EMPA Program Video

Executive MPA Student Profile: Lyzz Ogunwo MPA '21

Executive MPA Student Profile:
Lyzz Ogunwo MPA '21


Jennifer Burden on SIPA’s EMPA Program: “Just dive right in. I’m so glad I did”

Jennifer Burden on SIPA’s EMPA Program:
“Just dive right in. I’m so glad I did”

Brittney Wetzel EMPA '20 on Pursuing Her MPA While Working Full Time

Pursuing Her MPA While Working Full Time
Brittney Wetzel EMPA '20


SIPA’s Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) degree prepares you for executive jobs that aim to develop free market economies, create better global security, and strengthen political bonds. The EMPA helps graduates forge careers in government, nonprofits, international organizations, and the private sector. As an effective leader, you will learn how to affect policy, influence the course of an organization, manage employees, understand the complexities of government, organize budgets, and advocate for public services.

Who It's For

The EMPA program is designed for the experienced and ambitious professional who is looking for a top-quality and practical graduate program, but cannot take the time off to pursue full-time study. The curriculum is designed to help graduates advance their careers without sacrificing their current work and life commitments.

Career Paths

The national need for trained policy analysts and public managers is a critical one, as public policy issues become larger and more complex. Our graduates pursue careers in local, state, and federal governmental agencies dealing with critical public policy issues, and work as managers and staff analysts in nonprofit organizations, private corporations, banks, and consulting firms.


The EMPA program trains professionals to be competent and sophisticated public managers by incorporating broad questions of public affairs and the specific analytic, managerial, and communication skills of management and policy analysis into the curriculum.  Students may choose from five concentrations:

Executive MPA Core Curriculum

Management and Innovation Concentration

Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Concentration

International Economic Policy Concentration

Global Policy Studies Concentration

Urban and Social Policy Concentration


Admission Requirements

In addition to SIPA’s general admission requirements, the EMPA program requires the following:

  • A demonstrated commitment to public service and extensive work experience in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors
  • A thorough understanding of the EMPA program and a clear indication of how the program fits the educational and professional needs of the candidate
  • Quantitative skills, including statistics and/or economics
  • GRE/GMAT required. Individuals with exceptional experience and/or accomplishments may apply for a waiver.

  • Learn more about what SIPA looks for

Tuition & Fees

Learn more about our Tuition & Fees

If I am accepted, may I defer my acceptance?

Deferral is possible for up to a year. You must pay an additional non-refundable deposit to reserve your seat for the following year; in other words, you would return the response form sent with your admissions letter to the Picker Center with both the standard non-refundable deposit fee of $2,000 and the $1,000 non-refundable deposit fee for deferral. The $3,000 will count towards your tuition and fees upon official enrollment into the program.

When do application decisions become available?

Because admission is granted on a rolling basis, decision dates are not fixed. Generally, applicants will hear back within a month.

If I previously applied to the EMPA and was asked to reapply, will my application roll over?

If you have applied and are encouraged to reapply for the following year, you must submit a new application; however, your supporting materials from the previous year will have been preserved. This includes your transcripts, recommendations, test scores, and personal statement, though the committee strongly encourages an update on the personal statement for the new application. Be sure that you contact the Office of Admissions to inform them you want to reapply for the following fall semester.

Can I sit in on classes and/or schedule an informational interview?

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit classes and/or schedule an informational interview with the program's faculty and administrators. Sitting in on a class is an excellent way to find out more about the EMPA program and meet faculty, staff, current students, and fellow applicants. Informational interviews give prospective students a chance to determine more fully if SIPA’s program is right for them.

Please email the EMPA Recruitment Office if you would like to set up an informational interview, sit in on classes, or if you have any questions about the program.

I took a class at another university. Can I transfer it over?

We can only accept relevant graduate-level courses from a previously completed graduate program. Any course must be at least a B grade from an accredited university. The maximum number of credits you may transfer into the EMPA program is six credits, pending approval from your academic adviser.

I already took microeconomics. Do I have to take Micro I and Micro II again?

Microeconomics I and II are considered core courses and no core courses can be replaced. You can forego taking these classes  by passing the Micro Exemption Exams, which the program assistant can schedule with you directly. You must take separate exams for Micro I and Micro II which we will determine if you are exempt from Micro I, Micro II, or both. If you place out of Micro I, Micro II or both, you will have to take another three to six credits (depending on your results) to replace these classes. Your academic advisor will provide you with a list of courses that qualify as possible replacements. 

