PhD Program FAQ

Q: What is the deadline for Ph.D. applications?

A: The final deadline is November 30, 2023 for Fall 2024 Admission.  You may check the status of your application on the Application Status screen. You will be able to access this screen only after your application has been submitted. We will begin to evaluate applicants to the PhD program beginning December 1st. The first Open House will take place in early February, and the second in mid February. Applicants are normally invited by email at least two weeks before each Open House.

Q: What is the correct address for sending my application materials?

A: Only materials that an applicant is having difficulty uploading to the "Supplementary Materials" section of the online application may be sent via mail to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Applicants should not send any materials to the department. The materials go to: 

Office of Admissions 
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 
Columbia University 
108 Low Library 
535 W. 116th Street, MC 4303 
NY, NY 10027

Q: Will my application still be considered if some materials are submitted after the deadline?

A: Our faculty committee will review your application if it includes the statement of academic purpose, cv/resume, transcripts, the TOEFL/IELTS score if required, and at least two of the three required letters of recommendation. Keep in mind that there are a limited number of admissions openings, around 20, so the later you submit your application or submit the required materials, the less your chances are that there will be an opening available for you. Keep in mind that invitations to open houses will be issued at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

Q: What letters of reference should I request?

Please provide three letters of reference. At least one of them should be from a PI who can comment on your aptitude for research. Letters about academic experiences and/or extracurricular activities are most valuable if they provide insight into interests, attitudes and character as well as accomplishments. 

Q: I cannot afford to pay my application fee ($120). Can you waive this fee for me?

A: All requests for fee waivers must be submitted through the online application. See the Application Fee Waivers page on the GSAS website for specific instructions.

Q: What is Columbia's institution code for the GRE and TOEFL?

A: Columbia University GSAS's Institution Code is COLUMBIA U GRAD SCH ART&SCI/MORNG (2162).  Please note that the GRE is no longer required.

Q: What is your department code for GRE/TOEFL score reporting?

A: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not use department codes, as all test scores are reported to the Office of Admissions. Scores are then forwarded to this department. If ETS requires designation of a department code, please use a default code of all nines (9) or all zeroes (0)

Q: Is the GRE General test required?

A: No, the GRE test is no longer required.

Q: If I have a Master’s degree from an American university, do I have to submit scores for the TOEFL exam?

A: Yes, you do. You must receive a Bachelor’s degree from an institution in the U.S. or an English-speaking country in order to be exempt from having to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score.

Q: Is it necessary for me to take the TSE (Test of Spoken English)?

A: No

Q: Can I send copies of my test scores since it is expensive to have the originals sent?

A: You may upload PDFs of your scores. Official electronic submission of scores is preferred but not essential.

Q: I am interested in visiting your Department and meeting with faculty. Is this possible?

A: Each year we have two Open Houses for interviews, usually in early and mid February, for prospective students we are interested in admitting. We will contact those applicants directly once we have finished the application evaluation process.

Q: In the online application, which Degree should I select under the Biological Sciences Program of Study?

A: PhD students in the program will earn a Master's degree (M.A.) and a Master of Philosophy degree (M.Phil.) while progressing toward the Ph.D.

Q: How many total students do you admit each year?

This year we are planning for an incoming class of about 20.

Q: How many international students do you accept?

A: There is no official limit, but to give you an idea, last year had 9 international students in the incoming class.

Q: When are admissions decisions made?

A: Decisions are made in a single batch near the beginning of March.

Q: I attended an Open House and I would like to know whether or not I have been accepted.

 A:If you are admitted to the program, you will receive an official acceptance letter from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as well as an email notification from the department.. If you are not accepted, you will receive an email from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences informing you that you were not admitted into the program.

Q: I would like to know if my degree is the equivalent of an American university BA or BS degree. Can you tell me if I can be admitted with my current degree?

A: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will now accept applications from students earning 3 year bachelor's degrees in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Australia, South Africa and any country participating in the Bologna Process.

Q: Can I be accepted in the spring semester for the Ph.D. program?

A: I’m sorry. We only admit students in the fall semester.

Q: What faculty are available for me to do my thesis research work with?

A: Here is the link for our list of Ph.D. Program Faculty and their individual research interests.

Q: What is the stipend?

A: The estimated 12-month stipend/salary for 2024-2025 is $47,137.

Q: Is housing provided by the University?

A: Yes, if you are admitted to the Ph.D. program, you are guaranteed Columbia housing as long as you maintain timely progress towards the degree. You can expect to pay an average of $1220 a month for an apartment share and an average of $1607 if you are able to get a studio apartment.

Q: I want to be part of a particular professor's research lab. What do I have to do?

A: Students are admitted to the Program, not to work for a particular research group. To work in any research group in our Program you first have to be admitted by our Admissions Committee and approved by the Graduate School. If you are interested in working with a particular professor, you should consider applying to the Program. Please see the First Year Activities section of the Graduate Student Handbook for detailed information about rotations and program rules.