Graduate Handbook


Most doctoral students will take ten courses for credit during their first two years at Columbia, usually six courses in the first year and four in the second.

During the first year, entering students are required to take an introductory colloquium in historiography (GR8910), which is designed to introduce them to the history and current state of historical scholarship. This colloquium is intended to acquaint students with an array of interpretations and analytical tools, to sharpen their critical skills, and to help create a sense of community among graduate students in different fields. Students will ordinarily take a number of other colloquia (GR8000-8999) in their first two years. Colloquia involve intensive reading and discussion of secondary material. They usually involve some writing, but do not ordinarily require original research. Every student is also expected to take at least two semesters of organized research and writing, usually in graduate research seminars (also numbered in the GR8000-8999 range). In seminars, students work on research projects of their own devising under the supervision of a faculty member. These projects ordinarily involve extensive research in primary and secondary sources and the preparation of an original paper modeled roughly on scholarly articles in professional journals. The faculty understands that students will seldom be able to produce work comparable to most published scholarship within the time constraints of a seminar, but many seminar papers do eventually become the basis of published articles, dissertations, or books. Students applying for Advanced Standing are not exempt from any first-year course requirements, and must complete all course work (including required research papers).

In addition to colloquia and seminars, students may, with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, fulfill their course requirements with upper-level undergraduate lectures (UN2000-2999) or seminars (UN3000-4999), normally with additional work required; courses from other departments at Columbia; and courses at other universities.

Columbia is part of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, which entitles our students to take courses, at no additional cost, at many major New York area universities: the CUNY Graduate Center, Fordham, the New School, New York University (including the Institute for Fine Arts), Princeton, Rutgers, and Stony Brook). Under GSAS rules, students in their first year are not allowed to participate in the consortium although a student's advisor may petition the Grad A&S to waive this rule. In some circumstances, students may fulfill part of their course requirements through independent reading and research projects under the supervision of members of the faculty, with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. Registering in courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium requires an application and consultation with the DGS.

Anticipated dates of registration are listed in the University Registrar's calendar page. To view course information courses visit the Directory of Classes.

After selecting courses and obtaining any necessary approvals, students may register for classes via Student Services Online (SSOL).

A typical program of courses during the first three years of graduate work resembles the following:

Fall Spring
First year 3 courses 3 courses; (1) GR8910 required
Second year 2 courses 2 courses
Third year (1) research seminar (GR8000-8999) (1) research seminar (GR8000-8999)
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