Archive for curriculum – Page 2

Wish I had known

Congratulations! If you’re reading this you are almost ready to start your SIPA adventure! (And I ,God-willing, have a high paying job recruiting and training women in American politics.) This is not going to be one of those graduation-speech type posts where I talk in general terms about life advice I wish I had two years ago. (Take risks! Follow your passion! Put potato chips in a sandwich!)  These are five pieces of practical advice for SIPA navigation, the blunt truth tips that would have made my experience slightly smoother sailing.


1) Make sure the University has your immunization records before you get here.  I spent my first registration period freaking out because there was a hold that kept me from signing up for classes.  It turned out I, and a lot of my classmates, had not updated our immunizations and the university had placed a hold on our accounts.  It took an extra 36 hours before I could sort it out and get registered. Don’t let it happen to you!

2) Buy your books on Amazon, from 2nd Years, or not at all.  Two of my professors this year didn’t even bother ordering books through the bookstore because books are so much more expensive there. You can find almost all the books you are assigned in class used on the Internet. In addition a lot of second years will wind up selling their used books especially for popular classes. Finally before you go out and pay for a book, take a look at how often it appears on your reading list. Some professors assign only one or two chapters per semester out of a 900-page tome. If this is the case you might be better off sucking it up and borrowing the book from the library or sharing it with a classmate.  I have even found excerpts I needed to read for class available for free on the Internet.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying, “don’t do the reading” (this isn’t undergrad), I’m just saying do it for free.

3) Makes your classes what you want them to be about. One of the things I really love about SIPA is the flexibility of the curriculum. That said, there will still be classes you are required to take for the core or your concentration, or just that you want to have on your resume that are not exactly your cup of tea.  In most classes that require a final paper or project, your professor will be fairly flexible in allowing you to choose your topic.  Even if it deviates slightly from the suggested topics on the syllabus, if you can make a case for why it is relevant to the course, your Professor is likely to allow you to write it.  Professors want you to be interested in your work and they don’t want to read 30 of the same thing anyway.  This semester I wrote three different papers on gender quotas in legislatures for three very different classes. I still had to do original research for each but it allowed me to delve in and really become an expert on the topic.

4) Always show up for the class, even if it’s full.  If you are really passionate about taking something don’t take “course is full” for an answer.  A lot of Professors will make an exception and people are likely to drop out on the first day anyway. If you’re there, you’re the one who gets to take their spot. Even if you can’t make it in the course that semester, you’ll be able to make a connection with the professor and s/he is all but guaranteed to give you preference next time.

5) This is who Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz are. My Admitted Students Day everyone was freaking out about Jeff Sachs speaking at the plenary session and I was like “who?” Sachs and Stiglitz are two big name Professors and their names get bandied about a lot especially in the first two weeks of school.  I was able to take classes with equally accomplished and notable faculty in subjects in which I was interested, but still it will help you to know who these two are.

According to Wikipedia:

Joseph Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank, and is a former member, and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.[1][2] He is known for his critical view of the management of globalization, free-market economists (whom he calls “free market fundamentalists“), and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Jeffrey Sachs is an American economist and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. One of the youngest economics professors in the history of Harvard University. He has been known for his work on the challenges of economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, and globalization He is Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger.


You’re Welcome!



MIA & MPA Curriculum

A popular question we hear is about core courses and whether or not someone can take core courses for their concentration (not just core courses for the degree curriculum)  in the first semester.

It is definitely possible. Most people take at least CF (Conceptual Foundation)/POP (Politics of Policymaking) and Econ their first semester (although there are a smattering of students who complete these their second year).  Most people tend to spread their core courses throughout the four semesters, concentrating more in the first year.

To give you an idea, this is what Nancy’s SIPA schedule looked like; the courses that count toward the core are (*),  in parenthesis  are courses that would count toward Nancy’s specialization, concentration and co-curricular requirements.   This is a somewhat typical (except maybe the semester where most of her classes were at other CU schools) schedule. Hope this helps!


