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Established 1946
School type Private, Independent
Dean John H. Coatsworth
Location New Yorkmarker, New Yorkmarker, USAmarker
Enrollment ca. 1,200

The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University is one of the most prestigious graduate schools of public policy in the world. Located on Columbia's Morningside Heightsmarker campus in the Borough of Manhattanmarker, in New York Citymarker, the School has 15,000 graduates in more than 150 countries. Half of SIPA’s nearly 1,200 students are international, coming from 100 countries. They are enrolled in the traditional two-year programs, one of the three intense accelerated full-degree programs, in the mid-career executive program in public administration, or in one of several dual degree programs with international schools such as the London School of Economics and Political Sciencemarker, the Institut d'Études Politiques de Parismarker (Sciences Po), the Hertie School of Governance in Berlinmarker, and the National University of Singaporemarker.

Degree programs

The School offers seven degree programs and dual degree programs:

  • Master of International Affairs (MIA): The MIA program is structured around four complementary components: core curriculum, policy concentration, specialized skills and advanced knowledge. The MIA core curriculum focuses more on international issues than other SIPA programs. The MIA requires students to complete an internship and demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. Many MIA students participate in workshop projects for outside clients.

  • Master of Public Administration (MPA): The MPA program is structured around the same four complementary components: core curriculum, policy concentration, specialized skills and advanced knowledge. Students and faculty focus on local and national projects in a global context. All MPA students are required to complete an internship and a workshop project, working in teams for clients in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

  • Program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM): A 14-month program, emphasizing the problems of developing and transition economies. Students who complete PEPM program are awarded the degree of Master of Public Administration (MPA).

  • Executive Master of Public Policy and Administration (EMPA): Designed for professionals who wish to enroll in a graduate program, but are unable to pursue full-time study. Students can complete the program in either two or three years of study.

  • MPA in Environmental Science and Policy: Provides a management and policy analytic core and a natural and social science earth systems concentration. This 12-month program is jointly sponsored by SIPA and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

  • MPA in Development Practice: A 22-month MPA degree intended to train students to understand and manage integrated approaches to development challenges. The program emphasizes the development of knowledge and skills of a professional in developing societies.

  • Ph.D. in Sustainable Development: The Ph.D. in Sustainable Development includes a set of core requirements in social and natural sciences, and offers students the opportunity to pursue in-depth research in critical policy areas, with an understanding of the natural processes that interact with social systems.

International Affairs Building

International Affairs Building
The School of International and Public Affairs is located at 420 West 118th Street, just off Amsterdam Avenue on Columbia University's Morningside Heightsmarker campus in Manhattanmarker.


Columbia University's School of International Affairs was founded in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II. Emphasizing practical training, the mission of the School was to foster understanding of regions of vital interest and to prepare diplomats, officials, and other professionals to meet the complexities of the postwar world. It originated in dynamic regional institutes that, with an interdisciplinary vision bold for its day, drew on Columbia's renowned faculties in history, economics, political science, linguistics, and other traditional fields. The School awarded a Master of International Affairs (MIA) degree.

By 1950, three regional institutes were in operation—the Russian Institute (now Harriman Institute), established in 1946 and the first of its kind in the United States; the East Asian Institute, and the European Institute (now the Institute for the Study of Europe) both founded in 1949. During the 1950s and 1960s, the School expanded in scope and depth: SIA, as it was then called, developed a national and international profile as a leading center for educational and research programs in area studies, international security, and international relations. By 1967, the School was home to eight regional institutes, covering nearly every part of the globe. Originally housed in a row of brownstones, the School moved into its own 15-story building in 1971.

To meet a growing demand for skilled public service professionals at home as well as abroad, in 1977 the School added a second degree, the Master of Public Administration. In 1981, the program was renamed the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration and the School renamed the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). With its principal degree programs firmly established, SIPA added functional concentrations to both the MIA and MPA in response to emerging areas of need and professional opportunity—from international finance to urban policy, from human rights to environmental policy.

