Graduate Handbook


Awareness of requirements: All students must be familiar with the GSAS rules and guidelines as explained on the GSAS web site. Students should pay special attention to information regarding registration and the submission of material for degree-granting dates. It is not the responsibility of the DGS, the chair of the department, the student's dissertation sponsor, or the departmental staff to ensure a student's compliance with official GSAS regulations. Exceptions and/or exemptions from any of the department or the GSAS requirements or schedules are granted, if at all, with reluctance and after consultation with and/or written request to the appropriate officer. Students should consult with the DGS as early as possible with any question concerning requirements, overall progress toward the degree, deadlines, etc.

Satisfactory Progress: The Graduate School considers progress to be minimally satisfactory when progress is such that a student completes the M.A. degree within four semesters of full-time study, the M.A./M.Phil. degrees within eight semesters of full-time study, and the M.A./M.Phil./Ph.D. within 18 semesters of full-time study (see below for implementation of nine-year limit). Students who receive credit for an M.A. completed elsewhere must complete the M.Phil. within six semesters and the Ph.D. within sixteen semesters. In addition, doctoral students whose programs require a dissertation prospectus or proposal must defend it successfully within eight semesters of first enrolling in their doctoral program. (Students with two Registration Units of advanced standing must defend successfully within six semesters). Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Please visit the relevant GSAS page for more information.

In addition to achieving satisfactory academic progress, students are expected to remain in compliance with all applicable administrative policies and procedures of the University, such as those of the Columbia Libraries, University Apartment Housing, etc.

Consequences for failing to make academic progress or to adhere to applicable administrative policies and procedures may include academic or administrative warning, probation, suspension, or dismissal.

Grades: Graduate students in the Arts and Sciences who receive a mark of Incomplete have one year from the end of that semester to submit missing work to their instructors. GSAS will no longer grant extensions beyond that year to submit work to remove a mark of Incomplete. Dates for the end of a given semester are available on the Registrar´┐Żs website. Leaves of absence and withdrawals stop the clock on Incomplete deadlines.

Leaves: GSAS has policies for leaves of absence. Graduate students may also contact Sharee Nash, the graduate administrator, with questions. The period of the leave stops the completion clock and is not counted as part of the time allowed for completion of the degree requirements.

Time to Degree: The time it takes students to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. varies considerably. A very few students complete their degrees in four or five years. Most take six or seven. Some take considerably longer. The official time limit for receiving the Ph.D. is seven years, and students who exceed that limit must petition the department and the Graduate School for an extension each year. Extensions are not automatic. Students who request extensions must present evidence of significant progress toward completion.

Implementation of Nine-Year Limit: The nine-year limit for completion of the Ph.D., effective Spring 2011, is described here. Please note that there are different policies for students who entered before Fall 2011 and students who entered in Fall 2011 and subsequently. For more information contact Sharee Nash, the graduate administrator.

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