Please note these instructions are subject to change, based on guidelines we receive both from the university and the government.


Where is the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and the Columbia University campus? 
Please keep reading all your emails from the Statistics Department, GSAS and Columbia University. 
Please regularly visit Columbia University's Resource Guide for COVID-19 and ISSO.
Check University Updates for the most recent communications to the Columbia University community.  


What health and safety protocols do we have to follow? 

Campus health policy will require that people wear a face covering at all times indoors, unless they are in a private room with the door closed. 

A detailed overview of public health protocols on Columbia’s campus includes symptom screening, mandatory and periodic testing, contact tracing, face covering, social distancing, and quarantining.

What is the Columbia Community Health Compact? 

It is the shared community pledge to the highest standards of health and safety. See here:  Columbia Community Health Compact

MA Program Requirements

What are the 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:

  • Three are core classes:
    • Probability GR5203
    • Inference GR5204
    • Linear Regression GR5205
  •  One capstone course is required from the two options below: 
    • Advanced Data Analysis GR5291
    • Advanced Machine Learning GR5242
  • Three of the remaining six electives must be from within the Statistics Department.  If both capstone courses are taken, then one of them will count as a Statistics Elective. 

Students can keep track of their courses in the  MA Program Course Checklist Form.


How long does it take to complete the Master’s Degree? Is there a part-time option? 

Full-time Students

The majority of students take three semesters to complete the program. Some well-prepared students complete in two semesters.  The faculty adviser can offer guidance and recommendations.

All full-time students must register for one full RU in each of the first two semesters.  A student can graduate after all requirements are achieved including completing 2 RUs.  Most students need a third semester to complete all requirements.  To continue studying, a student who has completed 2 RUs must register for ER.  

Students in F1 status must be full-time and may not extend beyond three semesters.  They may not take a fourth to complete the requirements.  Always check with ISSO for rules about being in F1 status. 

Part-time Students

A part-time student has up to four years to complete all requirements.

All students are subject to the CONTINUOUS REGISTRATION rule.  

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

Full-time status:

Registration for one full RU or ER satisfies the requirement for full-time status.  One full RU or ER:  Each allow up to 20 points maximum per semester.* 

An international student in F1 status may graduate after two semesters, if all requirements are completed, but may not take longer than three semesters to graduate.**

Most new students should not take more than four classes in the first semester, as these classes are challenging and a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.  After a successful first semester, any number of courses are permitted (up to 20 points) as long as the Faculty Adviser approves. 

The Faculty Adviser approves the course schedule during the time of registration, and again if changes are made later on. 


*Note:  Extra fees will be charged if greater than 20 credits are taken at any time, even if classes are dropped later on. 

**Always consult ISSO for issues on international status and visas. 

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. 

Students may also take classes that are not required for the degree, as long as they do not interfere with required course work and the minimum 3.0 GPA is maintained. 

A student registered for a full RU (Residence Unit) or ER (Extended Residence Unit - required after completing two RUs in GSAS) may take up to and including 20 points.  Extra fees will be charged if more than 20 points are taken at any point, even if classes are dropped later on. 

What programming languages are used in the MA Program? 

Both R and Python are used.   A good website to have time to prepare in advance for programming options is located here.

Where can I find answers to my questions? 

Click HERE for more information on a specific topic.

Other informative links:

New Students

I’m an international student. Where do I find information for any questions or forms related to my international status? 

The International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) is the international student's excellent resource: 

When do classes begin in the Fall, Spring, or Summer? What are important dates? 

You can find important dates on the Academic Calendar.  Choose the year, semester, and the school is the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

What are key steps prior to arriving on campus? 

Pre-Arrival Requirements

Where can I find my UNI, and how do I activate it?
Your UNI can be found in an email from the GSAS Office of Admissions that you receive within ten days of accepting the offer of admission and paying your tuition deposit. If you cannot find the email containing your UNI, please write to to request that your UNI be sent to you again. Alternatively, you can look up your UNI through CUIT. For instructions on activating your UNI and your Columbia email address, please visit the CUIT website.

What are the required pre-arrival tutorials, and where can I access them?
Before you arrive on campus, you must complete several tutorials: the Academic Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research tutorial and the Sexual Respect tutorials. These tutorials must be completed before you are allowed to register for classes. Instructions on accessing the tutorials will be sent to you via email in June. Please note that information regarding the Sexual Respect tutorial may come from the Office of University Life.

