SIPASA: MPA President

Alec Oveis will be graduating from SIPA this year and served as co-president of the SIPA Student Association (SIPASA).  One student each from the MPA and MIA programs serve in a co-president role and Alec represented the MPA students.  I asked Alec to share some of this thoughts with prospective students and he composed the entry below.  Next week I will have post from the MIA co-president.


Dear Prospective Student,

As you consider your choice in graduate school, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on why I believe SIPA and Columbia are so special. For the past year, I have served as president of the MPA class and co-president of the SIPA Student Association, and in these positions I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with student representatives from other schools. What I’ve seen is that SIPA is unique among public affairs schools in terms of the resources available to its students and in the quality of its student body.

What makes SIPA special? To begin with, I would point to the diversity of the student body. Nearly half of the students at SIPA come from countries outside of the United States, and as you would expect their presence has a strong influence on the culture of the school. The variety of interests is truly impressive as well. The students at SIPA have the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects, including economic and political development, security, energy, finance and economics, management, social and urban issues, and human rights. Whatever your particular passion is, you will be able to find classmates and colleagues who share that same interest with you.

As I mentioned before, the students at SIPA have a remarkable set of resources available to them. Almost all of the world’s major financial, diplomatic and development organizations are either based in New York City or have offices here, and SIPA has ties to many of them, either through its alumni or faculty. Whether you’re looking to continue working in your particular field or plan on switching careers, the Office of Career Services is very active in helping students find internship and job opportunities at these institutions, here in New York City and elsewhere.

More than once I’ve seen recruiters bypass other schools and come to SIPA, mainly because of the convenience of its location. Within the university itself, you will have the opportunity to take classes at the other schools at Columbia, including Teacher’s College, the Law School, the Business School, Public Health, Social Work, the Journalism School, and others. This will allow you to make friends, and form contacts, with students in these other fields.

I assure you that the education you receive at SIPA will be as good as, if not better than, the education you would receive anywhere else. What distinguishes SIPA from many of the other schools and programs are the opportunities and resources that the school provides to its students. I encourage you to think carefully about what you hope to gain from your graduate school education, and please do not hesitate to contact the Admissions Office with any questions you may have.

Best wishes,

Alec Oveis