The Admissions Committee values relevant professional experience, proven academic ability, and a passion for public policy and/or international affairs.

Relevant professional experience

Our students come from every corner of the globe, bringing vastly different professional backgrounds and work experience. The only truly common thread is that most successful applicants have had at least three years of work or internship experience relevant to their intended course of study. Strong experience at an international relief organization, a government agency, a nonprofit or nongovernmental organization, or a corporation with operations in the international sphere (to name a few examples) will make your application more competitive.

Each year, 5 to 10 percent of accepted students come directly from undergraduate institutions. These are individuals with extraordinary academic records who have also had significant internship or study abroad experience. In some cases, recent undergraduates with very strong academic credentials are not offered admission, but are encouraged to reapply after they have gained at least one year or more of relevant work experience.

Proven academic ability

Strong academic performance in your undergraduate work is also a must. We look for a strong GPA, academic references, GRE and/or GMAT test scores depending on your program, as well as extracurricular involvement and excellent letters of recommendation.

No particular undergraduate major is required, but those looking ahead to possible study at SIPA can take courses in international relations, political science, foreign languages, and history. If your field of study was far from the international relations or public administration fields, make sure to address in your essay why you now wish to “change gears” and study at SIPA.

Quantitative coursework

Because SIPA’s core curriculum includes economics, statistics, and financial management, we look for evidence of your ability to undertake quantitative coursework at the graduate level. We prefer applicants who have completed introductory courses in macro- and microeconomics. While not strict requirements, courses in economics, statistics, and mathematics will bolster your candidacy and provide a helpful foundation for study here.

To complete the (optional) higher-level economics sequence, or to pursue careers in economics, trade, or finance, you will need an even stronger foundation in mathematics. We recommend you complete college-level courses in calculus, algebra, and statistics if this applies to you.

Passion for public policy and international affairs

Above all, we seek candidates who are passionate about making a difference and eager to shape global policy and international affairs. When applying, be sure to tell us how a SIPA education will help you contribute to solving our biggest global challenges—whether in economic development, human rights, energy, science, finance, or other fields.

SIPA Requirements

At a minimum, all applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution prior to enrolling at SIPA.
  • Provide valid GRE or GMAT test scores (optional for 2022)
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the English language adequate for study at the masters level. A score of at least 100 on the TOEFL Internet-based exam, 7 on the IELTS exam, or C1 Advanced on the CEFR for English (185 Cambridge English Assessment) is required in order for your application to be reviewed.

Details on all application requirements may be found on each program's page.

Program Requirements

Some degree programs have additional requirements and guidelines in addition to the general requirements outlined above. To learn more, read about individual degree programs and use our compare programs tool.