Archive for language

A Quantitative/Language Resume Breakdown

While the application requirement of a standard resume is explicit and plausible, the requirement on a quantitative/language resume seems confusing. What is it? Why do we need it? And how to prepare for a successful one? This blog will walk you through the preparation of a Quantitative/Language Resume, and provide you with some tips to help you create a strong one. Read More →

Mathematics? Language? A resume?

Even Albert Einstein said: “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”

Our perceptions of our skills tend to skew left, and when we think about our math ability, we reflect on our confidence, and not our actual skills.

The SIPA Admissions office understands that applicants will have varied quantitative backgrounds and skills. We have designed an application that best allows you to demonstrate your quantitative competencies through the quantitative/language resume. Here, you can highlight experiences that have strengthened your math, economics, and statistics skills.

The core curriculum at SIPA requires the completion of rigorous quantitative courses and we want to make sure applicants provide as much information as possible about their quantitative aptitude, experience, and capabilities. This can include coursework in mathematics, statistics, economics, engineering, natural or computer science, etc. as well as the use of quantitative methods in a professional environment (paid, volunteer, or intern work is acceptable).

Perhaps you have worked as an accountant, bookkeeper, or balanced budgets in your professional experiences. Perhaps you served as treasurer of a student organization or used quantitative skills in a volunteer opportunity. These are experiences that you can include in the additional resume.

Is there an ideal quantitative background SIPA is looking for in an applicant?

Recently, we’ve received many questions about what makes an ideal quantitative background for a hopeful candidate.  While SIPA does not have a rigid answer, the Admissions Committee looks for evidence of a candidate’s ability to undertake quantitative coursework at the graduate level. Most successful applicants have completed at least two courses in economics (macro and microeconomics). Applicants lacking a quantitative background are encouraged to consider enrolling in mathematics courses above all else.

While the Admissions Committee does not require that each applicant have experience in all three areas (economics, statistics, and mathematics) to be admitted, extensive coursework in these areas definitely strengthens one’s chances of gaining favorable admission consideration.

For more on quantitative questions, check out our Frequently Asked Questions pages.


Looking for money to pursue an international and language study program?

Make sure the Boren Fellowship is on your radarThe Boren Fellowships provide funding to U.S. citizens who are pursuing international and language study in world regions critical to U.S. interests, such as Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.  Boren Fellowships for graduate students provide up to $30,000 for language study and international research.  Boren Fellowship awards are made for a minimum of 12 weeks and maximum of 24 months.

Recipients of a Boren Fellowship accept a Service Requirement to work for the federal government in the national security arena. Award recipients are not guaranteed a federal job after graduation – they must secure a position themselves.

The 2015-16 application deadline is January 27, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. EST.  Boren Fellowship applicants will be notified of their status by mail in late April.

For more information about the application process, click here.


You’re at SIPA but want to learn another language

There’s a Columbia University fellowship available for SIPA students who are interested in advancing their language proficiency.

The Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship program is predicated on the belief that the well-being of the United States, its economy, and its long-range security depend on proper education and training of Americans in international and foreign language studies. FLAS fellowships strengthen the nation’s ability to compete effectively in the modern world by promoting foreign language competence and area and international knowledge and by ensuring the continuation of area expertise in a variety of fields.
The FLAS fellowship competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students of Columbia University who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are enrolled in a full-time program that combines modern foreign language training with international studies or area studies. The FLAS award offers fellowship assistance to students undergoing beginning, intermediate, or advanced training in modern foreign languages and related international or area studies.


FLAS Fellowships are contingent upon funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Estimated FLAS grant amount is:  Graduate students tuition grant is $18,000 and the stipend is $15,000

Remaining tuition, health service fee and medical insurance (basic coverage only) can be covered by the students’ school of enrollment within Columbia University (ex. GSAS, SIPA, TC). Please check with your school’s financial aid offices.  The FLAS fellowship does not cover any miscellaneous fees, such as computer lab fee, student activity fee and university facility fee, etc.


