I’m often asked what the average applicant looks like. Honestly, there’s no set formula to “getting in” at SIPA. And I mean this literally — no single career, academic background, country of origin or volunteer experience is going to earn you a seat at SIPA. That’s something you have to do on your own as an applicant by playing to your strengths and submitting a superb application for admission. But, I do have some interesting stats to share from this year’s MIA, MPA, MPA-DP applicant pool.

Here’s a glimpse into a few charts from our application system.


The chart Applications Submitted is pretty telling. The Fall 2016 application cycle opened in August 2015, and applications were quietly coming in throughout the early fall. Then you can clearly see spikes in the submission rates right around our application deadlines of  Nov. 2 for the early-action round, Jan. 5 for the fellowship round, and Feb. 5 for the final round. What does this mean? Well, you all really do wait until the last minute to submit your applications. (That’s not a practice I recommend our future applicants to follow.)


Not surprisingly, most of you said you wanted to be reviewed for SIPA’s merit aid. (Blue is “yes” and green is “no.”) Thus, that is why our fellowship (aka scholarship) deadline is a month earlier than our general deadline. (And why we do not consider anyone for aid past the deadline.) We need the extra time to review your application and consider for fellowship. Generally speaking, the top third of applicants receive funding, but that can vary depending on how strong the applicant pool is; and while awards can go up to full tuition and fees, the average award for incoming students is half tuition and fees. So if you’re still researching funding sources, check out our External Funding database today.


Here’s a look at the concentration breakdown our applicants have applied to this year. I often get asked what the breakdown of our applicants are by concentration. As you can see from the chart above it’s almost an even six-way split. The follow-up question usually is about the chances of admission increasing or decreasing depending on the concentration selected. The short answer is absolutely not. (The longer answer is it depends on if you’re a good “fit” for that concentration and if you tailored your application to it or not.)


Since we’re on the blog, I decided to share a breakdown of what our readers look like. Thanks to a fancy “stalking” tool that links our application system to the blog, I can easily tell who has visited the Admissions Blog.  But wait, this chart is broken down by concentration as well. Great catch! It’s pretty interesting to see that the applicants by concentration breakdown closely mirrors that of the ones who have visited the blog. I like to interpret it as meaning the blog is so popular that everyone is reading it! (OK, so it’s not an exact link, but you get the hint.)

When we say our students hail from every corner of the globe, we mean it. This year, our applicants come from 142* different countries. (Depending on who you ask, there are 195 or 196 independent countries in the world today). Our applicants are from:

1. Afghanistan 49.   Greece 97.   Paraguay
2. Albania 50.   Guatemala 98.   Peru
3. Algeria 51.   Guinea 99.   Philippines
4. Andorra 52.   Haiti 100. Poland
5. Argentina 53.   Honduras 101. Portugal
6. Australia 54.   Hong Kong S.A.R. 102. Qatar
7. Austria 55.   Hungary 103. Romania
8. Azerbaijan 56.   Iceland 104. Russia
9. Bahrain 57.   India 105. Rwanda
10.   Bangladesh 58.   Indonesia 106. Saint Lucia
11.   Belarus 59.   Iran 107. Saudi Arabia
12.   Belgium 60.   Iraq 108. Senegal
13.   Belize 61.   Ireland 109. Serbia
14.   Bhutan 62.   Israel 110. Sierra Leone
15.   Bolivia 63.   Italy 111. Singapore
16.   Bosnia and Herzegovina 64.   Jamaica 112. Slovakia
17.   Brazil 65.   Japan 113. South Africa
18.   British Virgin Islands 66.   Jordan 114. South Korea
19.   Bulgaria 67.   Kazakhstan 115. Spain
20.   Burkina Faso 68.   Kenya 116. Sri Lanka
21.   Burundi 69.   Kuwait 117. Sudan
22.   Cameroon 70.   Kyrgyzstan 118. Sweden
23.   Canada 71.   Latvia 119. Switzerland
24.   Chile 72.   Lebanon 120. Syria
25.   China 73.   Liberia 121. Taiwan
26.   Colombia 74.   Lithuania 122. Tanzania
27.   Congo (Brazzaville) 75.   Madagascar 123. Thailand
28.   Congo (Kinshasa) 76.   Malawi 124. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
29.   Costa Rica 77.   Malaysia 125. The Gambia
30.   Cote D’Ivoire 78.   Mali 126. Timor-Leste
31.   Croatia 79.   Mauritania 127. Togo
32.   Cuba 80.   Mexico 128. Trinidad and Tobago
33.   Cyprus 81.   Moldova 129. Tunisia
34.   Czech Republic 82.   Mongolia 130. Turkey
35.   Denmark 83.   Morocco 131. Uganda
36.   Dominican Republic 84.   Mozambique 132. Ukraine
37.   Ecuador 85.   Myanmar 133. United Arab Emirates
38.   Egypt 86.   Namibia 134. United Kingdom
39.   El Salvador 87.   Nepal 135. United States
40.   Eritrea 88.   Netherlands 136. Uruguay
41.   Estonia 89.   New Zealand 137. Uzbekistan
42.   Ethiopia 90.   Nicaragua 138. Venezuela
43.   Finland 91.   Niger 139. Vietnam
44.   France 92.   Nigeria 140. Yemen
45.   Gabon 93.   Norway 141. Zambia
46.   Georgia 94.   Pakistan 142. Zimbabwe
47.   Germany 95.   Palestine
48.   Ghana 96.   Panama

And as always, it is going to take us some time to review all of the applications, so please be patient with us. Admissions decisions will be released in mid-March and rolling thereafter.Alright! Those are all of the insights I have for today. I hope you found this information interesting. While I can’t share any additional details about our application pool at this time, you are welcome to email us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu if you have any questions about the status of your individual application or the application requirements.

Until next time.

[Photo courtesy of http://imightneedanap.com]
*updated list includes self-reported citizenship and mailing and permanent addresses.