Dean’s roundtable discusses technology and innovation for cities

April 19th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid
Dean Merit E. Janow convened leading technology entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and experts in urban policy to discuss the application of digital technology and advanced data analytics to improve urban environments around the world.The event was co-hosted by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir and founder of Addepar, among other companies, and set the stage for the launch of the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant Program, which is seeking proposals from SIPA and other Columbia students for innovative projects using technology and data to address global urban challenges. The Program aims to integrate problem-solving from different fields such as public policy, computer science, and engineering.

Daniel Doctoroff, the CEO and president of Bloomberg and a former deputy mayor of New York City recounted examples of the ways in which New York City’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning — also known as the city’s “geek squad” — used data to solve problems, like how to identify restaurants that were illegally dumping grease and clogging the city’s sewers. By using information about restaurants that were not contracting with waste disposal companies to eliminate grease, the geek squad overlayed a map of those restaurants with geospatial data that identified areas with concentrated grease in the sewage system. This resulted in a 95 percent success rate in identifying and stopping the illegal dumping of grease from restaurants.

This example underlined how data is an increasingly important tool for government, not only to solve problems but also to reduce costs — a sentiment echoed by other speakers at the roundtable.

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, cited crises in employment, education, healthcare, and energy as problems that needed prioritizing in the United States, and expressed his hope that advanced technology would be used to improve efficiency in those areas. He stressed that data and technology should be used for good governance. Open governance should allow for active public participation.

Along a similar vein, Carter Cleveland, CEO of Artsy, an online platform connecting users to works of art, said he would like to see more open-source information that allowed joint ownership of data between the government and the public. Cleveland said access to information could empower civilians to participate and partner with government to monitor crime and improve urban safety, for example, whereas information asymmetry could erode cooperation between citizens and governing bodies.

Patricia Culligan, associate director of the Institute for Data Science and Engineering and co-director of the Earth Institute’s Urban Design Lab, advocated for the meshing of technology and policy around urban infrastructure. She said more investment was needed to improve infrastructure providing for the safety, lives and needs of cities, and to address manageable challenges like reducing energy consumption. A study she led at Columbia, she noted, found that transparency and sharing data about energy use with residents of a building helped reduce consumption by up to 30 percent.

Panelists seemed to agree that the role of information and communications technology (ICT) and data was increasingly important in helping cities become more responsive, more sustainable, safer, and healthier. The challenge was to catalyze innovations and encourage multi-disciplinary, multi-sector solutions.

However, cautioning that governments don’t work like businesses, Rohit Aggarwala, professor of professional practice in international and public affairs at SIPA and expert on urban sustainability, said the key was to identify areas where there is a lack of timely or useful data and fill that gap where the government already has the mandate and resources to act.

Other participants included James D. Robinson III, co-founder of RRE Ventures and former CEO of American Express and Zachary Bookman, co-founder and CEO of OpenGov. View the full discussion here.

excerpt from Doyeun Kim MIA ’14 commentary for SIPA

A few words about Public Service Loan Forgiveness

April 14th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

If you are considering student loans to help finance your studies at SIPA and may later pursue a career in the public or non-profit sectors, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program could mean considerable savings on loan repayment in the future.

Borrowers who pursue full-time careers in the non-profit or public service sectors can have their outstanding student loan balance forgiven after 120 months of repayment (payments need not be consecutive).  This program applies to and Federal Direct Loans (also known as Stafford Loans) or Graduate PLUS loans you may borrow at SIPA.

For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office or visit any of these websites:

Non-profit or public sector employment may include:

  • A Federal, State, local, or Tribal government organization, agency, or entity;
  • A public child or family service agency;
  • Volunteering full-time in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps;
  • A tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization;
  • A Tribal college or university; or
  • A private non-profit organization that provides any of the following public services:
  • Emergency management
  • Military service
  • Public safety or law enforcement
  • Public interest law services
  • Early childhood education
  • Public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly
  • Public health
  • Public education or other school-based services
  • Public or school library services

As many SIPA alumni pursue such careers, they may qualify for loan forgiveness.  Please contact us at if you have any questions.


Before you make plans for Monday

April 11th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Instead of our standard display of  our weekly event schedule, today we’ll leave you with a taster for Monday, April 14.  One day at SIPA will enrich your life but if you are looking for more, you can check out our event calendar.

The Art of Life in Ürümchi: Development Aesthetics and the City in Chinese Central Asia

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, International Affairs Building, Room 1219

A discussion with Darren Byler, University of Washington

Sponsor: Harriman Institute, OASIES


Dean’s Seminar: Governance of the Internet

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm, International Affairs Building, Room 1501

Join Merit E. Janow, Dean, School of International and Public Affairs; Professor, Practice of International Economic Law and International Affairs and an all-star panel of technology experts to discuss regulation and supervision of the internet. Panelists include Gordon Goldstein, Managing Director, Head of External Affairs, Silver Lake Group; Ambassador David Gross, Partner, Wiley Rein, LLP; Eli Noam, Professor of Economics and Finance and Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility at the Columbia Business School; Laura DeNardis, Professor and Associate Dean in the School of Communication at American University; Director of Research for the Global Commission on Internet Governance. Watch live at

Sponsor: School of International and Public Affairs.


Financial Innovation in International Development for Africa

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, International Affairs Building, Room 407

A talk by Benoît Chervalier, African Development Bank Group

Sponsor:  International Finance and Economic Policy Concentration, Alliance Program, Economic and Political Development Concentration


SAI: Mary Keatinge Das Lecture with Muzzafar Alam (Chicago)

4:00 pm to 5:30 pm, Knox Hall, Room 208

A talk by Muzzafar Alam, University of Chicago

Sponsor: South Asia Institute

Varieties of Backyard Management: EU Integration and the Evolution of Economic State Capacities in the Southern and Eastern Peripheries of Europe

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, International Affairs Building, Room 1201

A talk by Laszlo Bruszt, European University Institute

Sponsor: Harriman Institute, Blinken European Institute


Strive to Thrive: Redefining Success in the Modern World

6:00 pm to 7:15 pm, Uris Hall, Room 301

A lecture and book signing with Arianna Huffington.  Registration required.