I have an immunization hold on my registration. How can I have this hold removed?
In order to have an immunization hold lifted, you must submit your immunization records to Columbia’s Immunization Office. You will not be permitted to register until the Immunization Office has received these records. Please note that you will not be contacted by the Immunization Office unless your records are incomplete. You may determine whether the immunization hold has been lifted by logging in to SSOL. Please contact the Immunization Office with any questions at or (212) 854-7210.

Where can I receive assistance with I-20 and/or other visa issues?
International students should contact the International Students and Scholars Office with any questions or concerns regarding visas. 

How will I know whether the GSAS Office of Admissions has received my official transcript(s)?
The easiest and fastest way to determine whether your transcript(s) have been received is to log in to your Application Status page. Please note that the GSAS Office of Admissions must receive your official transcript(s) by August 15. If you fail to submit your official transcript(s) to the Office of Admissions, a hold will be placed on your spring registration.

I having trouble completing my transcripts requirements or my credentials verification.  Who can help me? 
The Statistics Department cannot help you with these requirements.  Please reach out to

When do I submit my final transcripts? 

Please read carefully about this on the GSAS Website and submit as soon as possible, or you may receive a hold on your registration.  You can email questions to: 

When will I receive my student ID card? 

Read the emails from GSAS.  To avoid delays, submit a photo HERE  today. 

What is the role of my Faculty Adviser? 

Your Faculty Adviser is the primary person to go to in terms of your academic needs.  Your Faculty Adviser can provide a valuable perspective on your academic direction in the MA Program. 

When it is time to select courses for each upcoming semester, send an email to your Faculty Adviser.  Attach your transcripts and the MA Program Course Checklist (fill this out with your course selections).  Include any questions you have about your courses.  Approval for your course selections by your Faculty Adviser ensures that you will complete the correct courses for graduation.  When emailing your Faculty Adviser, please allow up to a week for a reply. 

If you experience difficulty in any of your courses during the semester, please reach out to your Faculty Adviser.  If possible, reach out first to your instructor and TA as soon as you notice any problems.  Their feedback is valuable and can help your Faculty Adviser support you better. 

When do I receive my Faculty Adviser assignment? 

You will be notified of your Faculty Adviser assignment via email at the end of August. 

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.   Here is information about tuition and fees which are based on Residence Units

When you register for classes, you will also register for a full RU or a partial RU, depending on if you are full-time or part-time.  Once you register for RU, you can expect to be billed. 

Please consult 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. 

How do I receive transfer credit? 

Courses taken in Statistics at Columbia University prior to entering the M.A. program may count toward the M.A. degree if approved by the Program Director and upon final review by the Graduate School. According to the policy of the Statistics Department, no more than 4 classes (and a maximum of 1 RU), taken at Columbia prior to admission in the M.A. program may be applied towards the M.A. degree.  No Columbia course may be applied to more than one degree.

Transfer credit may be awarded after the student registers for the first semester.  When transfer credit is granted, concomitant Residence Units may also be credited toward fulfilling the two RU requirement for the M.A. Degree.  Here is more information about transfer credit. 

A student may receive Transfer Credit by following this procedure (after registering for classes):

  1. There is a Transfer Credit form on the GSAS Website.  The top of this form must be filled out with student signature on the appropriate line.
  2. The courses should be listed in the blank area provided.
  3. “Previous Institution” should be Columbia University, i.e., where the courses were taken.
  4. The form may be given or emailed to the Program Coordinator (Jill Forger who will pass it to the Faculty Director for approval.
  5. The Faculty Director will determine the number of points and RUs to be credited.
  6. Once the form has been approved and signed by the Director, it can be submitted to GSAS in 107 Low.
What is the exam format for virtual courses? 
Most classes use a combination of zoom and canvas (course management system) to implement exams. Zoom will be the proctoring platform with your TA as the live proctor. Canvas is where you will obtain and upload your completed exam.
  • Please review expectations and processes for the online exam.  Follow the guidance of your TA, Professor, and your Course Syllabus. 
  • In order to best prepare for virtual exams, please review this Virtual Technology Guide .  
Where can I find out about New York City, libraries, resources for programming, and student life? 
  • For programming and information about the Columbia Libraries visit Student Resources
  • For general information about Columbia and New York City, visit Student Life
What should I do if I have concerns about my academic performance? 

