Feeling worried, lost, or confused? Never fear! Within are some helpful hints concerning how things work around here. We hope this will make the first few months you spend in Schermerhorn less confusing and more enjoyable overall. But before we begin, we're here to tell you that EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT! You will find that in graduate school, there is virtually no mistake that is not fixable. Forget to register for a course by the ADD deadline? No problem, talk to the registrar (you'll be amazed how helpful they'll be when you tell them you're a grad student). Having trouble meeting the program requirements? Go talk to faculty. Their sensitivity may surprise you! Filled out your tax forms incorrectly? Maria Dilbert in Schermerhorn Hall Rm 406 will fix you up in no time! Basically, expect some degree of uncertainty and confusion, but don't let it get you down. Everyone is here to help you succeed!

Tips for Your First Year

Your first year is a period of adjustment. Try to do as well as you can in your classes, attend and participate in lab meetings and try to develop a research idea or two. Do as much reading of background material in your field as you can. Do not feel like you have to start producing volumes of research right away (remember, coursework is important too!). Most people develop some ideas and maybe pilot a thing or two during their first year. Or maybe you will collaborate with a more advanced student on something. The point is, you don't need to start having heart attacks and spending all night in the lab (at least until your second year). Have a little fun, after all, you now live in the greatest city on Earth!


Your Degrees


In the spring of your second year, you should be completing all the requirements for the MA in psychology. These requirements are:

  1. Three required proseminars (G6001, G6002, and G6003). Proseminars I and II (covering topics in Physiology, Learning, Sensation, Perception and Cognition) were last offered in Fall 2008 - Spring 2009 and will next be offered in Fall 2010 - Spring 2011. Proseminar III (Personality and Social Psych ) was last offered in Fall 2009 and will next be offered in Fall 2011.
  2. Two seriously graded advanced seminars. (Lab meetings offered for credit do not count for this requirement.)
  3. A Masters Essay (written paper and brief oral presentation), to be approved by two faculty members.
  4. Two courses in the Quantitative Sciences (this may be Statistics, Mathematics, or Computer Science) are strongly recommended, but not required.  These courses should be chosen in consultation with your research advisor and Prof. Norma Graham, Prof. David Krantz, or Prof. Niall Bolger.
  5. The Teaching Practicum is highly recommended. It is offered in alternate years.
  6. You must receive a grade of B- or better in any course that you want to count towards your masters degree.
To apply for the Master of Arts, you must complete the Application for Degree or Certificate and deliver the form to Elizabeth Santana, Schermerhorn Hall Rm 406.


By the fall of your fourth year you should have completed the requirements for the M.Phil. Once you have received your M.Phil. you are officially "admitted to doctoral candidacy." The requirements are:

  1. An M.A.
  2. Three comprehensives, each approved by a different faculty member. (There are various ways to define a comprehensive, and they will be discussed in more detail below)
To apply for the Master of Philosophy, you must complete the Application for Degree of Master of Philosophy and deliver the form to Elizabeth Santana, Schermerhorn Hall Rm 406.


In the spring of your fifth year you should be completing the requirements for your Ph.D. These requirements are:

  1. An MA
    An M.Phil.
  2. A dissertation proposal (to be approved by 3 committee members). Should be approved by the spring of your fourth year.
  3. A written dissertation and oral defense (to be approved by 5 committee members)

These requirements are overseen by E. Tory Higgins, the Director of Graduate Studies, in conjunction with your advisor. Any requests for exemptions, substitutions, or extensions should first be directed to your advisor, but must ultimately be approved by Prof. Higgins. Ordinarily, no exceptions are made for students who enter the program with a Masters degree in psychology.


Lowdown on Requirements


The proseminars meet once a week for two hours, and typically involve readings and 2-3 written exams during the course of the semester. In the past, these courses have been supervised by one faculty moderator, and individual lectures have rotated among faculty in the area. These courses are designed to give students a broad education in the subfields of psychology. You MUST take all three proseminars. You must receive a grade of B- or better in each proseminar to fulfill this requirement.


For students who entered the program in 2002 or later, the Quantitative Requirement (described below) has been replaced by a Quantitative Recommendation of two courses to be selected in consultation with your research advisor and Dave Krantz, Niall Bolger, and/or Norma Graham. The material in the Quantitative Requirement section below should be helpful in the selection of appropriate courses.


