Archive for specialization

Changing Concentrations: You don’t have to stick with the concentration you picked when you first applied.

At SIPA, every MIA and MPA student pursues a concentration and specialization. These are similar to an undergraduate major and minor, respectively. I applied to SIPA expecting to concentrate in International Security Policy (ISP); however I changed my mind during orientation after attending an information session and signed up for the Economic and Political Development concentration (EPD).

I made the initial switch from ISP to EPD largely based on where I thought I wanted to be after graduation. I spent four years in Washington D.C. prior to SIPA and felt that EPD would offer more opportunities to live and work in other cities. While it was true that many ISP students ended up in D.C. after school, ISP was a much better fit with my personal interests and professional ambitions. I changed back to ISP after one semester.

The administrative process of changing from one concentration (or specialization) is easy. It simply requires the student to submit the necessary form to the Office of Student Affairs. The bigger concern when changing concentrations is timing. There are three levels of graduation requirements at SIPA: your degree (MIA/MPA), your concentration, and your specialization. The longer you take to settle on a concentration, the less time you have to complete the requirements.

I focused my first semester on my degree and specialization requirements rather than concentration requirements so I did not lose any classes; however, this becomes harder to avoid if you wait more than one semester to make the change. This is particularly true for the International Finance and Economic Policy concentration and the Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis specialization.

There will be an information session for all of the concentrations and specializations during orientation. If you continue to have questions after these sessions about which concentration to pursue, reach out to a professor or second-year student. And remember, you will not be locked into your initial decision.

Note from Admissions: Information sessions for concentrations and specializations will also be available during Admitted Students’ Day 2018. Admitted students can register for ASD 2018 in the Welcome Portal.

MIA & MPA Curriculum

A popular question we hear is about core courses and whether or not someone can take core courses for their concentration (not just core courses for the degree curriculum)  in the first semester.

It is definitely possible. Most people take at least CF (Conceptual Foundation)/POP (Politics of Policymaking) and Econ their first semester (although there are a smattering of students who complete these their second year).  Most people tend to spread their core courses throughout the four semesters, concentrating more in the first year.

To give you an idea, this is what Nancy’s SIPA schedule looked like; the courses that count toward the core are (*),  in parenthesis  are courses that would count toward Nancy’s specialization, concentration and co-curricular requirements.   This is a somewhat typical (except maybe the semester where most of her classes were at other CU schools) schedule. Hope this helps!

 

Fall 1

  • Econ 4200*
  • Quant Analysis (Stats I)*
  • POP*
  • Elections and Political Development
  • Women and Power in the 21st Century (Half Semester, Management, Gender Policy)

Spring 1

  • Econ*
  • Budgeting for Non-Profits*
  • Campaign Management (USP and Management)
  • Statistical Races and Public Policy (USP)
  • Women and Global Leadership (Half Semester, Management, Gender Policy)

Fall 2

  • Effective Management in the Public Sector* (Management- although I don’t think this counts for you guys anymore)
  • Gender Mainstreaming (Gender Policy)
  • Elections (in the Poli Sci PhD Dept, USP)
  • Election Law (at CLS, USP)
  • Money in Politics (1/2 semester at the J-school, USP)

Spring 2

  • Capstone with UN Women
  • Work/Family Policy in Industrialized Countries (USP Core Course, Gender Policy, Management)
  • Writing for Policy
  • Women’s Human Rights (Gender)

 

For a sample of the MIA and MPA curriculum, you may visit our website at:  http://new.sipa.columbia.edu/academic-advising.

 

concentrations, specializations, and co-curricular programs (oh my)

Let’s face it SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs) is a land of acronyms starting with the name itself. As if that didn’t make things confusing enough, every policy school has its own language when it comes to courses of study. Applicants frequently call the office wondering if they concentrate in Latin America or specialize in social policy (the answer is no to both, in my opinion) so I thought it might be useful to walk you through the difference between SIPA’s concentrations, specializations, and co-curricular programs.

SIPA offers six concentrations: Economic and Political Development (EPD), Energy and Environment (EE), Human Rights (HR), International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP), International Security Policy (ISP), or Urban and Social Policy (USP). Energy and Environment, IFEP and USP offer two tracks each. For example my concentration is Urban and Social policy- Social track. Someone else might be International Finance and Economic Policy- Economic Policy.  Very loosely speaking, concentrations are the equivalent of undergraduate majors. All MPA and MIA students choose a concentration, except for students who are pursuing a dual degree.

Concentrations consist of five courses each. Some concentrations, for example Human Rights (HR) and USP, are extremely flexible allowing students to take one core course and then tailor the track to their interests through focus areas. Other concentrations, for example IFEP, are more structured and require students to fulfill five specific requirements from a distinct set of courses. When choosing a concentration, as either an applicant or a student, it is important to consider the skills you want to acquire during your time at SIPA and how you plan to market yourself afterward. If you need to gain a strong quantitative background, then IFEP might be the right choice for you. If you plan to market yourself as a Human Rights advocate, you might want to concentrate in HR. While students do not officially “double concentrate,” SIPA’s curriculum offers the flexibility to take courses outside of your concentration to gain additional skills or background in whatever area you choose.

