Archive for Admissions

Congrats to the Class of 2018, and Looking Ahead

We love this photo of the SIPA Class of 2018 at the university-wide commencement on Wednesday (photo credit to recent grad Yashshri Soman!). Each school has their own graduation ceremony throughout Commencement Week, and on Wednesday all of the schools gathered on Columbia’s South Lawn. For SIPA, 736 students from 68 countries earned degrees across all of our programs.

For those of you who can see yourself in the sea of blue in a few years, the Fall 2019 application will go live in August. The application itself is a whole process, and we know that many of you are preparing for it now. To help you think through it, here’s a roundup of posts to help you as you approach the written portions of the application:

  • What’s in an App: Personal Statement – For some in the Admissions Committee, the personal statement sets the tone for the rest of the application – it’s your SIPA raison d’etre. But, the personal statement has a 400-word limit – how do you get all that important information down in a limited capacity? (We actually advise applicants not to waste words quoting others, but I think French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s quote is pretty apt: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”)
  • How to plan for your recommendation letters – This is difficult to tackle last minute, so get some info on who you should ask, how you should ask them, and what should go into a letter.
  • What’s in an App: Optional Essay – Is the optional essay really worth doing? This post covers specific ways in how this essay can further your application.
  • Some advice on the optional essay prompt – I’ve seen some skeptical quizzical expressions when I tell applicants that the optional essay truly is optional. Here’s some more general information on common questions we get about the optional essay.

For those of you thinking about applying for the Fall 2019 cycle (or beyond!), I hope that this gives you a good foundation as you start getting your materials together. We’ll notify y’all when the application goes live in August.

And a few reminders before we sign off:

  • A reminder to our Fall 2018 waitlisted candidates that final decisions will roll out by mid-July. Candidates will receive an email as soon as there is an update.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program Scholarship application opened on Monday, May 14th. You can learn more about eligibility and requirements here – we encourage you to apply soon, as funding is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Make sure you stay involved with us before the application cycle opens in August 2018 – our information session calendar will list on-campus and virtual sessions, and we’ll add more off-campus events here throughout the summer and fall.

Next Steps for Admitted Students, Fall 2018

First off, a big congratulations on being accepted to Columbia SIPA! I hope you celebrated this achievement – it was a competitive applicant pool! – and are now ready to go over a few things that every newly-admitted student should know. In this post I’ll cover:

  • The Welcome Portal
  • Your Status Page (and how to avoid delays in starting off your school year)
  • Official Documents (this probably applies to you)
  • Conditional Admission
  • Money, Deposits, and Financial Aid

The Welcome Portal

The Welcome Portal has everything you need regarding next steps. Even if you aren’t sure where you’ll end up yet, the Welcome Portal provides information to help you make that decision: Upcoming deadlines, student housing information, and special events and webinars, including Faculty Q&As and Financial Aid advice.

The Welcome Portal is also where you’ll go to accept your admissions offer – your offer deadline is in your admissions letter, along with login details for the Welcome Portal.

You should also follow us on Instagram @Columbia.SIPA to share your admissions story and connect with future classmates with #SIPAClassof2020!

Your Status Page

The last thing you want is a delay to starting off your school year, but that is easily avoided by checking in with the Status Page. This is where you’ll go to review your Application Checklist. Even though you’ve been accepted, there are a few items on the checklist that we need to finalize your academic record before August 2018. And if your record isn’t finalized, you won’t be able to register for classes during Fall 2018 orientation. Don’t be that person!

Official Documents

When you review the Welcome Portal, you’ll notice a section that outlines upcoming deadlines for the Application Checklist materials, also known as official documents. These are hard deadlines for the Admissions Office to receive your official documents, mainly transcripts and test scores.

“But I thought I submitted my application and this whole thing was over!” Not quite, but almost!

In the past few years, at least 90% of our accepted students did not submit all of their official documents to our office. Safe to say, this may be familiar to you:

  • You applied to SIPA. You submitted a scanned copy of your college transcript(s).
  • You were admitted to SIPA with that scanned transcript(s). But, that is still a scan of a transcript, which means it is an unofficial copy.
  • Even if your college registrar’s office handed you an official transcript, since you opened it and scanned it, we must consider it an unofficial copy because it’s technically been altered.

