Author Archive for admissions

The 2019 Columbia SIPA Application is Open

Exciting news: SIPA’s 2019 Application Portal is officially live!

The admission application is definitely a whole process, and before you start your application, we recommend the following steps to stay organized and efficient.

  1. Subscribe to the Admissions Blog. (Yup, this one.) We’ll have information from admissions staff, students, alumni, and financial aid that you won’t want to miss.
  2. Add the Application Deadlines to your calendar. All materials must be submitted by the deadline to be eligible for the entry term.

MIA, MPA, MPA-DP Program Deadlines
Spring 2019 (MIA/MPA only)
October 15, 2018 at 11:50pm EST

Fall 2019
Early Action Deadline: November 1, 2018 at 11:59pm EST
Fellowship Consideration Deadline: January 5, 2019 at 11:59pm EST

Final Application Deadline: February 5, 2019 at 11:59pm EST

  1. Register and attend an in-person or virtual information session. Along with getting your questions answered by admissions staff, these sessions include application tips. We’ll add more throughout the year, so be sure to check back.
  2. Practice your Video Essay response. We’ve met many applicants utterly anxious about this step, which won’t help in the essay at all. Practicing will help you feel more comfortable and less jittery.

If you want more advice or need some guidance, email us at with any questions about the application process. (Just be sure to read up on the basic information before emailing to ask  us an already-answered question – it’ll help speed up the response times!)

And if you just want to get your application started, click here. We wish you all the best of luck.

Meet Columbia’s Libraries – Part II

The Meet Columbia series aims to expose prospective SIPA students to the larger university-wide experience offered at Columbia. In this post, we explore three of Columbia’s libraries on the Morningside Heights campus. 

Columbia University’s campus is chock full of places to study, ranging from beautiful libraries to small study nooks. In addition to the libraries listed here, below are some favorites.

Burke Library – Union Theological Seminary

Located at Union Theological Seminary on 3041 Broadway

What you need to know: Burke Library is housed in Union Theological Seminary  and is a seven minute walk from SIPA. The library is a rare combination of being one of the most elegant, and least crowded, libraries on campus. It’s extremely quiet and perfect if you need to focus (or take a nap!). When the weather is nice, you can find fellow students studying in the Seminary’s interior courtyard.

What you didn’t know: Burke Library has over 700,000 items and houses multiple special collections, including: the Bonhoeffer Collection, the Gillett Collection of American History and Theology, the Missionary Research Collection, the Sacred Music Collection.

Low Memorial Library

Located at the Heart of Campus, right next to “Alma Mater”

The Low Memorial Library – Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz on Flickr.

What you need to know: Low Library was completed in 1897 and served as Columbia’s main library until the early 1930s. Although its library days are over, Low plays an important role on campus. The rotunda is used to host a variety of ceremonies and events, ranging from the Pulitzer Prize award ceremony to a study break area for students during finals. The building houses both the offices of Columbia’s President and Provost.

What you didn’t know: Structured after the Pantheon, some have claimed that Low Memorial Library’s dome is the largest freestanding granite dome in the United States.


Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics

Located at Columbia Business School in Uris Hall on 3022 Broadway

What you need to know: Nestled in Columbia’s business school, the Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics is an excellent study spot, particularly for SIPA students interested in resources related to finance and management. The library boasts over 400,000 books and approximately 1,000 journal titles related to business and finance, among many other business-related topics.

What you didn’t know: Watson Library has a variety of collections (particularly if you’re interested in financial or economic history!).  These include disclosure microfiche that contain annual Reports to Stockholders, 10Ks, Prospectuses and Proxies for NYSE and ASE companies ranging back from 1969 to 1994. There are also historical corporate annual reports, many of which predate the 1934 Securities Exchange Act.


Tell us: Which library is your favorite? Is there anything you want to know about student life at Columbia? Curious about any history, traditions, or folklore on campus? Comment below, and we’ll write about it in our next blog post.

Summer 2011 Internship Post #2 – Dara Stofenberg

Dara Stofenberg is a second year MIA student concentrating in International Security Policy.


One of things I am most grateful for at SIPA is the wide variety of employers across sectors who come to the school to recruit for their organizations. On any given day, there are multiple employers from think tanks, NGOs, the U.S. Government, and consulting firms coming “to sell” their organization to SIPA students, whom they view as potential future employees. It was through this process that I found my summer internship at Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, DC. Over the course of my 10 week experience, I provided analytical support, conducted research, and wrote papers to help the firm better support some of its security sector clients.

Booz Allen Hamilton is a top government consulting firm and contractor, as well as one of the Fortune 500 largest public companies. The firm has been ranked consistently by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and this summer I learned that it is easy to see why.  “Collaboration” is perhaps the most important word at Booz Allen. Teamwork drives everything the firm does. Whiteboards and discussions are the modes that drive the way work is conducted. Bouncing ideas off of colleagues, regardless of their tenure, is a consistent feature of the work day. This aspect creates an energizing and friendly environment where people are happy to help and mentor one another.