With the approval from the United States Department of Education, Academic Year FLAS awards may be used for full-time dissertation research provided that the student is at the advanced level of language proficiency. The use of the foreign language in dissertation research must be extensive enough to be able to consider the language improvement facilitated by the research equal to improvement that would be obtained from a full academic year’s worth of formal classroom instruction. Please note that since the FLAS program is for language acquisition. Use of the FLAS fellowship for dissertation research is not encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education prefers that students apply to the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad.

All overseas programs of study must be at the intermediate or advanced level of language proficiency and must be approved by the United States Department of Education at least thirty (30) days prior to the start of the program.


The Summer FLAS Fellowship competition is open to undergraduate (including Barnard College) and graduate students, including Ph.D. candidates, who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents who are accepted for enrollment or enrolled in a formal program of intensive language study.

The Summer FLAS fellowship tuition grant is up to $5,000 and a $2,500 stipend for undergraduate and graduate students.  Combined tuition and fees cannot exceed $5,000.

The summer language course studied under the Summer FLAS fellowship must be the equivalent of an academic year course, at least 140 credit or contact hours (120 at advanced level), and a minimum of six (6) weeks in length. All overseas programs of study must be at the intermediate or advanced level (graduate students) of language proficiency or at the beginning level if an appropriate beginning level is not available in the United States and all overseas language programs must be approved by the United States Department of Education at least thirty (30) days prior to the start of the program. Please provide any relevant program brochures, web sites and/or documentation with your application. Summer FLAS is not available for dissertation research.

The application deadline for the FLAS fellowship is Friday, February 28, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. EST. For more information, see the GSAS website, or contact GSAS at


Ready To Talk About Resumes?

The two-part resume section of SIPA’s application is your chance to show us all of your skills and what you have been doing academically and professionally. The resumes are a critical element of the application; it is where we will be able to determine if you meet the basic qualifications to become a member of the SIPA community.

The Basics

We require all of our applicants to submit two separate resumes. These are broken down into:

  • The Traditional Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)

This is what people generally think of when they hear the word “resume.” This document includes but is not limited to:

  • Positions held (employment and internships)- including specific dates
  • Academic degrees and other academic achievements
  • Volunteer, public service, political work completed
  • Memberships in honorary societies and awards for service or leadership
  • Extracurricular activities and particularly if an MIA applicant-foreign travel undertaken, including purpose and length of stay

Please note that in other countries, C.V’s are generally more personalized. They may include marital status, nationality, or even a picture. You should avoid including this information on your resume for SIPA.

How Should It Be Formatted?

We like white space! Please make it legible for us to read, and use a professional, legible font. 11 point font is a good place to start. Use bold text for headings. Make sure a full page is used up before heading to the next page.

Just remember…

No graphics or non-standard fonts, please! You’ll be safe if you stick with Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman.

And Now, The Quantitative Resume

This second résumé will focus exclusively on your background in quantitative methods and language learning/ability. Because SIPA’s core curriculum includes economics, statistics and financial management, it is important for the admissions committee to look at your previous experiences and successes in quantitative classes.

  • On this resume, please be as detailed as possible. We want to know more about these classes and what you learned in them. What was the content of the class? Tell us.
  • Proficiency in a second language is a graduation requirement of the MIA program but is not a requirement of the MPA program (unless an MPA student chooses to major in Economic and Political Development).  Proficiency is defined as the ability to use a second language at an intermediate level.  Academically this is defined as the ability to achieve a grade of “B” or better in an intermediate level 2 language course.
  • If you have been out of school for a while, do not feel compelled to spend hours and hours trying to search for old syllabus or text book titles/authors.  The point of the résumé is not to put you through some sort of time trial, it is meant to provide information on the core learning from the course/experience.  The example résumé was borrowed from an applicant that applied to SIPA while still in college, and is meant to only be a sample.  Simply provide as much information as you can and you will be fine.
  • One question you might have is, “If the course is listed on my transcripts or noted in another part of my application, is it necessary to include it in the Quantitative/Language  résumé?” The answer is yes.  It is okay to be redundant or to include the same information that might be listed in another part of the application in this section.  Seeing the information twice, but in more detailed format in the résumé portion, is what the Committee is seeking to achieve.


"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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