Sponsor: Columbia Business School’s Chazen Institute of International Business


How the “Putin Project” is Affecting LGBTI Human Rights in Russia’s Near Abroad — Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova

6:15 pm to 8:00 pm, International Affairs Building, Room 1219

A panel discussion on LGBTI Human Rights with Olena Shevchenko, Anna Kirey, Matthew Schaaf.

Sponsor: Harriman Institute, Freedom House

Come visit us at SIPA.  We’re sure you will be hard-pressed to find nothing of interest.

For details on future SIPA EVENTS, go to:

Admitted Students’ Day

April 9th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Yesterday was an exhilarating day with newly admitted students, current students, alumni, faculty and staff.  The energy was electrifying — I didn’t even mind my feet throbbing in pain from walking around all day or my “lack of voice” this morning from talking so much.  It was all worth it.  I personally love meeting our admitted students who we have all gotten to know well through their applications.  They are all as great in person as they were on paper.  It’s also a good time to talk through what’s next and put to rest any concerns that students may have about living in New York City, the SIPA class size, financial aid, and opportunities post graduation.

Our guests were able to meet with faculty from the various concentrations and specializations; sit in plenary discussions about career services and financial aid;  hear from one of our luminary professors talk about SIPA and his own experiences during lunch; and get student and alumni perspective on the priceless network and resources afforded them as a member of the SIPA community.  And as if that wasn’t enough, we ended the day (the New York way) with drinks, food, and good conversations… all overlooking the New York City skyline.

So far the feedback has been positive… and our goal to make it difficult for them to walk away from SIPA hopefully will be achieved.  Because I would hate to see them not come back.

SIPA Honors Distinguished Guests, Raises Fellowship Funds

April 4th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

An audience of 300 luminaries, faculty, alumni, students, and special guests gathered at the historic Plaza Hotel in New York on April 2 for SIPA’s 14th Annual Global Leadership Awards Gala.

The event honors individuals who, through their work in public policy and administration, have made innovative or otherwise extraordinary contributions to the global public interest, with a focus this year on economic development and sustainability in particular. These leaders exemplify what SIPA can do for individuals and for the world: provide students with the international perspective, academic background, and practical experience to solve the most pressing global challenges.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger introduced SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow, who presented awards to this year’s honorees: Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Joan Spero MIA ’68, a Trustee Emerita and senior research scholar at Columbia University.

Highlights of the program included remarks from SIPA students Jessi Jou Tseng MPA ’14 and Joe Lemaron Sadallah MIA ’15. The event raised a record amount of $450,000, which will be used for student fellowships.   So that’s good news for our incoming first year students.

Solution Providers Case Study Event

April 2nd, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Irene Coffman from the Office of Career Services (OCS) in coordination with the Consulting and Finance Club at SIPA hosted Solution Providers, a boutique Management Consulting firm headquartered in Switzerland. The consultancy was founded in 1996 and has since grown to 160 professionals globally with offices in Switzerland, Germany, Singapore as well as the USA.  It officially opened an office in New York this year. Earlier in the semester Solution Providers hosted a well-attended information session about the firm, the professional opportunities and how policy students from SIPA may add great value by advising renowned international financial services companies that seek support in the whole process from working out strategies and realizing these operationally through technical implementation.

Solution Providers is looking for well rounded, curious, and intelligent Senior Consultants, who understand and are ready to advance their knowledge within Financial Services firms and how financial regulations and policy may impact the sector in order to serve the client best. As Daniel Zelkas (Senior Consultant) said, the “start-up” culture is a great opportunity for students with various backgrounds to get involved, contribute towards the firm’s success generally and in New York competition Maerki pic for blog

Solution Providers has organized similar “Case Study” events at other prestigious academic institutions locally and internationally to seek talent and last Monday at SIPA. After some refreshments and a short presentation about the team, the culture and the firm’s mission (Passion, Process, Progress), there were 4 teams with 5 students each gaining insights in the life of a management consultant by practicing their casing skills. Each team approached the case differently to manage the case that was number heavy and represented a typical challenging situation of gaining new business, by not neglecting the existing clients and by having a cost-efficient operation to support the firm’s growth.

Some groups divided the tasks immediately to quickly focus on specific areas and others discussed the issues as a whole team to get a good handle on the challenge the case study offered and potential solutions that may be recommended. Felix Gniza (Senior Consultant) mentioned that this case was from a real client; however slightly modified to make it manageable to be solved within 45 minutes and to follow compliance standards to assure confidentiality of the actual client’s identity. After an intense team work session and a 15 minutes break that was used to finalize the team’s presentations, each group made their case by identifying the issues that were discovered during the analysis of the case and the various recommendations that the students recommended to senior management, represented by the 4 Solution Providers professionals present. Ilya Usorov (Consultant) shared that this “case study” represented the actual process he and his fellow colleagues face to provide the best solution possible under a tight time schedule and with the information available.

The students experienced this challenge firsthand through the follow up questions posed by the consultants and other students to the presenting team; however the students appreciated the valuable learning experience and the feedback on what to emphasize on during the next time a case or actual client study is worked on. The official part of the 3 hour workshop was concluded by a general feedback from Ahrum Pak (Associate Consultant) and the aforementioned Solution Providers representatives. A casual commingling between the students and the Consultants followed, where business cards were swapped and future career plans were enhanced.

Please feel free to reach out to SIPA’s career office (OCS) or to me if you want to learn more about this case.

SIPA students and Solution Providers professionals after the presentations

SIPA students and Solution Providers professionals after the presentations

Posted by Andreas Maerki, MPA ’14, IFEP

Meet the SIPA community

April 1st, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

There are many reasons people choose to apply and come to SIPA — one of the main reasons is the people who make up the SIPA community.  Students come here with a set of experiences and they leave here with another set of experiences; coupled with experiences they gain once they leave… Stir in some solid academics, resources and networks and you have the making of an influential global leader.