“But my Status Page has a green checkmark next to my transcript, and I’m still seeing a notification that my official transcript has not been submitted. What gives?”

The green checkmark is referring to your unofficial copy tied to your application – just cross-check the upload date and hover over the checkmark (see below) to see if the pop-up text reads “Received Copy” or “Received.” Check out our “Dissecting the Application Checklist” post if you’re still confused.

“How do I send in my official transcripts and test scores?”

All of this information is in the Welcome Portal (seriously, check it out if you haven’t already), but: Official test scores must be on file by June 1, 2018; and official transcripts must be on file by July 13, 2018, (unless instructed otherwise). International students who won’t have conferred degrees until after the deadline should email us and we’ll make a note on their account.

Official test scores must be sent to us by the testing company (ex: ETS, GMAC).

– GRE / TOEFL ibt school code: 2161 (no department code)
– GMAT school code: MIA is QF8-64-56; MPA is QF8-64-99

Mail your official transcripts to us at:
Columbia University | SIPA
Office of Admissions & Financial Aid
514 West 113th Street
New York, New York 10025
(Reminder: Official transcripts must be in an envelope that is sealed and signed. )

While you can email them to sipa_admission@sipa.columbia.edu, note that the transcripts must be sent from the registrar’s office through a service like eSCRIP-SAFE in order to be considered official.

Official Test Scores

The same rules outlined above apply to your official test scores. But if you truly know you sent us your official scores, there may be a workaround from re-ordering your test scores.

Chances are your application name and email address are not recorded the same as the name and email address you registered to take the GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS/PTE with a few months ago. (You may recall us warning against this in the application instructions.) Thus, we couldn’t match the exam to your account because of the mismatch.

If that’s the case, contact the testing center and confirm your full name, date of birth and email address associated with your account. You’ll need to send us that information, along with the batch number/cycle number for GRE and TOEFL scores; the appointment number and identification number for GMAT scores; or send us the official score report for IELTS/PTE scores.

Conditional Admission

Supplemental Quant

If you were required additional quantitative preparation prior to enrolling at SIPA, this means your overall application and achievements are admirable, and we believe you’ll be better equipped for success at SIPA by completing economics coursework prior to your enrollment.

You can complete this requirement by taking both Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics with a B or better. (The single Principles of Economics course is no longer an option, except for Fall 2018 Early Action admitted students.)

These courses may be physical or virtual (online) but must be from an accredited academic institution. This course can be completed abroad as long as the institution is accredited in its home country. If you’re unsure, check the university’s website for their accreditation notice or consult with World Education Services for assistance. Free courses through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) or certificate programs through Coursera and other online services do not fulfill this requirement. Successful completion is defined as a letter grade of B or higher or its numerical equivalent. We can’t recommend any institution over another, so, unfortunately, we can’t offer further guidance on where to complete this requirement.

Please submit final transcripts verifying your successful completion of these courses to the Admissions Office by August 20, 2018. If you are completing the economics courses during the summer, you must also send proof of course registration to the Admissions Office by July 1, 2018. By completing this requirement, your admission to SIPA will become final.

SIPA Summer and/or Fall ALP

Some international students are required to enroll in summer and/or fall ALP as a condition of their admission. Your admission letter states if you are required to complete this coursework. We cannot waive this requirement because this is a policy set by the university. The only way to waive out of it (as described in the admission letter/Welcome Portal), is to provide new TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores that show at least a score of 110 on the TOEFL, 7.5 on the IELTS, or 76 on the PTE. Improved scores must be submitted to the Admissions Office no later than June 1, 2018.

Money, Deposits, and Financial Aid

Your Admissions Deposit

You have until the date on your admission letter to accept your enrollment offer AND pay the $2,000.00 USD admission deposit. This deposit ultimately goes towards your tuition bill.

You do not have to accept and pay the deposit at the same time. So you can submit your response form and select “yes,” and then access your Status Page in a couple weeks to make the deposit payment. However, your deposit payment must be paid in full at once (no partial payments). This should be paid through the online portal. Just click on the corresponding hyperlink to submit your payment. You’ll continue to see a reminder on your Status Page until your deposit is paid, and only after you’ve submitted your response form.