You have a lot of flexibility in how you choose to fill this requirement and therefore you should think very carefully about what tools you will and won't need in your research. Some graduate students will never need statistics (as Norma Graham says, "If I need statistics to show me a significant result, I didn't collect enough data!"). They will profit most from classes on mathematical modeling or computer programming. Many graduate students will need a strong foundation in statistics, but they will require courses of varying depth and breadth depending on their different goals. Spend some time looking at your options, talking to your advisor(s), and discussing your choices with Norma Graham, Dave Krantz, and Niall Bolger. When chosen carefully, these courses can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your future research. 

Some students will want to fulfill their requirement with our own courses PSYC G6006 or G6007, others will be interested in courses from our Mathematics Department. About half of our faculty have serious interests in computational modeling of psychological theories. Students who are interested in this aspect of research may need a strong background in calculus, linear algebra, probability, and possibly some less usual topics (e.g. projective geometry, abstract algebra or Fourier analysis). Students with a strong interest in statistics, but who lack an undergraduate background in calculus and linear algebra, may want to begin by filling this gap (most statistics courses in the Stat Department require one year of calculus, and many advanced stat courses, in all departments, use linear algebra). The best way to find out about courses in the Mathematics Department is to check out their web page.

Some students will want to take courses in the Computer Science Department. They might want to develop computational models of neural, perceptual, or cognitive processes, or they may need to design a program for a computerized experiment. You can find out about Comp Sci courses from their web page.

Many of you will want to fill the quantitative requirement with Statistics courses. Which courses you take will depend on your answers to some key questions.

Statistics courses are offered in the Statistics Department, QMSS program, Teachers College, and the departments of Economics, Sociology and Political Science. In general, courses in the Statistics department are more theoretical and require a stronger math background than the other University courses. Students who wish to fill the quantitative requirement with statistics classes should consult with their advisors and Dave Krantz about which courses will best suit their needs. Some possible statistics courses are listed on the web version of this handbook:
Also, feel free to explore the web pages of the relevant schools and department yourself.

As you decide which course to take for the quantitative requirement, be in close touch with your advisor, David Krantz/Norma Graham, and other students in your lab and in the department (many students have strong opinions about courses they have taken, which they'd be happy to share with you). Don't forget that many of us (including the faculty) go out of town the week before school begins, which happens to be registration period. If you plan to take a quantitative course in the fall of your first year, you will probably need to consult with people over the summer.


You must complete the Morningside Human Subjects training course during your first year. To complete the course you must read through some informational pages on ethical guidelines in research and answer a series of questions on the information. The course shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to complete. To access this course, you can go to the Rascal homepage (, select "human subjects" under Compliance, log in, then click on "Testing Center" at the bottom, click on "Course Listings", and select "TC0015 - Morningside Human Subjects Training Course." You should print out two copies of your completion certificate. Keep one copy for your files and give one copy to the Administrative Coordinator, Joanna Borchert-Kopczuk.


Any advanced psychology seminar at the 4000 level will count toward the "two seriously graded advanced seminars" requirement. In addition, advanced psychology seminars at the 9000 level will also count, provided they are seriously graded ones and not just lab meetings for which you receive course credit. If you see a seminar you like listed for next year, jump on it. Professors often teach their seminars only once every other year.


Your masters thesis will need to be read and approved by two members of the faculty, but you will probably do all the research for the thesis with your primary advisor. Because this is not a terminal masters program, the masters paper is often more of a formal report of "research in progress" than a grand piece-de-resistance. However, it should be written as though it could be published. In the spring of your second year, you must give a scheduled 20 minute talk about your masters research. Watching the second-years go through the process in your first year should give you a rough idea of how it all works.


