Archive for Fall 2017

Welcome to our Fall 2017 Program Assistants

I’m excited to welcome our new program assistants to the admissions’ team! I’ll be sharing their stories in the coming days, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, they’ll be here in the office to help answer any questions you may have about SIPA in general – our programs, student life, extracurricular activities, etc. They’ve all been where you are now and are the best resources for learning more about our SIPA family.

Nick Calbos was born and raised abroad as the son of a US Army Officer and Diplomat. He earned his undergraduate degree at the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 2009. After commissioning as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army, Nick was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. He had the honor to lead Soldiers in a variety of dynamic and challenging assignments forward deployed on the Korean Peninsula. Following Korea, Nick was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. From 2012-2013 he was deployed to Afghanistan as a combat advisor to an Afghan National Army infantry battalion in Kandahar province, leading to his involvement in the founding leadership team of AFG2USA, a nonprofit with a mission to assist in the resettlement of former interpreters seeking political asylum in the United States. Following his service in the military, Nick participated in a specialized internship at Goldman Sachs, working primarily in sales and trading. In the summer of 2017 he interned at Moody’s Investors Service, working on the Public Finance team. Nick is currently pursuing his Masters of International Affairs at Columbia University, concentrating on Economic Policy.  In his free time he enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing and shooting.

Mark Jamias is a second-year student concentrating in Economic and Political Development (EPD) with a specialization in International Conflict Resolution (ICR). As a five-year student between Columbia College and SIPA, Mark will be graduating in May 2018. Before SIPA, Mark worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations during the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly. For three years, Mark also worked for a major U.S. airline, and most recently gained experience in the maritime shipping industry.

Erin Lue-Hing is a 2nd-year MPA student in the USP concentration/Management & US Regional specializations. Prior to SIPA, Erin worked as a Data Analyst and Project Manager for the New Jersey Homeless Management Information System under the Department of Community Affairs. She graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Policy and a minor in Legal Studies, and served as the Future Leader for the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board, Northeast USA. Her background comprises law, health policy, social policy, advocacy for under-served communities and government administration.

Rahel Tekola is a native of Dallas, Texas and advocate of racial and gender equality. She has spent the past seven years working across government, non-profit and community organizing to advance marginalized communities. Before going to graduate school, Rahel spent three years in Dallas working at the intersection of domestic violence and poverty. In her role as Chief of Staff to the CEO and advocate for women and children who have been victims of violence, she worked to make sure clients received full services, counseling and education to a stable life free of violence. In this time, Rahel worked on the organization’s largest capital campaign project and also helped launch Texas’ first men’s domestic violence shelter. She also served on the Mayor’s Star Council to revitalize Southern Dallas and the City of Dallas Domestic Violence Task Force. In June 2017, Rahel joined the Reisenbach Foundation and is now currently working as the foundation’s grant Program Officer. Rahel is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Administration at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs with a concentration in Urban Development and Policy. In her free time she enjoys cooking and rollerblading.

We just made proving English proficiency so much easier

I’m often asked if there are separate admissions deadlines for our international students. The answer, simply put, is no. All deadlines are open to all students, regardless of their nationality. The same goes for our application materials. For example, no one has to submit extra paperwork in order to qualify for our general fellowships (just meet the predetermined deadline). However, international students do have to prove their language proficiency before they apply to SIPA.

Until today, international students only had two options: take the TOEFL or IELTS exam. Depending on where they lived those exams weren’t always the easiest to arrange; sporadic exam dates and minimal locations were frequent complaints. I’m happy to share that our office has approved a third English-language proficiency exam, known as the PTE Academic.

We added it to the list of approved exams because the PTE exam is offered in more locations than the TOEFL and IELTS.  PTE also offers students flexible test sessions, a flexible re-take policy, and results are typically available within 5 working days versus 10-15 days turnaround for the TOEFL. Lastly, it’s also accepted at a number of academic institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, UK, Canada and the US — making it easier for you to share scores with several institutions.

So while you’re making arrangements to take your English-language proficiency exam, keep in mind there’s now a third option. (We’ll update our website to reflect this change, but please forgive us if we miss a page!)

For your reference, here are the minimum and preferred score requirements for all three exams. The minimum score is what’s required in order to apply to SIPA. While the preferred score means you won’t be required to enroll in a special English language course once admitted to SIPA. If you have questions, just check the blog’s archives for more information on these requirements.

