School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Established 1946
School type Private, Independent
Dean John H. Coatsworth
Location New York, New York, USA
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 Heights campus in the Borough of Manhattan, in New York City, 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 Science, the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.[1]


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. Foreign Policy Magazine has ranked the MIA 5th in the world since the beginning of its Ranking of Master's programs in international relations.
  • 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 accelerated 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 Heights campus in Manhattan.


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 (now the Weatherhead 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 intermittent 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 Observatory. 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 Economics (LSE), the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (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 Colombia in Bogotá, Renmin University in Beijing and other universities in Europe and Asia. SIPA also offers non-degree training programs in its home city of New York 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. [2]


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

  • Jose Ramos Horta (graduate student), President of East Timor (2007–); former Prime Minister; Nobel Laureate
  • Salim Ahmed Salim, Prime Minister of Tanzania, Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, President of the United Nations General Assembly
  • Joseph Kofi Adda, Member of Ghanaian Parliament for Navrongo Central and Ghanaian Minister for Energy
  • Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, Minister of External Affairs of Nigeria and U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs
  • David Kay, Chief UN weapons inspector and head of Iraq Survey Group
  • George Tenet, Head of CIA
  • Isaiah Zimba Chabala, Ambassador of Zambia to the European Union, Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Patricia M. Cloherty, Co-Chairman, President and General Partner of Apax Partners Inc.
  • Bill de Blasio, New York City Councilman and a candidate in the New York City Public Advocate election, 2009
  • Oscar R. de Rojas, Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations
  • Daniel Fried, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
  • Steven Fulop, City Councilman, Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Eric Garcetti, President, Los Angeles City Council
  • Victor Gotbaum, Head of DC37, the largest municipal union in New York City
  • Patricia M. Haslach, former U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • A. Michael Hoffman, Co - Founder and Managing Partner of Palamon Capital Partners
  • Thomas Hull, former U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone and professor at Simmons College
  • James E. Jordan, President of The William Penn Corporation and Managing Director of Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder Advisers, LLC
  • Glenn Kessler (journalist), Washington Post reporter and author
  • Leo Koguan, Chairman and Co - CEO of Software House International, Inc.
  • Stephen Krasner, Director for Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State and Professor of International Relations at Stanford University
  • James Leitner, President, Falcon Management
  • Edward Luck, noted expert on the United Nations and Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs
  • Gunnar Lund, Ambassador of Sweden to France (2008-Present); formerly to the United States
  • Robert Mantel, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Politico - Military Affairs
  • Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the United States
  • Karen Poniachik, Chilean Minister of Mining
  • Robert D. Reischauer, Director of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office
  • Curtis Roosevelt, international civil servant and professor
  • James Rubin, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief Spokesman for the State Department from 1997 to May 2000
  • David Saltzman, Executive Director, Robin Hood Foundation
  • Robert Scher, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Michael Schiffer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Andrew J. Shapiro 1995, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs (2009-)
  • Claire Shipman, ABC News correspondent
  • Richard Mills Smith, CEO of Newsweek
  • Frank Snepp, journalist and former CIA analyst
  • Timothy S. Sommer ’97 - Managing Director of TH Partners (a Private Equity Consulting Firm) and Served in Hon. Rudolph Giuliani Mayor's Office from 1997-2002
  • Joan E. Spero, President of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs
  • Katie Stanton, White House Director of Citizen Participation
  • Jens Ulltveit-Moe, Founder and CEO of Umoe AS
  • Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • William Weschler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats
  • Ross Wilson, Ambassador of the U.S. to Turkey
  • Joel Wit, former State Department Official and visiting scholar at the U.S-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS
  • Brian Wynter, Governor of the Bank of Jamaica
  • Donald Yamamoto, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and former ambassador to Ethiopia
  • Lan Yang, Chair, Sun Media Investment Holdings Ltd.
  • Peter Zalmayev, activist for promotion of democracy in post-Communist transitional societies of Eastern and Central Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia

Noteworthy faculty

  • Lisa Anderson, former dean of SIPA and a leading expert on the Middle East
  • Jagdish Bhagwati (scholar), prominent economist
  • Richard K. Betts, prominent political scientist and director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • J. Bowyer Bell, historian, artist and art critic.
  • David Dinkins, first African American mayor of New York City
  • Michael Doyle, author of the democratic peace theory and prominent analyst of empires, former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General
  • Albert Fishlow, noted expert on Brazil and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs
  • Howard Steven Friedman, Health Economist and Statistician at the United Nations
  • Ester Fuchs, former Special Advisor to the Mayor of New York City and noted expert on urban politics & policy
  • Merit Janow, the only North American member of the WTO appellate body; former Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Japan and China (1990-93)
  • Robert Jervis, one of the most influential international relations scholars, expert on foreign policy analysis and political psychology
  • Rashid Khalidi, historian and director of SIPA's Middle East Institute
  • Kenneth Lipper, former deputy mayor of New York City, financier, novelist, and screenwriter
  • Edward Luck, noted expert on the United Nations
  • Mahmood Mamdani, a leading scholar on Africa
  • Jack F. Matlock, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union
  • Mary Robinson, the first female President of the Republic of Ireland, serving from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002.
  • Arvind Panagariya, professor of economics
  • Kenneth Prewitt
  • Jeffrey Sachs, chief economic advisor to many governments, former Director of the UN Millennium Project, Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals
  • Giovanni Sartori, Albert Schweitzer Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Columbia University, New York
  • Stephen Sestanovich, former Ambassador-at-large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State on the New Independent States (NIS).
  • Gary Sick, noted expert on Iran and three-time member of the National Security Council.
  • David C. Stark, professor of sociology
  • Alfred Stepan, professor of government
  • Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank and former chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisors
  • Elisabeth A. Lindenmayer, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General
  • Mark M. Lowenthal, former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Research
  • David Rothkopf, Chairman and CEO of The Rothkopf Group, LLC and Garten Rothkopf LLC and former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade
  • José Antonio Ocampo, former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
  • Kenneth Waltz, one of the most influential international relations scholars. He is one of the founders of neorealism, or structural realism, in international relations theory.

Noteworthy former faculty

Noteworthy former international fellows


External links

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