Students in a PhD program in the Graduate School must maintain good academic standing in the degree program, good administrative standing in the Graduate School, and continued good progress toward the degree each semester.
Good academic standing for PhD students includes but is not limited to:
- Acquiring an advisor
- Maintaining consistent contact with the departmental director of graduate studies and sponsor
- Fulfilling the dissertation prospectus requirement (in the cases in which it applies)
- Holding semesterly Dissertation Progress Meetings with the dissertation sponsor and at least one other member of the dissertation committee (beginning in the semester after the prospectus defense)
- Completing degree requirements and maintaining superior quality of work as determined by the department
- Maintaining a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0*
- Holding no more than one mark of Incomplete at any given time
- Fulfilling pedagogical requirements and responsibilities as designated by the department and GSAS
- Meeting other criteria specified by the department
Departments should communicate explicitly to their students their additional criteria for good academic standing; candidates should be familiar with them. Any questions should be directed to the DGS.
*The cumulative GPA is derived from all courses in which a student has registered and received a grade, except when the student takes a course again after receiving an F. In such cases, the F received for the original iteration does not count toward the GPA.
Students are expected to remain in compliance with all applicable administrative policies and procedures of the university, including those of the Columbia Libraries, Columbia Residential, and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, as well as the regulations described in Essential Policies for the Columbia Community.
Failure to Maintain Good Standing
Consequences for failing to maintain good academic standing, good administrative standing, or good academic progress may include academic or administrative warning, probation, suspension, or dismissal. See tab below for a full description of rules and processes.
Progress and Time to the PhD Degree
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences adheres to federal regulations requiring that students receiving federal assistance make satisfactory academic progress in accordance with the standards set by the university.
Graduate School Standards
The Graduate School considers progress to be minimally satisfactory when progress is such that a student completes all requirements for the MA degree en route to the PhD within two academic years (four semesters) of registration, not including official leaves of absence or periods of parental accommodation.
To maintain satisfactory academic progress, all work for the MPhil degree—including the dissertation prospectus, if relevant—must be completed within four academic years (eight semesters) of registration, not including official leaves of absence or periods of parental accommodation. In programs in which the defense of the dissertation proposal is not one of the requirements for the MPhil degree, students are expected to defend their dissertation proposal within six months after completion of the MPhil degree, but always within four years from initial registration. Students should consult with their director of graduate studies to determine whether their department or program has an earlier deadline.
If, however, the student holds an appropriate master’s degree from Columbia or another institution and received two Residence Units of advanced standing, all MPhil degree requirements—including the dissertation prospectus, if relevant—must be completed within three academic years (six semesters) of registration.
Students must defend the prospectus successfully by May 31 of their fourth year. Students who do not meet this deadline will lose good academic standing, be placed on probation, and not have their stipend disbursed for the ensuing fall semester.
In exceptional circumstances, with a written rationale from the DGS and sponsor and the approval of GSAS, students may receive a final opportunity to defend their prospectus before September 30 of the fifth year. Students who do so successfully by September 30 of the fifth year will receive the full Dissertation Fellowship retroactively. Students who do not pass their prospectus by September 30 of their fifth year will lose PhD candidacy.
For students who are off-cycle (those whose fifth year of matriculation begins in January), the corresponding deadlines described above will be December 15 and February 28.
Students who entered a PhD program in the Arts and Sciences in Fall 2011 or later are allowed nine years of continuous registration (not including official leaves of absence) to satisfy all requirements for the doctoral degree, during which time they are required to maintain full-time status. Please note that after their seventh year of registration in a PhD program, GSAS students in the Arts and Sciences are not eligible for housing or for funding from GSAS or the Arts and Sciences.
Appeals to Complete beyond the Ninth Year
Students who do not complete all requirements for the doctoral degree by the end of the ninth year of registration (excluding periods of parental accommodation) will no longer be considered to be GSAS PhD degree candidates, and will be notified accordingly in writing by GSAS. Students so notified may appeal this determination within thirty days of receipt of notification. To appeal, a student must do the following:
a) Submit a letter to the dean of GSAS that indicates all the steps he or she will take, with a timetable, to distribute, defend, and deposit the dissertation in at most two additional semesters of candidacy.
b) Submit to the sponsor all chapters and materials produced to date on the dissertation, as well as a copy of the timetable referenced above. After examining the materials, the sponsor should write a letter to GSAS that evaluates the materials received, and that endorses as feasible the timetable provided.
GSAS will review the request and determine either that a) the student be allowed to remain a degree candidate as a registered student for at most two additional semesters; or that b) the student not be allowed to continue as a degree candidate. If the extension is granted but the student does not complete all requirements for the PhD, including the deposit of the dissertation, by the stipulated date, he or she will no longer be considered to be a PhD degree candidate by GSAS.
Exception for students entering before Fall 2011
Students who entered from Fall 2002 through Fall 2010 and who have not completed all requirements for the doctoral degree by the end of the ninth year of registration (excluding periods of parental accommodation) may request a two-semester final extension to finish all requirements for the degree.
Students who entered a PhD program in the Arts and Sciences from Fall 2002 through Fall 2010 and who have not registered continuously (and did not receive an approved leave of absence) must reapply for admission in order to return to doctoral study.