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MPA-DP Professional Summer Placements

Between their first and second year at SIPA, MPA-DP students must complete a 12-week, full-time consultancy with an organization. An essential component of the MPA-DP curriculum, the “professional summer placement” is designed to provide students with real-world experience in sustainable development practice.

Core learning outcomes include:

  • Gaining a first-hand understanding of key interconnected sectors such as education, agriculture, environment, health, nutrition, energy, infrastructure, water, gender, and community development;
  • Engaging diverse stakeholders through inclusive, participatory and partnership-based processes;
  • Demonstrating effective use of project cycle management through problem identification, analysis, design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation;
  • Identifying effective evidence-based strategies for policy interventions to advance sustainable development at the local, national and/or global level;
  • Demonstrating self-reflection and inter-personal skills to analyze attitudes, perceptions, and biases;
  • Communicating important achievements and challenges in sustainable development through videos, multi-media presentations, and project reports.

Host Organizations

Students secure their summer placements during the spring semester of their first year. They can apply to opportunities curated by the MPA-DP with established partner organizations or develop their own placements by leveraging the Columbia University network. The scope of work must be graduate-level and related to sustainable development, but otherwise, students have great flexibility in selecting a summer placement that best suits their professional goals.

Students generally assist in the design and development of new sustainable development initiatives or support and evaluate ongoing projects, applying skills they have developed through past professional experience as well as from MPA-DP coursework. To learn more about specific projects that students have supported, check out the MPA-DP media page for videos featuring summer placement experiences.

Since 2010, more than 600 students have worked in 95 countries for partners spanning multilateral institutions, non-profit organizations, development consulting firms, social enterprises, businesses, and governments. In 2018, MPA-DP students completed their professional summer placements with the following organizations:

  • Accountability Lab (Liberia) 
  • ACToday (Italy, Colombia, Guatemala, Senegal, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Bangladesh) 
  • Asian Development Bank (Philippines) 
  • Center for Humanitarian Affairs and Community Development (Kenya) 
  • China House (Kenya) 
  • Echo Mobile (Kenya) 
  • Economic Transformations Group (Peru) 
  • Educate Girls (India) 
  • Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Lao PDR) 
  • Fraym (USA) 
  • IMAGO Global Grassroots (India) 
  • Innovations for Poverty Action (Myanmar) 
  • International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (UAE) 
  • International Finance Corporation (USA) 
  • Kantar Public (Malaysia, Ghana) 
  • Kiron Open Higher Education (Jordan) 
  • Manobi/AgCelerant (Senegal) 
  • Mercy Corps (Uganda) 
  • Millennium Promise Alliance (Ghana) 
  • Peru's Ministry of Education (Peru) 
  • MIT D-Lab (India, Uganda)
  • New Lab (USA) 
  • NYC Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (USA) 
  • Open Society Foundations (USA) 
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (France) 
  • Plan International (Rwanda) with support from the United Nations Association of New York 
  • TD Bank (Canada) 
  • The Meshminds Foundation (Singapore) 
  • The Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (Rwanda) 
  • United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (USA) 
  • United Nations Population Fund (Belarus, Egypt) with support from the United Nations Association of New York 
  • United Nations World Food Programme (Timor-Leste, Kenya) 
  • United States Congress (USA) 
  • World Bank (Tanzania) 
  • World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia)