ACADEMIC ADVISING FAQ

SIPA CORE REQUIREMENTS

How do the two Economics core courses differ? Which one should I take?

Both U6300 and U6400 are applied intermediate microeconomics courses. Because they are designed for an international policy school audience, they rely more heavily than undergraduate courses on real-world examples as a tool to understand economic concepts and ideas.

The level of the two courses is similar. However, U6400 is more calculus based, the pace of the course is faster and the workload is heavier. Which of the two courses is easier depends on your ability to work with math. Because many economic arguments are easier to understand with the use of math, if you are comfortable with rigorous logical reasoning U6400 may be easier than U4200. Both courses will use univariate calculus. U6400 will also use multivariate calculus and logarithmic functions. The math background that is required for U6300 is covered during the first three days of math camp.

Both U6301 and U6401 are applied intermediate macroeconomics courses. Both courses provide an analytical framework to examine and critically interpret observed economic events and policies in the global macroeconomy.

The subject matter in both courses concentrates on concrete situations with a particular focus on the causes and effects of the global financial crisis. U6401 is more quantitative in nature and employs multivariate calculus and logarithmic functions.

In the majority of cases, you can freely choose whether to take U6300/U6301 or U6400/U6401. Students in the following concentrations and specializations must take the 6400/6401 Economics sequence:

  • Concentration: International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP): all focus areas
  • Specialization: Applied Policy and Economic Analysis (APEA)


Students in all other concentrations may choose between U6300/U6301 or U6400/U6401. A quiz is given to all students at the end of Math Camp during Orientation. The results of the quiz are a good indicator of what Economics sequence you should take. 

If I pass the proficiency exams for both Macro and Microeconomics, do I still have to take 6 credits of Economics?

Yes, you must still take two semesters or 6 credits of economics coursework during your time at SIPA.

In this case, where can I find a list of economics courses that satisfy the core economics requirement?

Normally, any graduate level economics course will suffice. Please see your Dean to confirm whether or not the course will satisfy the economics requirement.

When should I take Quantitative Analysis (U6500)?

You should try to take it during your first year. You may take it in either semester but there are more sections offered during the Fall. However, if you are concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) in the Economic Policy focus area, and/or specializing in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis (APEA), you must take U6500 during your first semester since U6501, Quantitative Analysis II is required for both. 

Which Financial Management Course should I take?

There are four courses offered that satisfy this requirement. Accounting ( U6200) and Nonprofit Financial Management (U6310) , Economics of Finance (U6022) and Budgeting and Financial Management for Government (U6320). If you plan to take Corporate Finance, a core course choice in the International Finance focus area of IFEP, Accounting is a prerequisite. 

Where do I find a listing of the courses that satisfy the Interstate Relations requirement?

The SIPA Course Search
Use the keyword search box or select a curricular area in the advanced search.

Which Management course should I take?

You have a choice of courses and it depends on what interests you and on what management skills you will need after leaving SIPA. You may look at the syllabi for each course to help you make your selection and speak with the instructors and second year students. 

Can I be exempted from the Professional Development requirement?

Yes, if you have worked full-time for 4 or more years you may obtain a waiver from the Office of Career Services.

Can I be exempted from the internship requirement?

Yes, if you have worked full-time for 4 or more years you may obtain a waiver from the Office of Career Services. 

Do I have to register my internship?

Yes. You can either register your internship for 1.5 credits for a minimum of 120 hours or work, or 3 credits for a minimum of 240 hours of work. 

Should I take only Core courses during my first year?

During your first year you must take Conceptual Foundations (MIA), or Politics of Policymaking (MPA) as well as the two-semester Economics-course sequence. While we do not ask students to complete all core requirements during their first year, we encourage you to complete as many of these as early as possible. IFEP (Economic Policy focus area) and APEA require students to take Quantitative Analysis during the first semester. 

Do I need to fulfill the language requirement?

All MIA students as well as MPA students concentrating in EPD must fulfill the language requirement. You may satisfy the requirement by passing the language proficiency exam, by being a native speaker of a language other than English or by taking language courses up to Intermediate Level II an obtain a ‘B’ or better. Since virtually all students will have different circumstances it is imperative that you meet with your Dean in the Office of Student Affairs as soon as possible.

May I change from the MPA to the MIA degree or vice versa?

Yes, as long as you do this during your first semester. To apply to change degrees, you should send an email to Urbano Garza with a new personal statement of no more than 800 words. He will review your admissions file and then make a final decision. Note that if your request is granted, you will have to take the core course associated with the new degree, i.e., Conceptual Foundations for the MIA and Politics of Policymaking for the MPA.

Who should I speak with regarding the Core?

You can speak with your assigned Dean or any of the Deans in the Office of Student Affairs.

SIPA CONCENTRATION AND SPECIALIZATIONS

Can I have more than one concentration?

You MUST complete one concentration which is 15 credits or five courses. Very few students are able to complete two concentrations during their 4 semesters at SIPA.

Can I have more than one specialization?

You MUST complete one specialization which is 9 credits or three courses. Very few students are able to complete two specializations during their 4 semesters at SIPA. 

Who should I speak with regarding my concentration?

While OSA provides general information regarding concentrations, you should meet with your concentration director at least once per semester.

Can I switch concentrations?

It depends on a number of factors, some of which include how late into your tenure at SIPA you are considering a switch. Other factors include the Economics course sequence you are currently taking as well as the grades. If you are considering this switch after your first semester, stop by the Office of Student Affairs to speak with a Dean. You should also submit a formal request via the Concentration/Specialization Declaration form.

Who should I speak with regarding my specialization?

