What would a discussion of attending graduate school in New York City be without mentioning housing? SIPA is able to offer housing to a select few students that apply for spring admission, but it is highly recommended that those applying for spring admission do some advanced housing research.
Columbia University is comprised of 17 schools and there is one central housing office that allocates housing slots for each school. Each school has a housing representative, but we have little control over how many spaces our students are assigned. In the spring we are often only allowed to offer housing slots if current students in SIPA housing complete their program in the middle of the year.
This is a hard number to finalize and I will not put a number on it, I will just say that slots are “limited.” We do try to give priority for SIPA housing to those coming from the greatest distance. This means that someone moving from Hong Kong would have an advantage over someone moving from Chicago.
The vast majority of SIPA students find housing through craigslist. If you are not familiar with craigslist, it is basically a site used to share information concerning things that are for sale or rent. Craigslist is actually how I found my apartment when I moved to New York (in case you were wondering I am the Director of Admissions, not a student). Some advanced research on the craigslist site would be very wise. Our housing representative will provide further advice to applicants that are admitted to the program once decisions are posted.
I will not say that it is hard to find housing in NYC, there are lots and lots of places for rent. I will say that it can be hard to find a place where you want to live and for the price you want. Living as close to SIPA as possible is highly recommended because students do engage in a lot of group work and a long commute does not make group work easy.
I do not claim to be a housing expert, but a one piece of advice to consider is to look for a room to rent rather than an apartment. The reason for this is that you might be able to avoid dealing with brokers or landlords that charge fees. Everyone who has lived in NYC has their own stories and advice, and a simple internet search will give you enough fodder for hours of reading.
This concludes my planned series of entries specifically geared toward the nuts and bolts of the admission process for spring but keep following the blog for updates and information as it happens.