Dissertation Progress Meetings

Beginning in the semester following the defense of their prospectus, students will meet once each semester with their sponsor and at least one other faculty member, in order to receive timely feedback on their dissertation work and regular support throughout the dissertation-writing process.

Students should consult with their sponsor or DGS after the prospectus defense to identify the other faculty who will constitute, along with the sponsor, a committee that will meet regularly with them to provide feedback on their work. The reader(s) other than the sponsor may be from within the department or from another department, as recommended by the dissertation topic. Dissertation Progress Meetings should be scheduled each semester until the semester before the distribution of the defense to the larger thesis defense committee. These meetings will replace the annual Dissertation Progress Reports previously required of students and their sponsors. Students or faculty who are not physically on campus in a given semester may use their preferred video-conferencing platform to participate.

If you have any questions or concerns about Dissertation Progress Meetings, please write to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs at gsas-studentaffairs [at] columbia.edu.

Process & Timeline
  • Before the start of the semester: GSAS confirms with directors of graduate studies and departmental administrators which students should participate in Dissertation Progress Meetings. (Students with the prospectus may be exempted if they are about to distribute or defend, will be conducting fieldwork, or for other compelling reasons.)
  • Beginning of the semester: GSAS sends a message to students in the dissertation-writing phase requesting that they schedule a Dissertation Progress Meeting by the end of that term. The message includes a link to a brief form that will notify GSAS of the meeting date (see example).
  • Throughout the semester:
    • Students schedule a Dissertation Progress Meeting and notify GSAS of the meeting date by submitting the brief form mentioned above. Ideally, at least three weeks before the scheduled meeting, students should distribute to the faculty with whom they will meet a completed draft of the material on which they are then working, so that faculty may provide constructive feedback at the meeting. Soon after their meeting, students receive a confirmation message from GSAS (see example).
    • After the meeting takes place, the sponsor receives a request to assess the student’s progress by completing a brief form (see examples of the message and form). At the same time, the student receives a confirmation message, and may reply to GSAS with any questions or concerns.
  • Mid-way through the semester: Students who have not scheduled a meeting receive a friendly reminder to do so from GSAS.
  • End of the semester: GSAS notifies departments of student participation to date for that term.
Frequently Asked Questions

How many committee members may participate in my dissertation progress meeting?

Your sponsor and at least one other member from your committee should meet with you to provide feedback on your dissertation work and general progress.

Do all faculty participating need to be physically present in the meeting?

Faculty may use conferencing software (Skype, Zoom, etc.) to participate remotely. They may also provide written feedback if not able to connect into the meeting.

What if my advisor is on sabbatical?

Even while on sabbatical, faculty advisors have an obligation to supervise students whose dissertations they sponsor; faculty who are not on campus may participate remotely, as noted above.

What if I am away from campus, conducting research?

You may participate remotely via conferencing software (Skype, Zoom, etc.).

What if I am conducting research, and have not yet written anything to submit for review?

You may submit a summary of your research work for faculty feedback.  The general principle is to have regular contact with your sponsor and other members of your committee.

What if in a given semester I am in an entirely inaccessible place?

Please communicate with your sponsor as soon as you return to connectivity. Also, please let your sponsor know your expected date of return before you leave.

What if the list of dissertation committee members changes, or if it is incorrect?

Please email dissertations [at] columbia.edu and provide the name(s) of committee member(s) who should be added or removed. Please discuss any additions or deletions with your sponsor and/or DGS before communicating any changes to GSAS.

After I have scheduled my dissertation progress meeting with my committee members, how do I let GSAS know the date set for the meeting?

You should use the link that was included in the message asking you to set a meeting to report that information to GSAS.

What happens after my dissertation progress is held?

Shortly after the meeting date you indicated to GSAS when you arranged for the meeting, a message will be sent to your sponsor with a link to a brief response form for feedback about the meeting. At the same time, a message will be sent to you soliciting any feedback you may have about the meeting.