Each year, the admissions office receives thousands of applications for 400 spots. This means that unfortunately, we are in the difficult position of rejecting some qualified applicants who would surely add to the vitality of our community. Here are some of the reasons we did not accept applicants for this admissions cycle:
- Not enough work experience: As we have emphasized, we really do look for applicants who have worked at least 2-3 years, preferably in a policy-related field. We have found that more experienced students are able to contribute their wealth of experience and knowledge with their classmates, which makes for a more well-rounded entering class.
- Weak demonstration of quantitative skills: All SIPA students are required to take microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistics as part of the school’s core curricula. Depending on one’s chosen concentration, he or she may have to take more rigorous quantitative classes. Because of this, it is critical that applicants demonstrate some proficiency or experience taking such classes.
- Grades/GRE scores: We know that undergraduate classes may have been a long time ago, or that you didn’t have time to adequately prepare for the GRE. However, we have to take these records of your past academic achievement seriously, as they are oftentimes the best indicators of future academic success. While a low grade here and there is permissible, a smattering of poor classroom performances will force us to take pause.
- Lack of English proficiency: We really value having a diverse student body, with roughly half of our students hailing from overseas. However, it is imperative that all of our students are able to take classes and communicate fluently in English. Oftentimes, we feel that a candidate has great credentials, but his or her English language abilities are not sufficient. This is reflected in a low TOEFL score, or poorly-written personal statement.
- Unclear personal statement: This is arguably the most common reason we choose not to admit applicants. We regularly receive applications from great candidates who don’t seem to know quite what they want to do with their lives. This is okay! But…in order to maximize the value of a SIPA degree, we are really looking for students who are both driven and focused. Unlike one’s undergraduate years, where he or she likely had the opportunity to take classes in a host of subjects, time and space for exploration is far more limited in graduate school. We want students with concrete objectives and drive to take them where they want to go. And we want SIPA to be the right place for you.
Again, we are sorry we can’t admit all of our wonderful applicants! We do encourage re-applying when one feels he or she is better equipped to attend, but we want to point out that there is a maximum of three times that one can apply to a specific degree program.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide immediate feedback on specifically why one’s application was not accepted (sadly our staff’s time constraints make this impossible right now). But you are welcome to email us during the summer for specifics on how to improve your application.
Good luck! And stay positive.