While OSA provides general information regarding specializations, you should meet with your specialization director at least once per semester.

Can I switch specializations?

Yes. However, you must ensure you have sufficient time to complete the academic requirements. You should also submite a formal request via the Concentration/Specialization Declaration form:

https://sipa.columbia.edu/students/courses-registration/degree-audit

Can I double count courses?

Yes, certain course can be double counted as Core/Concentration or Core/Specialization or Concentration/Specialization, but credits are not counted twice. Courses must be taken for a letter grade (not P/F or audit) and can be counted as fulfilling Core, Concentration, or Specialization requirements. Courses cannot be triple counted. Also, note that some concentrations, e.g., EPD, have a limit on the number of courses that can be double counted. This policy is currently under review and may change soon. 

COURSE PLANNING

What is a typical course load?

Most students take between 14-16 credits per semester.

What does a typical first year course schedule look like for an MIA student?

 (Remember to leave room for language classes should you need to satisfy the language requirement.)

Fall 1 Spring 1
U6800 - Conceptual Foundations - 4 credits U6200 - Accounting for International and Public Affairs - 3 credits
U4200 Microeconomics - 3 credits U4201 - Macroeconomics - 3 credits
Management (choose from 7 courses) - 3 credits Interstate Relations course (choose from menu) - 3 credits
U4040 - Professional Development - 0.5 credit Concentration or Specialization course - 3 credits
U6500 - Quantitative Analysis - 3 credits Concentration or Specialization course - 3 credits
Total credits: 13.5 Total credits: 15

 

What does a typical first year course schedule look like for an MPA student?

 (If you are concentrating in EPD remember to leave room for language classes should you need to satisfy the language requirement.)

Fall 1 Spring 1
U6110 or U6120 - Politics of Policymaking - 4 credits U6310 - Nonprofit Financial Management - 3 credits
U6400 Microeconomics - 3 credits U6401 - Macroeconomics - 3 credits
Management (choose from 7 courses) - 3 credits Concentration or Specialization course - 3 credits
U4040 - Professional Development - 0.5 credit Concentration or Specialization course - 3 credits
U6500 - Quantitative Analysis - 3 credits Concentration or Specialization course - 3 credits
Total credits: 13.5 Total credits: 15

 

Can I take an undergraduate course?

Yes, but they do not count toward the 54 credits needed to fulfill degree requirements, with the exception of intermediate and advanced level language courses. Note that elementary language courses do not count towards the 54 credit requirement. Only courses that are 4000 level or above will count toward your 54 credits. 

Can I be exempted from a course based on work-experience?

No. Exemption for courses is only granted to students who obtain Advanced Standing based on previous academic work, or pass a proficiency test.

When may I take a course Pass/Fail?

You may take a course P/F if it is an elective, i.e., if it does not fulfill any core, concentration or specialization requirements. P/F elective courses DO count towards the 54 required SIPA credits. You do not need the instructor’s permission to opt for the P/F grade. There is a deadline for choosing your P/F grading option. Check the Academic Calendar. Once you have chosen that grading option, you cannot change again.

May I audit a class?

You may register for a class as an auditor only if the professor agrees to allow you to audit, and defines the parameters of your attending the class. HOWEVER, credits registered as audit will NOT count toward your 54 required SIPA credits, even though they do count towards the 18 credits you are allowed to register for in a given semester. At the end of the class, the professor will post an “R” grade (registered, but not for academic credit), which indicates that you have audited the class. 

What is a residency unit?

A residency unit is registration as a full-time student for a minimum of 12 credits in one semester. SIPA students must complete 4 residency units, or 4 semesters as full-time students, even if they have completed all their requirements in less than 4 semesters.

What is “Advanced Standing”?

Advanced standing for the MIA and MPA degree is awarded based on graduate degrees completed before enrollment at SIPA in fields relevant to the MIA & MPA degrees. Our policy on this is currently under review.

EXAMS

What are “proficiency exams”?

Proficiency exams allow SIPA students to demonstrate competence in a number of subjects so that they can be exempted from course requirements in either the core curriculum or their concentration. A student who takes and passes a proficiency exam is exempt from taking that course and may substitute another course. Passing a proficiency exam exempts you from taking a class, but does NOT grant you credit towards your degree. Note: Students who pass the proficiency exam for Economics are still required to take 6 credits of upper level Economics classes to substitute for the Economics core.

Proficiency exams are offered during orientation week and the first week of classes each semester. Students may sign up for proficiency exams in the Student Affairs Office during the first week of registration.

How many times can I take a proficiency exam?

Only once. If you fail, you must take the course.

How do I request a transcript?

Through the Student Services Online (SSOL) or from the Registrar.

What if I have to take a leave from school for professional or personal reasons?

Stop by the Office of Student Affairs and speak with your Dean. If your assigned Dean is not available, you may of course speak with another Dean. We are here to help you. Leaves of Absence are granted on a semester by semester basis and cannot exceed a total of 1 year.

What are “certificates,” e.g., Certificate in Latin American Studies?

Some Regional Institutes offer certificates to students who complete regional courses and often language courses that fulfill their academic requirements. You should check with the relevant institute.

I have a disability. What do I do?

You should register with the University’s Office of Disability Services (ODS). You can also stop by the Office of Student Affairs and speak with the liaison with ODS.

Who do I talk to if I am experiencing academic difficulties?

We are here to help you. Visit our office and speak with your assigned Dean. If your assigned Dean is not available, you may of course see another Dean in the office.

When are final exams?

The final exam scheduled is created by the university and it is typically available by the middle of the semester. Be sure you know the dates before you make any definite plans (e.g., buying airline tickets).