But it all starts with a visit to the Columbia campus in New York — throughout the year prospects meet with current SIPA students, speak with faculty and discuss opportunities with administrators.  Then they leave and find themselves crossing paths with alumni… in Paris, Jakarta, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Perth, and Nairobi.  And before you know it, you want to be a part of the family.  However, if you want to go stealth, it’s best not to mention SIPA (and definitely do not carry a SIPA bag) because you will find yourself in conversation with another fellow seeple, where ever you are in the world.

Admission decisions have gone out to many and the connections being made are in full bloom.  We have connected hundreds of newly admitted students with alumni around the world and soon they will be getting together in person to have a drink or a meal.  Just last week, we had the opportunity to meet some of our newly admitted students in San Francisco.  They attended a lecture on “Corruption in Latin America” presented by one of SIPA’s newest faculty, Professor Paul Lagunes  — alumni and staff were also in attendance — bringing the community together on the west coast.

We’re looking forward to meeting our newest students in New York next week at Admitted Students’ Day — many flying in from other continents.  The ‘meet and greets’ continue with other social and academic driven events around the world in the next few months until the students arrive to start their adventure at SIPA in August.

SIPA provides committed students with the necessary skills and perspectives to become responsible leaders. In 1954, students hailed from six countries outside the United States and graduates worked in 17 different nations. Today, nearly half of SIPA’s 1,200 students are from outside the United States and the School’s 18,000 alumni work in more than 155 nations around the globe.

The connections at SIPA are strong and expanding.

A full plate next week

March 28th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid


MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

2014 Human Rights Essay Contest Colloquium
12:00 pm to 1:45 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1302
Presentations by participants in ISHR’s 2014 Human Rights Essay Contest. Each presentation will be followed by Q&A and discussion with students, faculty, and other members of the Columbia University community. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP.
Sponsor: Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Briefing on Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
A briefing for students interesting in applying for the SIPA Dean’s Challenge Grant, hosted by Dean Merit E. Janow, Dean, School of International and Public Affairs; Professor, Practice of International Economic Law and International Affairs.
Sponsor: School of International and Public Affairs

SUMASA Sustainability Symposium: If You Lead, Will They Follow?
1:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Casa Italiana
Speakers: Kevin Joseph Bernard, Co-Founder, New York Oyster Week; Satyajit Bose, Lecturer in the Discipline of Economics and Continuing Education, School of Continuing Education, Columbia UniversityTravis Bradford, Director, Energy and Environment Concentration, School of International and Public Affairs, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; Aaron Chan, MSSM Degree Candidate, Columbia University; Jessica Cooper, Project Manager and Sustainability Director, Delos Cooper LLC; Dana Gulley, Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, RiverKeeper; Upmanu Lall, Director, Columbia Water Center, the The Earth Institute, Columbia University, Senior Research Scientist, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the The Earth Institute, Columbia University, Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor, Earth and Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University; Guido Molinari, Chief Executive Officer, Divino; Jessica Prata, Assistant Vice President, Office of Environmental Stewardship, Lecturer, School of Continuing Education, Columbia University; Shruthi Rao, Managing Consultant, Adapt Ready; George Sarrinikolaou, Director, Office of Academic and Research Programs, The Earth Institute, Lecturer, School of Continuing Education, Columbia University; Josh Treuhaft, Analyst: Foresight and Innovation, Arup; Lynnette Widder, Principal and Co-founder of aardvarchitecture, Lecturer, School of Continuing Education, Columbia University
Sponsor: The Student Association for Columbia University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management

Alec Ross: Geopolitics of Cyber with Anya Schiffrin
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1512
A lecture series with Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and Anya Schiffrin, Director, International Media, Communications, and Advocacy Specialization.
Sponsor: School of International and Public Affairs, International Media, Communications, and Advocacy Specialization

China and the Environment: A Conversation
3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 918
A Panel Discussion with Isabel N. Hilton, Editor, Chinadialogue; Micah S. Muscolino, Associate Professor, Department of History, Georgetown University; Peter C. Perdue, Professor, Department of History, Yale University. Moderated by Eugenia Lean, Associate Professor of Chinese History, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University. No registration required.
Sponsor: Weatherhead East Asian Institute

Are Israel’s Policies Justified in Light of the Security Issues it Faces?
7:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Barnard College Diana Center, Event Oval
A debate on Israel’s policies.
Sponsor: Columbia International Relations Council and Association



Beijing’s March Westward: Eurasian Energy Pipelines and China
All Day Event
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Join the Harriman Institute for it’s 8th annual conference, part of the colloquia series, entitled “Eurasian Pipelines – Road to Peace, Development and Interdependencies.”
Sponsor: Harriman Institute

Beyond Open Data: Leveraging Information and Collaboration to Illuminate Trends in Cambodia and Across the Lower Mekong Region
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 801
Terry Parnell, East-West Management Institute – Open Development Cambodia, will discuss her recent paper on open data, leveraging information and collaboration to illuminate development trends in Cambodia and the Mekong Region.
Sponsor Economic and Political Development Concentration

Sustainable Electronics and the Bottom Line
6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Columbia University Club of New York 15 West 43 Street
An expert panel will discuss sustainability issues surrounding conflict minerals, labor conditions and e-waste, as well as illustrate business cases for electronics companies leading the way in sustainable practices. The discussion will also highlight business opportunities to close the gap in achieving an ethical electronics life cycle.
Sponsor: Sustainable Business Committee, Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York

