In consultation with their CIPA Academic Advisor and CIPA’s STML Faculty Advisory Committee, STML Fellows will design an MPA Course of Studies that includes the coursework below.  CIPA students pursuing this certification are typically working toward a concentration in the area of Public and Nonprofit management, Human rights, and Social Policy. 

Required Coursework: (12 credits)

  1. PADM 5449 - Systems Thinking and Modeling in Public Affairs- 3 credits
  2. PADM 5114 - Organizational Design, Change, and Leadership- 3 credits
  3. PADM STML Project Course – 3 credits
  4. And one 3 credit course from:

Elective coursework availability varies per year. Please check with the advisor.

Additional Requirements: 

Dinner Table Discussions: Fellows participate in a series of 12 monthly seminars in the form of dinner table discussions. 

Weekend Bootcamp: Fellows participate in a 7-day Systems Thinking trip during winter break of their second year of study, in order to apply systems thinking to a real-world situation.

Cohort Trip: An experiential, national or international trip to explore systemic policy analysis of "sustainability through ecotourism" (topic chosen annually) from multiple perspectives: (1) country, regional, and local level perspectives, (2) tourist-level perspective (self-referential), (3) salient perspectives including sustainability, agriculture, economics, stewardship, public safety and law, and infrastructure.

Exit Project: Students must successfully complete an exit project (a capstone, thesis or professional report) on Systems thinking, Systems Leadership, or Systems Mapping and present their report at the Cornell STML Symposium.

Optional: Internships with Cabrera Research Lab 

Program Coordinator

For information about STML, please contact CIPA Visiting Scholars Derek and Laura Cabrera, Co -founders of the Cabrera Research Lab and systems thinking software Plectica.

Application Process:

Strategic Plan: Submit an essay of 1,000 words or less demonstrating your interest in participating in the program, as well as the value-added perspective or experience that you will bring to the program and its faculty and students.  In addition, you should discuss how you plan to incorporate the STML program into your future academic and professional life

Interview: If selected as a finalist, you may be asked to participate in an interview process with STML program faculty and staff.   

Application Deadline: 

The deadline for applying for admission to the program is early September. Check with the advisors for a specific date 


Applications should include the following materials, and may be sent electronically to lac19@cornell.eduor submitted in hard copy to the CIPA Main Office, 294 Caldwell Hall: 

  • Résumé/CV 
  • Strategic Plan 
  • Transcript (undergraduate and graduate, if applicable)  

I took the Systems Thinking course with the Cabreras during my first semester at CIPA and was deeply inspired. It merged the theory that I was familiar with from my background in cultural anthropology with the pragmatic and tactical skills I sought out at CIPA. I knew that pursuing the certificate would enhance my ability to understand and change systems which would be essential for my concentration in international development.

Jamila Daniel, MPA ‘20
Concentration: International Development