Archive for SIPA – Page 2

I Didn’t Get the Decision I Wanted – What Can I Do?

This post was adapted from a previous version.

We released decisions for Fall 2018 admissions about two weeks ago, so by now you should have checked your status. I’m sure you went through a mix of emotions when you did read your decision. You may be thinking, “What do I do now? What can I do?”

Whatever decision you received, there are some things that our waitlisted candidates, and those who weren’t granted admission, should know going forward.

The Waitlist

If you were waitlisted, your story with SIPA might not end here. Admissions at SIPA is competitive, but your application showed promise. While seats are limited and went to more competitive candidates, some of you will move to the admitted students list over the next few months.

SIPA does not rank the waitlist. Since the waitlist is not ranked, and the entire admissions process is holistic and reactive to the applicants we receive, it will take some time for the waitlist decisions to come out. You should know that we look over the waitlist starting in May and will release final decisions for waitlisted candidates by July 15. If you’re an international student, you’ll still have time to apply for a visa – just make sure you don’t procrastinate the process once you’re admitted.

Please don’t email to ask if your status has changed. We promise that we have not forgotten about you, we’re just unable to provide periodic updates on your standing. Please only contact us if you have a specific request about your waitlist application, like updating your application or removing it from consideration.

Waitlisted applicants can send in updated test scores and transcripts. I want to emphasize that we’ll only review new supplemental materials so you can keep us updated on your academic and professional pursuits. If you’ve retaken the GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS/PTE, or you’ve taken or completed additional quantitative coursework, you can send that information to by June 1.

Make sure you include the documents, your name and application number, and the subject line “Supplemental Waitlist Materials from Your Name” in the email. And because you want us to be happy, please send it all at once, and not piecemeal.

You can remove yourself from consideration for admission by emailing us at with your name and application number, and letting us know that you’d like to be removed from consideration.

Requesting Feedback

Due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot offer individual feedback. However, we recommend you review What We Look For in applications, and common feedback suggestions for applicants.

“Can I Appeal an Admissions Decision?”

No – all decisions are final. The Admissions Committee reviews each application thoroughly and with great care; as such, there is not an appeals process. But, you can…

Reapply to SIPA

If you didn’t get the admission decision you were hoping for, you are welcome to reapply to SIPA. As a reapplicant, you will go by the same deadlines, fees and requirements as first-time applicants.

As a benefit, you may reapply using the personal statement, reference letters, test scores and transcripts from this year’s application. As the essay questions change every year, we encourage you to submit new ones (and possibly new recommendation letters).

When next year’s application goes live in mid-August 2018, email us at with “Reapplicant Request to Use Past Materials for Your Name” in the subject line and specify which of these materials you want to reuse. View the details on Reapplying to SIPA here.

Thank Your Recommenders

This seems obvious, but many applicants still forget this step. No matter the outcome, you should thank your recommenders one more time for your help. They invested time and effort into your future, and I’m sure they’re curious on how things turned out. Even if you weren’t admitted, this can lead to an opportunity for advice from someone with a different perspective, or suggestions on strengthening your application for next year.

Saying Goodbye

On behalf of the entire Admissions Committee, I want to thank you for your effort. We all got to know you through your application materials and it was an honor to read about your achievements and ambitions for the future.

If you ultimately decide to decline your admissions offer, remove yourself from the waitlist, or won’t reapply next year, please know that we hope you’ll continue to develop your academic and professional experience for whatever your future might hold. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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.


Update from Admissions, and a View of Applicant Demographics

Now that the application process has ended, I wanted to update you on what’s going on here at SIPA Admissions. The Admissions Committee has been reading applications non-stop for the last few months. We’re honored that you all took the time to apply and to share your experiences and aspirations with us.

The top question we have been getting the last few weeks is, “When will decisions be released?”

Answer: Very soon. All MIA, MPA and MPA-Development Practice decisions will be released by mid-March at the latest. You’ll be notified by email, which will ask you to check your Status Page.

In the meantime, here’s a few interesting stats from the Fall 2018 applicant pool:

  • You’ve probably heard about the diversity of SIPA – our current students represent more than 100 countries, and our 20,000 alumni represent 155 countries. This year, our applicant pool continues to show how far we reach, with applications from 106 different countries. Right now, about 55% of the SIPA student body are international students.
  • I’ve gotten questions about the age of applicants from people who think they may be too old or too young. This time, our applicants ranged from 19 years old to 57 years old. It isn’t uncommon for us to see such a range in applicant ages; again, we don’t have a model of an “ideal” SIPA candidate (though you can see what we look for in applicants here).
  • Currently, the SIPA student body is at about 56% female and 44% male. The amount of female applicants outnumbered male applicants this year:

Class diversity is important to the SIPA community, and we’re interested to see what next year’s class will be like. I encourage you to keep your eyes on this Admissions blog for more information on what do you once you get your decision, whatever it may be.

If you’ll be near the Columbia campus, take time to learn more about SIPA by visiting a class. Class visits are available through April and are a great opportunity to get a feel for SIPA faculty, courses, and student life.

We thank you for your patience and wish you all the best of luck. We’ll update you soon.

A View from the Class: Cortney Newell

Hoping everyone stays safe and warm as the winter storm approaches New York!

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share another installment of A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and SIPA faculty. In this issue, we feature current SIPA student, Cortney Newell MPA ’18. Cortney is a second year Master of Public Administration in Development Practice candidate. She is this year’s Trangucci Family Fellow and an International Fellows Program (IFP) Fellow.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?