SIPA Dean’s Roundtable on Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Urban Innovation
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
A roundtable discussing the application of digital technology and advanced data analytics to foster improvements to urban environments around the world. The event will be hosted by Dean Merit E. Janow of SIPA and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Joe Lonsdale, the co-founder of Palantir and founder of Addepar, among other companies. Panelists include Daniel Doctoroff, CEO and President of Bloomberg LLP and former Deputy Mayor of New York City; Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management; James D. Robinson III, co-founder, RRE Ventures and former CEO, American Express; Patricia Culligan, Professor of Civil Engineering Mechanics, Associate Director, Institute for Data Science and Engineering, and Co-Director, The The Earth Institute’s Urban Design Lab; Carter Cleveland, CEO of Artsy; Zachary Bookman, co-founder and CEO of OpenGov; Rohit Aggarwala, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at SIPA and an expert on urban sustainability.
Sponsor: School of International and Public Affairs

Economic Challenges of the Political Transition in Chile
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 707
Talk and discussion with Ricardo French-Davis, Professor of Economics at the University of Chile.
Sponsor: Economic and Political Development Concentration

Conviction, Conflict, Community: A Conversation with George Rupp
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Carnegie Council
170 East 64th Street
A conversation with George Rupp, senior fellow at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; adjunct Professor of religion, public health, and international affairs at Columbia University; founding principal of NEXT: Network for Executive Transition.
Sponsor: Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs



The Role of Technology and the Coast Guard in a Constrained Budget Environment
12:15 pm to 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1302
Part of the Military Technology Series with Captain Charles Cashin, Coast Guard Military Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations.
Sponsor: Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies

Post-Fukushima Energy Policy of Japan: Role of Nuclear Power
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Discussion with Nobuo Tanaka, Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy, and former Executive Director, International Energy Agency.
Sponsor: Center on Global Energy Policy

Vitor Gaspar
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1512
Vitor Gaspar, Portugal’s former Finance Minister and architect of the country’s €78bn bailout plan.
Sponsor: Center on Global Economic Governance

The Earth Institute Practicum in Innovative Sustainability Leadership: Standards and Metrics for Sustainability
6:10 pm to 7:00 pm
Columbia University, Morningside Campus, Havemeyer Hall, Room 209

Speaker: Cynthia Cummis, Deputy Director, GHG Protocol, World Resources Institute
Sponsor: The Earth Institute

Expanding the Frontiers of Development Thought
6:15 pm to 8:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Join David Malone, Rector of the United Nations University, and José Antonio Ocampo, Professor and Director of Economic and Political Development concentration, for a discussion on expanding the frontiers of development thought.
Sponsor: Economic and Political Development Concentration

Mali One Year On: Building An Enduring Peace Through Stabilization, Reform, and Development
6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1302
Discussion with David Gressly, Deputy Representative of UN Mission in Mali, moderated by Dipali Mukhopadhyay, Assistant Professor, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia SIPA. Sponsor: ICR Specialization and Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University.

More Clicks, Fewer Bricks: The Lecture Hall is Obsolete
6:45 pm to 8:15 pm
Miller Theater
A debate about online education.
Sponsor: The Richman Center, Intelligence Squared



The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and the Politics of Attention in Cold War America
12:00 pm to 1:45 pm
Pulitzer Hall, Room 601B
A talk by Fred Turner, Associate Professor of Communication and Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Stanford University. Introduction by Richard John, Professor of Communications and History, Columbia University. Sponsored by the Blinken European Institute and the Communications Ph.D. program at the Columbia Journalism School.
Sponsor: Blinken European Institute

The Evolution of Submarine Warfare and Technology
12:15 pm to 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1302
The Comparative Defense Studies Program presents the Military Technology Series: Number 11 with Andrea Gilli, Visiting Scholar, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and Associate Fellow, European Union Institute for Security Studies.
Sponsor: Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies

Mega Treaties on International Trade and Investment: The Public Policy Implications of the TPP and T-TIP
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Uris Hall, Room 142
A panel discussion with Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute; Thea Lee, Deputy Chief of Staff, AFL-CIO; and Peter Petri, Carl Shaprio Professor of International Finance, Brandeis University. Moderated by Lise Johnson, Senior Legal Researcher, Investment Law and Policy, Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment.
Sponsor: Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment

Development Workshop: Edward Miguel
4:15 pm to 5:45 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1101
As part of Columbia University’s Spring 2014 Development Workshop,Ted Miguel, Oxfam Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley will present his recent work.
Sponsor: Center for Development Economics and Policy

Why Nations Succeed: The Social, Economic and Legal Building Blocks for Success
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Expert scholars discuss the challenges of poverty and violence and how to tackle these issues and build successful nations.
Sponsor: Center on Global Economic Governance

Book Talk: Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism by Wolfgang Streeck
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 707
A panel with Wolfgang Streeck, author and Director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies; Adam Tooze, Professor of History, Yale University; Katharina Pistor, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Bruce Kogut, Professor Leadership and Ethics, Columbia Business School.
Sponsor: Blinken European Institute

Spring 2014 Conflict Resolution Alumni Career Panel and Mixer
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Grace Dodge Hall, Rooms 177 and 179
Speakers: Various
Sponsor: The Earth Institute


FRIDAY, APRIL 04, 2014

Poetry and Translation: A Conversation with Grzegorz Wróblewski and Piotr Gwiazda
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1219
A poetry reading by Grzegorz Wróblewski. Wróblewski will read in Polish from his new book Kopenhaga. The reading will be followed by a discussion about poetry and translation with Anna Frajlich, Senior Lecturer, Columbia University.
Sponsor: East Central European Center

Another reason to choose SIPA

March 26th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

I came across an email while I was searching my inbox for something else and I decided to take a moment to dispel some rumors because there seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around. I know nothing about the specifics of other programs other than what I’ve heard through admitted students, but I do know a thing or two about SIPA.

First off, SIPA Professors are incredibly accessible. Like, amazingly so. In addition to an outstanding ivy league academic faculty, one difference between our Professors and some more remotely located schools is that a lot of our Profs are practitioners as well as lecturers. For example I have taken classes from the preeminent pollster in United States politics, a gender mainstreaming expert at UN Women, a human rights expert for the OECD and UNESCO, an Executive and Ernst and Young, and the Washington Post senior political reporter and those are just off the top of my head. (Keep in mind I focused on gender and domestic elections so you will have the opportunity to interact with the equivalent experts in your field.) Having practitioner professors is a huge advantage both in terms of the networking opportunities and because they can better prepare you for a career in the real world.