There is a great deal of flexibility regarding what exactly constitutes a "comprehensive." When it comes right down to it, a comprehensive is three separate papers, each approved by a different faculty member who will write a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies saying that you have passed. Typically one of these papers relates to the history and background of your dissertation and will be approved by your dissertation advisor. The other two papers will go into areas broader and deeper than the dissertation and will each be passed by a different faculty member.  As an alternative for two of the three comprehensives, a student may submit a grant (proposal) for external funding. The most common grant proposal that students write is for the NIH pre-doctoral fellowships, although you can certainly write a full NIH or NSF grant proposal. Just a side note: you can begin working on your comprehensives at any time, not just in your third year. If you have a topic you'd like to explore for a project not ultimately related to your dissertation, why not turn it into a comp paper? Summers are a great time to do that sort of thing!


By the spring of your fourth year, you must have submitted a formal dissertation proposal within the following requirements:

  1. The proposal must be approved by 3 faculty members.
  2. The final paper must be approved by 5 committee members (2 from outside the department).
  3. In the following order, you must submit you must submit the forms in the links below to Elizabeth Santana in Schermerhorn Hall RM 406:
    1. Report of the Dissertation Proposal Committee
    2. Intent to Distribute and Defend
    3. Application for the Dissertation Defense
  4. You will present an oral defense for approximately two hours.
Following your defense there will be a big party with champagne in your honor. Then you graduate and get a cool gown and cap!

Beyond the Requirements


This is a department-wide lecture held essentially every other Wednesday from 4-5:30 in Room 614 or 501 Schermerhorn. The speakers come from all areas of psychology, and from all over the country (and sometimes beyond). All graduate students are expected to attend the colloquium, and to register for PSYC 9999, Departmental Colloquium, each semester. There is a reception held immediately after in the rotunda with food and drinks. During the day, a lunch is organized for grad students with the speaker. In the evening, several faculty members take the speaker out to dinner, and sometimes we get to go too. These events are usually a lot of fun and the food is great and free.


See the department homepage for links to schedules of area meetings. Cognitive lunch is held every Monday at 12:10 P.M. in room 200C. Graduate students and faculty (Columbia and outside) use this meeting as an opportunity to present current research, or to present ideas for future research. There is no food served, so brown-bag it. All students in the cognitive program are strongly encouraged to attend this weekly meeting. Students in other areas within the department are welcome to attend as well.

Social snack is held every Monday from 2:40-3:55 P.M. in 200C or 405 Schermerhorn. All social students are strongly encouraged to attend (credit is often given under the course number G9397/G9398). Students and faculty give presentations and lead discussions on their current research. In the past, students have used social snack as an opportunity to practice masters talks, conference presentations, and job talks. Graduate students who attend are charged $10 at the beginning of the year for the snacks that are purchased for the meetings. As for Cognitive lunch, students in other areas within the department are welcome to attend as well. If you are only coming occasionally, you don't have to pay.

The Behavioral Neuroscience Group meets on alternate Thursdays at 4:00 P.M. in 200C Schermerhorn. Members of the labs regularly attend and anyone is free to sit in. There are at least two other neuroscience meetings around Columbia that are worth attending at least some of the time. One takes place in Fairchild (the building next door) and the other (Cognitive Neuroscience meeting) is uptown at the Sergievsky Center at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at 10 A.M. on Thursdays. Ask around if you would like more information.

University Seminars, which are held monthly at the Faculty house, are your opportunity to hear speakers from other institutions give talks on their area of expertise. You are also invited to join the speaker for drinks and dinner at Faculty house if you wish (dinner is $10 for each student). The University Seminar on Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience is held once a month at 4:10 on Thursday, and the University Seminar on Language and Cognition is held once a month as well.


Most faculty in the department hold weekly or biweekly lab meetings. This is a time for graduate students, post-docs, and honors students to talk about their current research and get feedback from the lab group. You don't have to be doing research with the faculty member to sit in on his or her lab meeting you might just be interested in the topics, the presenter, or the professor. It's a great way to keep in touch with professors other than your main advisor, and it often leads to research collaborations.


You must pick at least one official advisor from among the faculty by October. However, if you need more time to make this decision you should schedule a meeting with Tory Higgins to discuss your situation. It is possible to change your official advisor during the course of your study. Some of us in recent years have picked two official advisors. A good way to find out about the professors that you are interested in is to sit in on lab meetings. More generally, many of the graduate students regularly sit in on more than one lab meeting. This is an excellent way to develop broad scientific skills and become involved in multiple research collaborations.

Tory Higgins, the Director of Graduate Studies, will be available to meet with you to discuss program requirements or concerns you may have about your progress in the department. Norma Graham is also available to meet with students who have questions or concerns about their experiences in graduate school. Norma is great at providing advice and encouragement. There will be a meeting held at the end of each semester during your first year, with Tory Higgins, Norma Graham, and the graduate student representatives. This will be your opportunity to ask questions, as well as provide important feedback about how the program is serving you.


In the past, first year students have begun research projects at various points in the year. Some students get started right away in the fall semester other students don't start collecting data till late spring or even early summer.

Before you begin research, you will need to get approval from the IRB (Internal Review Board). Discuss this process with other members of your lab and your research advisor before you begin any experiments.

If you need to use human subjects, the department has a free subject pool consisting of Science of Psychology students. You will need human subject's approval BEFORE you request your subjects. (This means that you will need human subjects approval before the semester begins, if you want to use subject pool in that semester).
At the end of the semester there is an "open season" and during this two week period, anyone can recruit students from the subject pool (anyone who has human subjects approval). Prof. Lindemann and Jennifer Silvers are currently in charge of the subject pool. It is important that you are very thorough and serious about the debriefing, as student participation is for credit and should serve an educational purpose.

Many students also use paid subjects for their experiments. You get the money either from a professor's grant or from a travel/research award from the department. Talk to the members of your lab about how the paperwork is usually handled. Remember that you must still receive IRB approval before testing subjects. The advantages of paid subjects are 1) you can get them as soon as you know you need them, 2) sometimes they take the experiment more seriously than students fulfilling a requirement, and 3) you can screen for certain characteristics (i.e. left handedness). A disadvantage is that a few of your subjects will turn out to be pretty skeevy characters (ask around about the known offenders before you begin your study. We have our own WANTED lists). If you are going to run a paid study, you can advertise your experiment on the department web site by going to: and clicking on the "submit an experiment" button.

A lot of work is involved in running a study. Many students find they need the help of a few undergraduates to keep everything running smoothly. Undergraduates participate in labs in a number of ways. Work-study students work in the labs for money. Volunteer assistants work without the promise of credit or money (although it is often expected that you and the professor will write them a recommendation, or allow them to register for credit the following semester). Independent Study students work for semester credit (they do your work, but you may have to grade a paper at the end of the semester). Honors students take more involvement on your part. Students enter the Honors program in their junior year when they begin working in a lab. They will help you with your research for the first year, but you should then help them run their own study in the second year. It is an excellent opportunity to develop your mentoring skills, but don't take the responsibility lightly. When you're ready to begin collecting data, talk to your advisors and the other students in your lab about what kind of help you should get, and how to get it.


All graduate students serve as TAs for one semester of each fully-funded year in the program. The time commitment involved should not vary radically from one course to another, but some "hard" courses are recognized for the extra time they require. In general, expect to do two "hard" TAs while you are here (this means 4 pt courses with lab or discussion sections, or other particularly demanding courses). Always arrange to be in the city a few days before the course begins, and a few days after the final. After your first year, you will have the opportunity to indicate your preferences for future TA assignments. You will receive information about the course you will TA next year sometime over the summer. For more information, see the TA Manual web page and the Graduate Student Teaching Guidelines.


For the upcoming academic year (2010-11) the stipend will be $23,000, and for summer 2011 it will be $7,666. This is a 12 month stipend so you are expected to continue your research over the summer. Most faculty remain on campus for the summer. 

Taxes will be automatically deducted from each check, in accordance with your W4 forms. (Note: many of us find that the "default" deduction is not sufficient to avoid paying money to the IRS come April. Some students ask to have extra money deducted each month to avoid this annoyance). You will get these W4 forms from the office when you first arrive.

You may request to have your stipend directly deposited to your bank account. To do this, print out the direct deposit form and mail it to the payroll office.

Because graduate students receive a 12 month stipend, they are expected not to hold outside jobs during their graduate student tenure. Special exceptions are sometimes made for summer TA or teaching jobs, but make sure to get permission from your advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.


