Admissions General FAQs
Columbia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 267-284-5000 (MSCHE).
The application deadline varies by program. All material, including standardized test scores, must be received by the SIPA Office of Admissions and Financial Aid by the application deadline.
- Master of International Affairs (MIA): October 15
- Master of Public Administration (MPA): October 15
- MPA in Environmental Science and Policy (PESP): January 15 for fellowship consideration; February 15 for admission
- Program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM): January 5 for fellowship consideration; February 5 for admission
- Master of International Affairs (MIA): January 5 for fellowship consideration; February 5 for admission
- Master of Public Administration (MPA): January 5 for fellowship consideration; February 5 for admission
- MPA in Development Practice (MPA-DP): January 5 for fellowship consideration; February 5 for admission
- Executive Masters of Public Administration (EMPA): July 1
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)
Official tours of the SIPA building are offered on Fridays following the MIA, MPA and MPA-DP Information Sessions. Advanced registration is required, and we recommend attending an information session in conjunction with the tour. Prospective students have the opportunity to learn more about SIPA, its curriculum, and the application process by attending an information session. Prospective students may contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to set up class visits, meet with current SIPA students and/or attend an upcoming information session. You may access the tour reigstion page, information sessions and class visits via the Visit SIPA webpage.
Tours of Columbia's main campus are given by the Visitors Center and can be arranged by calling 212-854-4902.
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 Program FAQ's for program specific details.
Yes, you may apply simultaneous 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.
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. It can be said that most admitted students have a minimum of 3 years of full-time work experience.
An interview is not part of the application process. Due to the enormous interest in our programs, the SIPA Admissions Office is unable to arrange individual informational appointments for all prospective students. However, all SIPA programs offer Information sessions throughout the year and we encourage you to visit our campus . Please refer to the School events calendar for a list of in person and online information sessions.
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.
SIPA has no minimum GPA or GRE/GMAT scores. The Admissions Committee carefully reviews every application it receives and considers grades, particularly those in relevant coursework, in the context of the applicant's personal statement and work experience.
Submission of GRE (or GMAT) scores are required for all applicants. The Admissions Committee may grant waivers of this requirement in rare cases. Most waivers are approved only if an applicant can prove that taking the GRE or GMAT would pose a tremendous hardship. If you have questions concerning this requirement, please send an email to email@example.com
We require the GRE (or GMAT) because it is a useful indicator of academic ability. However, we do not make a decision solely on the basis of standardized test scores.
For information on the GRE visit www.ets.org. Our ETS school code, 2161 (there is no department code).
For information on the GMAT visit www.mba.com/mba/TheGMAT. Our GMAT codes are as follows:
Master of International Affairs: QF8-64-56
Master of Public Administration: QF8-64-99
No. We will not accept LSAT scores.
Application fees are used to cover the expenses of processing applications and maintaining our online system. We waive the fee only for participants or alumni affiliated in specific programs (Pickering, PPIA, IIPP, McNair, Muskie, Peace Corps) with which we have a formalized agreement.
Applicants requesting a fee waiver should email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants must be prepared to submit an official document confirming participation in the appropriate program. Unfortunately, we do not grant fee waivers for financial hardship.
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 of 100 on the TOEFL ibt, 600 for the paper-based TOEFL, or 250 for the computer-based TOEFL. Applicants who choose to submit IELTS scores must meet a minimum of 7.0.
However, if the language of instruction was English for your four year Bachelor’s 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 email@example.com to request a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. (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.
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 copies.
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.
Documents do not need to be mailed together. It can expedite the process to mail documents together, but we understand that items may be mailed from other individuals (i.e. recommendation letters). Please mail documents to:
Columbia University | SIPA
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
514 West 113th Street
New York, NY 10025
All documents, except foreign transcripts judged irreplaceable, become the property of Columbia and cannot be returned. All documents must be in English or accompanied by certified translations. Translations may be uploaded to our Web site.
Please note that the following candidates are NOT eligible for deferment:
- MPA-DP candidates
- MPA-PESP candidates
- MIA or MPA candidates admitted from the waitlist
- MIA or MPA candidates admitted for spring
Master of International Affairs/ Master of Public Affairs
Master of International Affairs or Master of Public Affairs candidates may submit a request to defer enrollment for one year with the permission of the Admissions Committee. Applicants to the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice are not eligible for deferral consideration.
Deferrals are not granted for more than one year.
Candidates admitted from the waitlist are not permitted to submit a request to defer.