If you have concerns about your academic performance for any reason (personal, professional, academic) reach out to someone as soon as possible.   

Reach out to your TA and the instructor of the course with questions.  It is helpful for your instructor to know your commitment to learning. 

For guidance on courses and your schedule, please reach out to your Faculty Directors and Faculty Adviser (listed in your SSOL). 

You can receive free tutoring from the MA Help Room

To discuss options, you can always reach out to Chrissie Kong, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs ( 

Do not delay seeking guidance.  The earlier you reach out, the more options you will have. 

What are the available housing options when I arrive to campus? 

University-owned housing is limited and most MA students do not receive housing.  Instructions for how to apply for Columbia Housing are provided on your Decision Letter from GSAS. 

  • Review the Housing information on the GSAS Website:  Click  HERE . 

It is strongly recommended to explore off-campus options.  All questions regarding housing should be directed to Off-Campus Housing Assistance.  Contact OCHA ( or visit them at 401 West 119th Street, telephone: (212) 854-9300

New Student Registration

Is it possible to take summer courses at Columbia University before the MA Statistics Program officially begins in the Fall Semester? 

If you are accepted to begin in the MA Degree Program in Statistics in the Fall Semester, you can take a class with the School of Professional Studies the summer before.  An advantage of doing this is that you can get a taste of the program, complete a class in advance of starting, and then TRANSFER the course into the MA Statistics Program in the Fall after registration.  You must apply to the School  of Professional Studies first, then you can register for classes.  If you have not completed immunizations, you will get a hold on your account and there will be delays.  You can apply HERE

Is it possible to register for courses if I am outside the US? 

Yes.  Registration can occur from any location. 

When Registration is open, each student will receive an assigned appointment time in SSOL.  All MA Statistics Students will register at the same time. 

Please review the Registration Guidelines on the MA Statistics Website.  The Office of the University Registrar is helpful. 

How do I register for classes? 

When Registration is open, each student will receive an assigned appointment time in SSOL.  All MA Statistics Students will register at the same time. 

Please review this New Student Registration Outline and the Registration Outline 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:

  1. Register for courses.
  2. Register for a full/partial Residence Unit (RU). 

Your RU provides the basis of your tuition charges.  Read HERE about Residence Units.  For complete information about registration procedures, refer to the GSAS Registration page

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.  

MA Statistics Courses begin with GR52xx.   Do not register for the GU42xx version of the same class. 

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 and GSAS. Special announcements of courses opening up or waitlists will be sent via email or Newsletter. 

Which courses are recommended for the first semester? 

The recommended full-time course load in the first semester is:  

  • 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 Data Science Sequence offered by the Statistics Department. 

This course schedule covers the basic prerequisites needed for the other statistics electives.   More details are in the Registration Outline for incoming students.   

Students with a background in probability and inference should take the half-semester versions of these courses.  This allows for more advanced studies in the second semester. 

Students lacking a strong background in probability and inference should confer with their faculty adviser as to whether they should take full-semester versions, and how to arrange the schedule if that is the case. 

It is important to know what courses are REQUIRED, what electives are APPROVED, and what courses are NOT-APPROVED.  

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.

The half-semester courses are intensive courses.  They move twice as fast, so it is important to keep up.   If you find that you are having academic difficulties, be certain to reach out to your instructor, TA, and Faculty Adviser as soon as possible. 

A self-assesment test is sent to all incoming students.  Use this to determine if you should make preparations during the summer.  You will receive information via email about the following opportunities: 

  • The Math Refresher Review (Core Math for Statistics)
  • The MA Statistics Bootcamp
  • The Probability Preview

If concerns remain about taking the half-semester courses, then consult with your Faculty Adviser.  Advisers will be assigned in August.  Keep reading the emails to find out when.   

Am I guaranteed my first choice section for the core classes? 

No.  Each student is guaranteed to get into the required core classes in the first semester (Probability, Inference and Linear Regression).  However, you are not guaranteed to get into your first choice section for each class.  Please do not reach out to the Department asking to be switched into any sections

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. 

You should not sign up for multiple wait lists of the same class. 

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.

What are the important deadlines I need to know? 

GSAS is strict with these deadlines and does not allow exceptions! 

Last Day of the Change of Program Period - Last day to add or drop without penalty.  You may add classes directly via SSOL until this day.  Wait lists end on this day.  Make sure you are not registered for over 20 points or you will be charged extra tuition. 

Last Day to Drop a Class - Talk to your professor before this date if you are experiencing academic challenges.  Not all classes can be changed to Pass/Fail, so make sure you know this before you decide to not drop the class.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  Dropping a class is a two-step process.  You must complete both steps in order to drop the class.  If you are having difficulty, please contact the Student Service Center:  You must officially drop a class or you will receive a grade in the class, even if you have stopped attending. 

Last Day to Drop a Half-Semester Class - These dates are different from the date to drop a full semester class.  Please make note of the dates. 

Last Day to change to Pass/Fail or R Credit - Understand the difference between Pass/Fail & R Credit



What is a Residence Unit (RU)? 

In addition to registering for classes each semester, it is required to register for the appropriate RU or ER.  See FAQs below for full-time and part-time students. 

Read about Residence Units.  For more information about Residence Units, see also Tuition & Fees  and the GSAS Website

After completing a total of two RUs, all students who wish to continue taking classes must register for ER in subsequent semesters.  One can register for ER for more than one semester (e.g., Summer Term and Fall Term). 

To find the call number for the kind of residence unit you want, look in the Columbia Course Directory under Richard Slusarczyk – (Assc. Dean-Academic Affairs, GSAS) who will be listed as the “instructor” for GSAS residence units.  Choose the correct unit and semester. 

What is an Extended Residence Unit (ER)? 

Besides registering for classes each semester, it is required to register for the appropriate RU or ER. 

After completing a total of two RUs, all students who want to take more classes in subsequent semester(s) must register for ER.  One can register for ER for more than one semester (e.g., Summer Term and Fall Term). 

Extended Residence (ER) 20 credits maximum (EXRS) After completion of two Residence Units
Summer ER 20 credits maximum (EXRS) Taken during the summer semester

To find the call number for the kind of residence unit you want, look in the Columbia Course Directory under Richard Slusarczyk – (Assc. Dean-Academic Affairs, GSAS) who will be listed as the “instructor” for GSAS residence units.  Choose the correct unit and semester. 

How do I know what classes to register for? 

It is the student’s responsibility to stay on track with graduation requirements, and to make sure the Faculty Adviser approves course selections.  Before registering for classes, each student should send the MA Program Course Checklist to their Faculty Adviser.  

  • Here are details about the Statistics MA Program requirements.
  • Here are approved electives.
  • Here is information about Cross Registration.
  • Here are electives grouped according to interest area, such as finance, data science, public health, insurance, or Ph.D., I'm looking to continue studying after graduation. 
  • Here is a list of courses that will not count for the MA Degree in Statistics.

The Elective Course Request Form can be used if a class is not on the "Approved Electives" list, but you feel that it should be under consideration for that list. 


When/how may I add a class? 

You may add classes until the last day of the "Change of Program Period" which is the last day of the second week of the semester.  This is the day the Wait Lists end. 

The GSAS Academic Calendar indicates the general dates that students can register.  The system will allow students to register only during specific registration appointment times on Student Services Online (SSOL) (accessed with UNI and password).  “REG APPTS” reveals the designated times.  These appointments are at the same times for all MA Statistics Students. 

HERE is information about the post-Change of Program Period.

When/how may I drop a class? 
  • The first two weeks of the semester is called the “Change of Program Period” because students may add and drop classes in SSOL.
  • You should not need to ADD any more classes after the end of the “Change of Program Period.” 
  • Refer to the Academic Calendar for add/drop and other deadlines.
    • No classes may be dropped after the LAST DAY TO DROP.  There are no exceptions. 
      • Classes dropped before the LAST DAY TO DROP will not appear on the transcript. 
      • Dropping a class is a two-step process. You will receive an email to confirm. 
      • Refer to the Post Add/Drop Tool.
      • Check SSOL to make sure class has been officially dropped. 
    • No classes may be changed to R or Pass/Fail after the DEADLINE to change to PASS/FAIL or R.
  • Half- Semester Courses
    • The deadlines for half- semester courses are different, to remain in proportion to the deadlines for full-semester courses.
      • Half-semester courses must be dropped within the first two weeks.
      • The deadline for Pass/Fail or for R credit is the first day of the fifth week. (Remember that core classes may not be taken for Pass/Fail or R credit.  Nor may they be taken over to receive a higher grade.)
    • Students who stop attending a course without officially dropping will be assigned a grade.
May I add/drop classes after the semester has begun? 

