The Free-Standing M.A. Program

M.A. | M. Phil | Ph.D.

For the M.A. degree: 

Courses: Thirty (30) points of courses at or above the 4000 level, taken for a letter grade, including MDES G4000 (Theory and Methods).

Language: Proficiency in one MESAAS language, demonstrated by successfully completing a two-semester course at the intermediate (second-year) level or higher with a grade of at least a B, or by passing an examination at the intermediate level.

M.A. thesis: To be submitted no later than the twelfth week of the student's third semester and defended before two faculty readers before the end of the semester in which it has been submitted. Students must submit an application or the oral defense of their Master's thesis one month prior to scheduling the defense. Grades for the thesis are High Pass with permission to continue on to the M.Phil.; Pass with permission to continue on to the M.Phil.; Pass without permission to continue on to the M.Phil.; and Fail (no degree awarded).


For the M.Phil. degree:

Courses: At least five MESAAS (or advisor-approved) courses at or above the 4000 level beyond the 24 credits (obtained through course work or Advanced Standing) required for the M.A. degree. Those granted Advanced Standing for the M.A. must include MDES G4000 (Theory and Methods) in their course work for the M.Phil .

Languages: High proficiency in a first MESAAS language, normally achieved by a minimum of four years of coursework or the equivalent; proficiency in a second MESAAS language, normally achieved by a minimum of two years of coursework or the equivalent (modifications to these general definitions of proficiency may be made on the recommendation of the senior faculty in the relevant language area); and reading competence in a third language (a research language, meaning a modern language other than English in which there is a substantial body of scholarship in the student's field of study), demonstrated by passing a Columbia University examination.

Oral Examination: The exam is held in three areas, which are determined by the student in consultation with a three-member M.Phil committee. Reading lists are prepared by the student and each normally covers about twenty-five books or a commensurate number of articles.

Residence Units: Completion of six residence units (semesters of full-time study).


For the Ph.D. degree:

Dissertation Proposal: Approximately 20 pages in length, the proposal is defended orally before at least three members of the candidate's Ph.D. committee.

Dissertation: The dissertation is defended before a five-person committee, according to the procedures outlined in the GSAS website and in the Dissertation Rules published by the Dissertation Office.