What’s with the GRE/GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS?

(Photo courtesy of Biblioteca Centro Lincoln-ICANA)

(Photo courtesy of Biblioteca Centro Lincoln-ICANA)

By now you’ve realized (we hope) that the GRE (or GMAT) and/or TOEFL (or IELTS) scores are required for admission into SIPA’s MIA/MPA program. Before you submit your scores, read the frequently asked questions about the standardized exams below.

Does SIPA require that I submit GRE scores to be considered for admission?
Submission of GRE (or GMAT) scores is required for all SIPA applicants unless a waiver of this requirement has been granted.

Can I waive the GRE (GMAT)?
GRE (GMAT) waivers are typically only considered in extreme circumstances such as military service or travel restrictions. If your situation prohibits you from getting to a test center and you have significant previous academic and/or professional quantitative experience, you may submit a GRE/GMAT waiver request. The Admissions Committee will not grant a waiver if it is unable to evaluate your quantitative aptitude without the submission of the GRE/GMAT. Waiver requests must be submitted and approved before the application deadline. Send us an email at sipa_admission@columbia.edu for a waiver request form to complete if your situation prohibits you from taking the exam and you have a quantitative-proven record. But be aware that waivers are rarely granted.

Why do you require the GRE/GMAT?
We require the GRE (GMAT) because it is a useful indicator of academic ability. However, we do not make a decision solely on the basis of standardize test scores. But it is another way for us to better evaluate your quantitative and verbal proficiencies.

Can I submit LSAT scores instead of GRE or GMAT scores?
No. We will not accept LSAT scores.

Does SIPA have a minimum GRE/GMAT score?
We do not have a minimum GRE (GMAT) score. SIPA is a competitive program so you are encouraged to put your best foot forward in your application. However, there is no cut off score which we will not consider your application. This is because many of our students are several years out of undergrad and have had time to mature or hone skills they may not have had five or ten years ago.

GRE or GMAT scores are but one facet of your application. Due to the diversity of the applicant pool, SIPA does not have a “minimum”[cut off] score to apply. We employ a holistic application process and will consider applicants regardless of their GRE/GMAT scores While our applicant pool is very competitive and we encourage you to do the best you can, if you have stellar work experience, solid undergraduate GPA, taken some quant courses, and supportive recommendations, you should not let test scores hold you back. If you are concerned about your test scores or any other aspect of your application, you may address them in the optional essay.

What is SIPA’s GRE/GMAT school codes?
For information on the GRE visit www.ets.org. Our ETS school code, 2161 (there is no department code).

For information on the GMAT visit www.mba.com/mba/TheGMAT. Our GMAT codes are:
Master of International Affairs: QF8-64-56
Master of Public Administration: QF8-64-99

How do I submit my scores for the GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS?
One of the ways we seek to make the application process easier for you is to accept self-reported test scores for admission application review. To be considered for admission to SIPA, we do not require that official test score reports be on file. This includes the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, and IELTS. At SIPA, we only require official test scores reports if an admitted applicant chooses to enroll.

At the end of the GRE, you should have the option to view your Verbal and Quantitative score. Please make note of them to self report your scores in the space provided on the admissions application. We will receive the Writing scores directly from ETS.

May I submit my application if I have not yet taken the GRE/GMAT?
If you plan to take the GRE or GMAT after you submit your application, you may self-report these scores to us via email. Scores must be submitted by the application deadline. In the email, please indicate your full name, program you are applying to and the score results. Please be aware that any score submitted after the application deadline will be considered at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. An application is not considered complete if the GRE or GMAT score section has been left blank, so please update us as soon as your scores are available, at which point your application will be processed for review.

My scores have been sent to your office, do I still need to self report the scores when submitting my application?
Yes. Every applicant should self report the results of each test taken when filling in the online application. Scores not self reported in the application will need to be downloaded and matched to the applicant’s account. This will delay admission review process.

I took the (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS) test several times. How should I report my scores? Should I only list my top scores?
When multiple scores are submitted, the committee reviews the highest score achieved in each section across all exams. You should report each test individually. We DO NOT want you to take your top three scores achieved and enter them as one exam. You should report your scores from all three exams in the three separate sections that are available to you. If you have taken a test more than three times, report your most recent three scores.

I will be taking the exam before the deadline but I’m afraid your office will not receive the official scores from ETS before the deadline. What should I do?
To be considered for admission to SIPA we do not require that official test score reports be on file; this includes the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and IELTS. Applicants may take the test any time prior to the deadline (January 5, 2015) and self-report the scores. If an applicant is admitted, then official score reports will be requested. Scores will be verified after admission to the program.

At the end of the exam, you will have the option to view your Verbal and Quantitative scores. Please make note of them to self-report them in your application. Your application is not complete without your GRE scores so please be sure to provide them by the application deadline. If you self report your verbal and quantitative scores but do not have your writing scores, it is fine that ETS sends us your Writing score at a later date.

Do I have to submit TOEFL/IELTS scores?
International students who did not earn a bachelor’s degree from an institution in which English was the primary language of instruction, must submit proof of competency in English by submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores in order for the application to be reviewed.

In order for the application to be considered for admission, applicants must successfully achieve a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL ibt, 600 for the paper-based TOEFL, or 250 for the computer-based TOEFL. Applicants who choose to submit IELTS scores must meet a minimum of 7.0.


Did we miss any test-related questions? Email us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu.