Cornell University

FAQs

1. What is the focus of the CIPA program?

The interdisciplinary nature of our MPA program is one of its distinguishing features. At CIPA, you have the flexibility to develop a program of study that matches your unique educational and career goals.  Building on a foundation of coursework essential for all aspects of public affairs, you can then choose to focus your study on virtually any area of public policy. For specific program requirements, please refer to the MPA Program Handbook and the MPA Course Guide.

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2. What areas of specialization, or concentration, does CIPA offer?

You can choose your course of study--domestic or international--from a broad range of options:

  • economics and financial policy
  • environmental policy
  • government, politics and policy studies
  • human rights and social justice
  • international development studies
  • public and nonprofit management
  • science and technology policy
  • social policy

Within each concentration, the option exists for further specialization based on your interests.

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3. How effective are CIPA Fellows at obtaining full-time employment after graduation?

Historically, 90% of CIPA Fellows find full-time employment (or choose to go on for further graduate study) within 9 months of graduation. To see the latest figures, please refer to our Annual Internship and Employment Outcomes.

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4. What type of employment opportunities can I expect with my MPA degree from Cornell?

CIPA graduates enjoy an increasing range of opportunities for both domestic and international employment with outstanding organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Please refer to the Annual Internship and Employment Outcomes page on our Career Management site for a listing of representative employers, median starting salaries and job titles for full-time employment.  

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5. Do I have to write a thesis?

You will have the option of completing a thesis, a professional report, or a capstone project as the concluding requirement for your MPA degree. To learn more about these options, please see the Professional Writing Requirement page.

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6. Do I have to complete an internship?

Experiential learning is a key component of our MPA program. During your two years of study, you will be expected to gain practical work experience in an area related to your concentration. You have several options for completing this requirement. Most Fellows choose to complete an internship during the summer between their first and second years of graduate study. Others choose to gain practical experience during an academic semester while enrolled in one of the off-campus programs: CIPA Washington Externship Semester, Cornell in Rome, or the Cornell-Nepal Study Program. The final option is to work with the CIPA Public Service Exchange. This program represents a unique service-learning partnership with nonprofit and government agencies located primarily in Tompkins County. Fellows in the Exchange conduct directed field experience for a local client during an academic semester at Cornell.

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7. Will I be assigned to an advisor to help me choose courses?

Yes, when you arrive at CIPA you will be assigned a Core Faculty advisor based on the area of policy interest you listed in your application. Following registration, you may elect to change this advisor via a Petition Request Form if you think that another core faculty member would be more appropriate given your career interests. 

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8. How long will it take to complete the program?

The CIPA MPA is a two-year program. Fellows take sixteen courses--an average of four per semester.

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9. Can I complete another degree while I'm completing the MPA?

Yes, CIPA Fellows have pursued complementary degrees in law and business. If you choose to go this route, you must apply to and be accepted by both programs. It is usually possible to complete the two degrees together in less time than would be required to complete them separately.

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10. How do I apply to the program?

You apply online through the Cornell Graduate School.

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11. Are there any CIPA-specific application requirements?

In addition to the general Graduate School application requirements, you must send a current résumé, along with a comprehensive statement of purpose and a directed essay. For a detailed explanation of the statement of purpose and essay, please go the CIPA Admissions page.

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12. What is the application deadline?

CIPA offers rolling admission. However, application numbers have spiked in recent years and we have been forced to close our fall admission cycle in early spring the past two years.  You should plan on having your fall application completed and submitted by the end of January in order to receive full consideration. 

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13. What is the tuition for the CIPA program?

For the 2015-16 academic year, tuition for CIPA Fellows is $32,000.

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14. Does CIPA offer financial aid?

Please refer to our Tuition and Financial Aid page.

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15. When do you make admissions decisions?

A committee of faculty members evaluates all incoming applications.  Our goal is to send out admissions decisions within three weeks of receiving an application.  However, during peak periods, it can take as long as six weeks to process an application.

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16. When do you make financial aid decisions?

Financial aid decisions go out with offers of admission to the program.

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17. How can I check the status of my application?

Call the CIPA Main Office at 607.255.8018 or send an email to cipa@cornell.edu.

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18. How large is the CIPA program?

There are approximately 240 CIPA Fellows in the program.  Approximately half are first-year Fellows and half are second-year Fellows.

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19. What are the demographics of the current CIPA student population?

40% male/60% female; 50% international/50% domestic

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20. What professional activities are available to CIPA Fellows?

CIPA Fellows have a number of opportunities for participating in professional activities.  Over the years, Fellows have developed the Cornell Public Affairs Society (CPAS), Women in Public Policy (WIPP), and the CIPA-New Orleans Professional Initiative (CIPA-NOLA), to name but a few.  Please click here to learn more about these organizations.  In addition, CIPA has three student-led, co-curricular activities:  The Cornell Policy Review, Point of View (a media production group), and the Colloquium Committee.  Click here to learn more about these.  

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21. What are the main conferences at Cornell and elsewhere that CIPA Fellows attend?

Because CIPA is an interdisciplinary program and the interests of our Fellows is quite diverse, our students take advantage of a diverse array of conferences and lectures offered by the many schools, programs and institutes at Cornell.   Please see the Cornell Events Calendar for a complete, up-to-date listing.

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22. I am an international student. How do I apply for a visa?

Please visit the International Students and Scholars Office at www.isso.cornell.edu.

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23. I will be bringing my family with me. Where can I get information on housing and schools?

The Cornell Graduate School offers a plethora of information for graduate students who are bringing partners and/or families with them.  Please see their Family and Partners page.

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24. Where can I get information on housing?

Please check out Cornell/Ithaca housing options here.

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25. I have a physical disability. Where can I get information on university services?

Please contact Student Disability Services at www.sds.cornell.edu.

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