Every year there is an opportunity to request travel or research money from the department. Don't expect to actually get the money more than once or twice during your five years here. You can get up to $300 for traveling to conferences, and up to $500 for research. Research money can only be used for paying human subjects. If your advisor has a lot of grant money, your chances of getting the research money from the department are slimmer. Follow the announcements you'll get by email to know when applications are being accepted.


The department is always VERY interested in students obtaining outside funding for their graduate education. If you actually get the NIH grant or an NSF graduate fellowship, you get a half-month stipend. First-year students who do not have Masters degrees should apply for the NSF graduate fellowship (due in Nov.). Our department has had success in that competition a few years running. You will receive a half month stipend only if you are actually awarded this fellowship (NOT for applying). Another fellowship is the Javitts Fellowship (you can get information from Maria Dilbert). Students in their fourth year can apply for the NIH pre-doctoral fellowships. And of course, you can always write a full grant with your advisor.


Conferences are fun. You should go to as many as possible. You get to hear interesting talks, see some really great research, and party with your fellow students and faculty. Sometimes they are held in really cool places, like Ft. Lauderdale or San Francisco or Providence. You can go to a conference even if you aren't presenting anything, though you'll probably have to pay for it yourself. You can always submit a poster to a conference - these are almost always accepted (unless you write in crayon), and it looks good on your vita. Ask around to find out from people in your area which conferences you should go to and when the deadlines for submission are.


Just a piece of advice. You are poor now. Never turn down free food. Free food opportunities include:

Graduate student tea: This is a get together for all the graduate students in the department. Each year, two students are in charge of organizing the food for these biweekly get-togethers.

Colloquium lunches, dinners, and receptions: You must sign up to attend the lunches and dinners with colloquium speakers. You will receive and email right before each colloquium asking whether or not you are interested in attending lunch and/or dinner. Since there is a limit to the number of students who may attend each event, you should only sign up if you are truly interested in meeting and conversing with the speaker.

Dissertation parties: A reception is held for each student after his/her defense. These are generally small parties held in the Schermerhorn with champagne to celebrate the student's successful defense.

GSAS receptions in Philosophy Hall: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences holds several parties during each semester, for all graduate students. There is usually pizza, beer and snacks served at these events. You will be notified about these events by email and/or flyers in you mailbox.

Prospective weekend events: As you know, there are several events over prospective weekend for graduate students and prospective graduate students to converse and eat. Having just gone through the first year experience yourselves, you should be sure to attend these events and offer advice and information to prospective students. This is usually a fun weekend for all graduate students.


Grad students are very involved in making the department run smoothly. Your first year, you won't have any responsibilities as far as grad student jobs are concerned, but take a look at what the second years are doing (you'll be next). In their second and third years, students take over such responsibilities as prospective weekend, colloquium, grad student tea, and other various things. It's our chance to give something back to the department.


Departmental Resources


The office is 406 Schermerhorn Hall (mail code 5501). The main telephone number is 212-854-3608, and the FAX is 212-854-3609. MARIA DILBERT is the Business Manager. She has her own office in the front of 406 and she knows everything. Always be very, very nice to everyone in the front office - you will soon discover how much you need their cooperation to get anything done around here.

When you arrive in the city, stop into the office right away. Not only will you meet these critical people, and let them connect your charming face with your name, but they will have stacks of goodies for you (photocopy cards, GSAS and housing bulletins, and most importantly, tax and stipend disbursement forms).


Every student has a mailbox located in the faculty office area on the 4th floor, through the double doors next to 406. All faculty mailboxes are also located there. If you receive any outside mail (i.e. UPS, Fed-Ex, or Post Office mail), the office staff will either place it in your department mailbox or leave you a phone message in your office, so you can pick it up in the main office.


Every graduate student has the option of an office space every year. We will let you know which office space you have been assigned for your first year during Orientation. Offices are shared (by as few as 2 or as many as 4 students), and you'll have to work out who sits where once you've met your office-mates. In your office you will be guaranteed a desk (and may be lucky enough to also get such amenities as bookshelves or windows). Every office has a phone, complete with voicemail, and you'll need to ask either the main office or an office-mate for the voicemail codes for your phone. A phone directory for the department will be published sometime in mid-September and placed in your mailbox. Until then, just ask around for the numbers you need.

