School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

The School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University (also known as SIPA) is Columbia's professional and graduate school of international affairs and public policy school, located in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City.

School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
Graduate school
DeanMerit Janow
Location, ,
United States

SIPA offers the degree of Master of International Affairs (MIA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) in a range of fields, as well as the Executive MPA and Ph.D. program in Sustainable Development.

SIPA's alumni include former heads of state, business leaders, journalists, diplomats, and elected representatives.[1] Half of SIPA's nearly 1,400 students are international, coming from over 100 countries. SIPA has more than 70 full-time faculty, many of which include the world's leading scholars on international relations.


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

By 1967, the School was home to eight regional institutes, covering nearly every part of the globe. It also contained the non-area-specific Institute of War and Peace Studies (now the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies), founded in 1951 by university president Dwight D. Eisenhower.[2] Originally housed in a row of brownstones, the School moved into its own 15-story building in 1971.

To meet a growing demand for public service professionals, the school added a second degree, the Master of Public Administration, in 1977. 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.

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.

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.

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 two years 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.


International Dual Degree Programs

SIPA offers a number of dual-degree programs with other schools of Columbia University and offers international dual degree programs with the London School of Economics and Political Science, Sciences Po, the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, EAESP-FGV in São Paulo, the University of Tokyo and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore through the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN).[3]

Concentrations and Specializations

In addition to fulfilling all core requirements, MIA and MPA students must also satisfy the requirements of both a policy concentration and a specialization. Students choose one of the following six concentrations: Economic and Political Development; Energy and Environment (with focus areas in Global Energy Management & Policy; Energy Resource Management; and Environmental Policy & Management); International Finance and Economic Policy (includes focus areas in international finance; international economic policy; and central banking); Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy; International Security Policy; or Urban and Social Policy.

Students choose a specialization in one of the following: Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis; International Organization and UN Studies; Technology, Media, and Communications; Management; or regional expertise (8 different regions/countries). Regional specializations are offered in the following areas: Africa, East Asia, East Central Europe, Europe, Latin America, The Middle East, Russia, South Asia, and the United States.

Rankings & Reputation

Foreign Policy ranked SIPA fifth in its 2018 ranking of "Top Master's Programs for Policy Career in International Relations".[4] In addition, SIPA was ranked first by U.S. News & World Report Best Graduates Schools 2018 world rankings for International Global Policy and Administration, fifth for Environmental Policy and Management, and twenty-first overall among public affairs schools.[5]


SIPA is home to five centers:[6]

  • Center for Development Economics and Policy (CDEP): Supports microeconomic research to investigate the sources of poverty and to inform practical interventions to address them.
  • Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP): Provides independent, balanced, data-driven analysis to help policymakers navigate the complex world of energy.
  • Center on Global Economic Governance (CGEG): Produces policy-oriented research on global economic governance.
  • Center for International Conflict Resolution (CICR): Contributes to the resolution of international deadly conflict through research, education and practice.
  • Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies (SIWPS): Founded in 1951 under the sponsorship of Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his tenure as president of Columbia University, SIWPS was created to promote understanding of the "disastrous consequences of war upon man's spiritual, intellectual, and material progress". The institute has become one of the leading research centers on international relations in the United States.


Journal of International Affairs was established in 1947 and is the oldest university-affiliated publication in the field of international relations; it is edited by SIPA students.

The Morningside Post is SIPA's student-founded, student-run multimedia news publication. Its content: student-written investigative news about SIPA and the SIPA community, plus world affairs analysis, opinion, and satire.

Conflict Resolution Journal is a dynamic and evolving web-based project founded by SIPA students

SIPA News is a biannual publication featuring articles by faculty, students, and alumni as well as news about the school

Notable alumni

Notable faculty

Notable former faculty

Notable former international fellows


  1. Bradshaw, Della. "Meet the dean: Merit Janow, Columbia Sipa". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  2. "Columbia Founds War-Peace Study; Heads New Institute". The New York Times. 1951-12-10. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  3. "Dual Degree Programs". Columbia | SIPA. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  4. Maliniak, Daniel; Peterson, Susan; Powers, Ryan; Tierney, Michael J. (2015-02-03). "The Best International Relations Schools in the World". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  5. "Best International Politics Programs | Top Political Science Schools". US News Best Graduate Schools. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  6. "SIPA Centers". Columbia | SIPA. Retrieved 2015-09-02.

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