Coming from SIPA, where students are no stranger to doing things in groups, all of the group projects, homework assignments, presentations, and study sessions, I participated in during my first year definitely helped prepare me to excel in this environment. Like at SIPA, working in a group environment at Booz Allen fostered some great relationships. I interned in a small cohort with 13 other students from other great international and public affairs schools, including two other Columbia students. I look forward to being in contact with these individuals both personally and professionally throughout my career.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to work directly in my area of interest and in an engaging environment where diversity, development, and merit were highly valued. If not for SIPA, I probably would not have had the opportunity to have gained this incredible experience.

Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Each year SIPA is proud to partner with several organizations to assist students with paying for school.  One of the organizations we partner with is the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF).  WWNFF offers two great programs that can benefit those interested in attending SIPA.

First is the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship.  This fellowship focuses on individuals that are interested in working for the U.S. Department of State and are applying to graduate programs.

Second is a program available to undergraduate students called the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.  SIPA is proud to partner with both divisions of this fellowship program.  What follows is a recent email sent out by WWNFF.  If you qualify these are both very generous programs that can help to reduce the financial burden associated with attending graduate school.

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As one of the United States’ top fellowship providers, we offer programs that cultivate talent and drive change in the nation’s high-need fields. Following is an exciting opportunity we’d like to share with you and your students.

The WWNFF is now accepting applications for the 2012 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs & Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowships. We seek highly motivated and academically excellent college juniors and graduating seniors or recent graduates who have an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career in the U.S. Department of State.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the programs honor Career Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, one of the country’s most respected Foreign Service Officers. The goal of the programs is to attract outstanding students from all ethnic and social backgrounds who are dedicated to representing America’s interests abroad. Women, members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, and students with financial need are encouraged to apply to one of the two Programs.

Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship (GFAF) applicants must:

1.        Be a graduating senior or a recent graduate beginning a two-year, full-time master’s degree program in fall 2011 in fields such as public policy, international affairs, public administration, business, economics, political science, sociology or foreign languages

2.        Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or higher (on a scale of 4.0)

3.        Be a United States citizen

The Graduate Fellowship award includes:

  • $40,000 annually towards tuition costs (first) and related academic expenses during the first and second year of graduate study, pending availability of funding.
  • Two paid summer internships in Washington, DC and overseas.

Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship (FAF) applicants must:

1.        Be in the junior year of undergraduate study enrolled in an academic program relevant to the work of the U.S. Department of State in fields such as international affairs, foreign languages, communications, history, political and economic analysis, administration, management, or science policy

2.        Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or higher (on a scale of 4.0)

3.        Be a United States citizen.

The Undergraduate Fellowship award includes:

  • $40,000 annually towards tuition costs (first) and related academic expenses during the senior year of college and the first year of graduate study, pending availability of funding.
  • Two paid summer internships in Washington, DC and overseas.

The deadline for the 2012 Pickering Graduate Fellowship Program applications is January 30, 2012.

The deadline for the 2012 Pickering Undergraduate Fellowship Program applications is February 3, 2012.

Each program will select twenty Pickering Fellows annually.

Additional information concerning the 2012 Pickering Fellowships is available online on the Foundation’s website (, including electronic versions of the 2012 Pickering brochures. Students should also visit our website to initiate their online application, which describes other documents that each applicant must forward to the WWNFF.

In addition, all applicants must send the WWNFF a copy of their most recent financial aid letter that lists grants or loans, and provide a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR), which indicates the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number.

If you’d like more information about the Pickering Graduate Fellowship Program, please email

If you’d like more information about the Pickering Undergraduate Fellowship Program, please email

Summer 2011 Intership Post #1 – Mynor Godoy

All MIA and MPA students at SIPA complete thirty weeks of professional development during their two year program.  Fifteen weeks is comprised of an internship and fifteen weeks is comprised of a group project referred to as a workshop or capstone project.  SIPA offers no summer classes and this allows our students the opportunity to complete their full time internship anywhere in the world.

There are several SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  The blog will feature a post written by each of them describing what they did over the summer.  The entries should provide a glimpse of the exceptional individuals in our program and the various professional opportunities they engage in over the summer.  This first entry was written by Mynor Godoy, an MIA student concentrating in International Security Policy.

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Recreating Realities Through Art

For many Americans, perceptions of Latin America are often tied to violence, corruption and poverty. Many of these views are derived from and enforced by media coverage of the war on drugs, among other things. Colombia is considered one of those dangerous places. The United States and Colombia officially declared a war against drugs in the late 80s. The city of Medellin, Colombia was usually in the spotlight because of its most notorious resident – Pablo Escobar. However, for Colombians, the war on drugs only perpetuated the cycle of violence that had been plaguing the country for years. While Colombia has been considered a perfect conflict resolution case study by some, there does not seem to be much resolution. In contrast, cities like Medellin have experienced a transformation of conflicts characterized by a recycling of violence.  What better place to spend summer and put my conflict resolution skills to the test, right?

