Archive for Admissions

The 2021 Columbia SIPA Application is Open

We are excited to announce that SIPA’s 2021 Application is officially live.  We strongly recommend providing yourself with ample time to prepare a complete application that best represents your academic abilities. To help you get started, we encourage you to consider the following steps:

1. Review the Application Requirements. Be sure to read through the checklist thoroughly. One important update to note for the 2021 application is the GRE/GMAT requirement. For more information, see this recent post.

2. Be mindful of deadlines. Our deadlines are final, so make sure you submit your materials by each respective deadline.

Program Term Early Action Fellowship Consideration Final Deadline
MIA, MPA, MPA-DP Spring 2021 Oct. 15, 2020
MIA, MPA, MPA-DP Fall 2021 (application available in Aug.) Nov. 1, 2020 Jan. 5, 2021 Feb. 5, 2021

3. Attend a Q&A session. The Admissions team is offering small-group sessions for applicants who need additional support in preparing their application materials. If you have specific questions about the process, you are encouraged to register for an upcoming session.

4. Look for funding! The best time to begin a financing strategy is now. It’s important to do this in tandem with your admissions application as many fellowships will require similar materials. Check out this database we’ve compiled.

5. Subscribe to the Admissions Blog. Our blog posts will give you tips and advice on essentially each part of the application.

Remember to allow your authentic voice to reflect in your application. We want to see your unique qualities shine through. Best of luck!

If you have any questions, email us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu.

Columbia SIPA Spring 2021 Application Now Live

We are happy to announce that our Spring 2021 application is live for our MIA, MPA, and MPA-DP programs. For the first time, we are enrolling a spring cohort for the MPA-DP program. While the application process can be quite overwhelming, here are some helpful resources to support you:

Application Deadlines

Program Term Early Action Fellowship Consideration Final Deadline
MIA, MPA, MPA-DP Spring 2021 Oct. 15, 2020
MIA, MPA, MPA-DP Fall 2021 (application available in Aug.) Nov. 1, 2020 Jan. 5, 2021 Feb. 5, 2021

Applications are due by 11:59 PM EST on their respective dates. Make sure you provide yourself ample time to submit and complete your application.

Application Requirements

For the 2021 academic year, the admissions office will be accepting applications without GRE or GMAT scores. Due to the global impact of COVID-19, applicants will be able to submit a waiver request to the admissions office. In doing so, it is crucial to note the Admissions Committee will rely more heavily on other areas of an application to determine academic preparedness. For more information on submitting a waiver, check out this blog post.

Next Steps:

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with SIPA and our application process prior to starting an application. The following resources will help answer and clarify any questions you may have.

If you are ready to begin, click here to start your application. If you have any additional questions, please contact us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu. We look forward to reviewing your application.

Update for 2021 application period: GRE/GMAT test requirements

GRE or GMAT scores are required of all applicants, as we have found them to be useful indicators of academic ability.

In light of disruptions caused by COVID-19 to the administration of these tests and the ability of many applicants to prepare for them, SIPA will accept applications for admission for January 2021 and September 2021 without GRE/GMAT scores.

Applicants who do not submit GRE/GMAT scores must inform the Admissions Committee of the reason for the omission and provide other evidence not already apparent from their files of their ability to successfully complete SIPA’s program, such as coursework requiring significant quantitative capabilities taken after their undergraduate studies.

SIPA still has no minimum GPA or GRE/GMAT scores. The Admissions Committee carefully reviews every application in its entirety, including test scores, grades (particularly those in relevant coursework), letters of reference, and the applicant’s personal statement and work experience.

You can find the waiver request form on the Admissions FAQs page. Please note that this update is just for the 2021 application cycle. You can only request a waiver once you have created an application for the 2021 cycle. At this time, we expect the 2021 application to go live this August.

Top Five Classes At SIPA: A List From a Second Year EPD Student

Note from Admissions: Class visits are currently open! Register soon as spots fill up quickly.


So, after being at SIPA for near the marketed maximum of four semesters, I have a few thoughts about classes. This isn’t the usual, obvious offering of advise such as “don’t take an 8:30am on a Monday” because chances are, in grad school, most of us have been there and done that. No, in this essay I will outline my top five classes ( and some honorable mentions ). This is also helpful for prospective students with a keen interest in the EPD program who are on the look our for cool classes to sit in on for class visits!

** For context, my course load is, as expected, very influenced by the fact that my concentration is Economics and Political Development and my specialization was Advanced Economic and Political Analysis but became Data Analytics and Quantitative Analysis in my second year. Therefore, I can’t say much in the way of courses that interest concentrations in human rights, energy, international security policy, et cetera. So, with no further blabbing, let’s get to the meat or vegetarian alternative, here’s my top five:

  1. Global Inequality with Suresh Naidu: For those interested in economic inequality and understanding it both on the level of economic theory and on a practical level of policy levers to counteract it, this class offers not only a comprehensive history of inequality, its origins, and policy solutions for it but why we should care. It covers everything from Kuznets curves to slavery’s impact on cross-country inequality. There is also space for practical applications with problem sets that lean on skills learned in quantitative analysis courses at SIPA and response papers to the readings.  Professor Naidu’s class is very conversational with very informative power points and interesting readings. This is a great class to test your aptitude for further economics study beyond the required Micro and Macro offerings at SIPA.
  2. Impact Evaluation Methods to Health and Social Policy with Rodrigo Soares: Professor Soares is an economist and noted expert in impact evaluations, especially in health policy, crime and violence, labor economics, and more with much of his work centering around his home country of Brazil. His class, Impact Evaluation Methods to Health and Social Policy is a considered a level three quant class so prepared to use STATA intently! In this course we learn basically the same thing as many other quantitative analysis courses at this level at SIPA – the principles of regression discontinuity, IV, etc. and how and  when to use these different quasi-experimental methods with observational data – but, each is unique due to each professor’s policy focus area and interest so it doesn’t hurt to take two. This course both prepares you to understand and implement these statistical methods in an impact evaluation context. This is possible one of the least theoretical quant courses as SIPA as its assignments, particularly the final paper — a policy evaluation project — mimic the prompts, instructions, and work expected if we were working as quantitative research staff at a think tank or NGO for a randomized-control trial, for example. It will also help you distinguish a bad study or evaluation from a good one and be able to critique evidence when it is given to you — a good skill for future policy makers.
  3. The Transatlantic Economy with Seamus O’Cleireacain: Seamus is a G. A trade economist by training, he excels at explaining economic theory and quantitative concepts in a class that is truly multi-disciplinary attracting students with no economics background at all and students like me who live and breathe the stuff and still keep us both entertained. With fair exams and a pretty comprehensive final paper, Seamus’ Transatlantic Economy course covers international relations, economic growth theory, trade negotiations, and macroeconomics through the lends of comparing the EU and United States positions and attributes. Taking this course during the Brexit era was doubly intriguing as Professor O’Cleireacain started each class with an overview of the updates to the negotiations and politics that occurred the preceding week and managed to always bring it back to the class subject at hand with humor and ease. Class participation was expected and, often times, helped us to digest the material better as they pulled on all our strengths from economic research papers to international relations or political science papers. This class, however, was more on the theoretical end, but it was really engaging and definitely a good way to spend a Thursday evening.
  4.  Economic Development for International Affairs with Miguel Urquiola: This class or its counterpart Economic Development for International Affairs, is compulsory. However, that doesn’t mean it is a dreary mandatory class that everyone suffered through. I enjoyed it thoroughly as an addendum to macro, which I happened to be taking at the same time. This course is a mix of basic quantitative analysis ( which you normally take in either your first or second semester in Quant Level I), open economy macroeconomics ( especially with regards to taking a deep dive in growth theory), development economics, health and education, and poverty studies. There are quantitative and qualitative problem sets you do in groups to share the load and interesting readings which assist you in comprehending the lectures. There are a few STATA-based problem sets at the beginning, which is why taking quant to learn or refresh your coding skills is a prerequisite, but it’s not too hard once you attended the lab sessions and did the practice problems with the teaching assistant.
  5. Private Sector Development Strategies for Developing and Transition Countries with Stephan Hadley: I am only a few weeks in but I can already tell that this class will be one of the most useful non-quant courses I’ll take at SIPA. This course looks at the evolution of private sectors in developing and transitional economies and the current economic, managerial, and political issues that they pose from macroeconomics, FDI, financial sector development, conflict, corruption and more. It’s a few weeks in so I can’t say too much about examinations and workload but the readings are really interesting so far and the professor has been nothing but courteous and understanding.

Honorable Mentions!

These are classes that I hear my fellow Seeples rave about but haven’t gotten the chance to sample: Race Policy & American Politics with Christina M Greer, Theory of International Political Economy with Markus Jaeger, Gender, Globalization, and Human Rights with Yasmin Ergas, and Data Science and Public Policy with Tamar Mitts ( or anything with Tamar Mitts for that matter).

So there you have it! The courses I’ve taken and loved and the ones who got away. For more courses that are non-econ and quant (can’t blame you) check out fellow PA Stuart and his over view of the ISP concentration.

Application submitted! What now?

So you’ve just submitted your application and, like I was, you’re probably dreading the thought of waiting for decisions to be released. March seems so far away right now, but it will come sooner than you think! While you wait, there are several things you can do to make productive use of the time and keep your mind occupied.

1) Take a break!

First off, congratulations on finishing the application process! I know from personal experience that writing and editing numerous essays, studying for the GRE, coordinating with recommenders, and gathering all of the other required documents is a significant, and sometimes stressful, task. Take some time to celebrate your accomplishment and relax. Emerge from your GRE studying cocoon and spend time with friends, re-engage with your hobbies, and stop thinking about graduate school for at least a week or two.

2) Have a backup plan

SIPA receives thousands of impressive applications each year. Unfortunately, this inevitably means that some applicants do not receive the decision they are hoping for, and therefore its vital that you have a backup plan in case SIPA is not in the cards this year. Take this time to think about your plan in the event that you don’t get admitted. Maybe you’ll want to stay in your current job for another year and reapply, or maybe you’ll spend the summer taking an economics course to strengthen your next application. Also make sure you don’t make any major life changes until decisions are released. Please don’t quit your job and move to NYC just yet! (We love to see the enthusiasm, but really, it’s a bad idea.)

3) Plan your budget

This is a great time to plan your budget for graduate school. Take the time to apply to outside scholarships and fellowships, and explore any other means of funding. Subscribe to the SIPA Admissions blog for updates on upcoming scholarship deadlines, research outside funding on the SIPA financial aid page, and read this great blog post on budgeting by the Associate Director of Financial Aid.

4) Visit SIPA

If you’re admitted, we highly encourage you to attend our Admitted Students’ Day in April. While you wait for your decision, however, please consider visiting a class if you find yourself in the NYC area. There is simply no better way to learn more about our academic programs, meet current students, and meet a faculty member. It’s also important to get a feel for the campus and the community, something that can’t be done through online research alone. Visiting SIPA made the decision to come to SIPA easy for me. I felt that the staff and students were extremely welcoming, the faculty were impressive, and that living in NYC would be an exciting adventure. The last year and a half has proved all of that to be true.

"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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