New Students

Q: May I take more than the ten courses required for the degree? 

Yes, with the approval of your Faculty Adviser.  Once you are a student on campus, you will have a variety of approved electives to choose from. 

Q: What are key steps prior to arriving on campus? 
Q: When do I receive my Faculty Adviser assignment? 

You will be notified of your Faculty Adviser assignment via email towards the end of August - just before registration for incoming students.

Q: When do I submit a hard copy of my final transcripts? 

Please read carefully about this on the GSAS New Student Checklist  and submit as soon as possible, or you may receive a hold on your registration. 

Q: When will I receive my student ID card? 

Pick up your ID card at the ID Center in 204 Kent Hall during the week of GSAS Orientation. Submit a photo HERE

Q: How do I get credit for MA courses I took prior to being admitted to the MA Statistics program? 

The Statistics Department only offers credit for courses taken at Columbia University provided the credits were not used towards any other degree program. A maximum of four courses may be approved for the MA Degree, and a maximum of three courses may be approved for the BA/MA degree.

All advanced standing credits must be verified by our Program Director before formal approval by GSAS.  Submit the Application for Transfer Credit Form (PDF) to the MA Program Coordinator.  More information about receiving transfer credits can be found here.

Q: How and when do I pay my tuition? 

Once you accept your offer of admission into the MA Program and pay your deposit, a space is reserved for you to register for classes.  Registration for all incoming students will not happen until the very end of August.  Find the exact date in your Welcome Emails. 

When you register for classes (in late August/early September) you must also register for a full or partial RU (Residence Unit).  The RU determines the tuition you will pay.  Once you register, you will be billed. 

Please consult the Student Financial Services for complete instructions on billing and payment (including E-Billing, payment options, refunds, and withdrawals). There is also information about payment and billing deadlines through the GSAS page. Finally, you may refer to this guide to making your online payment. 

Payment is due by the date listed on the Student Account Statement, which is available in Student Services Online (SSOL). In general, payment for each term is due before the end date of the University’s official Change of Program period, as noted on the academic calendar. 

Q: When do I need to arrive on campus? 

We will be hosting our in person required Department Orientation on Friday, August 24th. Please make sure to arrive before this date so you can attend. This is not to be confused with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) who also does a separate new student orientation for all students across GSAS (date TBD). 


Q: How do I register for classes? 

Newly incoming students will not be able to register until the end of August.  When Registration is open, each student will receive an assigned appointment time in SSOL.  Please review the Registration Guidelines on the MA Statistics Website.  The Office of the University Registrar is helpful. 

Registration at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is a two-part process that consists of registering for individual courses and registering for a Residence Unit (RU).  Your RU, not the registration of courses, provides the basis of your tuition charges.  For complete information about registration procedures, refer to the GSAS Registration page .

Q: Where do I find information on relevant courses? 

Access course information in the Columbia University Directory of Classes.  Compare with the lists on the MA Statistics Website to choose approved electives. 

The Columbia Course Directory:

  • Reveals when a student is restricted from taking a course. The class must be “open to” GSAS.
  • Shows how many students have already signed up and how many slots are still open (time-delayed from the evening before).
  • Reveals if there are any “Approvals Required.” 
  • Lists prerequisites. 

Read carefully all informative emails from the Department, especially the MA Newsletter which will be available for new MA students in September. Special announcements of courses opening up or waitlists will be found in the MA Newsletter. 

Q: May I add/drop classes after the semester has begun? 

Yes, you may add/drop classes in SSOL until the end of the Change of Program Period.  Check the academic calendar for the specific date. 

You may drop classes using SSOL until the last day to drop classes.  Check the academic calendar for the specific date.  You will not be able to drop a class after the Drop Date.  Read the MA Weekly Newsletter as key dates will be announced.

If you plan to make changes to your schedule it should be done in consultation with your Faculty Adviser.  Changes may affect RU registration. 

Q: What is the difference between a letter grade, R grade or Pass/Fail in the grade options? 

Courses taken for R or Pass/Fail do not count towards the MA Statistics degree. Core classes cannot be taken for R or P/F. It is also required that you notify your faculty adviser before any course is changed to R or P/F statuses. R, Pass/Fail grade policy can be found here: R Grade; Pass/Fail.

The last day to change a course to Pass/Fail or R Grade is listed in the Academic Calendar

Q: May I register for classes during winter and summer vacation? 

There are no courses in the winter break; however, there may be course offerings in the summer through the School of Professional Studies. You will receive more information from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) and our MA Weekly Newsletter.

Q: Which courses are recommended for the first semester? 