Fall 1

  • Econ 4200*
  • Quant Analysis (Stats I)*
  • POP*
  • Elections and Political Development
  • Women and Power in the 21st Century (Half Semester, Management, Gender Policy)

Spring 1

  • Econ*
  • Budgeting for Non-Profits*
  • Campaign Management (USP and Management)
  • Statistical Races and Public Policy (USP)
  • Women and Global Leadership (Half Semester, Management, Gender Policy)

Fall 2

  • Effective Management in the Public Sector* (Management- although I don’t think this counts for you guys anymore)
  • Gender Mainstreaming (Gender Policy)
  • Elections (in the Poli Sci PhD Dept, USP)
  • Election Law (at CLS, USP)
  • Money in Politics (1/2 semester at the J-school, USP)

Spring 2

  • Capstone with UN Women
  • Work/Family Policy in Industrialized Countries (USP Core Course, Gender Policy, Management)
  • Writing for Policy
  • Women’s Human Rights (Gender)


For a sample of the MIA and MPA curriculum, you may visit our website at:


Workshops at SIPA

The following post was written by current SIPA student Lacey Ramirez.  Workshops are an exciting, practical, and professional part of the SIPA experience which provide an excellent way to merge classroom learning with real world involvement.


I know the Admissions Committee has started reading and I’ve been thinking about what advice I could give prospective students that would help them make a decision regarding schools. In other words, what makes SIPA different than the other graduate schools in international and public affairs?

One major component is the workshop requirement for all SIPA students.  Workshops require students apply the practical skills and analytical knowledge they have learned at SIPA to a real-world challenge. Students are organized into small consulting teams and assigned a substantive, policy-oriented project with an external client.  Clients include public agencies (from the local to national level), international NGOs and multi-national organizations, and major firms in the private sector.

Student teams, working under the supervision of a faculty expert, answer a carefully defined problem posed by the client.  Most of the teams will travel to the country in order to conduct the work necessary to produce an actionable report at the end of the workshop that will hopefully translate into real change on the ground.

Examples of MPA workshops can be found here.

Here you also find links to other concentration workshops, and please note to find examples of EPD workshops you’ll need to click here.

Okay, now on to my personal experience.  I am currently working on a randomized control trial measuring the effects of an education incentives program and parental involvement interventions on students’ performance and school attendance in Chiapas, Mexico. During my time at SIPA I’ve focused my studies on developing my quantitative analysis skills, and it is incredibly exciting to be able to apply what I’ve learned to a real world project.

Additionally, it is important to note that before we participate in the workshop it is mostly required that we prepare for it by taking an intensive Methods for Development Practice course that covers a wide variety of tools used by development practitioners. Tools are learned and applied in the Methods course through the use of case studies to give students an opportunity to practice before the workshop.  You can find a further description of the Methods course here.

In the last few weeks of the Methods course, the students (we) apply for the workshop we are interested in and they cover a wide variety of topics, including supply chain analysis, health, education and monitoring and evaluation.  Once we are assigned to our teams, we work very intensely to prepare a schedule that we will implement the following semester to meet our client’s objectives.

As I write this, my workshop team has members in Mexico conducting interviews, focus groups and observational studies to gather data that will prepare a team to go back in a couple of months to pilot a final survey.  It is very, very exciting and we hope that ultimately all our hard work will be used to serve the people of Chiapas to improve education programs and communities.

Steve Cohen Comments on Earth Day

Steve Cohen, a SIPA administrator and faculty member, was part of a story on Earth Day that was published in USA Today in April.

“When Earth Day started, it was like a national day of protest. There was a counterculture dimension to it . . . it’s no longer an issue of liberal versus conservative.  It’s a mainstream issue.”

Professor Cohen also discusses the Energy and Environment Concentration, the types of students attracted to this concentration,  details of related courses, and internships in a video that can be accessed by clicking here (Windows Media Player Video, time: 4:26).

Missed Open House?

If you are an admitted student that missed the SIPA Open House on April 14th you can still catch some of what went on during the day.  In the morning we had several discussions featuring senior administrators and faculty from SIPA regarding the curriculum offerings at SIPA.  These panels were recorded and are now available for viewing on our Web site.  You can find the videos on our Open House Page.  The program for the day can also be accessed via this link.

"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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