That said, all SIPA Professors keep office hours and in my experience are extremely responsive over email even when they are traveling. Obviously this varies from professor to professor but in my experience the faculty at SIPA is not only interested with helping you develop academically through coursework but also in engaging with students on current events, or helping us develop outside projects. For example I  worked with one Professor to get my final paper from her class last year published in an academic journal. Honestly, I have been blown away with the availability and interest level of my professors. Everyone I have met seems genuinely interested in developing their students as their future colleagues. I can only imagine that either I was incredibly lucky or that “inaccessibility” is the kind of rumor that other schools spread because they can’t compete for faculty with the draw of an ivy league institution in New York.

Second, most class sizes are small. The one glaring exception is the Politics and Policy Making (for MPA’s) and Conceptual Foundations (for MIA’s) are plenary sessions for the degree so all first year MPA students take POP and all first year MIA’s take CF. Those also break down into weekly recitations of about 15 students. Other than that core courses tend to have about 20-30 students per section. For example, even though most students take micro econ at the same time, there are several sections for both the 4000 and 6000 level. (Some professors allow you to come to any section that meets that week which is good news if you, like me, are a perpetual late sleeper). All core courses also have recitations, professors office hours and TA office hours. My electives (which are MOST of my courses) have had about 8-15 students per class. Having a bigger school does not mean larger class size, it simply means that a wider variety of electives are offered, which to me is a HUGE ADVANTAGE. Again, giant class size seems to me like a misconception that exists at smaller schools.

We want happy classmates and I don’t want you to come here if SIPA is not the right fit for you, but I also don’t want you to miss out on a SIPA education for the wrong reasons.


posted by Nancy Leeds, MPA 2013 alumnae

Capstone in Jordan

March 25th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

The SIPA Capstone Project serves to help SIPA students utilize skills they’ve learned in the classroom to deal with real life problems. This year, SIPA partnered up with Better Work/International Finance Corporation and International Labour Organization (ILO) to assess the Better Work Jordan Workers’ Center targeted at garment workers’ in the Al-Hassan Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) in Jordan.  What is a QIZ you ask? It’s an enclosed area with factories surrounded by factory-owned dormitories that the migrant workers’ use during their stay in Jordan. Most of the workers never travel outside the QIZ – even when they are there for 3+ years.

The idea of the center came out of need for migrant workers’ to have a stronger sense of community outside their daily life. The center provides recreational activities along with training programs (English and Computer skills).

Our team will be working on collecting data to create a baseline and sustainability study based on its first month since opening.

Day 1/2: Travel

The first two days were brutal. Flying into Jordan takes approximately 15 hours – 12 on the plane and roughly 3 hours layover. We missed our connecting flight from London (Heathrow) to Amman, Jordan. Luckily, we were able to catch the next flight a couple of hours later. After 24 hours on the road, we finally made it to our hotel. Tough day – but well worth the time and effort.

There’s also a six hour difference, you can only begin to imagine the jetlag…


 Day 3: Workers’ Center

After many months of visualizing the center through client class and website information, we finally get to visit the Workers’ Center. The workers’ center is approximately 75mins north of Amman, Jordan. During our van ride, we find out that the workers’ center is open – we are excited to know that we will be able to conduct our first round of interviews during the first day.

We are surprised to find the workers’ center is a lot bigger than we had initially imagined. It has a computer lab with 27 Dell Laptops, a classroom for English Instruction, a kitchen and canteen and a multi-purpose room.

View of the dormitories from Workers’ Center

View of the dormitories from Workers’ Center










I sat through an English class during the day – most of the students in attendance were from Madagascar. I was impressed by the teaching methods but also by the students’ participation. They were happy to be there and even more excited to be learning a new language so foreign to them.  The students were asked to recite the alphabet, some of them even stood up and sang it! During the class, I noticed that the students were helping each other with the pronunciation of the letters – hardest letter of the alphabet to pronounce in the room “S”.

English class

English class

Day 4: Petra, Jordan

Today is our only day off during our trip. We decided to go to Petra, Jordan! Petra is about a three hour ride south from Amman.

E4 E5 E6 E7

 So many camels!

Day 4: Workers’ Center

We spent the morning in the Better Work office learning more about the programs that they offer besides the Workers’ Center. Better Work does training with factories in different QIZ’s on sexual harassment but also financial literacy training for workers.

In the afternoon, we headed off to the Al-Hassan QIZ. We collected data through our survey and conducted two focus groups with Malagasy workers. The team was able to get useful information for the workers’ center. We will use the surveys and focus group information to get create a report that will help the Workers’ Center with future activities and management.

We also set up some sport games outside the Workers’ Center – some volleyball and soccer.

A pretty good day.  It’s late – better head off to bed.  Thanks for reading.


Posted by Eder Gaona, MPA 2014 and just back from the Middle East.  A little snippet from Eder’s capstone trip.

Columbia University Wins at 2014 US Department of Energy Better Buildings Case Challenge

March 21st, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Columbia’s Team Wins “Most Innovative Solution” for First Ever BBCC Solar Case.

On March 14, the US Department of Energy (DOE) hosted the 3rd annual Better Buildings Case Challenge (BBCC), an initiative to engage talent across undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels to address some of the nation’s most pressing energy dilemmas related to buildings.  The 2014 competition attracted 44 teams from 27 schools, up from 18 in 2013.

In October, students from Columbia’s International Affairs, Engineering, Business, and Sustainability Management graduate programs applied to fill ten spots to compete on two of six cases for the 2014 BBCC.

After months of preparation, written case reports were submitted weeks ahead of the final competition.  Presentations of case solutions were held at DOE headquarters in Washington, DC, and judged by industry professionals with expertise relating to each case.  Awards were given in two categories - Most Replicable Solution, and Most Innovative Solution.