I decided to attend SIPA specifically because of its International Security Policy concentration and Conflict Resolution Specialization. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, I developed an interest in the phenomenon of youth gangs and was able to do research on the transnational gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).  Even though I had some experience, I was surprised that at SIPA, I was funneled from a classroom course and into the field so quickly.  I secured an internship with Fundación Mi Sangre in Medellin thanks in part to Professor Aldo Civico, who taught “Theories and Methods of Conflict Resolution.” At SIPA, professors are the leaders in their respective fields and are valuable resources for their students. With his extensive experience working in Colombia, Professor Civico knew of plenty of organizations that fit my interests.

Fundación Mi Sangre is a local, arts-based non-profit that was started in Medellin by Colombian musician Juanes. Its mission is to help victims of landmines and internally displaced people in the cities of Colombia. It is one of the leading peace-building organizations in Colombia and it has offices throughout the country. Medellin was not the city that came to mind when I started my internship search, but after talking with the director, it was a no-brainer. Mi Sangre was a fusion of all the things I was passionate about: education, at-risk youth, community advocacy, and art. They were in the process of launching a new program known as “Pazalobien” and they wanted me to assist with their research on the role art can play in the construction of peace.

Due to the years of conflict in Colombia, Medellin has one of the largest populations of displaced people in the country.  Since the city is located in a densely populated valley, there was no place for the displaced people from the countryside or coast. These displaced people have been forced to build their homes on the mountainsides. Entire hillsides have turned red, as brick homes have overrun the lush grassy slopes. These areas, known as comunas, are very similar to the favelas in Brazil or the ghettos of the United States. The harsh realities of comuna life are twofold: the residents there have to worry about adjusting to the social problems posed by their new surroundings, and they also live in constant fear of the combos or gangs that operate in the comunas. These groups are made up of guerrilla, paramilitary and cartel influences. They have established lineas invisibles or “invisible lines” that cannot be crossed. Violent turf wars keep residents locked inside their homes.  This form of urban warfare has claimed many young lives in the comunas. The combos even threaten parents with death if they don’t give at least one child to the gang. Ultimately, many families end up leaving, resulting in a population of people that have been displaced numerous times.

In this context, Mi Sangre has partnered with a local organization called Circo Momo to help youth living in the comunas cope with the violence and create new opportunities. Circo Momo is an organization made up of sociologists and psychologists interested in the arts, which they use as a means to do social work and help rehabilitate youth who may have been victims of violence or abuse. The technique is simple enough; participating schools have one day dedicated to art in every class, from kindergarten to high school and ranging from literature to science. Staff at Circo Momo implement project-based learning and bring a framework for the day, but allow students to choose the subject. One example was the kindergarten class in Comuna 5 where the students were fascinated with robots. The Circo Momo staff structured their sculpture lesson around robots. Each student made a robot out of clay and was then asked to place the robots in the middle of their table. They would then discuss the robot family that had just been created. Each family was different and students would then be asked to decide who was the dad, who was the mom, and so on. In this way students learned to work together and accept differences. More importantly, they were able to discuss what a family was and the type of relationships families foster. Slowly, these types of projects are helping Medellin heal from the wounds of the conflict and build a generation of students that can tell Medellin’s history from a different perspective. Their perspective will be peace.

These youth groups are also supported by the Mayor’s office on Cultural Affairs, not just Mi Sangre, and the strong emphasis on social works projects seems to be a valuable investment. Yet, these youth groups were not moved into action because of a small influx of funding. Rather, they were working in their communities and trying to change their neighborhoods before the funding even came. They understood that there were alternatives to doing drugs or stealing. However, without the financial support, their organizing efforts would have been limited only to their single comuna and their sphere of influence would be much more limited.

My internship experience helped me to see that working with youth in conflict zones is my calling. During the course of my internship, I would start work at 8 AM in the offices of Mi Sangre, and then head out to interview leaders or visit classrooms in the comunas, then head to youth group meetings, and finally visit hip-hop groups that met at night around the city. I returned to my apartment at 11 PM, exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically, but with an overwhelming sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. The work that I did in Medellin demonstrated that reconciliation and reconstruction are possible in conflict zones. In short, a better world is possible. Augusto Restrepo, a representative from the Mayor’s Office on Cultural Affairs, put it the best, “When you ask me if peace is possible? These kids demonstrate that it is because if it wasn’t, they would not be in the comunas.” It is hard to find a stronger argument for the powerful role that art plays in constructing peace.  The youth living in the comunas are leading a revolution; they are recreating their communities and constructing a new reality – all without ever picking up a gun.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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