Archive for classes – Page 2

My Experience with Cross Registration

One of the great things about SIPA are the many course offerings across concentrations and specializations. Although the majority of students spend their first year focusing on the core curriculum, by your second year there are plenty of opportunities to branch out and take electives. One of the great things about SIPA is that it allows you to cross register at other schools within Columbia University. This is a really great add in because it allows you to mix and match across a variety of fields and courses. The process itself is fairly straightforward and varies between each individual school. For example, Columbia Business School offers two cross registration phases during the semester. There are a limited number of seats available for SIPA students in specific business school courses; however, there are a lot of courses to choose from. In my experience, you will generally get your first choice if you apply. SIPA students are able to cross register at several schools at Columbia University, including Teachers College, Columbia Law School, and the Mailman School of Public Health.

Overall, my experience with cross registration has been very positive. I’ve taken courses at the Mailman School of Public Health, the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) and Columbia Business School. At IRAAS, I took “Gender, Labor and Sexuality in the Caribbean” with Dr. Pinnock. The course explored the concepts of gender, sexuality and labor and the historical and contemporary perspectives of work in an increasingly globalized society. Taking the course in my second year was really beneficial, as I’d spent my first year at SIPA focusing on the core curriculum and taking classes in my concentration, International Finance and Economic Policy, which gave me a strong background in macroeconomic theory and analysis. The course allowed me to combine my two interests, gender and economic policy and apply my coursework from SIPA in my final paper in the class, which was on Sex Work and the Dollarization of the Economy in Contemporary Cuba.

I highly recommend cross registration and taking advantage of the many courses across Columbia. It is especially important for those of us who are interested in public policy to gain a breadth of experience across a variety of sectors.

Note from Admissions: Graduate school is a big commitment and “fit” is hugely important. Take advantage of SIPA class visits and register here.

New Courses at SIPA: Urban Social Policy & Building Big Renewable Energy Projects

It’s been a busy few weeks for us at admissions. We’ve been speaking with a large number of you about what SIPA can offer, and many of our admitted students will learn just that at our upcoming 2018 Admitted Students’ Day on April 10th. As a reminder, the admissions office will be closed Tuesday for #ASDSIPA2018.

For those who aren’t in New York City, we’re happy to present a glimpse into these new courses at SIPA:

As usual, we encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions about our innovative courses — and anything else on your mind. We’ll have more in our “New Classes” series soon, and in-person class visits are still available through this month.

We look forward to meeting you on Admitted Students’ Day next week!


Last year we reopened the Spring term option for our MIA and MPA candidates interested in getting a head start to the year.  It was well received due to it’s smaller size and timing. With the success of the class and the number of interested prospective candidates, we will keep offering Spring admissions.  So if you’ve been worried that Spring would no longer be an option, don’t despair, it’s here to stay.

Our Spring candidates were a little older than our fall candidates and with that they came into the program with a bit more experience.  It probably also explains the preparedness for the ones we admitted and enrolled.  The shorter time line from when an applicant applies, receives an admission decision, deposits, enrolls for classes, and start classes calls for someone who knows what they want to study, have done their research on programs available in the spring, have visited the schools, spoken with admissions counselors, students, alumni, faculty, etc extensively, and have made financial arrangements to be here … all in a matter of a few short months.

So for all those who know that they want to be at SIPA and are ready to begin the next chapter of their lives… We offer you Spring 2014.  The application is available now — earlier than expected… if you’ve been patiently waiting (thank you) for the Spring application to open, you have to wait no more.  Click here and explore.

SIPA MIA/ MPA Spring 2014 Admission timeline:

  • August 6: Application goes live
  • October 15:  Application deadline
  • December 2: Decision Notifications; however, Spring applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, which means if you submit a completed application before the deadline, then you will receive a decision earlier — great for candidates who need to know sooner rather than later.
  • December 14: Deposit Deadline
  • January 15 & 16: Mandatory Orientation
  • January 21:  Classes begin

preparation for grad school app

If you’re starting to apply to public policy programs, I remember being in your shoes.  It can be nerve wracking and frustrating especially when you have  years of professional experience, but in a non-traditional field. Coming from a background of working on political campaigns, I knew what skills I had developed and how they could help me be successful at SIPA, but I wasn’t sure how my resume would translate to an admissions committee that might not be familiar with the intense work environment, time management, and quantitative  skills that one builds on the campaign trail. Luckily for me I was able to make that argument because, here I am! I want to share some advice I wish someone had given me early in the application process. These tips can be useful to everyone, but especially those coming from a non-traditional working environment.

