Archive for SIPA

SIPA’S SDG Fellows Team Win 2018 Geneva Challenge!

Do you remember a few weeks ago I wrote, in this blog post here, about how SIPA’s SDG Fellows team (Alonso Flores MPA-EPD ’19, Nigora Isamiddinova MPA-DP ’19, Jessica Arnold MIA ’19, Nitasha Nair MPA ’19, and Ji Qi MPA-DP ’19) made it to the finals of the 2018 Geneva Challenge? Well I am very happy to say that they won first place!

SIPA’s classroom provides an opportunity for you to meet other classmates with various interests and skill sets and collaborate on projects that address some of the worlds’ most pressing and complex issues. Sometimes those collaborations in classroom can lead to solutions implemented out in the real world. The Geneva Challenge is one of the many opportunities at SIPA where students can implement what you learn in the classroom in the real world.

The SIPA team, DASH – Data Analytics for Sustainable Herding, aims to map and analyze the changes in migration patterns, seasonality, and urban and agricultural development using data from satellites, mobile telecommunications, and GPS- enabled systems. It will create a blueprint for utilizing big data and applying machine learning and AI for better policy-making in the in the Sahel region, where competition for increasingly scarce natural resources is driving a rise in conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.

In the award ceremony, the jury explained their decision to award the SSDG Fellows team first place: “The jury believes that this is an excellent and innovative solution. The proposal is well researched and authors a detailed and accurate contextualization. The real-time forecasting model using big data analytics and artificial intelligence techniques is a very ambitious tool to develop that could indeed have a wide and positive impact on the region. The project is also well thought out in terms of needs assessment, risk analysis, and implementation. The team has already taken further steps by having discussions with relevant government agencies by assessing institutional frameworks through laboratory projects.”

The Geneva Challenge, launched in 2014, is an international contest for graduate students that aims to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to a designated international development problem. This year, there were 66 project entries submitted by 258 students from all over the world. Of those projects, 15 teams were chosen as semi-finalists. A jury then selected five finalist teams, one per continent, to defend their project at the the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. Other prize winners this year included teams from BRAC University, ETH Zürich, Kenyatta University, and the University of Buenos Aires.

You can learn more about the MPA-Development Practice program that the SDG Fellows team is a part of here. Don’t forget that the January 5 deadline to apply for MPA-DP, MIA and MPA programs is coming up!

Holiday Office Closures and Updates for Spring and Fall Early Decision

Today is the last day of classes for the Fall 2018 semester, and we can’t quite believe how fast this semester has gone by either. Here’s a quick update of where we’re at with SIPA Admissions:

  • Congratulations to the incoming Spring 2019 class! Decisions went out to our future J-termers a few weeks ago (J-term because they start classes in January), and we can’t wait to welcome them to campus next month. They have an advantage of an extra summer semester to pack in more internships or work opportunities during their graduate school experience — which is already short as it is.
  • In observance of the holiday season, the Admissions and Financial Aid office will be closed December 24, 2018 through January 1st, 2019. We’ll be open, business as usual, on January 2nd, 2019.
  • This means for you Fall 2019 applicants who are submitting on the January 5th deadline – get your application questions in as soon as possible! Please do your research, of course — we don’t want to get backlogged with questions that could have been easily answered with an internet search — and plan accordingly to make sure you can submit your application on time.
  • A reminder from Financial Aid to U.S. citizens and permanent residents: SIPA offers scholarships to a limited number of admitted applicants, and those scholarships are based on not only candidates’ academic and professional credentials, but financial need as well. In order to receive consideration for these awards, don’t forget to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA) for the 2019/20 academic year. Columbia’s school code is 002707. We recommend that you complete this by about January 5th so that once the Fellowship Committee’s deliberations begin, we will have all required information from all applicants. The FAFSA is also required if you want to consider student loan options from the federal government or Work Study positions.

And to our Early Decision applicants waiting on your decision, trust that we’re working hard to get that to you before the end of the year! Thank you for your patience, and the Admissions Committee is grateful that you put so much work into your applications and to share your aspirations with us. We think SIPA will be a great place for many of you, and you’ll hear the official word soon.

Why I chose International Finance and Economic Policy as a Concentration

When I was looking at graduate schools initially, I knew I wanted to focus on my three interests: women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and finance. It was very important for me that I found a school that allowed me to pursue all three. The International Finance and Economic Policy concentration was ideal in that it provided me with coursework in both finance and economics.