In the early 1990s, SIPA began appointing its own faculty, supplementing the distinguished social and natural scientists and humanists with whom SIPA students studied around the University. Within 15 years, SIPA faculty were among the most prominent in their fields, including the one-time director of the U.S. census, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, a judge on the appellate body of the World Trade Organization, economic advisors in both the Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush administrations, a former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, and many distinguished research scholars.

SIPA has continued to evolve, adding programs that mirror a globalized world in which the boundaries between international and public affairs, like the boundaries between states, have grown less distinct. In 1992, with support from the World Bank, The Program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM) was established to provide mid-career finance professionals with the skills required for effective design and implementation of economic policy, emphasizing the problems of developing and transition economies. Students who complete PEPM’s requirements are awarded an MPA degree.

One of the School's most notable initiatives over the years has been the International Fellows program which has given the best graduate students in the various schools at Columbia an immersion into international affairs in a one academic year program of seminars and networking events with high level international affairs practitioners. The program has a distinguished list of alumni which include a former Deputy Secretary of State,a Nobel Laureate, a Fortune 100 CEO and a prestigious national news magazine editor.

To accommodate the needs of working professionals who could not pursue full-time study, SIPA established the Executive MPA program in 1999 as part of the Picker Center for Executive Education. In 2001 the School introduced an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy (ESP), which condenses the usual two years of intermitent study (including a summer break) into twelve consecutive months, without a reduction in requirements, and provides core courses in management and policy analysis with a concentration in environmental science and earth systems. The ESP MPA program is offered in cooperation with The Earth Institute and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatorymarker. In fall 2004 SIPA inaugurated its first doctoral program, the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Sustainable Development, which combines elements of a traditional graduate education in social science, particularly economics, with a significant training in the natural sciences.

In addition, SIPA has established a Global Public Policy Network with the London School of Economicsmarker (LSE), the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Parismarker (often referred to as "Sciences Po") and the Hertie School of Governance, as well as a variety of other collaborations with public policy programs at the Universidad Externado de Colombiamarker in Bogotámarker, Renmin University in Beijing and other universities in Europe and Asia. SIPA also offers non-degree training programs in its home city of New Yorkmarker and around the world through the Picker Center for Executive Education. A history of the School written in 1954 boasts that students came from six countries outside the United States and that graduates were working in 17 different countries. The class of 2005 came from over a hundred countries, and the School’s 11,000 alumni are working in 155 countries.

Student life

Most students are at SIPA for two years or less. Many activities are centered around interest-driven student groups, student government (School of International and Public Affairs Student Association, known as SIPASA), the student newspaper "Communiqué," the student-edited policy journal "Journal of International Affairs" and a number of ad hoc athletic groups and intramural athletic leagues.

The Student Association (SIPASA)is led by an Executive Board chaired by MPA and MIA Co-Presidents. The following positions comprise the rest of the Executive Board: Vice President of Communications, ESP-MPA President, PEPM-MPA President, Treasurer, EMPA Representative and University Senator. Each program, MPA/MIA/ESP-MPA/PEPM-MPA, has seven functional chairs that serve student interests ranging from career services and alumni affairs to student life and academics.


Communiqué - Communiqué is a student-written, student-run newspaper of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. The editors are solely responsible for its content.

Conflict Resolution Journal - Dedicated to conflict resolution, the Conflict Resolution Journal is a dynamic, evolving Web project founded by students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Journal of International Affairs - Established in 1947, the Journal of International Affairs is the second oldest publication in the field of international relations, affiliated with and run by students at the School of International and Public Affairs.

SIPA News - The School of International and Public Affairs’ biannual publication featuring articles by faculty, students and alumni as well as current news about SIPA’s programs, events and alumni.

The Morningside Post is SIPA's student-founded, student-run blog. Students, faculty and alumni contribute posts ranging from coverage of SIPA events to personal accounts of their work in international and public affairs to commentary on current affairs and life at Columbia.

Noteworthy alumni

Noteworthy faculty

Noteworthy former faculty

Noteworthy former international fellows


  1. Student Association SIPASA

External links

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