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A word about official documents

We are getting ready to release our 2015 application and some of the wording came into question… What do we mean “don’t mail transcripts to our office” when you are submitting an application?  This does not mean we don’t want to see them or that they are not reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Actually, contrary to what we say about not sending your transcripts, we actually do need to receive official transcripts. eventually.  If you are admitted and decide to enroll at SIPA, official documents must be mailed and received by us before you may register for classes.

However, as an applicant, you may scan and upload unofficial transcripts to your application.  Your application will be reviewed with your unofficial records.  And you may be admitted with these records.  However, in order to enroll, we will need to verify your documents.  So please have your university or college send us official copies of your academic records (after you have been admitted).  This also applies to GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and IELTS scores.  These can all be entered by you into the application for review but again, they will need to be checked and verified with official records from ETS, GMAC, and the Cambridge Assessment Organization if you decide to enroll at SIPA.  Allowing you to upload and enter information into your application, allows us to process your application without unnecessary delays, then we can send them off to the Admissions Committee for review… so the fun may begin.

We offer enrolling students a few months to request and send in their official documents so no need to panic… Unless you’re a procrastinator and wait until a few weeks before Orientation (when course registration occurs).  Our Office of Student Affairs will put a hold on your account if we do not have a record of your official documents so you will not be able to register for classes… and isn’t one of the main reasons for coming here to take classes?

Key point:  Scan and upload unofficial documents for application review but don’t delay in having official documents sent to the Office of Admissions if you are admitted and plan to enroll.


Official Transcripts

In order for an admission file to be complete and forwarded to the Admission Committee for review we do require that official transcripts from any college or university attended be mailed to our office. Even if an applicant only took a few classes at a school, we still need official transcripts. Another way to look at it is this: if the college or university is listed on your résumé or on the application, we need official transcripts.

For the majority of schools we work with this means that the college or university seals the transcripts in an envelope for delivery to our office. However we work with schools from all over the world and realize that policies vary. The point is that transcripts mailed to our office (we do not accept electronic delivery) must be authentic and official and this can be defined by schools differently. Examples of ways that schools certify transcripts can include:

  • A heat responsive stamp
  • An embossed school stamp
  • Official stickers or ink stamps placed on the transcripts by a university or authorized official
  • A signature of an authorized official across the sealed flap of the envelope

Transcripts do not need to be sent directly to our office but if transcripts are sent to you, please do not open them prior to sending them to our office.  There are two circumstances where we can allow for you to open the transcripts and both involve third party translation or authorization.

Some schools will only provide one official transcript to a graduate.  In this case we recommend that you hold on to the official copy since we do not return documents submitted to our office.  If your school will only release one copy, take the official copy to a notary public and have them copy the transcripts, authenticate the copy, and seal the copy in an envelope for delivery to our office.  Contact information for the official who copied the transcripts should be included in the envelope.

The same would apply for transcripts that need to be translated into English.  If your transcripts are not in English, deliver them to an authorized official for translation and have the translated copy certified and sealed for delivery to our office.  A common organization we recommend for transcript translation is World Education Services.

If you participated in an official exchange program and this is noted on the transcripts of your home school, we do not need official transcripts from the exchange school.  However, if there is no official relationship between the home school and exchange school, we need copies from both schools.  The reason for this is that each school may use different codes and grading systems.  These codes and grading systems are typically explained on the reverse side of the transcripts.

Finally, if your school does not use a 4.0 grading scale and you are wondering what to put on your admission application, you may input a GPA of 0.0.  The GPA listed on the application is self reported and does not influence your evaluation.  Indicating a score of 0.0 will alert the Committee to pay attention to the scale used by the schools you have attended.

"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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