Admissions FAQs

When is the deadline for submitting the application?
The early notification deadline for the program is November 1. Those who submit their application to the program and for fellowship consideration early are guaranteed a response by December 1. Applications submitted by January 15 will also be considered for fellowship awards.

The final deadline for applying to the program without fellowship consideration is February 15. All applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Please ensure that all necessary supporting documents are included in your application and submitted by the appropriate deadline.

Can I apply online?
All application materials can be submitted online. If you are unable to submit materials online, please contact the SIPA Office of Admissions for assistance. Applications for the 2017-2018 program year will be accepted beginning on July 8, 2016.

If I am an international student, do I have to take the TOEFL?
If your bachelor’s degree was not earned in a country in which English is the language of instruction, then you must submit proof of competency in English. If you need to prove competency in English, you can find out more about the TOEFL at or call the TOEFL Educational Testing Service at 609-771-7100.

A minimum score of 600 on the paper test, 250 on the computer-based test or 110 on the internet-based test is required

What is the GRE policy?
The School of International and Public Affairs requires that all applicants to the MPA-ESP Program submit GRE scores, although MPA-ESP applicants can request a waiver for GRE test scores.

Admission decisions are based on the application, science background, familiarity with environmental issues, the personal statement, the résumé/curriculum vitae, transcripts of prior college and/or graduate school work, three letters of recommendation, prior work experience, GPA, and standardized test scores. GRE results are never the sole basis for an admissions decision, merely part of what is considered as an indicator of academic ability.

What is the GRE school code?
The GRE code is 2161

What methods of payment can I use for the application fee?
We accept checks, money orders, drafts, and travelers’ checks made out to Columbia University.

What is the application deadline for fellowship funding?
All students who apply by January 15 are eligible for the Dean’s fellowship – a full tuition grant and Earth Institute internship – and numerous partial fellowships. The average fellowship award in 2016 was nearly $16,000; the greatest partial fellowship award was $40,000.

Is there a part-time program?
The MPA-ESP Program is an intensive twelve-month program. There is no part-time option available. For students interested in part-time study, SIPA has a part-time Executive MPA program.

How much does the program cost?
The program’s tuition and fees for 2016-17 will total $78,060. For more information on the estimated cost of attendance, please visit the SIPA website.

Is there a deferral option?
There is no option of deferral for admission to the MPA-ESP program. If you are admitted to the program and decline the offer, you must formally re-apply for admission.