Once you've selected an advisor, you will also be given some lab space, perhaps with a computer (depending on the resources of your advisor). Many students find these spaces more comfortable for doing actual research, but it's nice to have some space of your own (esp. good for holding office hours when you are TAing). Quite a few students have found that the only time they use their space is for office hours, and so this option works well for certain people. You will have the option to keep your office space or give it up after your first year.


The first thing you will need is access to Schermerhorn Hall itself. To get into Schermerhorn Hall after hours or on weekends, you will need swipe access on your CU ID. Once you have your ID, take it to the main office and tell them that you need to have it activated. You need to tell them specifically what areas you need access to: everyone needs access to the main door, 200B and 200C (the computer labs). Psychobiology students also need access to the psychobiology wing. Make sure to follow up on your request if your card isn't working by the time you were told to expect it, go back to the office immediately and offer to walk over to the main security office yourself. You WILL get access, but it may require a little persistence.

Next, you will need to ask for keys to the following doors:

Sometimes the office will ask you to go get the keys made yourself. They will give you the office copy and a letter to take to Academy Hardware or Columbia Hardware on Broadway where you will be able to have copies made. You will usually be reimbursed for the money you spend on keys.

You can ask Winnie at the front desk for the combinations to the combo locks in the department. Obviously we can't write the numbers down here, but you should get them from a current grad student and write them down for yourself. There are combination locks for:


The copying policy in the department is rather complex, so read this carefully. Graduate students get one copy card in the beginning of the fall semester with 1000 copies on it. This needs to last you one full year. This is for your personal research and coursework use, and it works on the copy machine on the 4th floor. If you are making copies for a course you are teaching, get the curriculum copy card from Winnie. If you use up your 1000 copies on your personal card, you can either 1) buy a new one from the office, or 2) get your advisor to buy you a new one by charging it to their grant.

If you need to copy something huge (like 200 copies of a questionnaire or an exam), go to the office or download a Village Copier form, complete the form and hand it in to Winnie. She will arrange for the copies to be made and delivered back to the main office. For research copy projects you may also use Renaissance. The procedure is the same as for Village Copier. Standard procedure is to charge large orders to your advisors research account, provided that it is for research and not something personal.


All psychology students have two email accounts with Columbia: one Columbia account and one Psychology account. You can activate your Columbia account at ACIS (click on "create an account"). You may want to make this account forward to your psychology account. The Columbia server is This is the server that you will dial-in to if you connect from home.

To set up your psychology account, you need to see Ingrid Richter, our resident computer go-to person. She'll set up your account and generally help you with computer problems/questions. The psychology server is

On the second floor there are two Macintosh computer labs (200B and 200C). You will need a combination for the outer door to these labs, and swipe access to the individual rooms. You must reserve this space if you wish to use it for TA activities, or any other event. These labs serve many purposes during the academic year and their #1 priority is to serve courses meeting in them. More information on reserving and using these labs: link to 200B/C info can be found in the section on schedulers.

The department web page is located at You will find useful information as well as useful links on it. Graduate students write their own bio info about their research interests and current work. Graduate students may also create their own web pages within their Cunix directories. Most labs and courses also have their own home pages.


If you need to request subject money from your advisor's grant (to be reimbursed for something you paid for, or to place equipment or supply orders) you should talk to Maria Dilbert in Schermerhorn Hall Rm 406.


University Resources


First of all, you should know that the recommended course load for students is 2-3 courses a semester (depending on whether you are TAing that semester). This may seem ridiculously low for those of you unfamiliar with the research life. Believe us, this is reasonable advice! Not only are you attending colloquia, area meetings, lab meetings, and individual appointments with your advisor, you are expected to be reading extensively and preparing a program of research. If you have time to take more than 3 courses, you probably aren't spending enough time on research! Feel free to register for as many courses as you like - students always do - then they usually adjust their schedules as they progress through their first semester.

You will find a wealth of information regarding our courses on the department website. Start with the general index to the Psychology course listings and then select the format that is most useful to you. Graduate courses are those numbered in the G4000's – G9000's.  To register for courses you will need their call numbers, available via the official Directory of Classes or the Course List in the GSAS Bulletin.

