SIPA offers many dual degrees that can be divided into two categories.  The first category involves relationships SIPA has with other Columbia University programs.  In our office we commonly refer to these as “CU” dual degrees.  The second category involves relationships we have with international partner schools.  We simply call these “international dual degrees.”

Many applicants have questions about the application process for dual degrees so I thought I would write up some entries to clarify.  This entry will focus exclusively on CU dual degrees.

The first thing to realize is that there is no such thing as applying for a dual degree.  This might sound strange so let me explain.

While SIPA does indeed have dual degree relationships with several Columbia Schools, admission to each school is an entirely separate process.  Thus applicants must complete an application for each individual school. I am the Director of Admission at SIPA and my concern is that you are a qualified to handle our program and contribute to the learning environment.  I am not an expert in the programs of other schools and only read applications for SIPA.

Related to all of this, there are no joint admission committees and no joint review process.  I can probably best explain with a specific example so let me try to do so.

Let us say you want to pursue a dual degree with the Columbia Law School and SIPA.  In order to do so, you would have to submit a completely separate application to each school, meet the necessary deadline, and submit all of the necessary documentation.  If the Law School requires the LSAT you would have to meet that requirement for the Law School application, however SIPA does not accept the LSAT, we accept the GRE or the GMAT.  Thus a student wishing to pursue a joint program with the Law School and SIPA would have to take two different graduate admission examinations.

Once your application is submitted, only the school it was submitted to has access to it – there is no shared application system.  I do not have the power to view applications to the Law School or any other school on our campus.

It is true that most schools at Columbia do have a place on the application for applicants to indicate if they are interested in a dual degree, but in truth this is not something that is shared across schools.  While this is nice information for each school to know, I do not contact other Admission Directors to discuss applicants interested in pursuing a dual degree.

Since dual applicants must apply to each school separately, applicants will receive decisions separately.  If an applicant is admitted to two Columbia Schools, the applicant should speak with student services in each school to determine the best school at which to begin studies.  Students can only be enrolled at one school at a time so an applicant admitted to two schools will have to choose which school to enroll in first.

Since there is no such thing as a dual degree application, if an applicant is admitted to one program and not the other, the applicant is welcome to enroll in the school they have been independently admitted to.   So for example if an applicant was admitted to SIPA but not to the Law School, he or she would be welcome to start at SIPA.

I want to address three more technical notes on the CU dual degree process.  First, while we recommend that applicants interested in a dual degree program apply to the two different programs at the same time, it is possible to apply for a dual degree program during the first semester of enrollment in the first program.  So in the example above, if an applicant were admitted to either the Law School of SIPA, he or she would be able to submit an application for the other program during the first semester of enrollment.

Second, SIPA does not participate in Ad hoc dual degree programs.  What is meant by this is that unless the dual degree program is on our site, we do not offer it.  As an example, SIPA does not participate in dual degree programs with any other domestic school but Columbia University.  While some schools will allow students to pursue dual degree programs with various schools outside of the University, SIPA does not offer such a program.  For a full list of our dual degree programs please click here.

Third, not all dual degree programs are the same length.  Each has different requirements and you should view the web page specific to each program (see link above) for information on the specific time requirements.

Our international dual degrees can be  bit more complex and I will address these in a future entry.

On the non-technical side, some applicants interested in dual degree programs ask if they should address this interest in their application (i.e. in the personal statement).  While I am not an expert in other programs, I do think it is a wise decision for applicants to address their desire for a dual degree somewhere in their personal statement.  The reason I believe so is that if a dual degree is important to your future, then it is worth addressing in the personal statement.  While my concern is not necessarily that an applicant to SIPA meet the requirements of another program, addressing the desire for a dual degree often allows an applicant to put together a more compelling personal statement.  So if you are interested in pursuing a dual degree with another Columbia School, I do think it is worth the time to address this in your SIPA application.