Yevgen Sautin

My Education


PHD | Chinese History


MA | International Relations

University of Florida

BA | History, Economics, Political Science


U.S. Bank

Strategic Risk Analyst


National Taiwan University

Research on US-Taiwanese relations

Yevgen Sautin is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge where he is a Gates Scholar. Studying modern Chinese history, Yevgen’s dissertation is on the early years of the PRC. Previously Yevgen worked as a Strategic Risk Analyst at U.S. Bancorp. He has an MA from the University of Chicago in International Relations. Prior to graduate school, he was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Yevgen speaks and reads both Mandarin and Russian, and publishes commentary on international politics in leading journals and newspapers such as the National Interest. When not working, Yevgen enjoys globetrotting, rowing, and being a foodie.

Q:  Why are you passionate about your academic field? When and how did you discover your love of your subject?  

I’ve loved history for as long as I can remember. Growing up, history books were always my favorite. In college, I wanted to challenge myself and study economics, something I knew almost nothing about. Overtime, as I’ve had the chance to both work in the private sector and go to graduate school, I discovered that international relations is a natural intersection of my interests in history, economics, and global affairs.

Q:  What are your three top recommendations for a student targeting a masters in your field? What if they are preparing to switch their major to your field?  

Switching into international relations or history is a lot easier than it seems. If you studied science, you could focus on the role of technology (think AI, nuclear, global warming, et) on international politics. Same goes for anything finance related or even psychology. If you do decide to pursue an MA in international relations, you need to decide if you want to go to a more academic focused MA program (like Chicago) or something more practitioner/practical oriented like SAIS in Washington DC. Both are great schools, its more about what do you want to do after you get your MA. Lastly, try to find an MA program that allows you to take classes in other disciplines.

Q:  What resources can students use to educate themselves on your subject?  

The easiest place to start would be the department page at any top university. There will be info on professors, required undergraduate and graduate curriculum for that major/MA, what kind of careers you can pursue afterwards, and much more. If you want a deeper dive, look up the syllabi for some of the required core International Relations/Econ/History courses. That will give you a good feel for the subject. Princeton Review publishes a pretty good guide to college majors, but a lot of that information can be found by just spending a few hours Googling or Baidu一下.

Q:  What are your top tips to showcase an applicant  

Be genuine. Obviously good grades, relevant work experience, and test scores go a long way to demonstrating your academic potential, but schools really do look for well-rounded students that enrich the classroom with their experiences. Too many international students feel uncomfortable discussing their personal backgrounds, this is a mistake. Your environment and school/work/life experiences shaped who you are and admissions committees want to know about this. Another mistake too many applicants make is going overboard with hobbies and extracurricular involvement- if you have a genuine passion and have been doing something for a long time you definitely should talk about it, otherwise the admissions committee will be able to see right through you joining an environmental clean-up society two months before applying to the school.

Q:  Any pitfalls or mistakes an applicant should be aware of as they apply to your program?  

For International Relations programs, make sure to check if the MA is more academic in nature (Like the University of Chicago’s CIR program) or more practical (Columbia’s SIPA, Johns Hopkins SAIS, et). Academic master’s programs emphasize theory, you have to write a thesis, and there is at least some hope that you might be interested in an academic career later. Practical/practitioner programs require a lot less research: you are being trained to work in the NGO sector, work in consulting/private sector, or enter government. This divide has slightly eroded in the last few years (SAIS now has a PhD program; most CIR alumni don’t pursue PhDs) but it still matters a lot to admissions committees what student mould you fit into, academic or practitioner.

Q:  Why did you apply to your university and program? What other universities and programs were you admitted to?  

For my MA, I went to the University of Chicago’s CIR program. I wanted to go somewhere that would really challenge me academically but also flexible enough that I could take classes at the Law School, Business School, History Department. I ended up actually taking only the required IR core courses, the majority of the classes were not in international relations. I received a full tuition scholarship to Chicago, which obviously also influenced my decision. I was also admitted to SAIS and Oxford.

Q:  What are the common career paths for graduates in your field?  

The great thing about studying international relations, history, or economics is that you can literally do anything in the world. The majors give you the necessary background knowledge and critical thinking skills to become a journalist, banker, diplomat, professor/educator, activist, and much more. When you look at accomplished entrepreneurs or journalists, most didn’t study “business” or “journalism” , instead they majored in something much more academic like economics or history.

Q:  What aspects of the campus culture are your favorites? Which aspects surprised you? Which would you change if you could?  

I was really surprised by the college system at Cambridge where I am currently doing my PhD. It’s very different from the U.S. and unique to Cambridge and Oxford. I like my college, Selwyn, but if I was applying again I would definitely have done more research on the 30+ different colleges. A lot of colleges offer scholarships or travel funds for research that are limited only to members of the college, and the quality of housing and cafeteria food also varies greatly college to college. On that note, Selwyn has some of the best dorms but really underwhelming food.

Q:  What is your favorite fun fact about your university? Any special events or traditions or legends?  

Cambridge can be a little over the top with all the Harry Potter esque traditions, but the May Balls (which actually happen in June- go figure) are a lot of fun for everyone. At the University of Florida, where I did my undergrad, the fall football season is unforgettable even if you don’t like football. Saturdays start with tailgaiting (grilling food, playing games on the lawn with friends) and then you head over to watch the Florida Gators play with 90,000 of your closest friends.

Q:  How did you spend your summer vacation during university? Any advice for making the most of summer?  

I did an internship one year and spent the other summers studying abroad. For me studying abroad was one of the most fun and fulfilling things I did in college. It gave me a chance to experience a different culture, and I would not have improved my Chinese without spending significant time in China and Taiwan doing intensive language study. For a Master’s student, spending a summer working as an intern or an associate at a bank or firm is a great step towards lending an offer before even graduating.

Q:  What makes you smile? Share more on a favorite hobby.  

I’ve picked up rowing in Cambridge, but it’s absolutely exhausting so the smiles are only there when the season is over. I love to cook when I have the time, so when a dish turns out delicious happiness and a sense of accomplishment are off the charts. Even better in good company and with a nice wine.

Q:  Why are you excited to mentor Dyad Scholars?  

Above all, it’s a lot of fun mentoring students--especially international students who are so excited but also nervous to study abroad. I always challenge my students and set the bar really high, so watching them improve over the course of the mentorship and application process is really satisfying. I’ve been working with Dyad for a few years now, so I’ve met some really incredible people who I’ve stayed in touch with. It’s great to see someone with a lot of potential actually realize that potential.