Arian Sharifi, Afghanistan & United States

Why I chose Fletcher: As a PhD candidate with a policy background and the desire to continue my career as a practitioner, rather than as an academic, I had two main concerns when considering programs: 1) A PhD would make me “too academic”  and 2) A PhD is “too narrowly focused,” and I would only learn about a single issue. I found that Fletcher’s PhD program addresses both of my concerns as the curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of international security, and strikes a good balance between theory and practice. Through my experiences in Afghanistan and abroad, I have realized that the issues surrounding international security are becoming ever more complex and interconnected. International security today is directly influenced by political, economic, cultural, religious, technological, and environmental matters. As a result, policymakers and academic scholars must have an understanding of the multiple academic disciplines that converge within security studies in order to make informed policy choices. Additionally, a good balance between theory and practice is of great importance for effective policy analysis and policy formulation. As the Fletcher School entails both of these qualities, it is unique among its peers.

The strength of Fletcher is:  Fletcher’s extensive network of alumni is a plus for students, whether they are gearing up for a policy job or an academic profession. While every major graduate school utilizes its alumni network to assist its students, I found this to be much more operational and accessible at Fletcher, for at least two reasons: 1) The availability of the alumni and their willingness to help; and 2) The utilization of the alumni network by the school. Even during the admissions process, when I wasn’t a Fletcher student yet, I contacted several Fletcher alumni and inquired about the school. They were very responsive, open and helpful.  The Office of the Career Services at Fletcher is outstanding in taking a proactive role in utilizing the school’s alumni network to the benefit of current students. The ten-week mandatory professional development program, which among other things teaches students how to communicate with, and benefit from, the school’s vast alumni network, is absolutely unique.

Favorite Book:

The Alchemist

Favorite Author:

Amartya Sen

Favorite Movie:

The Godfather

Favorite place you’ve visited:

Washington, D.C.

Favorite International Experience:

A trip to Moscow

Fields of Study

  • International Security Studies
  • Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization

Activities involved in at Fletcher

  • PhD Colloquium
  • Fletcher Mentor Program

Education before Fletcher

  • MPA, International Politics, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

  • BA, Government, Wesleyan University

Experience before Fletcher

  • Partner, Afghanistan Financial Services, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Director General of Private Sector Development and Industrial Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Kabul, Afghanistan

    Director of Communications,  Ministry of Finance, Kabul, Afghanistan


  • Dari
  • Pashto
  • English