This was the first year a solar case was given.  The challenge was to present a strategy for an investor owned utility to meet an 18% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with a 4% solar energy carve-out by 2023.  Columbia’s team won the Most Innovative Solution award.  Their solution proposed a new rate structure model that resembled a hybrid of two current approaches, time-of-use and real-time pricing.

Congratulations to the winners!

Things I Considered When I Was A Prospective Student

March 19th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Prospective students are bombarded with information about why each graduate program is the best one out there. The campus is beautiful! The flexibility in the curriculum is unmatched! The alumni connections are sure to lead to employment! While some of this information was useful, it was important for me to view all of these selling points through a filter; what would be the best program for me?

Here was the criteria I used when deciding between schools:


Size mattered in my cost-benefit analysis of each school. To me, more people means more resources means more opportunities. I had been in a small undergraduate major in college, and I saw the limitations of small. Size also meant there was all-but-guaranteed…


Diversity in graduate school is not just a buzzword. It the unparalleled experience of having opposing viewpoints in a classroom and engaging with people who have fundamentally different worldviews. I wanted to be in a classroom with people who valued academics and good debate, but whose backgrounds differed from my own.


The old saying goes that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. So too, goes for the three most important things in my graduate school hunt. As an older twenty-something, I wanted to avoid the rural campus I loved as an undergraduate, and look for a cultural center that would keep me entertained seven days a week. Access to a thriving arts scene, a vibrant nightlife, and plenty of restaurants was important to me.

Internship Opportunities:

Sure, I was excited about the academic opportunities at these various schools, but what would really differentiate them for me was how internships complemented their curriculum. In my field (journalism) internships are absolutely paramount to finding employment. I needed a school that had access to a plethora of local companies that were willing to hire graduate students. Ideally, I also wanted a school that valued the intern experience, and gave students credit for this work.

Alumni Connections:

At most institutions, a public policy graduate program is only two years. But strong alumni connections endure, and provide a critical connection to the program for years to come. They also are invaluable resources with whom one can network and learn more about various career paths. If I planned to invest in my graduate school education, it was pivotal for the school to have a strong alumni base.


post contributed by Danielle Schlanger, MPA Class of 2014

Spring Break: SIPA Style

March 18th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

When we were in college, spring break meant lying on the beach drink in hand (Cancun or Acapulco was often the destination of choice), reading Vogue (GQ for the guys out there) and delightfully indulgent tabloids, and working on bronzing your Vitamin D deficient skin.

Now that we’re in graduate school at SIPA, things are slightly different. We have traded in those carefree beach days for capstone work trips. That’s right folks, many of us are heading into the field over the next week to work on our semester-long projects in places like Honduras, Tanzania, Jordan, Kosovo and India.

Many of you may think we would be despondent over this change. No more drinks with tiny umbrellas in a beautiful locale? But truthfully, these capstone trips are far better than any spring break of our undergraduate days. The fulfilling work we do overseas furthers our understanding of international affairs and development, and many of the trips have a sightseeing component as well (The Tanzania kids are off to Zanzibar– and we think that’s very cool).

Many SIPA students not traveling for their capstone project over spring break are still taking advantage of the school’s extracurricular options. The Japanese Student Association is hosting a trip to Tokyo, and the Arab Student Association is organizing a Moroccan adventure that includes stops in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, and Tangier.

And of course, though they are few and far between, there are those among us that are opting for Cancun.


The words you long to hear…

March 17th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

The first batch of decisions went out today.

You see in your inbox that there is an email from the SIPA Admissions Office.  You open it and follow the prompts to learn your status on your application.

You sit back as you read the words, Congratulations!!! You’ve been admitted to SIPA!

A sigh of relief and now the happy yet nervous jitters comes over you.  What do you do now?  Once you have taken some time to celebrate, consider these suggestions:

Thank those who helped you: While you did the lion’s share of the work, there are others who helped with your application and probably gave you lots of encouragement and support along the way.  Show your appreciation to family, friends, recommenders, or anyone who has assisted you in the application process.

Read thoroughly any admitted student information you are sent:  In your admissions letter you will be provided with information on how to access the “new student Welcome page”.  It is through this page where you will find all the necessary information about how to prepare for life at SIPA as well as how to join the many SIPA community gatherings happening near you.  But most importantly, in the Welcome page, there are a few time sensitive actions that need to be taken if you plan to enroll at SIPA.   Missing a deadline can make a difference, and can sometimes result in you not being able to register for classes. Throughout the summer, you will also receive newsletters about upcoming events including the mandatory Orientation.

Talk to your new classmates:  You will be invited to join the new student forum, created for you. This is a way to establish communication with other admitted and current students.  Getting to know some of your future fellow classmates before you enroll is always helpful.  You may even find your future roommate and best friend through these interactions.

One of the many benefits of coming to SIPA is that you are exposed to so many people from around the world, here in New York and  wherever you decide to go afterwards.  But it begins now.  Once you are admitted, you will begin to receive invitations to meet up with current students and alumni in cities around the world, we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity — This is an excellent way to get the students’ and alumni perspectives of SIPA.  It is also a great networking opportunity.

Schedule a campus visit: If you have not visited us before, you may want to make some time for a New York City trip.  You’ll find a number of newly admitted students boarding a plane, a bus, or a train and making their way to New York for the Admitted Students’ Day on April 8th.  Mark your calendar and come join us for the day.

You can also schedule time to sit and observe a class at SIPA (if you come before May 9) or just walk through our beautiful campus located in a major metropolitan city — It’s hard to believe it once you step foot through the iron gates.  Needless to say, if you visit us, you will definitely meet students, faculty, and staff.  You may also set up an impromptu meeting with admissions staff if you have any questions, as no appointment is needed. Directions and travel information may be found on the SIPA page.

