This is the fourth entry in our “Top 10″ list to assist you with understanding the process of submitting your admission application to SIPA. This entry is focused on advice regarding our résumé requirements.
The first thing to take note of is that we require applicants to submit two separate résumés. This may seem strange at first but I believe this entry will clear things up.
The first résumé is no surprise. You could refer to this as your “traditional” résumé and everyone applying probably has had a working résumé for some time. A traditional résumé includes, but is not limited to, information such as:
- Positions held (employment and internships)
- Academic degrees and other academic achievements
- Volunteer, public service, political work completed
- Memberships in honorary societies and awards for service or leadership
- Extracurricular activities and particularly if an MIA applicant – foreign travel undertaken, including purpose and length of stay.
As has always been the case, with this traditional résumé we do not recommend trying to keep it to a single page in length. A one page résumé is more aligned with applying for a job. This résumé is for graduate school consideration and the Committee encourages applicants to list all relevant information and to not use a small font or extended margins in an attempt to cram a great deal of information into a very small space. A typical résumé in this format submitted to SIPA is three to four pages in length.
Put another way – we like white space. Committee members have to read several hundred applications and small fonts and cramped formats are very difficult on the eyes. When it doubt, use 12 point font and normal margins – the Committee will thank you for it.
On a final note, we do not recommend that applicants use graphics or non-standard fonts. Let the content of your résumé speak for you. The font chosen should be easy to read and graphics (other than bullets and bold face) do not enhance the readability of a résumé. Common fonts that are easy to read include Arial, Calibri, and Tahoma.
The second résumé will focus exclusively on an applicant’s background with quantitative methods and language learning/ability.
The core curriculum at SIPA includes required coursework in economics, statistics, and financial management. The Committee is therefore quite interested in the quantitative aptitude of applicants to our program. This most typically includes coursework and/or professional experience related to mathematics, statistics, and economics. Also of note can be quantitative experience as it pertains to areas such as science or engineering.
Unfortunately, academic transcripts rarely provide in depth descriptions of the actual content of coursework completed. For example, a class labeled as “Principles of Economics” on a transcript provides little detail on how much focus was placed on the use of quantitative methods. And with the large number of international applicants to SIPA, often times transcripts translated into English will just list a class as “Mathematics” thus giving the Committee little information on the actual content/level of math studied.
Providing the opportunity for applicants to list detailed information pertaining to quantitative preparation/experience will allow for better explanations of past academic and professional experience. The goal is to be able to allow applicants to list full descriptions of courses included in a course catalog or in the syllabus used in a class.
Proficiency in a second language is a graduation requirement of the MIA program but is not a requirement of the MPA program. Proficiency is defined as the ability to use a second language at an intermediate level. Academically this is defined as the ability to achieve a grade of “B” or better in an intermediate level 2 language course.
Incoming MIA students who speak English as a native language will be tested in a second language of their choice upon entering into the program. Due to the intensity of the MIA program at SIPA, it would be quite difficult for an applicant with no previous language study to achieve intermediate level proficiency in two years of study. The Committee therefore wishes to see at least elementary level proficiency in a second language when evaluating an MIA applicant for admission.
If an incoming native English speaker passes the proficiency exam administered shortly after beginning the program, no additional language study is required. If the grade achieved on the exam is not sufficient, to prove proficiency a grade of “B” or better must be achieved in an intermediate level 2 language course during the time at SIPA in order to graduate.
For MPA students that speak English as a native language, second language learning is optional so it is not required to include language learning information in the second résumé. However, if an MPA applicant does have experience in a second language we encourage them to provide this information because it provides us with additional information on your background.
Please do note that there is one exception to the language requirement for the MPA program. If an MPA applicant chooses the Economic and Political Development concentration, second language proficiency is a requirement just like in the MIA program.
For applicants that do not speak English as a native language, the second résumé will provide an opportunity to elaborate further on time spent studying English and other languages. This can of course include academic study but can also include additional information not included in transcripts or test scores such as time spent living in English speaking environments.
Details on Quantitative/Language Learning
The second résumé is meant to provide applicants with the ability to provide detailed information which can include:
- Name/level/grade/institution pertaining to classroom courses.
- For classroom courses, a description of the course and specific learning objectives (best done by providing a description from a course catalog or a syllabus that was used for the class). If it has been a number of years since you graduated, a description from a current course catalog found on your school web site can suffice.
- Examples of working knowledge of the subject matter as demonstrated in academic or professional settings.
- Tests taken and grades/scores achieved.
- Specific certificates earned.
- In the case of second language learning, the following information is useful:
- Information on time spent in a foreign country where the language is spoken. Or, if the second language was spoken in your home country please provide the context (i.e. did you grow up in a home where a second language was spoken but your academic training was in another language?).
- Details regarding professional/volunteer/personal use of the language.
- Specific details/examples regarding writing, reading, speaking, and listening ability.
One question you might have is, “If the course is listed on my transcripts or noted in another part of my application, is it necessary to include it in the Quantitative/Language résumé?”
The answer is yes. It is okay to be redundant or to include the same information that might be listed in another part of the application in this section. Seeing the information twice, but in more detailed format in the résumé portion, is what the Committee is seeking to achieve.
You can view samples of this résumé by clicking here. Do note that the sample is only a guide. The level of detail you wish to include is entirely up to you.
If you have been out of school for a while, do not feel compelled to spend hours and hours trying to search for old syllabus or text book titles/authors. The point of the résumé is not to put you through some sort of time trial, it is meant to provide information on the core learning from the course/experience. The example résumé was borrowed from an applicant that applied to SIPA while still in college, and is meant to only be a sample. Simply provide as much information as you can and you will be fine.