To our admitted students, I want to wish you a big congratulations on being accepted to Columbia SIPA! I hope you took some time to celebrate this achievement.

In this post I’ll review things every newly-admitted student should know, especially on the heels of a tumultuous year. Top takeaways for you:

  • What the Fall 2021 semester look like so far —  I’ll give you as much detail as I can here.
  • Check the Admitted Students Portal – a lot – yes, even if you’re not sure if you’ll say yes to Columbia yet. The Portal has everything you need regarding next steps, which I may end up repeating here. We’ll also be adding upcoming events and recordings of admitted student events frequently to the Portal.
  • Submit your official documents and transcripts on time — because if you don’t, you won’t be able to register for classes, among other things!
  • Money, deposits and financial aid.

What will the Fall 2021 semester look like?

It’s hard to predict what things will look like six months from now, much less a few weeks from now. Right now, SIPA is doing a mix of online and in-person courses, though all courses are taught online for the entire semester. Nearly 30% of lectures and seminars will be taught in Hybrid mode, which means professors will use SIPA HyFlex classroom to teach students simultaneously online and in-person. Lectures and seminars are identified (here) as either ‘Online Only’ or ‘Hybrid’.

Since last year, SIPA has redesigned their classrooms to accommodate for online and Hybrid learning modes. Faculty simultaneously teach online and in-person students from a SIPA classroom. All classrooms have been upgraded with cameras and microphones to facilitate engagement of in-person and online participants. You can read the full FAQs on 2020-2021 instructional formats here.

So what will Fall 2021 look like? As of now, we expect to continue a mix of online and in-person classes. And with the COVID-19 vaccination efforts going strong, we are cautiously optimistic about returning to more in-person instruction and campus activities. Of course, this will all be guided by public health considerations and University decisions. We will continue updating you on what Fall 2021 will look like over the coming months.

Check the Admitted Students Portal, even if you’re not sure where you’ll end up yet.

The Admitted Students Portal has everything you need regarding next steps. Even if you’re still deciding where you’ll be for the next few years, the Portal provides information to help you make that decision: about accepting your offer, upcoming deadlines, student housing information, and special events and webinars, including Faculty Q&As and Financial Aid advice.

The Portal also breaks down the following information about official transcripts, test scores, and other items that require a few extra steps for you to ensure you can start your school year off with no delays.

(For conditional admitted students: Some applicants were admitted on the condition that they take additional quantitative preparation courses, or to enroll in English-language proficiency courses, prior to starting at SIPA. Your overall application and achievements are admirable, and we believe you’ll be better equipped for success at SIPA by completing this coursework.)

After You Accept Your Offer, Submit Your Official Documents

We need your official transcripts and test scores electronically submitted by August 20, 2021; otherwise you won’t be able to register for classes or do other new student onboarding things.

Please note what it means for these documents to be considered official: It must come directly from the institution or authorized third party, to the SIPA Office of Admissions. So for example, if your university sends YOU your sealed transcripts, you don’t open it, and you send it directly to us — we CANNOT consider that official, even if it’s unopened, because it did not come directly to us from the university. We have to follow this policy strictly, so please take note!

I recommend you start on this early, as it can take some time for these documents to request and send. If you have issues, you know who to email (the SIPA Office of Admissions, if you were unsure). If you’ve sent your documents in, you can check your Status Page to see if our office has received it.

A note on official test scores: If you accidentally just sent your scores to the wrong school code, unfortunately we will not be able to fetch it, even if it’s another Columbia University school, and you will have to send them again.

Money, Deposits, and Financial Aid

Your enrollment deposit: You have until the date on your admission letter to accept your enrollment offer AND pay the $2,000.00 USD admission deposit. This deposit ultimately goes towards your tuition bill. While you don’t have to accept and pay the deposit at the same time, your deposit payment must be paid in full at once (so no partial payments).

If you’re interested in deferring, instructions on what that process looks like is in (you already know!) the Admitted Students Portal. I will note that admitted students to the MPA-DP program cannot defer, nor can students admitted off the Waitlist.

Financial Aid and Fellowships: If you received a scholarship or fellowship, you will have received a separate notification letter about your funding along with your letter of admission. (Some early-action candidates had to wait until now to learn about their funding status.)

All students, whether funded their first year or not, will be able to apply for second-year funding. Most of this funding is in the form of assistantships for second-year students who succeeded in their first year of studies. (You’ll learn more about these opportunities during the spring semester of your first year.)

We also encourage you to visit the Financial Aid page for more information about funding your education, which includes a database of external funding opportunities.

Tuition, Fees, and Billing: Columbia University releases an annual estimated cost of attendance, which you can view for the 2021-2012 academic year here. Your tuition bill will be generated closer to the start of the academic term. You also have the option to set up a payment plan or coordinate your payments with a third-party sponsor. For more information on that process, browse the Student Financial Services website. (The Office of Admissions & Financial Aid is not involved in this process.)

Contact Us

If you’re an admitted student with specific financial aid or fellowship inquiries, please email them with a descriptive and informative subject line to Admissions questions can continue to go to

You should also follow us on Instagram @Columbia.SIPA to share your admissions story and connect with future classmates!

And once again, congratulations to our admitted students!