  • TOEFL Minimum: 100 & TOEFL Preferred: 110
    • School code is 2161 (there is no department code)
  • IELTS Minimum: 7.0 & IELTS Preferred: 7.5
    • Select Columbia SIPA from the list of schools
  • PTE Minimum: 68 & PTE Preferred: 76
[Image courtesy of Pearson]

Some minor updates to SIPA’s programs

SIPA’s undergoing some small changes this summer that you should know about; especially if you’re planning to apply to one of our degree programs this year. While this blog focuses on the two-year programs, it never hurts to learn more about our part-time and one-year master’s degree programs as well. So here’s a look at what’s going on with each program.

MPA-EPM (formerly PEPM) Updates

The MPA in Economic Policy Management (MPA-EPM), formerly known as Program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM), provides highly accomplished policymakers and professionals with the skills required for the design and implementation of economic policy in market economies, with a strong emphasis on the economic problems of developing and transition economies in a global context. MPA-EPM is highly specialized to accommodate the demands of mid-career professionals and policymakers in both the public and private sectors. The course of study applies the theoretical rigor of the social sciences to the practical lessons of economics and management science through the intensive study of actual economic policy successes and failures. The demanding curriculum presupposes that students possess some measure of intellectual maturity and professional exposure to the problems of economic decision making.

Our 12-month program has three different curricular focuses: the traditional Economic Policy Management focus (EPM), the Global Energy Management and Policy focus (GEMP) and the Central Banking and Financial Markets focus (CBFM).  The EPM focus builds students’ technical competence with the tools of economic management and policymaking, the GEMP focus teaches the fundamentals of the energy industry, including international energy systems and business organizations involved in the production, transportation, and marketing of energy products and the CBFM focus teaches the latest techniques in capital market development and macroprudential policy.

MPA-EPM was formed in cooperation with the World Bank and still maintains its connection to the Bank, through our Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship program, providing full scholarships each year for up to 12 students from emerging economies; https://sipa.columbia.edu/the-joint-japanworld-bank-graduate-scholarship-program

The MPA-EPM is best suited for professionals with 4-10 years of working experience from institutions such as central banks, finance ministries, national and international development agencies and international financial institutions. Professionals from financial, consulting and energy backgrounds are also encouraged to apply. Applicants should also hold an undergraduate degree with a record of superior academic accomplishment, and preferably with strong economics or mathematics content.

For more information about MPA-EPM please click here or email mpa-epm@sipa.columbia.edu.

—David Caughlin, Associate Director, MPA-EPM & Center on Global Economic Governance

MPA-ESP Updates

The MPA in Environmental Science and Policy is a one year, full time immersive program specifically designed to prepare you to take a leadership role as a sustainability professional in the public or private sectors.  Our program is the only program in the US that includes a unique environmental science curricula designed to inform policy and management decisions, in addition to sustainability management and environmental policy courses. Our Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management course offers students an opportunity to serve as a sustainability consultant to a real client, so we have an internship-like experience built into the curricula. Our practical training will teach students how to develop effective proposals; analyze, design and implement policy and programs; create efficient master calendars and budgets; communicate with and manage stakeholders;  measure organizational capacity and impact; and present effective briefings and other presentations.

For more information about MPA-ESP please click here or email Associate Director Laura Piraino at lpiraino@ei.columbia.edu.

— Laura Piraino, Associate Director, MPA-ESP

Executive MPA Updates

Having just passed the July 1 application deadline, the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program is gearing up for the Fall 2017 orientation on August 19. Once more, we will have a strong cohort of mid-career professionals representing the public, nonprofit and private sectors and several countries. Due to increased demand, the EMPA program will once more have a spring class, and the Spring 2018 application will be available in mid-August. Our commitment to high quality digital education is evident in our innovative digital video case studies, created by the video production team at the Picker Center for Executive Education.

This year several new cases were added to the collection, filmed on location in Ghana, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These cases explored issues of development and Aid, as well as technology in government. Examples of cases from the collection can be seen below:

Digital India
Password: sipa2017

eDoctors
Password: sipa2017

For more information about EMPA please click here or email empa@columbia.edu.

—Valerie Zimmer, Associate Director of Recruitment and Marketing, EMPA

MIA/MPA/MPA-DP Updates

Starting this term, you’ll notice a shift in MIA/MPA concentration directors. Travis Bradford stepped down as director of the Energy and Environment Concentration. Bradford, who is widely recognized for his expertise in clean energy markets and finance, will continue to hold the position of Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs and will teach the Concentration’s required course on energy fundamentals.

