Author Archive for Emily Tao

A mid-November check-in: Snow, Virtual Info Sessions, Application Tips

Winter is Coming

It was the first snow of the season yesterday! Here’s a snapshot courtesy of first-year student @luzangil:

Unfortunately due to the snow causing transit issues, we did have to postpone the Diversity Spotlight event arranged with the SIPA Students of Color (SSOC). I’m so happy to see the level of interest in this event, and we’re so sorry for the inconvenience. Everyone will be notified once it’s rescheduled; in the meantime, learn a little more about SSOC’s most recent Identity @ SIPA panel.

Register for our Virtual Information Sessions

While we let everyone know about events on-campus here in NYC in case they’re able to attend, we’re aware that many of you are busy or live further away. With that, we have multiple virtual information sessions coming up that you should register for.

An exciting addition to these virtual events: SIPA’s Concentration Directors will be talking about their unique concentrations and what they look for in program candidates. There’ll be a chance for Q&A at the end, and this is a great way to get a detailed look at the nuances of what each concentration offers.

Application Tips

Finally, for those of you working on your Fall 2019 applications, here are blog posts addressing some common questions we’ve been receiving lately:

What does voting mean to SIPA students during this midterm election?

SIPA is closed today for the 2018 U.S. elections. This is a midterm election, meaning it takes place halfway through a president’s four-year term. Today, voters across the country will go to the polls to for positions from Congress all the way to local school board members.

Over the last few weeks, SIPA students have been incredibly involved in get out the vote efforts, including student organization Civic & Voter Engagement Coalition (CiVEC). They’ve been phone banking, canvassing, registering voters, and most recently flew out to Florida, Texas, and Georgia to help get civically engaged. Many are staying in the New York and New Jersey area to help get out the vote.

Why? Here’s what voting means to them:

“Civic Engagement is a quintessential element of what makes our American democracy so beautiful and appealing to many. It is important, now more than ever, to exercise our right to vote and amplify the voices of those who believe that decency and hard work can overcome hate and polarization.” — Andres Chong-Qui Torres ’19, SIPA CiVEC Co-Founder and President

“To me, voting is about more than making my own voice heard. I vote because as a CiVEC member, SIPA student, and a progressive, I know my voice is loudest when it comes together with the voices of my friends and neighbors.” — Alexandra Yellin ’20, SIPA CiVEC Member

CiVEC students have been working to get out the vote in Florida, Texas, Georgia, New York, and New Jersey.

See more photos of SIPA CiVEC on Facebook.

Five Things You Should Know Before Submitting Your Application

For you applicants submitting in the next few days (Early Action for Fall 2019 is November 1st!), here are some last-minute application tips. Our Admissions Committee reads many applications during the admissions process, which means they notice when people make similar mistakes in the applications. Here are some general application tips for before you submit:

  1. Proofread. Make sure little things like, say, the name of the school, is spelled correctly. And if you’ve looked over your application hundreds of times, get a friend or family member to look it over.  A fresh pair of eyes can really help.
  2. We do not need your official test scores at the time of application submission. There is a place to self-report your scores on the application. Once you have been accepted, we will ask for your official report, but if you have submitted unofficial scores to us there is no need to contact our office to see if we have received a report for ETS.
  3. Answer the (required) essay questions. Some schools may offer an “additional information” question as an option to address special circumstances that may have affected your grades, scores or professional history. While this is one way to use this question, we really want to get to know all our applicants on a personal level, which is why answering the prompt – especially for the second essay – is required. (SIPA’s application does have an Optional Essay, which you can use to share that additional information.)
  4. We do not have a minimum GRE/GMAT score or GPA. SIPA is a competitive program and we encourage our applicants to do their best in the admissions process. But there’s no cutoff for GRE/GMAT scores or GPA, because many of our students are several years out of undergrad and have honed skills they may not have had five or ten years ago. The one exception to this is our hard rule in English proficiency tests (TOEFL/IELTS/PTE). As SIPA classes are taught in English there is a minimum level of proficiency necessary to participate and contribute. You can view the cutoff and preferred scores for the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE here.
  5. Do not waste words in your essays. It is hard enough to confine your professional experiences and goals to a 400-word limit, so you need to be strategic about the way you write. Do not waste essay space rehashing information that is available elsewhere in your application, for example your name or the grades you received as an undergraduate. In addition, we want to hear from you, not Gandhi or John F. Kennedy. If you choose to include a quotation in your personal statement make sure that it is necessary and supports your personal story.

We can’t wait to read your applications — good luck!

Reworked from this 2013 post.

Payne International Development Fellowship Program now accepting applications

The Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2019 Fellowship for Graduate Studies. The application deadline is December 21, 2018.

The Payne Fellowship, administered by Howard University, seeks to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Candidates must be graduating seniors or college graduates with strong academic records and a desire to promote positive change in the world. Applicants with any undergraduate major are welcome to apply. Selected fellows will receive support for graduate school and will have a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.

Program Benefits

  • An orientation to the Program and the Foreign Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in May
  • Two summer internships, one working on international issues in D.C. in summer 2019 and one overseas at a USAID Mission in summer 2020
  • Up to $22,000 annually toward tuition and mandatory fees for a two-year master’s degree at a U.S. institution
  • $16,000 stipend for each academic year for room, board, books, and other education-related expenses
  • $10,000 per year for stipend, housing, transportation and related expenses for summer internships
  • Mentoring throughout the duration of the fellowship and during early employment at USAID
  • Employment in USAID Foreign Service for those who successfully complete the program and meet Foreign Service entry requirements, in accordance with applicable law and USAID policy, with each Payne Fellow committing to a minimum of five years of service.

Eligibility requirements

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Seeking admission to graduate school in fall 2019 for a two-year program in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service at a U.S.-based institution
  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application

Learn more about the Payne Fellowship on their website.

About USAID Foreign Service

USAID Foreign Service Officers work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times, including poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism. They are part of a corps of officers who have worked for more than fifty years to make lasting improvements to the lives of millions of people around the globe. USAID Foreign Service Officers are stationed in Washington and in more than 75 countries in five regions worldwide – Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia, Asia, and the Middle East. They work alongside colleagues from other U.S. government agencies to achieve our country’s foreign policy objectives in democracy and governance, economic growth and trade, peace and security, education and health, conflict mitigation and humanitarian response.

We’ll be in the U.S. PNW soon — and a Spring application deadline reminder

The Columbia SIPA admissions team is still traveling to attend various graduate school fairs around the world. We’ve met a lot of fantastic future candidates and are looking forward to talking to more of you!

If you’re unsure if you want to come to these (free!) grad fairs, remember that Just a few minutes of conversation could lead to an opportunity that’ll change the course of your career. Keep up with us on our Off-Campus Recruitment Events calendar.

And a reminder for you Spring applicants that the application deadline is October 15th, 11:59pm ET. If you have any final questions, you should reach out to us at the Office of Admissions on Monday. Best of luck!

"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

Boiler Image