I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the difference between MPA and MIA programs. In my view, the two programs are not distinct especially when we take into account curriculum offered in two programs. However, I would like to point out some differences between the two programs.
The main core class
MIA students are required to take Conceptual Foundations whereas MPA students are required to Politics of Policymaking. For Conceptual Foundations, students get to study foundational theories of International Relations; we get to be immersed in realism, liberalism and constructivism in the beginning. Every week, prominent scholars such as Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Michael Doyle and Joseph Stiglitz come to give a talk on the specific theory in the current world affairs context. For the Politics of Policymaking class, students get a sense of how to write policy memos on current affairs and how to think and analyze from a policy-maker’s perspective.
Language Requirements for the MIA
MIA students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a second language. If your native language is not English, you can use your mother tongue as a second language. Or if you plan to learn language at Columbia, you can do it. However, only the intermediate language classes count toward required SIPA credits. The basic level language classes are not credited toward program requirements. For more information on this requirement, view former PA Allison Walker’s post, Everything you wanted to know about SIPA’s language proficiency requirement.
Here are some sample classes for a MIA student who majors in International and Financial and Economic Policy and specializes in Advanced Policy. As some students want to hone quantitative skills, they take advantage of being at Columbia by taking quant-intensive classes across statistics and math departments.
International Political Economy
The US Role in the Foreign Affairs I
The US Role in the Foreign Affairs II
Analysis of Political Data
Quantitative Analysis I
Introduction to Modern Analysis I
Analysis of Public Organization
Advanced Economic Development
Fourth Semester (Plan)
International Financial Theory
International Capital Market
Chinese (intermediate level)
Finally, some prospective students ask whether or not they can switch the program once they are admitted. The answer is yes. It is possible to switch the program but make sure that if you switch, you might end up taking two core classes. So if you are not sure about your program, I advise you to postpone taking the core class to your second year. Also keep in mind there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to switch because you were admitted to the program under a particular concentration/specialization.