In order to be considered for deferral, accepted applicants must submit an email request outlining their reasons for seeking deferral to the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. The request will be brought before the Admissions Committee for deliberation. If approved a $1,000 deferral deposit is required to secure a space in a future term. The deferral deposit fee of $1,000 will be added to the enrollment deposit fee for a total deposit of $3,000. This amount acts as a credit on the student account upon enrollment.
Generally requests are granted only for very compelling reasons. Reasons the Admissions Committee may consider include medical or family emergencies, or extraordinary professional opportunities. The Committee does not consider requests from candidates who wish to postpone their enrollment at SIPA in order to attend another academic program prior to enrolling at SIPA. Requests are also not granted if based solely upon financial considerations. The Admissions Committee may ask for documentation to support the deferment request (i.e. letter from employer confirming extraordinary professional opportunity).
Letters requesting deferral must include the following text:
"I understand that this $1,000 deferral deposit is nonrefundable. If I fail to enroll in the (insert appropriate semester), regardless of reason, both my deposit and my admission offer will be forfeited."
If the deferral request is approved, the $3,000 combination of nonrefundable enrollment and deferral deposit is credited to the student's account and will count toward tuition if the student enrolls at the expected time.
The deposit will be applicable only for the agreed upon matriculation date and will not be returned to the applicant under any circumstances. If the candidate does not enroll for the term agreed upon, the admission offer and deposit are forfeited.
The deferral deposit will not be waived or reduced. These policies are very strictly enforced, and we strongly encourage students who cannot enroll in the coming semester to consider reapplying for the semester in which they wish to enroll. The only candidates who should consider deferral are those who are absolutely certain that they can guarantee their enrollment in a specific future semester and who are willing to risk losing the $3,000 total deposit if their plans change.
Please also note that at SIPA only newly admitted students are eligible for fellowship consideration. This means that students who defer are not eligible for fellowship consideration. The reason for this is two-fold:
First, the applicant pool is different from year-to-year. Second, the Admission Committee is different from year-to-year. Because of these factors, only applicants who are reviewed during the corresponding admission cycle are considered for fellowship funding. The Admissions Committee looks very favorably upon reapplications from candidates who were previously offered admission, and although there is no guarantee of readmission, the likelihood is strong. For information on the reapplication process, please see the information below.
After reviewing all of the applications received, the Admissions Committee typically places a small number of applicants on an admissions wait list each year. As admitted students respond to their admission offers, we evaluate our enrollment needs in light of the number of seats that remain available in the class.
If your application has been placed on the wait list, we ask that you respond to let us know if you would like to remain on the wait list or be removed. Applicants who wish to remain on the wait list will receive occasional updates via e-mail about their status; these updates may continue until our numbers for the incoming class are finalized. A final notice will be emailed to all applicants on the wait list once the class has been finalized. The wait list is not ranked, nor is there any guarantee that applicants placed on the wait list will be granted admission.
If a space becomes available and your application is chosen, we will contact you. At any time you may contact us if you would like your application to be removed from the wait list.
No. We do not permit applicants on the wait list to submit any additional materials. These applications have already been evaluated by the Admissions Committee; newly submitted materials will not be reviewed.
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. For general information on the most common reasons why applicants are not admitted to SIPA, please visit our Requesting Feedback page.
The best way to stay up-to-date is to subscribe to the SIPA Admissions Blog. You may do so by utilizing the Feedburner box in the right hand menu of the blog.
Self-reported GMAT, GRE, and/or TOEFL scores must be submitted with the application by the deadline. Scores will be verified after admission to the program.
Decision notifications are posted to the application website. You will receive an email when the decision is available.
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.
For details on other degree programs, please refer to the specific program FAQs.
The Admissions Committee reviews each application thoroughly and with great care. All decisions are final. There is no appeal process.
Application materials from all programs are kept on file for two years, after which they are destroyed. You are only permitted to reapply twice after your initial application. Reapplications are subject to the same deadlines and regulations as new applications.
You are required to submit a new application to reapply, however, not all materials must be submitted again. The first step is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating the program, year, and term of your original application, as well as updated contact information, including a working e-mail address and current mailing address. (Your decision will be mailed to this address.)
Reapplicants must update the personal statement and Résumé / C.V. and submit an application fee. It might also benefit applicants to retake standardized tests such as the GRE, GMAT, or TOEFL score (if applicable). In the second essay, reapplicants should also address how they have enhanced their candidacy since the previous application.
You are considered a reapplicant if your last application to SIPA was submitted no more than one year ago regardless of the final decision.
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.