Archive for January

Some information for Spring 2016 applicants

I can hardly believe that another year has passed and that we’re well into September already. The time flew by quickly; we reviewed applications, released decisions, had an open house, just wrapped up orientation week, and now it’s all starting again. And if you’re like me, you’re probably freaking out that there are a limited number of weeks before the application deadline(s).

While we’re probably stressed out for a different series of reasons, we both have the same deadlines to meet, and one of them is almost here. Today, there are only three weeks left before the first deadline of application season. October 15, 2015 is the looming date that many of you are hard at work trying to make in order to be eligible for the Spring 2016 term.

At SIPA, there’s a name for the group of students who will join us in the spring. We affectionately (and unofficially) call them “J-termers,” with “J” standing for January, the term they initially join SIPA. As a J-termer, your course offerings may differ out the gate, as more core curriculum courses are offered during the fall semester compared to the spring. Meaning, you’ll probably just take courses out of order compared to the majority of SIPA students. It doesn’t affect your degree plan overall, but don’t be surprised if a few of the courses you’ve been scouting out aren’t available right away.

Some of the benefits to joining SIPA in the spring is that you’ll really get to connect with all of your classmates a lot faster since the group is smaller. (The cohort is about 60 students.) You also get to spend two summers as a SIPA student, which some students take advantage of by pursuing two different internships (one each summer), as Andreas Maerki, MPA 2014points out. (Plus, you’ll get to participate in three seasons of campus-wide snowball fights while enrolled at SIPA!)

If becoming a J-termer sounds good to you, there’s no better time than today to start your application (even Fall 2016 applicants should start now!). The deadlines for all of our programs are known to surprise some of our busiest applicants, so don’t let any opportunity to work on your application slip by. I recommend setting aside just 30 minutes to one hour in your schedule every week to work on a component of your application. (Hint: The easiest sections to check-off your list are the Personal, Family, Education and Professional Experience sections. The Resume and Essays section will require a few hours of your time.)

If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of recent posts on the Admissions Blog you should review before you submit your application. Some popular archived topics include application essays, recommendation letters, and test scores. After that, sign-up to attend an information session (either in-person or virtually). Even better, join us for Twitter Talk Thursday today at 9:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. EST and ask us anything using #askSIPA.

We want you to submit the strongest possible application, so if you still have questions, send us an email at or call us at 212-854-6216 with your admissions-related concerns.

Remember, Spring 2016 applications to the Master of International Affairs and Master of Public Administration programs are due on October 15, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

Good luck on your application!

[Photo courtesy of Aditi Mishra‎ via Facebook | A snowball fight breaks out at the steps of Columbia University’s Low Library and Alma Mater.]

Seeple Snapshot: Wow! I get all of this and more?

Anthony Scott

Anthony Scott, MPA USP

I love Baltimore; let me know if you want to visit so I can give you an insider’s guide! I was born and raised around the westside of Baltimore, and believe the city has great potential and opportunity to demonstrate how to gentrify with minimal displacement of current residents. 

I survived my first few weeks at SIPA! People go back to school for a variety of reasons, and my starting in January is a bit “off cycle”, but regardless of the reasons, it’s always a transition. I’ve gone from working 8 hours a day (8 hours and 45 minutes to be exact) and being DONE with work, to always feeling like I should be studying. I’ve gone from waking up at 5 am to commute 1.5 hours to work, to waking up at 8 am, walking to school in 10 minutes, and realizing that my first class isn’t until 2:10PM. I’ve gone from having some leisure income, to having loans…again.

Regardless of the transition, the one thing I can say is that SIPA provides you with SO much support. During orientation, you have peer advisors who give you all the secrets from how best to register for classes, to where to find good pizza and cheap (but good) beer. Your deans and academic advisors are SUPER responsive, even about the most trivial matters. They really want to see you succeed, and ease your (over-achieving) anxieties and concerns. *smile* Oh, and your financial aid and career services people are also very helpful. Whatever your doubts about funding SIPA are, once you actually get here, there are TONS of scholarships, and opportunities internally and externally (everyone wants to hire SIPA students) to fund your education. I fully expect to have my tuition covered next year. The BEST resources, however, once you come to SIPA–and I mean THE BEST–will be your fellow classmates. I know it may sound trite, but SIPA isn’t kidding when they tell you to get to know your classmates because they will be future leaders. People at SIPA have already been leaders! Your classmates are coming from such diverse backgrounds, sectors, life experiences, countries…I mean, you name it. My first class was in Economic Development in Latin America, and the professor was bombarded by questions from engaged students who were actually from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, etc…there was also a Frenchman, who wanted to clarify a point about the French Revolution vis-a-vis post-colonial civil wars…needless to say, it was a fascinating discussion.

