Residence Unit and Other Enrollment Categories

In addition to registering for individual courses, students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are required to register for an enrollment category. In all PhD and almost all MA programs, this is typically done by registering for Residence Units, which provide the basis for tuition charges. If you have questions about registration categories, please contact your department or program administrator.

Degree Requirements

Two Residence Units are required for the MA earned as part of a PhD degree; four additional Residence Units, for a total of six overall, are required for conferral of the MPhil, PhD, and DMA degrees.

Two Residence Units are required for the free-standing Master of Arts degree.

    Full- and Part-Time Registration

    A full-time student must register for a full Residence Unit (“RU”), Extended Residence, or Matriculation & Facilities (see below) each semester, whether or not the student is taking courses. Students in PhD programs may not register part-time. PhD students may not register for more than 20 credits per semester. Credits in excess of 20 must by approved by both the DGS and the GSAS Office of Student Affairs.

    Part-time students in free-standing MA programs may register for full, half, or quarter Residence Units. For students in free-standing MA programs, the following guidelines apply:

    • A student who is registered for a full Residence Unit (“RU”) may enroll in four or more courses. Please note however that additional tuition is charged per point if the student registers for more than 20 points per semester.
    • A student who is registered for a half Residence Unit (“0.5 RU”) may enroll in up to three courses.
    • A student who is registered for a quarter Residence Unit (“0.25 RU”) may enroll in one or two courses.

    Full, half, and quarter Residence Units are calculated on the basis of courses taken for a letter grade, Pass/Fail, or for R credit.

    For students enrolled in free-standing Master of Arts programs, please keep in mind when registering for full or fractional Residence Units that the equivalent of two Full Residence Units is required for conferral of the MA degree. By the conclusion of the program, students must have registered for a total of two Residence Units.

    For international students enrolled in free-standing Master of Arts programs, please note that student visas require full-time enrollment at Columbia. International students should accordingly register for a full Residence Unit every semester, until they have reached the number of Residence Units required for conferral of their degree.

    The selection of full or fractional Residence Units during registration may also impact tuition and billing. For further information, please consult the Graduate School’s page on Cost of Attendance.  

      Extended Residence (ER)

      After completing the appropriate number of Residence Units, both PhD and MA students are required to register for Extended Residence (“ER”) for any term in which they:

      • register for a course
      • hold a university teaching or research appointment
      Matriculation & Facilities (M&F)

      To satisfy the continuous registration requirement and to make use of various university facilities, PhD students in Arts and Sciences programs who have completed all six Residence Units then register for Matriculation & Facilities (“M&F”) if they are:

      • completing a degree requirement such as a language examination or qualifying examination;
      • preparing the dissertation proposal; or
      • writing or distributing the dissertation

      In all other cases, a PhD student must register for either a full Residence Unit or Extended Residence. PhD students do not register in any semester following the one in which they distribute the dissertation.

      Master’s students do not register for M&F at any time.

      Note: GSAS students who register for M&F are not assessed the University Facilities Fee, which includes membership to the Dodge Fitness Center. GSAS will pay the Dodge access membership fee during the academic year (fall and spring semesters only) for doctoral students in Arts and Sciences programs who are registered for M&F and who are either receiving their dissertation fellowship or are otherwise eligible for GSAS funding through the multiyear funding package awarded upon admission. For more information, click here.

        Exceptions to Residence Unit Registration and Billing

        Students entering the following free-standing MA programs in Fall 2016 or later register for full or fractional Residence Units following the rules above. Students who entered the following programs in Spring 2016 or earlier do NOT register for Residence Units. Instead, they simply register for courses.

        • American Studies
        • Human Rights Studies
        • Islamic Studies
        • Japanese Pedagogy
        • Jewish Studies
        • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
        • Modern European Studies
        • South Asian Studies