MPA in Development Practice

MPA in Development Practice


Early Action:
November 1, 2023
Fellowship Consideration:
December 20, 2023
Final Application:
February 5, 2024


21 Months





The application for the 2024-2025 academic year is now open.

Apply Now

Acquire the knowledge, and build the skills, experience, and networks, to make the world a better place. 

The 21-month MPA-DP, a STEM-designated degree program, is a practice-oriented, professional advancement degree where you will acquire the knowledge, and build the skills, experience, and networks, to make the world a better place. Our objective is to empower and support you through a combination of core and elective courses, skills development, and real-world practice. We support diverse, work-experience opportunities during the program, including a 3-month professional placement, a client-oriented, team capstone project, and internships. Upon graduation, you will be ready to apply these competencies with leading organizations in the public, non-profit, and private sectors or create your own enterprise, as many of our students have done.

21-Month, STEM-Designated

In Columbia SIPA's MPA-DP program, you’ll broaden your perspectives and deepen your skills and knowledge, taking your purpose local, national, and global. 

MPA-DP Students

Who It's For

Are you motivated to act in the face of persistent social inequality, unsustainable environmental practices, conflict and poor governance, and widespread poverty? Are you committed to sustainability and resiliency as essential — not just desirable — attributes of a better society? Are you frustrated by the difficulty of putting good ideas into practice and of taking effective practices to scale? Are you seeking a practice-orientated, interdisciplinary, education experience that will enable you to reach your full potential as an agent of change? If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, the MPA-DP is very likely the right program for you.

Career Paths

“Business as usual” graduate programs in development prepare you for traditional careers in traditional development institutions. But the “development ecosystem” is rightly becoming more complex and increasingly inclusive of all countries and societies. While our graduates are regularly finding their way into the United Nations, the multilateral development banks, aid agencies, NGOs, and development consultancy firms, the door is opening in non-traditional areas. Big name management firms like McKinsey and Deloitte have lately been recruiting our graduates. State and local authorities in the United States have hired MPA-DPs to tackle urban development challenges. Other graduates have joined tech start-ups and impact investing firms, or have created their own social enterprises. Several of our alumni are currently enrolled in PhD programs. Career paths for development practitioners will continue to evolve and diversify. And we will support you towards the path that best meets your professional and personal goals.

Students graduating with an MPA-DP STEM-designated degree acquire skills to advance their career and work in leadership, management, and research positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. With a STEM degree, students enter the job market with a US nationally-recognized designation, and it allows international students to apply for an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after their first year of standard OPT (a total of three years).


Your academics will cover a wide range of disciplines and sectors, including core courses in sustainable development, economics, statistics, global food systems, and more. In addition, you will also choose to focus your degree in a particular area, such as Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition; Disaster, Emergencies, and Crisis Management; or Gender, Human Rights, and Social Inclusion, to name a few.

Your coursework will also be supplemented by a three-month required professional summer placement with established partner organizations around the world, providing you with practical work experience in sustainable development practice and a holistic learning experience.

Program Information

  • Manage public policy processes and programs that advance sustainable development—from the grassroots to the nationwide and every level in between.

    Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of leadership techniques and mastery of strategic planning.

    Analyze, synthesize, and otherwise think critically to execute evidence-based decisions via intersectoral approaches.

    Graduates will be able to apply economic tools to policy and management problems.

    Articulate and apply a sustainable development framework in a contextually appropriate manner.

    Graduates will understand critical development sectors and cross-cutting issues.

    Communicate, engage, and partner effectively with diverse stakeholders in civil society, the private sector, and at public agencies.

    Graduates will communicate effectively through written memos and reports, data visualization, and tailored, concise oral presentations.

  • In addition to SIPA’s general admission requirements, the MPA-DP program requires the following:

    • A minimum of 2 years work experience (preferably)
    • A passion for Domestic and/or International Development

    Learn more about what SIPA looks for »

    Learn how to apply to SIPA »

  • Students must complete a minimum of 54 points to be considered for graduation. Including, 

Nigora Isamiddinova MPA-DP '19

Focus Areas

Students must complete 15 credits of any combination of courses from Sustainable Development Focus Areas. Focus Areas are not formal designations (like MIA/MPA concentrations) or required, but rather a way of organizing elective options since MPA-DP does not have concentrations. Focus areas are thematic niches around which students may opt to develop specific expertise.

Interactive Map
Explore the interactive map to view how, where and with whom MPA-DP alumni are changing the world globally.
Interactive Map
Explore the interactive map to view what MPA-DP students have done for their professional summer placement.
SIPA’s MPA-DP is a participating program in JJWBGSP. A JJWBGSP scholarship provides tuition, a monthly living stipend, round-trip airfare, health insurance, and travel allowance. 

Employment Statistics


Employed/Further Study


Seeking Employment


Not Seeking Employment

Employment information as reported by the graduates six months after graduation. In 2023, 50 students graduated from the MPA-DP program, 45 reported.

MPA in Development Practice (MPA-DP)

Contact Us

Dr. André Corrêa d'Almeida
Associate Director
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
+1 212-854-2636
[email protected]

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