A look at SIPA’s International Fellows Program


Why you should join the IFP

You may have heard about the prestigious International Fellows Program (IFP).  It is highly competitive, as only 30 Columbia University students (10 new SIPA students, 10 continuing SIPA students and 10 Columbia University graduate students)  are selected each year to participate in the program.  Once you are an international fellow, you are a member for life.

The IFP is a two-semester seminar open to students of all graduate-degree programs at Columbia University. The diverse perspectives and professional backgrounds that fellows bring to the program enrich their year-long common enterprise.

All fellows receive a stipend and study a curriculum with two goals: to examine the origins of the current international order, in which the United States has for decades played the leading role, and to look ahead to the new world that will eventually take its place, dominated by a larger number of actors, new problems, and approaches to problem-solving that have yet to be defined. Weekly meetings of the International Fellows Program are supplemented by study trips to Washington, D.C. and the United Nations. Here, fellows have extraordinary access to senior policymakers, diplomats, legislators, journalists and leaders of nongovernmental organizations.

In greater detail, the International Fellows Program…

  • Is centered at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs
  • Is a year-long, multidisciplinary academic program that invites thirty graduate students from all Columbia graduate programs to consider the United States’ past, present, and future role in global affairs
  • Fellows are enrolled in a year-long seminar course called US Role in World Affairs
  • Dr. Stephen Sestanovich is the program’s director and course instructor. Dr. Sestanovich has held numerous senior positions in the US government, the think tank world and academia.
  • Was established in 1960 and was rejuvenated by Dr. Sestanovich over the past ten years
  • Fellows receive a stipend of $5000 for the 2015 -2016 academic year.  Beyond the basic IFP stipend, fellows are eligible for supplementary fellowships created by (and named for) alumni of the program.  These are awarded at mid-year based on academic performance
  • Over the course of the program, fellows meet with prominent figures of the international community. Recent IFP cohorts have met with: former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, and many others
  • Enjoys strong support from alumni of the program, which includes senior executives in the public and private sectors
  • Includes graduate students from SIPA, Columbia Law School, Columbia School for Engineering and Applied Sciences, Columbia Journalism School and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


You may apply for the IFP as a SIPA applicant (a separate essay is required when you submit your admissions application); as a continuing SIPA student (there is an internal process that our first year students will hear about at the end of their first semester at SIPA); or as a Columbia University graduate student.

Apply to the program here.