One of the questions that has been popping up in our email in box from MIA and MPA admitted applicants has to do with the choice of concentration at SIPA. You can think of your concentration as your major field of study. Many applicants are worried that they must stick with the concentration selected when the admission application was filled out. This is not the case. As a reminder, our six concentrations are:
- Economic and Political Development
- Energy and the Environment
- Human Rights
- International Finance and Economic Policy
- International Security Policy
- Urban and Social Policy
We do look for focus in an admission application and the concentration choice often will influence how a file is read. For example, if someone selects International Finance and Economic Policy on the admission application we do look for evidence of some pretty serious quantitative study and/or work experience due to the fact that this concentration is quantitatively heavy.
However, we also realize that when admitted applicants enroll and speak with faculty, take some classes, interact with second year students, and attend events, one’s career or academic focus might shift and we want to be flexible and allow students to choose the pathway that is best for their professional goals. Often this insight only comes after actually enrolling and spending time at SIPA.
Thus it is perfectly acceptable to change your concentration when you register for classes in the fall. There is no formal process, you simply must choose a concentration when you register. There is also no firm time line to finalize your choice, however the longer you wait, the more precarious completing the requirements becomes.
The counseling students receive will thus encourage you to be firm with your concentration choice sometime during your first year, and the sooner the better so that you may shape your class schedule and internships. All of our program requirements must be completed in four semesters and deciding early will help alleviate pressure over time by narrowing your class choices.
So there is no need to worry about sticking to the concentration selected on the admission application. During Orienation in August new students will have the opportunity to hear faculty speak about the different options and the concentration choice will be made when you register. If you need to change again when you register for the second semester you may, but again the more focused and certain you are, the more you will be able to gain from the program.