Archive for Fall 2018

Program Assistant Introduction: Julia Chung

We’re introducing our new group of program assistants with the Office of Admissions. You’ve already met Niara and Kier, so now please meet Julia!


Julia Chung was born and raised in New Jersey but hopes to be considered an honorary New Yorker. She is a second-year MPA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy and specializing in Technology, Media, and Communications. After graduating from Vassar College with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Asian Studies, Julia worked at various nonprofits in New York City on issues including housing, immigration, education, and civic engagement.

Photo courtesy of: Sandy Zhang

What were you doing before you came to SIPA?
Before SIPA, I spent four years working at various nonprofits in New York City, focusing on immigration advocacy and civic engagement. After working on various grassroots-level campaigns, I realized that I needed more knowledge and expertise. I decided that the best way to serve my community was to first learn how to create better policies and how to better include multiple voices and communities in policy-making.

What attracted you to SIPA and Columbia University?
When looking at graduate schools, the two factors that were most important to me were the classes and professors and where the school was located. I wanted to be in a city so I could remain involved in local issues and I wanted professors that had expertise on social policy and municipal governments. After my acceptance, I sat in on Mark Steitz’s Data Driven Approaches to Campaigns and Advocacy class. Less than half way through the class, I knew that SIPA was the school for me. It was clear that SIPA would not only provide the theory and best-practices about policymaking, but also teach the practical skills I needed to further my career.

How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?
With no previous quantitative experience, I was apprehensive about the economics and quantitative analysis series. However, in the end, I found both to be extremely useful. Microeconomics and macroeconomics provided me greater insight in why governments make certain decisions around monetary and fiscal policy. And having enjoyed Quantitative Analysis I, I enrolled in Quantitative Analysis II, which is not required, the next semester. Now I highly recommend all students to take Quantitative Analysis II because I think it’s crucial for all policymakers to know how critique the methods of an academic journal article.

How did you obtain your internship?
I found the general internship posting for NYC Department of Transportation on SIPAlink, our platform for career resources. Having had mainly nonprofit experience, I was looking for opportunities in municipal government. Soon after sending in my resume and cover letter, I was invited to interview with the Grants Management team and offered a College Aid position.

What are your goals for the second year?
Having completed all my core classes for my degree and concentration in my first year, almost all my second year classes will be elective courses. My goal for the second year is to continue building my skills in design thinking and data analysis. I also want to take classes in other Columbia University schools, such as Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia Business School.

What do you think makes a good SIPA student or what qualities do stellar SIPA students typically possess?
I think stellar SIPA students typically are:

  • Skilled in time management. There’s quite a bit to juggle between lectures, recitations, office hours, club meetings, networking events, group projects, and life in general! A stellar student knows exactly how much they can take on, where to allocate their energy and when they need to say no and have some self-care time.
  • Open minded and willing to listen to other perspectives. Classmates are from all walks of life with different personal and professional experiences. We don’t always agree on the merits of certain policies or hold similar political views, but we have to respectfully hear the other perspective.
  • Proactive in getting involved in SIPA and off campus. There are so many events and opportunities at SIPA, but also in New York City. Stellar students do their research and get involved!

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!

"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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