How do I apply?

The application processes for all SIPA programs are handled online.  All documents required to be considered for admission can be submitted through the online application.  We do not require documents be mailed to our office.  Feel free to contact the Office of Admissions at 212-854-6216 or send an e-mail to if you have any further questions.

**A note about email addresses: To ensure your application is reviewed in a timely manner, please use the same email address for all communications regarding your application to SIPA. It's suggested you use an email account that you check frequently or one that is also associated with the examinations you are required to take in order to apply to SIPA (e.g., create an application using the same email address you use for your GRE exam.)**

What do you look for in an applicant?

The admissions committee seeks to admit candidates with a combination of proven academic ability and most successful applicants possess two to three years of relevant professional-level work experience. Please refer to the What We Look For page for details.

May I apply to more than one of your MPA programs at once?

Yes, you may apply simultaneously to more than one SIPA MPA degree program at SIPA. However, you should apply to the program that most closely reflects your professional, personal, and geographic interests and experience.  Admission decisions are determined by each individual program.  SIPA will not accept simultaneous applications to its 2-year MIA and 2-year MPA programs.  Admissions officers will be happy to offer guidance with your choices.

What is the average age of a SIPA student?

The average age of an incoming MIA/MPA student is 26. However, we have received applications from students who are as young as 21 and as old as 61. The vast majority of MIA/MPA students are between 25 and 35 years old. Most admitted students have a minimum of 3 years of full-time work experience. 

My transcript(s) and/or letter(s) of recommendation are not in English. Do I need to have the document(s) translated?

Materials that are not in English must be translated by an official translation agency and notarized. SIPA does not endorse or recommend any individual provider of translation services. Please submit both the original documents and the translations to the Admissions Office.

Can you tell me more about the GRE/GMAT requirement?

GRE (or GMAT) scores are required of all applicants, as we have found them to be useful indicators of academic ability.  However, in light of disruptions caused by COVID-19 to the administration of these tests and the ability of many applicants to prepare for them, SIPA will accept applications for admission for January 2021 and September 2021 without GRE (or GMAT) scores.  Applicants who do not submit GRE (or GMAT) scores must inform the Admissions Committee of the reason for the omission and provide other evidence not already apparent from their files of their ability to successfully complete SIPA's program, such as coursework requiring significant quantitative capabilities taken after their undergraduate studies. Applicants may use the form linked here to provide this information to the Admissions Committee. 

SIPA has no minimum GPA or GRE (or GMAT) scores.  The Admissions Committee carefully reviews every application in its entirety, including test scores, grades (particularly those in relevant coursework), letters of reference, and the applicant's personal statement and work experience.

We ask that you self-report  (manually input) your test scores to be considered for admission. If an applicant is admitted to the program and chooses to enroll, the applicant must arrange for the official test report(s) to be sent to the Office of Admissions prior to enrolling. Please note the Admissions Committee reserves the right to reverse an admission decision if the self-reported scores do not match official scores sent by the testing agencies.

We encourage applicants to list our test code when taking the GRE or GMAT.

Our ETS school code is 2161 (there is no department code). 

Our GMAT codes are as follows: 

  • Master of International Affairs: QF8-64-56 

  • Master of Public Administration: QF8-64-99

    What about the LSAT?
    We do NOT accept LSAT scores.

    May I request an application fee waiver?

    The $95 USD non-refundable application fee can be paid by credit card or check. Unfortunately, we do not grant fee waivers for financial hardship.

    We may grant application fee waivers to applicants who meet the following criteria:

    • Active duty U.S. military personnel
    • AmeriCorps 
    • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellows
    • Columbia University (Barnard, CC, GS, SEAS) 5-year dual-degree applicants 
    • Columbia Displaced Persons' Scholarship applicants
    • Graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
    • Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP)
    • Joint Japan/World Bank Scholarship Program (PEPM applicants only)
    • McNair Scholars
    • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)
    • Payne Fellows
    • Peace Corps volunteers (MIA, MPA, MPA-DP applicants only)
    • Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellows
    • Teach for All network partners (currently in service)
    • Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellows
    • Truman Scholar

    Applicants requesting a fee waiver should email Applicants must be prepared to submit an official document confirming participation in the appropriate program. 