Here is some advice I wish someone had given me in preparation for the grad school application process.

1) Take some classes. 
Even though SIPA does not require any specific courses as a prerequisite to admission, you need to be able to show you have strong quantitative skills on your application.  I  knew where these skills came into play on a campaign,  but I knew it would be less obvious to others and scoring well in a math or econ class can help solve that as well as give you a leg up in your first year econ courses. In addition, if your grades weren’t great in college, as mine were not,  taking classes gives you an opportunity to prove that you’ve matured. Finally if you’ve been out of school for a while, it’s an opportunity to cultivate an academic reference, and one who is more experienced in writing letters of recommendation than your professional colleagues are likely to be, which brings me to number 2…

2) Give your references plenty of warning, and coaching. You should probably do this anyway, but it goes double if your references are from a field where they are not usually called on to give a recommendation.  In my case asking my former bosses to write a reference in October of an election year would have been far from ideal. You don’t want to miss out on a reference who knows you well because they don’t have time and you don’t want them to do a rushed job. In addition, your friends and colleagues may be unfamiliar with the application process so it useful to give them plenty of coaching about writing a good recommendation.  Send them a copy of your personal statement so they have a sense of your professional goals and can relate that back to your prior experience. Talk to admissions officers  (or read on our website) about what we are looking for in an application and then use your recommendations to highlight your strengths with specific examples and to help address any holes.

3) Start your applications early, not just the essay. I made this mistake with my early applications. I spent weeks writing answers to the long essay questions, but had not considered what I would include in my resume, what if anything, I would write about having been sick in college in the portion where they ask if there is any additional information the admissions committee should know, and how long it would take to track down and upload my transcripts in the proper format. Ideally I would fill all of these out ahead of time, and have uploading my final essays as the last step.

4) Visit the campus. Trying to distinguish between schools from their websites and viewbooks is kind of like online dating- you won’t get a real feel for them until you meet them in person. Undergraduate institutions have distinct personalities and so do their graduate counterparts. Not only will pre-application visits save you time and money on applying to places you wouldn’t actually want to go, they will help you get a feel for the culture of the school and thus what to include in your application. SIPA offers info sessions on most Mondays and Fridays as well as the opportunity to sit in on classes and interact with current students. Send us an email! I’d be happy to help you set this up.

5) Be able to make an argument for why you need your degree. I like to joke that I have a PhD in Campaign Management from the school of hard knocks, and yet here I am pursuing a Masters of Public Administration.  Think long and hard about what you want out of a graduate degree and which programs fit your career goals before you begin to apply. If you can’t explain to yourself why you need a degree from that institution to achieve your goals, then how can you explain it to the school? There is no shame in researching a program and deciding it isn’t the right fit for you. The more specifically you  can articulate how your program of choice will help you reach your goals,  the better your chance of admission and the better for you personally.

I’m looking forward to helping you through the process!

Best of Luck,

Nancy Leeds is a Democratic Campaign Operative and blogger pursuing her MPA in Social Policy and Management at SIPA.  She is specifically interested in voting rights and electoral systems.



Summer Reading – Part 6

First let me state what this entry is not.  The links you will find below are not the syllabi for new students entering in the fall of 2011.  The syllabi listed below are samples taken from courses taught in the 2010-11 academic year  for some of our core requirements.  Faculty are working over the summer to determine the exact content of classes for the upcoming semester and syllabi will be distributed during the first week of classes.

What this entry is trying to accomplish is to provide you with samples of content of our core degree courses from the past.  Some incoming students have made requests for examples from past courses and our curricular affairs office passed along the following.

So, please feel free to explore the syllabuses provided below to get an idea of the coursework and reading requirements.  Consider this a taste of a few of our offerings to get familiar with the work load and types of assignments you might expect.  Please do not attempt to contact the individuals listed in the documents as these courses have been completed.

Fall 2010 – U6006:  Strategic Thinking and Planning for General Mangers

Fall 2010 – U6005:  Effective Management in the Public Service

Fall 2010 – U6110:  Politics of Policy Making (MPA only)

Fall 2010 – U6800:  Conceptual Foundations of International Affairs (MIA Only)

Fall 2010 – U6500:  Quantitative Analysis

Fall 2010 – U6400: Economic Analysis for International and Public Affairs I

Spring 2011 – U6401:  Economic Analysis for International and Public Affairs II

Spring 2010:  Economics 4201 – Economics for International and Public Affairs II


"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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