General Questions

Q: What do you look for in an applicant? 

The Admissions Committee looks for applicants with a compelling background and strong grades in quantitative and related fields such as statistics, mathematics and computer science. Applicants need a thorough knowledge of linear algebra and advanced calculus. Successful candidates have experience in theoretical or applied probability and statistics.  Familiarity with computer programming is highly recommended. 

Interested applicants lacking background in these areas should make up the deficiency before applying. We do not offer conditional acceptance.

Due to the large number of applications received, the MA in Statistics staff does not answer inquiries about specific applications nor give advice or direction to applicants before they are admitted. Although we appreciate interest in the program, please note that emails sent to the Department expressing interest have no bearing on the outcome of your application being reviewed. Your candidacy is decided upon by your application materials only. Any specific interest and rationale should be conveyed in your personal statement within the application. 

Q: What are the minimum GPA/GRE Scores for a successful applicant? 

There are no minimum GPA or GRE scores set by the Department. The Admissions Committee looks competitively at the overall application including the grades received in relevant coursework, the prerequisites needed for the program, recommendation letters, test scores, and other supporting documents. 

Q: Are TOEFL Scores required? 

GSAS requires a minimum score of 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL (600 on the paper-and-pencil test) or 7.5 on the IELTS test.  Please refer to GSAS Admissions for timing and more details on the English Proficiency Requirement.  Write to for specific questions. 

Q: May I arrange for a personal interview or visit the Columbia University Campus? 

Due to the number of applicants we do not meet with prospective students.   An interview is not part of the Admissions Process.   Nor do we provide tours or interviews with faculty or students. 

You may visit the Columbia Campus Visitor Center (213 Low Library).  HERE is a link for visiting the Columbia Campus.  HERE is a link for the self-guided tour. 

Thoroughly review the MA Website and the GSAS Website including the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). If questions remain and you are on campus, visit the GSAS Admissions Office (107 Low Library) between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Q: How many students are enrolled in the program? 
The number of enrolled students varies every year according to our admission needs and the number of qualified applications received.
Q: Do MA students take courses with PhD students? 

Generally, MA students may not take PhD-level courses. However, a well-prepared student may be permitted to take a certain PhD-level course with the approval of their Faculty Adviser and the  course instructor.

Q: Are there TA or RA opportunities for MA students? 

You may apply for a grader position after you complete your first semester in the MA Program.  Keep reading the MA Newsletter and checking your emails as this opportunity will be announced.     We do not offer RA or TA positions within the Statistics Department for Master's students, but there may be TA opportunities available outside the Department. 

Q: What are the application deadlines for both programs? 

The application deadlines for the hybrid program are the same as those of the regular on-campus program. Please refer to the GSAS Admissions website for all deadline information

Q: Where can I find additional information about admission requirements and other GSAS policies? 
Q: May I apply for more than one program? 

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions on the GSAS Website. 

Q: Where do graduates work? 
Our graduates pursue careers in diverse areas including but not limited to the following:  the pharmaceutical industry, education, finance, insurance, market research, public health, government, academia and consulting. To get a sense of where our recent graduates have landed, please click HERE.  International students should consult with ISSO counselors about eligibility to work in the US.
Our career development officer provides individual and group guidance to help students find jobs. This includes resume and cover letter reviews, training through mock interview sessions and networking events with employers and alumni.
Q: How long does it take to complete the program? 

The typical full-time schedule is three semesters (Fall, Spring, Fall) with summer courses as optional.  International students must be full-time and must finish within three semesters, according to their visa.  

Part-time domestic students complete the program in a maximum of four years. 

Q: May I pursue another degree when enrolled in the MA Program? 

No, you may not.  Here is some general information on Statistics on the GSAS Website

Q: Which are the software packages/data technologies we will use in the program (SAS/R/Hadoop, etc.)? 

Most instructors use R, which will be used in the course GR5206, Statistical Computing and Introduction to Data Science. A good website to have time to prepare in advance for programming options is located here.

Q: Is there a Facebook page for the MA Statistics Program? 

 Yes, we have a Facebook page.

Decisions & Waitlists

Q: I applied a while ago and still haven’t received my decision. When will I hear back about my status? 

Most decisions are not communicated until the end of April.  Please be patient.  Applicants on the wait list have to wait until they are contacted directly by the school for updates. 

Although the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences begins accepting applications to the M.A. program in September, the decision-making process may not begin until January/February.  Once the decision-making process is under way, decisions will be made on a rolling basis. 

Since space is limited, prospective applicants are encouraged to submit all application materials as early as possible.

Q: My application was placed on waiting list, when will I receive a final decision? 

Typically most decisions for applicants on waiting list will be communicated by the middle of May.

Q: May I submit additional materials to improve my application while placed on the wait list? 

No. If you are on the waitlist, you must simply wait to see if available slots open. You will be contacted if there is an open spot available for you. 

Q: What is my number on the waiting list? 

We do not have a number system for our wait list, nor do we share where you rank.  Interested applicants must wait. 

Q: My application was rejected. May I receive feedback? 

We appreciate the time and commitment you put into your application; however, we are unable to offer individual feedback on why you did not gain admission. This is a highly selective program and decisions are competitively based upon a thorough review of all application materials.

Hybrid Program Admissions Questions

Q: Will students in the Hybrid Program receive the same diploma as those in the regular On-Campus Program? 

Yes. The diplomas for the two programs are exactly the same.

Q: Once an international student joins the on-campus portion of the program, when will they be eligible for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)? 

Federal laws require that international students complete two full-time academic terms (fall and spring) on campus in F-1 status before they are eligible for OPT. Please note that hybrid students are not eligible for Pre-Completion OPT.

Q: Does the on-line portion of the program qualify an international student for the I-20 and F-1 student status? 

No, the on-line portion of the program does not qualify for the I-20 form or for F-1 student status.

Q: Can I be considered for the hybrid program if I am not admitted to the regular on-campus program? 
No, the admission criteria are the same for both programs.
Q: If admitted to the On-Campus Program, may I switch to the Hybrid Program, instead? 

One may request a transfer only before June 15.  The request must be approved and will be allowed only if there is space available in the Hybrid Program. 

To request a transfer before June 15, please send an email to with your name and "request to transfer to Hybrid Program" in the subject line.  This request will be sent for approval.  If approved, the Department will send a request to GSAS. 

Q: I was admitted to the Hybrid Program. May I change my status to the non-hybrid program? 

Unfortunately we are not able to transfer your application to the regular On-Campus Program.

Q: How does the Hybrid Program differ from the On-Campus Program? 

The Hybrid Program differs from the regular MA Statistics Program only in the first semester since it is taken online.  A hybrid student is non-distinguishable from a regular student once they come to campus in the Spring Semester.  The program requirements are the same.

The amount of time on campus has implications for international students because of OPT. 

Q: May hybrid students come to classes or use the Columbia facilities, such as the library, during their online semester? 

No.  Hybrid online students are expected to take all classes remotely during the Fall Semester. You will not receive a Columbia ID until you arrive to campus in January for your second semester/Spring Semester.   When you arrive to campus in the Spring Semester, you will have student fees, which will give you access to the health facilities, gym and the libraries.  Please read more here.


Q: Are Hybrid students eligible for Pre-OPT? 

No. If you are admitted to the hybrid program, Pre-Completion OPT is not an option.