Today I’m here to talk to you about the second essay for the MPA/MIA application this year. Also note that if you have questions about the other application components like the personal statement or optional essays, we have plenty of blog posts covering these topics (make sure to check them out in our archives!). Today I will focus specifically on the second essay and how it differs from the personal statement, since we have been receiving a lot of questions about it recently.

Some background – note that the essays vary by program to which you are applying. This post is specifically oriented towards the second essay for the 21-month MPA or MIA programs. You can access the essays after starting your SIPA application and selecting your program as the MPA or MIA. Once you do this, your essays will appear in the essay section of your application portal.

What is the personal statement? The prompt is as follows:

Personal Statement – Please elaborate on why you have chosen to apply to the MIA/MPA program. How will this program enable you to achieve your career goals? Describe your academic and research interests and career objectives. (400 words maximum)*

  • This is where you can discuss your background, interests, goals as a whole, including your past, present, where you want to go, and how SIPA can get you there. With that being said, don’t make the mistake of recapping your resume point-by-point. Remember that Admissions has your resume and your transcripts, etc. The personal statement is where you can give the committee a sense of who you are as a whole person – your interests, passions, what drives you. This is your opportunity to let your voice shine through.

How does that differ from the second essay?

How do you see your post-SIPA professional practice intersect with the public policy sphere? (400 words maximum)

  • For the second prompt, you can choose how you want to approach it, but I would recommend going more into specifics of your post-graduate school career goals for the second essay. The important thing is to focus on the second part of the prompt – how does your career intersect with policy. Here you have the opportunity to elaborate on your policy areas of interest (e.g. regional focus, labor, migration, etc.).

For more advice on the personal statement and application, I would highly recommend checking through the SIPA admissions blog. I’ve linked some blog posts on the personal statement below, some of which I read when I was applying and I found helpful:

I hope that helps. As always, please make sure to reach out if you have any questions!