Prepare to relocate: SIPA can help, but you will need to do a lot on your own.  Some campus housing is available, but do not wait until the last minute to inquire and apply. Campus housing is limited and priority is given to international students who are relocating from overseas.  We suggest completing the housing form as soon possible.  You may do this through the new student Welcome page.  The Office of University Housing can also provide guidance on the right neighborhoods for you to reside if you want a little more freedom and opt for the off-campus housing option.

Start working on your financial plan: Even if you are not relocating geographically, there is a lot to consider in this time-consuming process. Make sure to read all financial aid materials that you receive; especially make sure you are clear about your scholarship/ fellowship offer and if the award is for one year or two years of study.  If you need loan assistance, complete the FAFSA at and be very careful to educate yourself about all that is involved before you sign any promissory notes (we have staff to assist you ). The FAFSA is for US Citizens and US Permanent Residents only so don’t complete it if you are an international student.  (See our FAFSA post.)

It may seem elementary, but it is amazing how many incoming students make false assumptions about the length of their non-loan-based financial aid. Be sure you have all the facts about tuition costs and financial aid before you enroll—you do not want any financial surprises.

Keep a list of suggestions: You will be exposed to the good and for some, not so good experiences before enrolling (at whatever school you choose). While things are fresh in your mind, make a list of suggestions and compliments to share with us before you enroll.  SIPA Admissions staff members are always looking for ways to improve our services.

Good luck with your decision and may you choose SIPA!

SIPA Decisions: What Happens If You Are Not Admitted

March 14th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Each year, the admissions office receives thousands of applications for 400 spots. This means that unfortunately, we are in the difficult position of rejecting some qualified applicants who would surely add to the vitality of our community. Here are some of the reasons we did not accept applicants for this admissions cycle:

  • Not enough work experience: As we have emphasized, we really do look for applicants who have worked at least 2-3 years, preferably in a policy-related field. We have found that more experienced students are able to contribute their wealth of experience and knowledge with their classmates, which makes for a more well-rounded entering class.
  • Weak demonstration of quantitative skills: All SIPA students are required to take microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistics as part of the school’s core curricula. Depending on one’s chosen concentration, he or she may have to take more rigorous quantitative classes. Because of this, it is critical that applicants demonstrate some proficiency or experience taking such classes.
  • Grades/GRE scores: We know that undergraduate classes may have been a long time ago, or that you didn’t have time to adequately prepare for the GRE. However, we have to take these records of your past academic achievement seriously, as they are oftentimes the best indicators of future academic success. While a low grade here and there is permissible, a smattering of poor classroom performances will force us to take pause.
  • Lack of English proficiency: We really value having a diverse student body, with roughly half of our students hailing from overseas. However, it is imperative that all of our students are able to take classes and communicate fluently in English. Oftentimes, we feel that a candidate has great credentials, but his or her English language abilities are not sufficient. This is reflected in a low TOEFL score, or poorly-written personal statement.
  • Unclear personal statement: This is arguably the most common reason we choose not to admit applicants. We regularly receive applications from great candidates who don’t seem to know quite what they want to do with their lives. This is okay! But…in order to maximize the value of a SIPA degree, we are really looking for students who are both driven and focused. Unlike one’s undergraduate years, where he or she likely had the opportunity to take classes in a host of subjects, time and space for exploration is far more limited in graduate school. We want students with concrete objectives and drive to take them where they want to go.  And we want SIPA to be the right place for you.

Again, we are sorry we can’t admit all of our wonderful applicants! We do encourage re-applying when one feels he or she is better equipped to attend, but we want to point out that there is a maximum of three times that one can apply to a specific degree program.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide immediate feedback on specifically why one’s application was not accepted (sadly our staff’s time constraints make this impossible right now).  But you are welcome to email us during the summer for specifics on how to improve your application.

Good luck!  And stay positive.


Admission Decisions – The Wait List

March 13th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Admission decisions for SIPA’s MIA, MPA, and MPA-DP programs will begin rolling out next week.  We thank all the patiently waiting candidates sitting by their computers.  It was a tough year reviewing application in terms of volume and system changes but we got through it and now we’re almost ready to release decisions — just making sure we’ve dotted our “i’s” and crossed our “t’s”.

But before the big release…  we thought we would share some thoughts about decisions coming out.

You’ve Been Wait listed….

For many, being wait listed to SIPA can be difficult to handle.  We understand how discouraging it can be to be placed on the wait list, especially if this is your first choice school.  However, it’s not all bad.

If you are wait listed, it means that your application shows promise but there were more highly competitive and qualified candidates than we have places for in the class.  There are just so many students we can admit into our class each year.

Please keep in mind that the Admissions Committee closely monitors the “wait-list” responses and sends updates to candidates.

Be aware however, that the number of candidates on the wait list can be rather lengthy. The wait list is not ranked and the Admissions Committee will review wait listed candidates based on documents already on file.  It is therefore not necessary to send additional documents for the Committee to consider.

While there’s no harm in inquiring about your status or other application issues, there is a fine line between what’s appropriate and overdoing it. The only liability is harassing the admissions office and having them make a note on your file to that effect.

We will move candidates off the wait list — just a matter of time.  Everyone on the wait list will receive a final decision by the end of the summer and some will be favorable decisions.

There is no guarantee that you will be admitted off the wait list.  If at the end, you are not offered admission into the program, it is helpful to reflect on your admission’s portfolio.

As for trying again, if a degree from SIPA remains in your educational plans, we recommend that you consult with one of our admission representatives to get feedback on how to strengthen your application for a future term.  In the majority of cases, we would recommend you wait an entire year before reapplying.

Good luck and stay positive!

SIPA Fun Facts

March 12th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Think you know everything about Columbia’s esteemed School of International and Public Affairs? So did we, until we decided to compile a list of fun facts about our beloved graduate institution. Here are some things we bet you didn’t know about SIPA and its storied history.

