Admissions Blog

Insider Information: International Dual Degree

By Reena Mensingh '24
Posted Oct 02 2023

Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) stands as a global institution, fostering collaborations with similarly esteemed schools worldwide. Among its numerous offerings are international dual degree programs with prestigious institutions like the London School of Economics (LSE) in London, Hertie School in Berlin, LKYSPP in Singapore, FGV-EAESP in São Paulo, GraSPP in Tokyo, and Sciences Po in Paris.

I joined a close-knit and supportive community of roughly 20 international dual-degree students from Sciences Po SIPA. This program was my top pick for grad school, even though I applied separately to each program. Having wrapped up my previous studies in Ontario, Canada, I realized how important it was to understand the viewpoints of academics and practitioners from both the United States and the European Union.

With my sights set on a global policy implementation career and drawing from my experiences with NGOs like CDS Kenya and the Afghan Women's Centre of Montreal, it became clear that learning from influential leaders and decision-makers was the key to fostering lasting, fair changes. This need is even more apparent today as the world changes, with the growth of BRICS countries and evolving perspectives on international security and foreign policy.

Sciences Po offered amazing opportunities that shaped my global perspective. I discovered that Canadian priorities aren't always widely shared in this diverse space. It also became evident that Europe is quite focused on specific countries in today's multipolar world order. I had the incredible chance to meet and prepare questions for ambassadors from over 13 countries at their embassies through the Sciences Po United Nations student group. I also took the Art of Diplomacy course taught by the former ambassador to China, Madame Sylvie Bermann, as well as my all-time favourite course; Emerging Economies in and Development Strategies in the Global South: from BRICS to Frontier Markets taught by the incredibly knowledgeable and distinguished academic, Dr. Alvaro Artigas.

Sciences Po also gives students the chance to volunteer at the Paris Peace Forum, where we were exposed to innovative projects addressing peacebuilding and development in the context of climate change, safe digital landscapes, and outer space. We rubbed shoulders with 45 heads of state and leaders of international organizations, including Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Colombian President Gustavo Petro, and US Vice President Kamala Harris. The forum also included key partners like the Brunswick Group, European Commission, and Microsoft. Personally, this experience greatly informed my classroom policy papers and memos, with opportunities to interview individuals from Meta's Transparency Centre, for example.

One of the most challenging parts of my time at Sciences Po was navigating the administrative side of things. From banking and housing to social security and phone companies, it was a significant challenge to move around without language proficiency or family in a foreign country. Even if you do everything correctly and submit everything on time, patience is key.

But the most enriching part, beyond academics, was forming incredible friendships and exploring the stunning architecture and landscapes. My friends from Sciences Po are like family now. From authentic gnocchi cooking lessons to Easter egg hunt dinner parties and road trips along the Italian coast, I'm forever grateful for these amazing friends, and I've been sending lots of postcards from New York.

I'm only a few weeks into my time at Columbia, and I can confidently say that my skills in navigating overseas administrative challenges have significantly improved. My classes at SIPA are already engaging and directly relevant to my global career, especially the Methods for Sustainable Development in Practice course where we study weekly cases with senior lecturer Eugenia McGill and the Creating A Social Enterprise course taught by the remarkable and seasoned entrepreneur Sarah Holloway.

Thanks to my time at Sciences Po, I feel well-prepared for all that NYC has to offer, and I certainly recommend this international dual degree to all applicants.