After graduating from the University of Virginia, I spent two years as a journalist for the Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee. In 2011, motivated by a desire to work in development, I moved to Siguatepeque, Honduras, where I worked for a bilingual primary and secondary school. Shortly thereafter, I transitioned to Amigos for Christ, a nonprofit organization in Chinandega, Nicaragua, gaining experience in integrated, sustainable community development, and eventually, serving as the Director of Communications.

Why did you choose SIPA?

The MPA-DP program is focused on all the right things: practical professional experiences, interdisciplinary approaches, strong connections to leading professionals and organizations in the sector, and a heavy emphasis on empowering students to shape their own experience.

Please describe some of the work-experience opportunities you’ve had at SIPA.

Since arriving at Columbia, I have focused my studies on humanitarian policy and programming, with a particular interest in how gender affects the experience of different populations in the midst of emergencies. Along those lines, my first year I worked as a research assistant for MADRE, a nonprofit human rights advocacy organization, drafting and editing human rights reports on gender based violence in Iraq and Syria.

This past summer, I worked with Mercy Corps’ humanitarian response in West Nile, Uganda, leading the design and implementation of a new, market-driven mobile phone program targeting 20,000 South Sudanese refugees and Ugandan host community members across the region.

During the fall semester, I worked with the American Red Cross of Greater New York’s Mass Care team to develop a strategic plan for their Emergency Response Vehicles. This semester, I am interning with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), helping the Emergency Preparedness team develop a Communications Strategy that will ensure they are maximizing the impact of their communications both within the Emergency Unit and across the IRC as a whole.

And, finally, I am serving as the Project Manager for an EPD Workshop team which is developing a white paper on gender and intersectionality in the humanitarian sector for the Women’s Refugee Commission.

How has SIPA and your SIPA experiences affected you?

SIPA has taught me how to translate a long career of experiences and a growing set of skills into a cohesive professional profile, while at the same time enabling me to continually expand that catalogue of experiences and skills through the courses and professional experiences I’ve accessed while here. I know that upon graduation I will be empowered to do the work I love much more effectively and at a significantly higher level.

What are your plans after SIPA?

After SIPA, I plan to continue my work in humanitarian aid, working in frontline program management and implementation – most likely in cash, protection, or education programming with a large, international NGO. The nature of the sector means I don’t necessarily know exactly where I’ll be, but I have my eye on developing crises in Latin America and the ongoing emergencies in the Middle East.

A View from the Class: Weyni Tadesse Berhe

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share another installment of A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and SIPA faculty. In this issue, we feature current SIPA student Weyni Tadesse Berhe MIA ’18. Weyni is a second year Master of International Affairs candidate, concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy with a specialization in Advanced Policy & Economic Analysis, and Management.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?

After graduating from the College of Wooster in 2014, I worked as an Adviser at the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations. During my tenure, I participated in the yearlong intergovernmental negotiations of the Sustainable Development Goals and Financing for Development, G77 and China consultations, UN Economic and Financial Committee meetings, and UN Security Council consultations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Why did you choose SIPA?

During my time at the African Union (AU) Observer Mission to the UN, through collaborations among SIPA, the AU, and the UN, I had opportunities to organize conferences at SIPA and meet SIPA professors and students. I was drawn by the nuanced discussions, the plethora of opportunities to which students have access, and the caliber of students and professors.

Also, my experience at UN intergovernmental negotiations and Security Council deliberations revealed that despite the sizable membership of countries of the Global South, their development priorities and voice within the UN were mitigated by their economic limitations and political uncertainties, and that any policy could not be formulated without taking into account the economic and political realities of each country. I knew that SIPA’s MIA program would provide me with the theoretical tools and practical knowledge to investigate the complimentary nexus among financial markets, economic development, political structures, and policymaking.

What are some experiences outside of the classroom that you have had at SIPA?

During summer 2017, I worked for both Deloitte’s Corporate Finance and GE’s Capital and Healthcare business units. As a Financial Analyst – Consultant at GE, I developed execution plans for on-book and off-book financing for GE’s second and third quarter healthcare portfolio. And, as a Summer Associate at Deloitte, I prepared a real estate industry report for a Deloitte institutional investor that is diversifying its investments from the commodity industry to the real estate market.

This spring, my SIPA Capstone Workshop team and I are working with Morgan Stanley’s Global Financial Crimes unit to revamp the firm’s Anti-Money Laundering – Transaction Monitoring System. I am also involved in different social ventures at Columbia University. I was the President of the SIPA Pan-African Network, and I am the Co-Chair of the 15th Annual African Economic Forum, which is the largest Africa centered conference at Columbia University organized by the African student networks at SIPA, Columbia Business School, and Columbia Law School.

How has SIPA impacted you?

I was born in the midst of an Ethiopian civil war in a small makeshift tent in a battleground to two freedom fighter parents who joined the anti-communist resistance movement to ensure freedom, equality, and liberty for all Ethiopians. Service and the quest for a just, equitable, and free world have been the cornerstone of my upbringing and experience. Being surrounded by like-minded, rising professionals who have committed their lives to uplift the lives of their communities has made my SIPA experience enriching and humbling.

What are your plans after SIPA?

I am keen on exploring innovative and sustainable investment platforms that assist investors in realizing environmentally, socially, and financially driven investments that enhance communities’ quality of life.

"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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