Columbia University MPA Program

Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) was founded in 1946 with the mission of preparing diplomats and officials for the complex responsibilities of public administration in the post-World War II climate. The school initially only offered a Master of International Affairs (MIA) degree; a Master of Public Administration degree was added in 1977. SIPA is located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, on Columbia University’s Morningside Heights Campus. In addition to a two-year full-time MPA degree, Columbia University offers an Executive MPA and an MPA in Development Practice. The latter is a cross-disciplinary program that focuses on the knowledge and skills needed for public administration in developing societies. The school also offers an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy that is ranked third in the nation by US News and World Report.


Top-Ranked MPA Designed to Prepare Tomorrow’s Public Service Leaders.
Multidisciplinary Curriculum with Real-World Experience; GRE Waivers Available.

Delivered by Syracuse University’s #1-Ranked Maxwell School.
Action-Oriented Curriculum Completed in as Little as 15 Months; No GRE.

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The program can be completed in as few as 24 months. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply.


Columbia University MPA Curriculum

The Columbia SIPA MPA curriculum emphasizes the application of analytical tools to real world problems, drawing on the international resources of the school’s faculty and alumni. The curriculum consists of four components: core coursework and a capstone project, elective coursework, an area of concentration and a summer internship. The goal of the curriculum is to develop public affairs professionals who have managerial and analytic skills, and who understand local and national policy issues from an international perspective.

Columbia University MPA

Concentrations and Specializations SIPA allows students to target their professional goals by offering five areas of policy concentration in the MPA program. Students must satisfy requirements related to both a policy concentration and a specialization. Each SIPA MPA concentration consists of five courses in one of these policy areas:

  • International Finance and Economic Policy
  • Economic and Political Development
  • Human Rights
  • Energy and Environment
  • Urban and Social Policy
  • International Security Policy

Students also must complete three courses in one of the following specialization areas:

  • Management
  • Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis
  • International Organization
  • International Media, Advocacy and Communications
  • International Conflict Resolution
  • Applied Science
  • Regional Specialization (includes the following areas: Europe, East Central Europe, the United States, Latin America, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Russia and the Middle East)

Examples of how students can combine a policy concentration and specialization include a concentration in Human Rights with a specialization in International Conflict Resolution, or an Energy and Environment concentration with an International Media, Advocacy and Communications specialization.

Columbia University MPA Tuition

Basic tuition for the Columbia University SIPA MPA program can be found on the school’s website. Additional student fees and charges for services, including medical insurance, health services, computer lab fees and facilities and activities fees, apply.

Columbia University MPA Admissions

According to the Columbia University SIPA admissions website, admission to the school is competitive and decisions are based in large part on professional focus as well as academic excellence. Of particular interest are a prospective student’s professional experience and coursework related to economics, statistics and mathematics. The average age of applicants to SIPA is 27, with most applicants having several years of relevant professional experience. Details about the Columbia University MPA admissions are available on the SIPA Resources and Services website. The School uses a web-based application portal that allows 100 percent of all required documents to be submitted online. Interested applications should also visit the Columbia SIPA MPA Admissions Blog for tips about the admissions process and deadline reminders.