Archive for Master of International Affairs

Why I chose the MIA degree program

There are several advantages to the Master of International Affairs program, and applicants choose the program for a variety of reasons.  Read More →

Seeple Spotlight: Rina Lila, MIA ’15

Rina Lila MIA ’15

One of our very own students, Rina Lila, MIA ’15, will lead the first focus group discussion about a positive digital media registry about Kosovo. Lila’s organization, Kosovo Diaspora will host “From a Concept to Success: Focus Group on the Diaspora Virtual Registration,” this Friday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m., in room 1302 of the International Affairs Building in New York City. Read this Q & A excerpt to get a sneak peek at how a SIPA education, along with her background, has prepared her to take on such an exciting and challenging project:

Born and raised in Kosova, Rina Lila, a Master of International Affairs student, came to the United States in 2005 to finish high school in southern California; she went on to major in political science at Whittier College. Lila spoke with SIPA News about growing up in Kosovo, the impact the United Nations has had on her life, and being a part of Kosovo Diaspora in New York City.

Kosovo Diaspora’s upcoming event, “From a Concept to Success: Focus Group on the Diaspora Virtual Registration,” will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, November 14, in room 1302 of the International Affairs Building.

Tell us a bit about Kosovo Diaspora.
A former SIPA student, Behar Xharra MIA ’12, established the Kosovo Diaspora initiative, which is meant to raise awareness on Kosovo, and to highlight Kosovo through digital diplomacy. We want to make available positive digital media about Kosovo.

Behar graduated in 2012, before you came to SIPA. How do you know him?
Everyone from Kosovo knows each other. Behar actually convinced me to come to SIPA. [I was considering other schools], but he told me that SIPA is more international. He said you have more international students, you get to make more connections, it’s close to the United Nations—it’s an invaluable experience. So I came here. Then, last year, he got me involved with the Kosovo Diaspora.

How are your studies at SIPA related to this?
My concentration is in Economic and Political Development, and my specialization is in International Conflict Resolution. I am one of the co-presidents for the UN Studies Working Group and the Conflict Resolution group and I work very closely with Professor [Elisabeth] Lindenmayer as one of her course assistants. She’s been an inspiration for me with respect to the UN. I’ve always wanted to work for the UN. The fact that the UN was here was the main reason I wanted to come to SIPA.

Tell us more about the Kosovo Diaspora event you’ve planned for this Friday [November 14].
This year Behar asked me to lead the first focus group discussion on diaspora registry. Kosovo Diaspora is partnering with International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Kosovo Ministry of Diaspora to promote the registry among our widespread diaspora communities across five continents. The information collected will provide the Kosovo government with a better understanding of geographic and demographic profile of Kosovo Diaspora in order to establish evidence-based policies in Kosovo to address the needs and concerns of diaspora worldwide. As Kosovo Diaspora, we see a lot of potential to having a database of all Albanians everywhere, while working on our mission to digitlize diplomacy. The mission of this diaspora virtual registration is to bring together Albanian civil society leaders, successful entrepreneurs politicians well as students.


Read the rest of the Q & A here via SIPA News.



As most of you may know, SIPA is a place where you come to do an MIA (Master of International Affairs) or an MPA (Master of Public Administration). When encountering new people at school, the first question you get asked is usually “what’s your concentration?”, or sometimes an even more blunt, “Are you EPD?”.  Walking around our beloved International Affairs building, you can’t help hearing stories about the endless “Conceptual Foundations” course readings, or the “light” assignments for the Politics of Policymaking course, better known as POP.

But although these two programs might encompass the majority of Seeples [SIPA students], there is a third, not so well known category, popularly identified as the “MDPs”.  MDP or MPA-DP is the acronym for the Master in Public Administration in Development Practice program.  MPA-DP is a relatively new program, originally quite small but it is increasingly becoming more popular.  We are the returned Peace-Corps volunteers; the ones who leave NYC for some of the most remote corners of Africa every summer; and the sometimes peculiar crowd that always hangs out together on the 6th floor.

But aside from this subtle uniqueness and its smaller size, are we really that different? As a second year MPA-DP student myself, I wouldn’t say so.  Academically, the main difference in the first semester is that the MPA-DP core course is called “Foundations of Sustainable Development”, and as its name suggests, rather than focusing on international relations, like the MIAs, or policy-making, like the MPAs, we study what is behind sustainable development. Aside from that, we share all the quantitative and economic courses, the core and all the parties.

From then on, MDPs have to take courses on the various disciplines that shape development.  The goal of our program is to train well rounded practitioners who can understand the broad picture, being familiar with key topics in the development world such as public health, food security, nutrition, infrastructure, environmental issues, among others.  This multi-sectoral curriculum is our “concentration”.  This is not to say that you cannot specialize in something if you want to, because we have plenty of electives left to choose all sorts of courses at SIPA and Columbia.  Likewise, a certain number of MPAs and MIAs are also welcome in core MPA-DP classes every semester and if they wish to construct this kind of interdisciplinary knowledge, they also have electives to do so.

So ultimately, aside from your concentration or lack of thereof, I think SIPA is a school that gives you enough space to explore other disciplines and take the subjects you like (disclaimer: in your 2nd year).  All the MIAs, MPAs, MPA-DPs, and even the more mysterious PEPMs, EMPAs and ESPs, share facilities, courses, professors and the privilege of being part of a school that has plenty of amazing people in every program.


Blog post submitted by Mariana Costa Checa. Mariana is a second year student in the MPA in Development Practice program at SIPA.

you can’t come to us, so we’ll come to you… virtually

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the best parts of our job in Admissions is meeting new and interesting people who want to make a difference in the world.   People make the trip to visit us in New York  or find us on the road when we are touring the country and parts of the world in the fall.  But not everyone can come to New York and we, unfortunately, can’t travel to every city in the world, so let’s meet online.

We are hosting a virtual information session for our two-year full time Master of International Affairs and Master of Public Administration programs on Wednesday, September 26th at 10:00 AM EDT.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see us — since we won’t have video capability yet — but you’ll hear us talk about the program, what we look for in an application, and financial aid options.  Of course, we’ll also be available to answer your questions.  So register and join us next week for a one hour session from anywhere around the world.  See you online!


"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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