You will register for classes using Student Services Online (SSOL). The registration period for Fall 2010 is Apr. 12th - 21st and Aug. 31st - Sept. 2nd. You MUST register for something during this period to avoid late fees. You can add courses until Friday Sept. 17th and drop courses until Tuesday Oct. 12th. The first day of classes is Tuesday Sept. 7th and the last day of exams is Thursday Dec. 23rd. If you are TAing for a Fall course, be aware that you will need to stay in the City to grade a final exam during exam week.

On the Registrar's page you will find important information such as 1) academic calendars, 2) registration information, 3) final exam schedules, 4) your current registration and grades, etc.

In addition to the "real" courses you register for, graduate students should also register for a number of other credits, as a formality:

    1. A Residence Unit (RESI G6001)
    2. Colloquium (G9999)
    3. Supervised Teaching (G6500) during the semester in which you are a TA
    4. Supervised Research (G6600) during both Fall and Spring terms
    5. Area Seminars (G9397x or G9398y for social)
    6. Lab Seminars (if they receive credit, ask the professor)

Courses may be taken for a letter grade, pass/fail (requires a C- to pass?), or "Registered" (like auditing). You may switch the status of a course only until the end of the drop period. All courses taken to fulfill the program requirements must be taken for letter grades. After that, it's up to you.

You may take courses in other departments, schools affiliated with Columbia (such as Barnard or Teachers College), or even NYU or CUNY, if the course is related to your work in the program. However, you must receive approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and your advisor before registering for the course. Once you receive approval, simply look up the call number in the CU Directory of Classes, and enter it along with your other courses when you register. If you need a Dean's signature, the phone system will let you know. If you'd like to take a course at CUNY or NYU, the procedure is a bit more involved, but not impossible The registrar's office is located in the basement of Kent Hall. You will only need to visit them if you need to drop a course, add a course, or argue about registration fees (that is, you will probably be there at least once a semester, if not more).


You will receive a student account statement roughly twice a semester. Tuition, basic health insurance, and most of the other fees will be paid by the department (and not always on time, but don't worry, they handle that). You will need to pay the student activities fee, and any fees that you have voluntarily acquired (such as the additional cost of comprehensive health insurance, lab fees for coursework, and other such things).


You will need to pick up a student ID card from the ID office in Kent (in the basement) when you first arrive. Every semester, you'll need to go back to this office to get a new sticker. Once it's been activated, your ID will give you access to Schermerhorn and the 200B/C area. It will also allow you to check out books at any of the University libraries and use the gym. It will also give you free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other cool things (they'll give you a brochure when you get your ID).


The first place you will want to visit when you arrive in the City is the housing office (where you will get the keys to your apartment and sign your lease). The housing office is located at 400 W 119th St., between Amsterdam Ave and Morningside Dr., telephone: 212-854-9300. Be sure to call to make an appointment before you arrive, with the housing office and ask if your Super will be available. He is the one who will let you in, and you don't want to show up during his lunch break!

Rent is due every month, and you will receive a bill close to the first of the month. The official due date for your rent is the 10th of the month. You can expect your rent to go up slightly every year. No matter when you first signed your lease, all leases end on May 31st. You will be asked if you want to renew at that time. Remember: if you leave the Columbia housing system at any time, it will be very difficult to get back. If you do not wish to renew, you may also transfer to another apartment in the University system. Talk to the housing office about how to do this.

The local phone service is Verizon (although there are beginning to be some other choices around) and the local cable service is Time Warner. You may have difficulty getting any television reception at all without basic cable. If you have requested that the housing office assign you an apartment, the office usually doesn't let you know where you are living until a few weeks before your estimated arrival. You may also look at several apartments through a lottery system if you prefer to have some choice in selecting an apartment.


With the graduate student fellowship, you are entitled to the Basic Health Plan (the cost will be covered by the department every semester, including summers). This plan is underwritten by Aetna Life Insurance and administered by Chickering Claims Administrators. It is one of two plans offered by the University. The Comprehensive Plan is (not surprisingly) more comprehensive and more expensive. When you receive enrollment forms from UHS, if you choose the Comprehensive Plan, you will be expected to pay the difference in the two plans yourself. Information about the insurance plans and UHS services will be mailed to you over the summer. The number to call if you need to make a primary care appointment is 212-854-2284.