In my Brazil Seminar class, all I had to do was express interest in urban planning in Brazil, and another classmate spoke up, gave me her card, and told me she used to work for the city of Rio de Janeiro. Another student gave me books and articles to research, and yet other students said they were from the Columbia Architecture, Planning School and were going to Rio this summer to work with leaders in the favelas on inclusive development. I mean…REALLY? SERIOUSLY? Your classmates and faculty members are your assets, and they are the most down-to-earth, unassuming people you’d ever want to meet. They really make the SIPA community a collaborative, welcoming, and socially and intellectually stimulating community, and make it well-worth the transition!

Honestly, whatever your doubts about moving to New York, the cost of SIPA, the demanding coursework, etc., I promise you it’s worth it. SIPA is a very strong network, both in the U.S. and overseas, especially if you want to be a leader in international and public affairs. Take it from someone who is taking out loans: It’s worth it.

I can’t wait to welcome you to the SIPA family in the fall!


J-Termer Experience

First of all, J-Term/J-Termer is not an official name at Columbia University; however my group of 60 students who started in January of 2013 is called “J-Termers” within SIPA. The “J” stands for January, since that’s the month when we started our program. Compared to the fall term start, our group is much smaller and more exclusive.  🙂  I chose to start in the spring semester, because two main reasons. One, it worked out with work; two and the important one, I knew starting the two year program in January will allow me to do two internships over the two summers. Having more practical experience will be valuable when applying for jobs after graduating from SIPA. Also, I think especially if one wants to transition into another field, having two summer internship opportunities will be a great asset to acquire specific industry knowledge that one can bring to the table when applying for that full-time job after SIPA. And for the students who may not know exactly in what field they want to pursue a career in, the two internships will allow them to explore two different fields before making a decision. My previous professional experience is in Private and Investment Banking and I am looking to move into a more macroeconomic and risk analysis career. Therefore, having a couple summers will allow me to gain the appropriate tools to successfully make this transition.

The curriculum for J-Terms is exactly the same as for any other students starting in the fall semester; however the courses have a slightly different order, which may pose a challenge to some students. I personally don’t think this is a significant issue, especially with the assistance of the Student Affairs Office and its Deans. Since our group is small compared to the group in the fall, all concentrations were in the same group during orientation. This was especially interesting since I not only got to meet my fellow IFEP’ers (International Finance and Economic Policy folks), but also students from all the other concentrations, which will enhance the opportunities to connect with interesting people that have different backgrounds and professional goals.

Another point that may mistakenly be held against starting in January is the opportunity to be a TA (Teacher’s Assistant) or receive fellowships/scholarships. From my experience this is a misconception; since many of my classmates received summer scholarships and fellowships for the fall semester (only after a semester into their studies). Receiving such scholarships/fellowships depends on your grades, performance and initiative.

Bottom line; the students who start in January may (at most) have to be a little more flexible since some first semester courses will only be offered during the J-Termer’s second semester; however that said if you are a go-getter and don’t mind taking the initiative then the J-Term is a great way to get your degree at SIPA. So far, I am very satisfied that I am one of the J-Termers and look forward to meeting you at SIPA.


posted by Andreas Maerki, MPA 2014, International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP)



Thinking about applying to SIPA?

HAPPY FRIDAY!  As many of you know already, we are making available again a J-Term for all those enthusiastic prospective students who have been pushing to start in January, instead of waiting a whole year.  If you missed this news flash (only announced this summer), and you want to be considered for the class that begins January 2013, there’s still time to complete your application.

Yes, the October 15 deadline is around the corner but we will continue to review applications past the deadline.  We will give priority to those who submit their completed application by the deadline date.  And remember we do not need official documents to review your application.  You may upload student copies of your transcript and self report your test scores (which you receive immediately after you complete the exam).  Contact our office if you wish to be considered for the January class but think there may be a slight delay in your application submission… or if you just want to chat.


"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

Boiler Image