The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has a small budget line to cover travel expenses for former faculty of this university who still retain sponsorial ties to PhD candidates at Columbia and for faculty from universities other than Columbia who serve on doctoral defense committees. This fund is only available for committees of students in Arts and Sciences departments.
Departments seeking payments for travel funds must request approval well before the defense committee is proposed. The funds available to the school for this purpose are severely limited; there is a cap of $300 on reimbursement. Departments normally contribute toward the expense. The school cannot normally pay for someone to come from abroad, and it cannot pay honoraria. Payment of travel expenses is limited to cases of real necessity and will not be authorized merely because a faculty member elsewhere is an expert on the topic of the dissertation.
Although every reasonable effort is made to accommodate both the student and the department at the critical juncture of the dissertation defense, department/program and student are urged to schedule the defense at a time when other professional business may already bring outside examiners or former university faculty to the New York area.
All requests for reimbursement of travel expenses should be submitted by the department chair or dissertation sponsor in writing to the Dissertation Office. The request should include a statement of the reasons why this particular faculty member must serve on this particular defense, as well as the expected travel costs of economy air or train fare to be incurred. No disbursement for travel expenses will be made unless approval has been granted in advance of the projected dissertation defense.
The cost of lodging or meals for such faculty is not reimbursed. For general information on travel and lodging, see the Columbia University Travel Portal.