Financial Aid and Fellowships

If you received a scholarship or fellowship, you will have received a separate notification letter about your funding along with your letter of admission. (Early-action candidates had to wait until now to learn about their funding status.)

To see your funding letters, go to your Status Page, scroll down to where it says Status Update and click on the View Update link. From there, you’ll be directed to your admission letter. Then you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of your letter. This is where you’ll see if you have one (or several) letters available to read. If there’s an additional linked date under “The Following letters are available for this account,” you should click on it!

All students, whether funded their first year or not, will be able to apply for second-year funding. Most of this funding is in the form of assistantships for second-year students who succeeded in their first year of studies. (You’ll learn more about these opportunities during the spring semester of your first year.)

We also encourage you to visit the Financial Aid page for more information about funding your education, which includes a database of external funding opportunities.

Tuition, Fees, and Billing

Columbia University releases an annual estimated cost of attendance, which you can view for the 2018-2019 year here.

Your tuition bill will be generated closer to the start of the academic term. You also have the option to set up a payment plan or coordinate your payments with a third-party sponsor. For more information on that process, browse the Student Financial Services website. (Note: The Office of Admissions & Financial Aid is not involved in this process.) You can also browse this site to get a historical look at the tuition and fees SIPA (Columbia University) has charged each year.

Contact Us

If you need anything give us a call or send an email. If you’re an admitted student with specific financial aid or fellowship inquiries, please email them with a descriptive and informative subject line to sipa_finaid@columbia.edu. Admissions questions can continue to go to sipa_admission@columbia.edu or sipa_new@columbia.edu.

And once again, congratulations to our admitted students!

Fall 2018 MIA, MPA, and MPA-DP Decisions Are Out! #SIPAClassof2020

We’re excited to announce that admissions decisions have been released for the MIA, MPA, and MPA-DP programs. Applicants are notified by email, asking them to check their Status Page.

A huge congratulations to the admitted students among all of the SIPA programs! Connect with your fellow admitted students with: #SIPAClassof2020

To all of our applicants, regardless of your decision, be sure to check back here for updates on next steps over the next few weeks.

 

Our top ten posts of 2017

Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2018. Can you believe it?! Here’s a look at our top 10 blog posts from 2017. With a couple of days left before our general deadline this Friday, Jan. 5th, we have some last tips for you to submit an outstanding SIPA application as well as insight to our community.

#10: Tips on the short essay policy question

#9: How NOT to write your personal statement

#8: When you’ll receive your admission decision

#7: A Quantitative/Language resume breakdown

#6: What’s with the GRE/GMAT and TOEFL/IELTS?

#5: The best cafes on campus (because, well, food is important)

#4: What Fall 2016 admitted students should know going forward

#3: Top 10 tips for communicating with us

#2: Next steps for Fall 2017 admitted students

And drum roll please….

The #1 blog post of 2017 was: How to access (and prepare for) the admissions video essay

We hope you’ve enjoyed time with your loved ones during the holidays. Good luck on the application!

We are closing early today at 1 PM!

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will close early today for the Christmas holiday, December 25 and 26,  at 1 PM EST. We will re-open on Wednesday, December 27 at 9 AM EST. We hope everyone travels safe and enjoys the break.

Don’t forget, our general deadline, with SIPA fellowship aid consideration, is at 11:59 PM EST on January 5th. The video essay is only available after you submit your application and pay the app fee; it’ll appear in your Applicant Status page once those steps are completed. As a refresher, make sure to check out our series of application tips that were posted earlier this year.

Do’s and Don’t on your SIPA application

What’s in an App: personal statement

What’s in an App: optional essay

What’s in an App: admissions video essay

What’s in an App: professional resume

In addition, we have info on the top criteria that we look for in an ideal applicant – professional, relevant experience; strong quantitative aptitude; and commitment to the field of international affairs or policy. This next deadline is important, especially if you’re looking to be considered for SIPA fellowship aid; both domestic and international populations are considered for this funding. There are also external funding resources you can explore; other sites like apsia.org, fastweb.com, scholarship.com, etc. will be helpful. We encourage you to review this info and start early with your financial planning. Good luck on the application! Happy Holidays!

"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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