Fellowship Categories


The fellowship categories below describe the different types of awards available at the Graduate School. Questions about the availability of all GSAS awards should be directed to the director of graduate studies of the student’s program.

Note: Funded doctoral students in Arts and Sciences programs who are appointed as student officers may not spend more than 20 hours per week in the discharge of the responsibilities associated with their fellowship and those associated with any other activity within or outside Columbia for which they are compensated. Students on a first-year or dissertation fellowship (which have no service responsibilities) may spend up to 10 hours per week on such non-fellowship activities. Furthermore, federal regulations prevent international students on F-1 visas from working more than 20 hours per week under all circumstances during the school term. University and academic holidays must be observed; reasonable requests for time off made with sufficient notice should be generally granted.

Dean's Fellow

Dean’s fellowships are awarded to entering students. In the Humanities and Social Sciences, this award entails no service obligation in the first year, beyond satisfactory progress in study and research, and students are not permitted to hold student officer appointments or any other appointment. (However, those who enter with advanced standing may be expected to teach in their first year at Columbia.) In the Natural Sciences, a Dean’s fellowship may include teaching or research obligations in the first year; those students will be appointed to the appropriate student officer category.

Dissertation Fellow

Dissertation fellowships are awarded to students engaged in researching or writing their dissertations. Usually only students who have successfully defended the dissertation prospectus and demonstrated that they have made a good faith effort to obtain external funding are eligible to receive dissertation fellowships. Dissertation fellowships are most common in the humanities and social sciences. Dissertation fellows are encouraged to use the fellowship year to make significant progress by focusing exclusively on the dissertation, and are not permitted to hold student officer appointments. However, students on the dissertation fellowship may work between 5-10 hours a week at other paid pursuits such as those of a research assistant or tutor on campus.

Student Officer Appointments

Teaching Fellow

A teaching fellowship is awarded to students who, as part of their academic requirement and training, perform duties ranging from reading and grading assignments to running discussion sections or labs, or teaching sections of undergraduate courses excluding Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization, the required Core Curriculum for undergraduate students at Columbia. The expected time commitment for these duties is roughly 15 to 20 hours per week on average.


A preceptorship is awarded to students appointed to teach a section of Literature Humanities or Contemporary Civilization which are full-year courses in the Columbia Core Curriculum. This appointment is renewable for one year, but appointment to teach in the second year is contingent on satisfactory performance in the first year. Students may apply to be a preceptor only if they have or expect to have the M.Phil. by the May prior to being appointed as a preceptor, and if they will be in no more than their sixth year of registration during the first year of the preceptorship.  For additional information concerning the Columbia Core Curriculum, please see their Web site here

Research Fellow

A research fellowship is awarded to students who, as part of their academic requirement and training, assist a faculty member in the undertaking of a research project. The duties associated with research fellowships average 15 to 20 hours per week. Research fellowships are most common in the natural and social sciences.

Graduate Research Assistant

A graduate research assistantship is awarded to students supported for the most part by an external research grant, but requiring some support, mainly in tuition and health fees, from GSAS. These assistantships are awarded, for the most part, by the natural sciences departments.