degree will be important for your future. In the case of MPP, the candidate must prove his dedication to the public cause from his experience - regardless of his background.


Two or three letters of recommendation are on the list of requirements. The ideal is to ask people who have really lived with you for a long time to validate your achievements. In any case, it is important to remind them of the projects you have carried out under your supervision.

Learn how to get a good letter of recommendation


Candidates must also submit their summarized curriculum and their undergraduate school transcripts. In the United States, having good grades weighs much more than in Brazil. However, it is possible to justify any low marks with involvement in extracurricular projects, for example.


In general, American schools give great support to international students who want to study at the institution, including in relation to internships and scholarships through career centers and the financial aid office. The process for getting a scholarship at the Lemann Foundation , for example, is done directly with partner American universities. If you intend to try the scholarship, it is important to show that you are a good candidate to contribute to the development of Brazil.

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