The optimal course load per semester is to take four classes that count toward graduation.  Here is a typical schedule: 

  • Probability – GR5203—Core Course
  • Inference – GR5204—Core Course
  • Linear Regression Models– GR5205—Core Course
  • Stat Comp & Intro Data Science—GR5206—This is the first offering in the popular Statistics Data Science Sequence. 

New students should review their Webinar which takes place in August. 

In addition, please review Required Courses, Approved Courses, and those courses which are Not-Approved.  Always meet with your adviser to finalize your schedule.

Q: What are the overall requirements to graduate? 

All students must complete a minimum of ten approved classes and two Residence Units (RUs) to graduate. 

  • For the 10 minimum classes, four are core classes:
    • Probability – 1st semester
    • Inference – 1st semester
    • Linear Regression – 1st semester
    • Advanced Data Analysis – our “capstone” course taken in the final semester.
  • Three of the remaining six electives must be from within the Statistics Department.
  • All students must graduate in Good Academic Standing.
  • More information can be viewed on our website.


Q: How long does it take to complete the Master’s Degree? 

Full-time Students

The majority of students take three semesters to complete the program. Some well-prepared students complete in two semesters. This should be discussed with your faculty adviser for proper guidance and  recommendations. Full-time international students may not stay longer than three semesters. 

Part-time Students

A part-time, domestic student has up to four years to complete the program. 

Q: May I register for classes in another department? 

One must follow that school’s Cross-registration procedure: 

For schools with no special procedure, fill out a Registration Adjustment Form, obtain the signature and UNI of the appropriate administrator of the other school and your faculty adviser, and bring the form to 107 Low Library for processing.

Q: How do wait lists work? 

Registration is based on a first-come-first-serve basis. If a section is full for a particular class then you may apply for the next section or you will be placed on an electronic waitlist. If you are on a waitlist, you must wait to find out if there will be room in a class. Since there is no guarantee that you will be allowed into the class, consider signing-up for a second choice.

If you receive a “Pending” status, this means that the instructor will allow you in the class if there is room. There is no need to email the professor or the Department. Review this GUIDE to Waitlists or email for questions.

Q: How do I know if an elective is approved or not? 

There is an up-to-date list on our MA Website of approved electives and a list of classes which are not approved. If you find another graduate-level course that connects to your interests in Statistics but is not on our list, you must review with your Faculty Adviser or the MA Program Director to have it approved. Please do not just assume you can receive credit for an elective because you can register for the course.

Q: How many credits should I take each semester if I am full-time? 

Twelve credits—four (3-pt) classes—per semester is the  optimal, full-time course load.  Students who sign-up for more than 12-credits risk not achieving grades required to graduate.  Full-time status for an international student is one Residence Unit (RU) for the first two semesters and one Extended Residence (ER) in the third semester.  One RU or ER permit a maximum of 20 points.  Your Faculty Adviser should review your final course schedule. 

Q: What is the American Language Program (ALP)? 

The ALP (American Language Program) offers classes for improving communication skills available to all MA Statistics students.  Please see details on this program and other language programs on the MA Website under International Students. 

Q: How do I know if I should take GR5203 Probability and GR5204 Inference in the half-semester format versus a full semester of each? 

Most students, with a strong mathematics background and previous exposure to probability and inference, should take the half-semester version of GR5203 and GR5204.  Those with less exposure may take GR5203 in a full semester format and then GR5204 the following semester. This is something to discuss with your Faculty Adviser.

Internships & Employment

Q: How and when may I apply for campus employment? 

The Statistics Department urges students to focus on their coursework in the first semester.  Look for a job, preferably in the second semester, via this LINK.  International students should review the ISSO Website

Q: May I apply to be a TA or RA? 

The Statistics Department does not hire an MA student to be an RA or TA. 

There are “Grader” opportunities available for MA students, but not in the first semester.  You may apply in the second semester based upon your qualifications.  You will be informed of these opportunities via email. 

Q: Is there a CPT option? 

This program does NOT have a CPT option.  Please review the section for international students on our website. 

There will be workshops by ISSO on how one can elect early OPT to use during the summer. Please direct all questions about unpaid internships and legal internships using early OPT to the ISSO Office.

Q: How can I find an internship/job? 

Read the MA Weekly Newsletter (the MA Program's communication email) to find new internship and job opportunities.  The MA Program has its own dedicated Associate Director of Career Development who  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.  Look for her contact information in the Newsletter. 

Another resource for seeking internships/jobs is the Center for Career Education (CCE).  You will hear from a representative from the CCE and our Associate Director of Career Development at the LIVE in-person Orientation Session.  International students must follow all the regulations for securing an unpaid internship as there is no CPT option.  Review further details of employment at ISSO.