Internships are an integral part of the student experience at SIPA. Students in the MPA and MIA degree programs are required to conduct an internship along with submitting completed paperwork as part of their academic coursework, but all students are encouraged to explore internships as part of their education and career development.
MPA-DP students: In lieu of the internship requirement, MPA-DP students complete a mandatory 12-week summer field placement. However, MPA-DP students may still choose to register for up to three credits if completing a separate internship that is related to their concentration and outside of the summer field placement opportunity. MPA-DP students who complete a separate internship should still submit to OCS the internship paperwork that is detailed below.
PLEASE NOTE: International students should be aware of special regulations when seeking paid internships in the United States. Please review Information for International Students for details.
Students should search for a summer or semester-long internship upon arrival at SIPA, especially if one is pursuing a summer associate position in financial services or consulting. Employer information sessions open to first- and second-year students begin early in the fall. On-campus interviews for summer internships begin late in the fall semester.
Students should also plan to research organizations of interest, polish interview skills, and prepare marketing materials (such as targeted resumes and cover letters) throughout their studies.
Internship Search Strategy
A multi-faceted approach has proven most successful.
- Treat the internship search like a class; schedule a specific time slot each week for research and work.
- Regularly check SIPAlink to learn about available opportunities. You must be a matriculated student at SIPA to search and apply for opportunities through SIPAlink.
- Attend employer-related events including information sessions, panels, and conferences to network and gather contact information.
- Review student internship reports compiled by current and former SIPA students in the Internship Report Database in SIPAlink. Attend internship panels hosted by each SIPA concentration program.
- Prepare a targeted resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter.
- Search the SIPA Alumni and Student Network and SIPA Alumni Directory to find contacts in organizations and fields of interest.
- Contact organizations of interest to inquire about upcoming internship opportunities and/or to discuss the possibility of creating an internship based on the value you can add to their work.
- Meet with an OCS adviser and/or a SIPA Career Coach for guidance and support.
Students in the two-year MIA and MPA degree programs are required to fulfill a minimum of 120 internship hours in order to meet the internship degree requirement.
Internships can be used to meet the internship requirement if:
- It is related to your program, concentration, and/or specialization
- The work is substantive and professional in nature (in many cases, a percentage of the student's time may be involved in administrative tasks, depending on the organization and the nature of the position)
- It is not conducted in a family-owned organization/business
- It is completed during your degree program (internships completed before matriculation into SIPA are ineligible)
PLEASE NOTE: If you are uncertain whether your internship will counts towards the internship requirement, please contact Chrissy Ercole, Assistant Director of Student Relations (email@example.com).
With pre-approval from the Office of Academic Affairs, students may also complete a research internship with a Columbia University faculty member or research scholar. This option is intended for students pursuing careers in academia, think tanks, research centers, or similar entities. To be approved for a research internship:
- Students will be expected to work on a clearly defined and substantive research project, either under the direction of a Principal Investigator or of their own creation with faculty consent.
- Students will be expected to gain concrete research skills of a quantitative or qualitative nature.
- Students must first obtain approval from Rose Diaz, Senior Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) before registering for a research internship. Please see the OSA Application for Research Internship Form for more information.
Students have the option of registering for a maximum of three internship credits towards their degree. Students who want to earn internship credit for non-research internships will register for SIPA U9013 in the fall or spring semester; SIPA does not have summer registration. Students can register for either 1.5 (minimum of 120 internship hours) or 3 (minimum of 240 internship hours) internship credits. See the Registration Guide for details.
Registration for U9013 or U9040 internship credit is through the same registration process as other SIPA courses (SSOL).
STEP 1: Carefully follow the below instructions to complete an online Internship Report Form at this special link within SIPAlink.
- To prevent loss of information, we recommend that you first draft and save your answers in a Microsoft Word document, and then transfer them to the online form.
- Please use Internet Explorer when completing the form to save your report properly.
- Follow the link that says, ">> First-time Users: Click here to report your internship!" Please do NOT log in if you are creating a new Internship Report. You only log in to edit existing reports.
- Fill out all the fields and then submit the report by clicking "Save."
- PLEASE NOTE: All Internship Report responses must be in paragraph form with a minimum of THREE (3) full sentences per question. The responses must also be written in a professional tone. Your report will NOT be approved if there is not enough information and/or if the information is not written in the proper tone.
IMPORTANT: When answering the credit registration questions on the Internship Report, please be advised that you are simply stating your registration intentions. If you will register for credit, you must STILL register for U9013 (or U9040 for research internships) through the same registration process as your other courses. On the Internship Report, be sure to accurately select the semester and number of credits for which you intend to register, if applicable. If you register in a different semester and/or for a different number of credits than what was stated in the report, please notify OCS as soon as possible to avoid processing delays.
STEP 2: Once you are nearing the end of your internship, please submit your internship supervisor's contact information, using the Internship Employer Information Form. This is so the online system can send your supervisor an auto-generated Supervisor Evaluation Survey via a link sent to their work email address. If your internship is with Columbia University, please email email@example.com with your internship supervisor's Columbia email address instead of completing the Internship Employer Information Form.
STEP 3: You must ensure that your supervisor receives and completes the Supervisor Evaluation Survey. This survey is both a confirmation of your completed internship dates/hours and a detailed evaluation of your performance during the internship. We strongly recommend that you alert your supervisor to the receipt of this auto-generated survey link via their work email inbox, so that they can ensure the survey link is not lost in their SPAM inbox.
NOTA BENE: When registering internships for credit, they are graded on a pass/fail basis.
Students who meet any of the following criteria may be eligible to waive the internship requirement:
- On leave from job.
- Was employed on a full-time, permanent basis for a minimum of four years in a field relevant to student’s concentration and career goals prior to enrolling in SIPA.
- Dual-degree student who has completed an internship in another program.
To request a waiver, submit the Professional Development and Internship Waiver Request Form with required supporting documents.
PLEASE NOTE: Students who waive the internship requirement or received academic credit for an internship from their dual-degree program will not be awarded any internship credits.
IMPORTANT: To avoid delays in degree conferment, we strongly recommend that students DO NOT wait to request an internship waiver in their final semester.