If you need to take out loans while you are a graduate student at Columbia, the Graduate Financial Aid office is located on the ground floor of Low Library. You are only eligible for about $1500 in subsidized loans (because of the fellowship), but you can certainly request more in unsubsidized loans.


The International Students and Scholars office (ISSO) assists students with their questions about admission and placement, immigration matters and social and cultural activities, adjustment to a new academic and cultural environment, personal and family services. They offer orientation programs in late August and September, and present a full calendar of events during the year.
Over the summer the ISSO will mail international students information, forms, and visas. If you have any questions, you can contact the office by calling 212-854-3587 or via email at .  You can also visit the ISSO web site at:

Since our department is full of international students of all varieties, you should be able to find someone to answer questions you might have (but don't ask us about taxes) or, more often, direct you to those who might be able to answer them. The ISSO is very helpful but often crowded near the beginning of the year, so don't go there if you're in a hurry. If you would like to contact a student over the summer for more information, you can email the graduate student representatives. 


The University Bookstore is now run by Barnes and Noble and its located in the basement of Alfred Lerner Student Center.


There are many libraries you may need to use from time to time in addition to the Psychology Library. Butler Library is the large liberal arts library right in the quads opposite Low Library (which is not actually a library). You may also need to visit the Social Work Library, the Lehman Social Sciences library, the Business School library, the Health Sciences library, the Biology Library, the Mathematics Library, the Physics & Astronomy Library, the Engineering Library or the Teachers College library. These libraries can be easily found on any Columbia University map. Your Columbia ID will get you in, but you will need a different kind of photocopy card to make your copies.


Among America's largest 10 cities, NYC comes in having the least amount of crime - it tops the list of the safest of the big cities( FBI crime stats - 2004)! The University provides many services to help make our neighborhood safer. Campus Security is located on the ground floor of Low Library. There are security cameras all throughout campus, and security guards who routinely patrol the area. Columbia University also hires its own police force to patrol our neighborhood. Little yellow call boxes that directly dial campus security are located all over. There is also a security escort service provided during the night hours. To find out more about Columbia Security, see the relevant chapter in your copy of Facets.

It is important to maintain good security within the department by always locking doors behind you when you leave even if it is only for a moment. DO NOT let unauthorized persons use the computer labs. DO NOT reveal the combinations to lab offices to lab non-members.


The fitness center is open from 6:15 am to 10:00 PM weekdays during the school year. Summer hours are slightly more restricted. The center contains two gymnasiums, a pool, an indoor track, weight rooms, aerobics rooms, tennis courts, squash and handball courts, and two saunas. Your Columbia ID card will give you swipe access to all Dodge facilities. Additionally, each semester a wide range of classes are offered for a nominal fee.


There are many on-campus cafes and cafeterias for you to choose from, when it comes to on-campus eating. The closest is Uris, the business school building located directly next to Schermerhorn. Other popular spots include Avery, Wein, Mudd, Lerner, and Faculty House. Don't worry, you'll get to know them all.


The major banks in New York City are Citibank, Commerce, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Bank of America, and Chase Manhattan. These banks have cash stations all around the city. Citibank offers a special student account for Columbia students. To enroll in a student account with Citibank, you must either sign up during the promotion week in the fall, or call the Citibank 800 number and enroll over the phone (the local branches do not have the forms). If you have direct deposit, this account gives you free checking and e-banking. There are Citibank cash stations on campus in Uris, Lerner, and on Broadway at 111th street. The nearest Chase Manhattan ATM is only a few blocks south of campus (at 113th) on Broadway. Within 6 blocks are Washington Mutual, Commerce Bank, and Banco Popular.


People to Know

Prof. Sarah Woolley
, Department Chair
Prof. Frances Champagne, Neuroscience & Behavior Major Advisor
Prof. Donald Hood, Neuroscience & Behavior Major Advisor
Prof. David Krantz, Statistics Advisor
Patricia Lindemann, Postbac and Second Majors Advisor
Prof. Kevin Ochsner, Director of Graduate Studies
Ingrid Richter, Systems Administrator
Maria Dilbert, Business Manager
Elizabeth Santana, Graduate Program Assistant