In addition to concentrations, all non-dual degree seeking MIA and MPA students select a specialization. These would be the loose equivalent of an undergraduate minor. Specializations take one of two forms: regional (AfricaEast AsiaEast Central EuropeEuropeLatin AmericaMiddle EastRussia and the Former Soviet StatesSouth Asia or United States); or skill/policy based including, Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis (APEA),  Applied Science (AS),  International Conflict Resolution (ICR),  International Media, Advocacy and Communications (IMAC), International Organization (IO) and Management.  Students specialize in either a region or a skill/policy area, not both. The specialization requirements are three courses each so most students wind up fulfilling the requirements for at least one specialization just by following their own interests. Again, when considering a specialization students balance the skills and background they want to acquire while at SIPA with the ways in which they plan to market themselves post-graduation.  I will qualify for both a United States and Management specialization, but have chosen to specialize in management because I want to highlight expertise in organizational leadership as I apply to jobs. Any MIA or MPA student can concentrate or specialize in any combination, meaning that there are 180 possible combinations available to MIA and MPA’s alone!

Finally, we come to SIPA’s three co-curricular programs: Gender Policy (GP), Humanitarian Affairs (HA) and United Nations Studies Program (UNSP). Unlike concentrations and specializations participation in co-curricular programs is optional although from my personal experience, highly recommended! The three co-curricular programs are very different from one another in their requirements and you can find more about each program by clicking here. The co-curricular programs are extremely useful in establishing oneself as an expert if students plan to pursue post-SIPA careers in these specific fields. I will be able to list a certificate in gender policy alongside my MPA degree on my resume.  They tend to focus on gaining practical experience even more so than concentrations and are designed to give students a solid foundation and background in policy and practice in their professional field.   Anecdotally, I will share with you that the courses I have taken to satisfy the requirements for my Gender Policy co-curricular have been hands down my favorites at SIPA and have left me feeling confident and prepared to market myself as an expert in gender policy.

Incidentally, if you factor in our co-curricular programs, this brings the possible MIA and MPA combinations to 540! Whatever your policy interest there is a way to gain the skills you need here at SIPA.

 

 

MIA and MPA Concentration Choice

One of the questions that has been popping up in our email in box from MIA and MPA admitted applicants has to do with the choice of concentration at SIPA.  You can think of your concentration as your major field of study.  Many applicants are worried that they must stick with the concentration selected when the admission application was filled out.  This is not the case.  As a reminder, our six concentrations are:

  • Economic and Political Development
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Human Rights
  • International Finance and Economic Policy
  • International Security Policy
  • Urban and Social Policy

We do look for focus in an admission application and the concentration choice often will influence how a file is read.  For example, if someone selects International Finance and Economic Policy on the admission application we do look for evidence of some pretty serious quantitative study and/or work experience due to the fact that this concentration is quantitatively heavy.

However, we also realize that when admitted applicants enroll and speak with faculty, take some classes, interact with second year students, and attend events, one’s career or academic focus might shift and we want to be flexible and allow students to choose the pathway that is best for their professional goals.  Often this insight only comes after actually enrolling and spending time at SIPA.

Thus it is perfectly acceptable to change your concentration when you register for classes in the fall.  There is no formal process, you simply must choose a concentration when you register.  There is also no firm time line to finalize your choice, however the longer you wait, the more precarious completing the requirements becomes.

The counseling students receive will thus encourage you to be firm with your concentration choice sometime during your first year, and the sooner the better so that you may shape your class schedule and internships.  All of our program requirements must be completed in four semesters and deciding early will help alleviate pressure over time by narrowing your class choices.

So there is no need to worry about sticking to the concentration selected on the admission application.  During Orienation in August new students will have the opportunity to hear faculty speak about the different options and the concentration choice will be made when you register.  If you need to change again when you register for the second semester you may, but again the more focused and certain you are, the more you will be able to gain from the program.

New Specialization in International Conflict Resolution

Jean-MarieGuehenno-133-x166Beginning in fall 2010, SIPA will offer a new specialization in International Conflict Resolution for students enrolled in the MIA and MPA degree programs. The new specialization, which will be directed by Professor Jean-Marie Guéhenno, will provide students an understanding of the root causes of international conflicts and of how conflict resolution and transformation take place on an international level.  Students also will receive practical, hands-on training in various techniques and methodologies of international conflict resolution.

“The new specialization will build on the highly successful curriculum put in place by the Center for International Conflict Resolution at SIPA,” says Professor Guéhenno. “It will provide a venue for leading practitioners and scholars to prepare the next generation of conflict resolution specialists.”

Specializations, which are comparable to “minors” in other curricular arrangements, are designed to be paired with policy concentrations, comparable to “majors”. Students seeking a specialization in International Conflict Resolution will be required to complete nine credits, including the course, “Theoretical Overview of International Conflict Resolution,” and two electives.

SIPA also offers specializations in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis, Applied Science, International Media, Advocacy and Communications, International Organization, Management, and regional specializations in Africa, East Asia, East Central Europe, Europe, Latin America, The Middle East, Russia, Southern Asia, and the United States.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno previously served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations from 2000-2008, leading the largest expansion of peacekeeping in the history of the UN. Before joining the United Nations, Guéhenno served as director of policy planning in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassador to the Western European Union, and chairman of the French Institute of Higher Defense Studies.

"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