It is true that the Admissions Committee at SIPA does value professional experience when making an admission decision. But what exactly is professional experience? Full-time paid work experience obviously counts, but we also value internships and volunteer work. Younger applicants are particularly curious about the question of professional experience.
The average age of a student who enrolled in the two-year, full-time MPA or MIA program at SIPA in the fall of 2008 was 27 years and 2 months. 82% of those admitted were age 25 or older. This means the majority of those admitted have worked full-time for three or more years. The 18% of admitted applicants less than age 25 were able to demonstrate a unique blend of experience and aptitude.
Examples of aptitude and experience can include: model U.N. involvement, study abroad, internships, student government involvement, leadership in associations, volunteer work, second language proficiency, focused research as an undergraduate student, exceptional GRE test scores, and coursework related to quantitative methods. Quantitative preparation can include coursework in statistics, economics, and in high level math classes such as linear algebra and calculus.
If you are a younger applicant and believe the time is right to apply there is no real downside to going through the process. We allow applicants to apply up to three times to our program. Thus if you do not gain admission, you are always welcome to apply again after obtaining additional experience or strengthening your qualifications. And if you possess a unique blend of experience and aptitude, you might be in the minority of students with little or no work experience who are admitted.