Is the GRE required?

Students who have extensive work experience or have previously completed a degree in a quantitative field may email [email protected] to request a waiver for the upcoming admissions period. If you have already taken the GRE and would like to submit your scores for consideration, you are welcome to do so.

For whom is the TOEFL or IELTS mandatory?

If the official language of instruction at your undergraduate institution was NOT English, you must take the TOEFL or the IELTS exam. An acceptable TOEFL score is 100 and above. The minimum IELTS score is 7.5.

What concentrations can EMPA students select from?

EMPA students have the option of concentrating in Advanced Finance and Management, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, International Economic Policy and Management, or Urban and Social Policy. You will choose your concentration after you have successfully completed two semesters in the EMPA program. 

If I begin in one concentration, can I switch to another?

Yes, you can change your concentration. However, you must consult with your academic adviser about making such a change.

Am I allowed to take courses outside of SIPA?

Yes, you can take up to six credits (two courses) outside of  SIPA. However, all courses must be approved by your academic advisor prior to your cross-registration at another Columbia University school. 

Do current EMPA students and alumni cross paths often? If so, under what circumstances?

The EMPA alumni association hosts events that bring alumni and students together. In addition, SIPA's Office of Alumni Affairs and Office of Career Services hold events that offer opportunities for alumni and students to meet.

Am I eligible for any scholarships?

Picker Fellowships are awarded to selected EMPA students who work for certain departments of the City of New York. Not all public employees are eligible; please contact the EMPA office for more information.

All students may be considered for an EMPA Fellowship, a merit-based, one-time award that grants qualified applicants a monetary scholarship of up to a semester's tuition. The fellowship application is part of the general EMPA application.

If I'm an international student, will I need a visa to come to the NYC campus?

As an international student, you must apply to Columbia University’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for student status. The I-20 is required to apply for a student entry visa (F-1) at a U.S. consulate to present at a port of entry upon arrival.

Program Requirements

Students must complete the following as part of this program.

15 courses (54 points), consisting of:

  • EMPA Core Curriculum (21 points)
  • One of EMPA's five concentrations (12 points)
  • Approved elective courses (12 points)
  • In lieu of an internship, EMPA students are granted up to 9 points for professional and management work experience.


Application Checklist

  • Completed Application Form
    100% of the application process can be completed online.
  • Personal Statements/Essay Questions
  • Application Fee
    US $95, nonrefundable
  • Standard Résumé/CV
  • Quantitative/Language Résumé
    The second résumé requirement provides the committee with additional information on your quantitative and language knowledge and proficiency. This special quantitative/language résumé should elaborate upon the skills you have developed related to quantitative methods and language learning. It is acceptable if some of the information included in this résumé overlaps with your standard/traditional résumé. (Example résumé.)
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
    Choose recommenders who, individually or in aggregate, will give the best sense of your qualifications for study at SIPA. You may submit one professional and one academic recommendation, or two professional recommendations.

  • GRE/GMAT Test Scores
    Executive EMPA applicants who have significant work experience and/or have performed well in previous quantitative courses may request a GRE/GMAT waiver. To request a GRE/GMAT waiver, contact the EMPA Program Office. If a waiver is not approved, then your official, unexpired GRE/GMAT scores must be on file one month prior to orientation.

  • TOEFL/IELTS Scores
    If English was not the official language of instruction of your undergraduate college or university, you must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam. You must upload your unofficial score report as part of your application. The exam must have been taken no earlier than two years prior to application. Our TOEFL code is 2161. Official, unexpired scores must be on file one month prior to orientation.
  • Official Transcripts
    A bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution is required to enroll at Columbia SIPA. Please submit transcripts from all colleges, universities, and professional schools attended (including Columbia). Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended must be on file one month prior orientation.


Employment Statistics


Employment By Sector

Employment by Sector: Public Sector, 20.8%; Private Sector, 35.8%; Nonprofit Sector, 43.4%; Pursuing Further Study: 0.0%



Employed / Pursuing Further Study


Seeking Employment


Not Seeking Employment

Employment information as reported by the graduates six months after graduation. In 2021, 70 students graduated from the EMPA program, 57 reported.

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