    Do I have to submit TOEFL/IELTS scores?

    International students who did not earn a bachelor's degree from an institution in which English is the primary language of instruction, must submit proof of competency in English by submitting TOEFL or IELTS  scores in order for the application to be reviewed. 

    In order for the application to be considered for admission, applicants must successfully achieve a minimum score on the TOEFL or IELTS. By achieving a preferred score, admitted applicants will not be required to enroll in SIPA's mandatory American Language Program (admitted students required to take this course are notified in their admission letter).

    • TOEFL ibt minimum score: 100
      • TOEFL ibt preferred score: 110 or above
    • TOEFL paper-based minimum score: 600
      • TOEFL paper-based preferred score: 637 or above
    • TOEFL computer-based minimum score: 250
      • TOEFL computer-based preferred score: 270 or above
    • IELTS minimum score: 7.0
      • IELTS preferred score: 7.5 or above


    However, if the language of instruction was English for your four-year bachelor’s degree or international equivalent, then the TOEFL/IELTS exam is not required, even as an international applicant.  If you believe you meet these requirements, email us at to request a TOEFL/IELTS waiver at least two-four weeks prior to your application deadline. (A completed waiver must be received in order to process your request.) It will be forwarded to the committee and you will receive notification of the decision. Each waiver is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and submission of the waiver does not guarantee approval.

    Which transcripts am I required to submit?

    A bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution is required to enroll at Columbia SIPA. Applicants must submit transcripts for any college or university attended, even if the coursework was not part of a degree program. We need the credits, grades, and grading scale to be submitted. Unofficial copies of transcripts may be uploaded to the admission site for admission consideration. Only if an offer of admission is made and the applicant accepts will we require the submission of official transcripts; these documents must be on file one month prior to orientation. In addition, official documentation of the degree conferred is required.

    Every class taken must have a grade. Classes that have notes such as T, TR, or CR will not be accepted. These notes generally refer to transfer classes. If an applicant attended one school and transferred to another and the new school only notes codes for transfer credit, the applicant must submit the transcript from the first school with the grade achieved.

    If an applicant is currently in an academic program and will not finish the program by the time of the application deadline we ask that the applicant submit the most up-to-date transcript information. We do not require that a program be completed at the time of application. In other words, we can make an admission decision with incomplete transcripts if an applicant is still finishing a program. However, the academic degree must be completed prior to enrollment at SIPA. 

    What is the best way to stay informed about matters pertaining to admission and financial aid?

    The best way to stay up-to-date is to subscribe to the SIPA Admissions Blog.

    May I submit my application if I have not yet taken the GRE/GMAT and/or TOEFL/IELTS?

    Self-reported test scores should be submitted with the application by the deadline. Scores must be verified after admission to the program, but before your scores expire.

    After submitting my application, when will I receive a decision?

    Decision notifications are posted to the application portal. You will receive an email when a decision is available.

    MIA/ MPA

    The Admissions Committee will begin reviewing fall applications starting in January once all required materials have been received. Early-action applicants will receive decisions by January 1, and remaining fall decisions are communicated in mid-March. Spring applications are reviewed starting in mid-October once all required materials have been received, and decisions are released by late November.

    If I have been denied admission, may I appeal my admissions decision?

    The Admissions Committee reviews each application thoroughly and with great care.  All decisions are final.  There is no appeal process.

    If I was not admitted, can I get feedback on my application?

    The Admissions Committee appreciates the commitment of time and energy put into each application.  However, we are unable to offer individual feedback on why they did not gain admission into the program.

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