My first year courses included macroeconomics and microeconomics, as well as corporate finance and international capital markets. All of which gave me a strong background in financial and economic policy and allowed me to apply the skills I learned in the classroom in a real world context. The International Finance and Economic Policy concentration is also ideal in that it has three separate tracks: International Finance, International Economic Policy, and Central Banking. This meant that I could tailor my coursework to focus specifically on international finance.

I chose the International Finance track because I knew that my interest in promoting women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship required that I have knowledge of accounting, corporate finance, as well as emerging financial markets. Additionally, the International Finance and Economic Policy concentration had a global focus, which allowed me to look at financial systems and economies on an international scale. This was very important to me considering that my main interest is to help women entrepreneurs and 51% of SME’s globally are owned and operated by women. Additionally, my specialization in Gender and Public Policy was a great way for me to combine my interests in both finance and gender. Much of the work that I did in my IFEP classes served me well in my gender classes, particularly in the realm of evaluating economic and financial systems through a gender lens.

Photo Source: Carol M. HighsmithPublic Domain

New Courses at SIPA: Military technology, private sector work, and social impact campaigns

SIPA is constantly expanding it’s curricula so that students are equipped with the tools they need to start solving pressing global policy issues. There’s a wide range of areas that SIPA students choose to go into, so here are some new course highlights from this semester. (No need for a TL;DR, these course highlights are just one minute long.)

Working with the Private Sector for Development Outcomes

Military Technology Assessment

The Art of Creating Social Impact Campaigns

Jumping from NYC to DC; My advice to students who want to work outside of NYC

Note from Admissions: Congratulations to the eight SIPA students selected to join the Presidential Management Fellows Class of 2019! Only ~8.7 percent of applicants were selected to become finalists in this prestigious U.S. government development program for 2019. We thought this would be a good opportunity to check in with other SIPA students who are heading to Washington D.C.


When I first considered applying to the State Department’s Pickering Fellowship, I was unsure whether it was worth my time. I assumed that students from D.C. studying International Affairs would have a considerable advantage, since I attended a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles where I studied History and Government. However, when speaking with alumni of the fellowship, I was told that my non-D.C. background could help my application for the State Department and other employers throughout my career. After receiving the fellowship, and having worked in D.C., I would agree with this sentiment.

Ultimately, I believe that employers look for talent and people with new and interesting ideas, regardless of where an applicant is from. Therefore, I would urge anyone considering SIPA to apply, even if they want to pursue a career in D.C. afterwards; here at SIPA, you’ll learn and grow in ways that will make you competitive for any job in any city.

SIPA’s greatest resource is New York City. As a student of policy, you will have endless opportunities to engage with experts and leading organizations in your field who are working in arguably the world’s most dynamic city. Because of SIPA’s location, you will also have access to world class faculty and students who are pursuing careers in everything from finance to humanitarian work.

SIPA also offers a very holistic curriculum and attracts students from the around the world who want to study in a global city. I can honestly say that I have learned as much from my peers as I have from my classes.

In turn, you may actually have an advantage over students who are in D.C. or any other city, partly because of everything that SIPA students are exposed to in New York.

Personally, I know of many students who are fully committed to working in D.C. after graduating, myself included. Many of these students use their summer in between their first and second year to pursue an internship in DC, as an opportunity to build a relationship with a potential employer and to get an idea of what they would ideally like to do full-time.

SIPA has relationships with almost every major organization in D.C. and therefore students are made aware of internship and full-time job opportunities available in D.C. all the time. Almost any employer in D.C. will recognize Columbia University and SIPA, and you will not be at a disadvantage during the recruiting process.

In terms of community in D.C., SIPA students end up all over; some work for the State Department, some work for think tanks like The Brookings Institution, and others end up at NGOs like Human Rights Campaign. Since SIPA’s Office of Career Services has strong relationships with alumni and organizations with heavy SIPA representation, it is easy to get in contact with alumni, who are always happy to offer advice or maybe even an opportunity at an interview.

I always tell people, living and studying in New York is never a bad choice. If you are interested in SIPA’s program offerings and think it is a good fit academically and socially, then consider applying/enrolling, even if you don’t plan to be here long-term!

"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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