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Our unique one-year program prepares students to tackle the most pressing issues facing the planet.


In This Masters Program You Will…

  • Receive practical training that will prepare you for leadership roles in science, management, and policy analysis.

  • Turn your passion for environmental protection into real, tangible change.

  • Learn how to manage organizational change and innovation.

  • Understand the vital role of public and environmental ethics.

  • Connect policy intent, program design, organizational capacity, and political feasibility.

  • Understand the relationship of sustainability programs to organizational management and finance.

  • Design sustainability studies that are methodologically rigorous and defensible within the constraints of available resources.

  • Learn how to optimize group work and deal with group conflict.

  • Practice professional communication, including written, electronic and spoken communication: From mass to social media.

  • Learn how to both manage the work of scientists and explain science to non-scientists.

Program Features Include…

  • Oversight and participation from Columbia’s Earth Institute, which includes the internationally renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

  • Stewardship of Columbia’s highly ranked School of International and Public Affairs.

  • A world class faculty that comprises Earth Institute scientists, experts in the School of International and Public Affairs, and leading sustainability practitioners.

  • A visionary curriculum that emphasizes applied environmental science and sustainability, general and financial management, economics and quantitative analysis, and policy and decision making so that students can thrive in the job market.

  • Columbia’s location in New York City, a hub for sustainability policy innovation, which becomes an extension of the classroom, and facilitates alumni networking and opportunities for employment.

  • Graduates who stand apart in the field for their science-based policy and management decisions.

  • The Earth Institute Professional Development Program, available to students and alumni, which focuses on skill building, access to leading practitioners, career networking, specialized job search strategies and tools, and co-curricular programs and events.


Graduate Employment

Our graduates are employed, in about even numbers, in business, government, and nonprofit organizations in the United States and around the world. Their employers value their management and analytical skills, as well as their knowledge of basic applied environmental science. In recent years, organizations such as Apple, the City of New York, Consolidated Edison, JP Morgan Chase, the Sierra Club, and the US Department of State have hired our alumni.


A Unique One-Year, Full-Time Cohort Format

The program begins in late May and concludes in May of the following year, saving students money and time compared to two-year public policy programs. Students pay tuition for three semesters (summer, fall, and spring), instead of four. Graduates can re-enter the workforce more quickly. The one-year cohort format makes for an intensive and rewarding learning experience.


Who Should Apply

Individuals with a desire to gain the knowledge and practical skills to turn their passion for the environment into real change. Students with both science and non-science training can excel in the program. The program attracts students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, varying levels of professional experience, and a range of professional interests.

During the year, students enrolled in the MPA-ESP program study and learn as a cohort and form strong bonds that serve them throughout their careers. A recent cohort of students had the following attributes:

  • Almost all of the students received fellowships. The average award was nearly $16,000.

  • The average age was 25. One-fifth of the cohort was over the age of 29.

  • The female to male ratio was 55% to 45%.

  • Undergraduate majors ranged from Architecture to Zoology.

  • Students came from 13 countries on five continents.


Admission is based on academic excellence, professional experience, dedication to sustainability and to the goals of the program, and letters of reference.

The One-Year Format

The one-year format makes for an intensive learning experience, but one that saves students money on tuition and housing compared to two-year public policy programs. Students pay tuition for three semesters (summer, fall, and spring), instead of four; and they save on rent, as the program takes just 12 months to complete. The program also involves a lower opportunity cost because it allows graduates to re-enter the workforce more quickly.

Schedule for the 2022-23 Academic Year

Required Program Orientation: May 31, 2022

Summer 2022

June 1, 2022 – First Day of Summer Classes

June 20, 2022 – Juneteenth Acknowledged (University Holiday)

June 29, 2022 – Summer Workshop Midterm Briefing

July 4, 2022 – Independence Day (University Holiday)

August 10, 2022 – Summer Workshop Final Briefing

August 19, 2022 – Last Day of Summer Classes


Fall 2022:

September 6, 2022 – First Day of Fall Classes

September 16, 2022 – End of Change of Program Period

October 12, 2022 – Midterm Briefing

November 7, 2022 – Academic Holiday

November 8, 2022 – Election Day (University Holiday)

November 23, 2022 – Academic Holiday

November 24, 2022 – Thanksgiving Day (University Holiday)

November 25, 2022 – University Holiday

November 30, 2022 – Fall Workshop Final Briefing

December 12, 2022 – Last Day of Fall Classes 


Spring 2023:

January 16, 2023 – Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observed (University Holiday) 

January 17, 2023 – First Day of Spring Classes

January 27, 2023 – End of Change of Program Period

February 22, 2023 – Spring Capstone Midterm Briefing

March 13 - 17, 2023 – Spring Break

April 19, 2023 – Spring Capstone Final Briefing

May 1, 2023 – Last Day of Spring Classes

May 14, 2023 – SIPA Graduation

May 17, 2023 – University Commencement

Class of 2023 SIPA Graduation: TBD.

Class of 2023 Columbia University-wide Commencement: May 17, 2023

Click here to see Columbia University’s full academic calendar, as well as SIPA’s academic calendar here

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