  • SIPA was originally named the School of International Affairs.
  • For the first SIPA class, the admissions requirements included “a distinctly superior undergraduate record and a better-than-average performance on the Graduate Record Examination.”
  • In its first year, SIPA tuition was $600 a year.
  • Max Abramowitz, the designer  Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center and oversaw the design of the United Nations, was the architect for the SIPA building still used today.
  • The [International Affairs] building was dedicated on October 21, 1971. But not everyone was happy about SIPA’s new home; its construction led to the demolition of a row of brownstones inhabited by 300 tenants.
  • The Masters of Public Administration program was established in 1977.
  • In 1981, the school decided to officially change its name to the School of International and Public Affairs.
  • In 1992, the program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM) was created.
  • Following the 9/11 attacks, SIPA faculty and students organized campus-wide programs to help with the recovery effort, including coordinating volunteer translators and garnering support for affected families.
  • Today, the school has approximately 1,100 students, 18,000 alumni living in 155 different countries, and almost 70 faculty members.
  • The current student age ranges from 20 to 55.
  • More than half of the student body is comprised of international students, hailing from 95 different countries.
  • Two of the nation’s most high-profile mayors are SIPA alumni. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio graduated in 1987, while his Los Angeles counterpart Eric Garcetti graduated from the program in 1995.
  • Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins teaches a class on public policy for MIA/MPA students.
  • Madeleine Albright received a certificate from SIPA in 1968.
  • Today, job titles of SIPA alumni include the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow Bureau Chief, the Director of International Strategy at Twitter, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, the Executive Director for the Michigan ACLU, and the Minister for Finance in Mongolia.
where it all began

Where it all began: SIPA Class of 1948



A California versus New York Comparison…

March 10th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

Things Southern California SIPA students notice right away…

1. The weather difference!  Anyone who grew up in Southern California will notice when the temperature drops below 55 degrees…In California, we call it the “arctic chill”

Arctic Chill:

This year the east coast experienced the POLAR VORTEX.

Polar Vortex in NYC:

2. the importance of a coat!

3. And Boots…

4. In N Out v. Shake Shack


Anyone who grew up in California will notice the food choices aren’t exactly the same…changing In-N-Out for a New York favorite the “Shake Shack”.


5. palm trees v. skyscrapers


Where’s the sun? Although New York is a great city, you’ll still have Californians asking for the sun…and warmer weather!

6. MTA v. Owning a Car


New Yorkers give subway directions like Californians give highway directions: Take the B to the A to the 1.


7. Jaywalking? NYC, LA


And – you’ll still find some Californians in NYC waiting for the street lights to turn green because jaywalking is not permitted in California.


8. Both Los Angeles and New York have elected SIPA Alumni as their Mayors


Anyway you decide to spin it – If you find yourself in New York, enjoy your time here!  It is the city of many opportunities and promise.

Good luck with Admission Decisions!

a humorous post submitted by Eder Gaona-Macedo, MPA 2014

It’s back… TEDxColumbiaSIPA

March 7th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDxColumbiaSIPA is a locally-organized, student-led event designed to spark authentic, impassioned, and open-minded dialogue in our community.  It is organized by students from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

Last year SIPA put together its first TEDx to stimulate dialogue around the common mission most dear to SIPA:  how to make a difference around the world.  The 2013 theme centered on “A Better World”; this year’s theme is: Think Smaller.

Instead of focusing on the big picture, we want to celebrate the small: individual success stories, micro-enterprises, local neighborhoods that we are a part of and the worlds we cannot see with the naked eye.

TEDxColumbiaSIPA 2014 is taking place on Thursday, May 8 at Miller Theater.  For more information about the upcoming event (which is still in the planning stages) and about ticket sales, click here.


My Application is Complete – Now What?

March 5th, 2014 by Admissions & Financial Aid

So your application is submitted and all materials have been received (i.e. complete), now you have some free time to start preparing for school in the fall. What should I do? Good question! We have compiled a list of things you can do while you wait for an admissions decision from SIPA and other policy schools. Please remember, these are only some suggestions that we think would be helpful while waiting for admission decisions…

Keep updated with current events:

Policy courses at SIPA will introduce both old and new policy events that will be analyzed and dissected. Take for example, the Columbia University expansion in New York City – it’s been discussed in multiple classes, most recently “Policy Implementation” with Professor Kristina Ford. Keeping yourself updated with current events at the local, federal and foreign events will help you understand concepts and contribute to class discussions.

Suggested sites:

Review quantitative courses:

SIPA students are expected to learn how to read and analyze policy papers heavy with quantitative information. In fact, three of the core classes for MIA and MPA are under the economics and statistics department. Having an understanding of the basics in economics and statistics will only help you succeed in the classroom. Lastly, brushing on some math will help during the ever-popular Math Camp.  Students can take courses at their local Community College over the Summer and or take free online classes, also known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). To get you started, here are some links we found by doing a simple Google search on the topic:

*Side note… if you are thinking about applying to SIPA in the future, courses taken to strengthen your quantitative background/skills on your application should be taken at an accredited (or international equivalent) university for a grade.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Looking for other ways to get prepared?  Nonprofits in your local community deal with everyday issues (homelessness, higher education access, foreign aid, etc), volunteering with them will give you a unique perspective of how nonprofits tackle some of some the most pressing problems. The experience will provide you with an understanding of different management styles that will be essential in the classroom. So, where can I find volunteer opportunities? Below are some sites we found to be useful:

  • idealist
  • Check your local city for volunteer opportunities, for example NYC

External Funding Search:

Although the application deadline has passed, funding season is still open. You should always be looking into funding opportunities beyond SIPA fellowships and loans. Our Financial Aid Department has compiled a list of external funding opportunities for incoming and continuing students. The advance search option allows you to search by category (i.e. human right, Urban policy) and by application deadline.

Buy a Coat!:

Thinking of making the brave move from warmer climates to the (U.S.) northeast? It’s the perfect time to buy a winter coat – many stores are gearing up for Spring and will be having last minute sales on winter coats.

Take these suggestions with a grain of salt – good luck with admission decisions!