Wolfram Schlenker, Professor of International and Public Affairs, and David Sandalow, Inaugural Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy, have been appointed as Co-Directors of E&E. Professor Schlenker, who is an internationally recognized expert in environmental economics teaches, “Economic Analysis of Environmental Policies”, one of the core courses in the environmental policy and management focus area. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Environmental and Energy Economics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and the Board of Reviewing Editors at Science. Sandalow, who leads the Center’s China research, writes widely on energy policy, including most recently on energy geopolitics and renewable energy finance. He has served in senior positions at the White House, State Department and U.S. Department of Energy.

Speaking of courses, we’ve also expanded our curriculum offerings. To date there are 14 new courses being offered in Fall 2017: they include “Climate Change: Israel and the Middle East,” “State Formation, Deformation and Failure,” and “Crime, Journalism, and Public Policy,” among others. (Spring 2018 additions will be announced in mid-July.)

The Professional Development Career Conference is also experiencing some changes. The course now meets three times over three weeks. Previously, the course was completed in either two or five class meetings, but the Office of Career Services adjusted the program based on feedback from students and professionals in the field. It is a requirement for all students in the MIA, MPA and MPA-DP programs, and should be completed during the first year of study. The PD Conference is designed to help students clarify career goals, shape viable strategies for pursuing internship and job opportunities, and develop skills to compete effectively in the international and public affairs job markets.

If anything else develops we’ll announce them on the SIPA Admissions Blog. As always, browse this Blog or visit the SIPA website to learn more about the two-year programs. You may also email us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu.

—Kaitlyn Wells, Assistant Director of Admissions, SIPA

 

Interested in applying to our programs? The applications for MPA-ESP and MPA-EPM are live today! (The two-year MIA/MPA and EMPA programs will open in mid-August 2017.) Visit https://apply.sipa.columbia.edu/apply/ to start your application.

2 things you should review prior to selecting your dream school

Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to SIPA! But you have too many offers, and it’s hard to decide. I know many of you are in these shoes so this post is meant to help you decide (and not sway you). To make an informed decision, key elements of the issue must be considered. Two of them will be discussed here: tuition and living costs and relevant employment opportunities.

For tuition and living costs, you’re right. SIPA is up there on the list when it comes to pricey graduate programs, and you pay for what you get. Aside from information you already know (Ivy League prestige with world-class faculty and a campus in one of the greatest cities in the world), you really need to ask yourself if you want to “cheap out” on an investment toward your life. But other programs awarded funding or more funding than SIPA? Consider that dilemma, and ask yourself how significant that number is. It’s one thing to get $10,000 over two years than, say, $80,000 in the same period. In other words, how much will it take for you to give up your dream school?

On that note, if you need some extra help strategizing how you’ll pay for graduate school, join us for the Financial Planning for Your Graduate Education Webinar on March 29 at 10:00 a.m. EST. You can RSVP here.

On relevant employment as a student, you’re probably thinking of paid/non-paid internships in a field where you’ll likely end up. This would be the disadvantage of choosing SIPA if DC is the target (although only to a slight degree). If you’re stuck on this point, you should take an honest look at what you want to get out of graduate school (in the near term). Is it building that academic/theoretical foundation and overloading on coursework, immersing yourself in student life and building meaningful relationships, and/or gaining valuable work experience? If you’re thinking all the above, you must hate sleeping. For some people, going back to school is meant to be a break from professional life. If building experience is a priority, you should consider how much the pay (if any), and exactly how substantive the work will be when going in part-time. Don’t forget about the mind capacity you’ll need for the time-consuming econ/quant problem sets waiting for you afterward.

And if you’re looking for additional insights into where SIPA students work, our Career Services tells you that and more here. For example, roughly one-third of 2016 graduates joined the public sector after graduation.

I had considerable work experience and clear goals coming into SIPA. Believe me, I love having money in my pocket, but going to my dream school mattered more. my biggest fear in life is living with regret. Besides, if I was going into debt regardless, I’d rather do it for something I most wanted. Developing an academic foundation and establishing a tight network were my goals for graduate school. In the end, the decision was easy.

Good luck and congratulations again!

[Photo courtesy of Garrett Coakley | (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

"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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