Check the academic calendar for specific dates. 

  • Students may add/drop classes in SSOL until the end of the Change of Program Period (first two weeks of classes).  No classes should be added after the first two weeks of classes, although minor exceptions are allowed -- only with Faculty Adviser and Instructor approval -- using the Post Add/Drop Tool.
  • You may drop classes using SSOL until the last day to drop classes.   You will not be able to drop a class after the Drop Date.  This deadline is strictly enforced. 
    • Classes dropped before the DROP DATE will not appear on the transcript.
    • Dropping a course is a two-step process.  Check SSOL to make sure the course has been dropped! 

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. 

What is the difference between a letter grade, R grade or Pass/Fail? 

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.

Students must notify their faculty adviser when any course is changed to R or P/F statuses. 

R, Pass/Fail grade policy can be found here: R Grade; Pass/Fail

In general, Pass/Fail is selected on SSOL.  R is an agreement with the instructor.  For both Pass/Fail and R:  Make sure you know your instructor's expectations on what you are required to complete. 

The last day to change a course to Pass/Fail or R Grade is listed in the Academic Calendar.  This deadline is strictly enforced. 

What if a class is full? 
  • Register as soon as possible to get on the electronic waitlist.
  • Waiting is the next step. 
  • This is a helpful Guide for waitlists.  
  • Questions may be sent to
  • It is important to have a back-up plan, such as an alternative course or a different section that is still open.
  • If accepted into a desired section, please drop all other sections to open those waitlists to others.

What not to do:

  • There is no need to reach out to a Faculty Adviser except in a case where a class is required for graduation in the last semester of the program.
  • Students should not email the instructor to bypass others on the waitlist.
  • It is not permissible to remain on the waitlist if you are accepted into another section of the same course. 
Will I pay higher tuition if I register for more than 20 credits, even if I drop the extra classes before the drop date? 

Yes.  You must make sure you do not register for more than 20 credits.  Questions about tuition may be sent to the Student Service

If you have registered for greater than 20 points on the last day of the Change of Program Period, you will pay a higher tuition.  Sometimes students may end up with extra points because they come off of a waitlist.  Make sure you check how many points you have on the last day of the Change of Program Period.  The waitlists last only until the last day of the Change of Program Period

Make sure you drop all courses you do not want to take by the last day of the Change of Program Period.  Check your total classes on the following Monday as well. 

I’m registered for fifteen credits, why can’t I add another class? 

Statistics students in the MA Program may not register for greater than fifteen points at one time.  Special permission must be obtained to register for more than fifteen.

You may end up with more than fifteen credits if you come off a wait list, however.   Make sure you don't go over twenty credits, or you will be charged extra tuition.  

If, when registering for classes, you find a message that you cannot add an additional course because it is over the credit limit, then you should fill out the RAF  and get your faculty adviser's approval for registering for over 15 credits.  If the course is full, you may not add the class.  If there are spaces available in the class, submit the signed RAF  to

How do I register for summer classes? 


Summer Session:  Classes are offered to students in the MA Statistics Program through SPS (School of Professional Studies).  This is why courses may be labeled “S”.  They are the same MA Statistics Courses as offered during the Fall & Spring Semesters (GR 52xx).  Only course numbers that begin with “52” (not “42”) in the Statistics Department will count toward graduation. 

Classes that Count for Graduation (GSAS Website)

  • Require registration of ER  (any student who has completed 2 RUs) or
  • Require registration of the appropriate RU fraction (student with fewer than 2 RUs completed).
  • May be approved electives from the Statistics Department or other schools or departments. 
  • Please read about cross-registration.   

Summer Classes

  • Statistical Fieldwork GR5399:  Required for a student seeking an internship through CPT. 
  • Courses with zero (0) credits:  If this is your only class you do not need to register for ER or RU unit.  
  • HERE is summer tuition information.  

Classes that Do Not Count for Graduation

MA students taking only summer courses that do not count toward their specific degree requirements (e.g., language study for reading knowledge) should contact the GSAS Office of Student Affairs in person at 107 Low Library or by email at for guidance on paying tuition according to the schedule on the Tuition and Fees page of the SPS website.

 Questions about registering for Summer courses in SPS can be sent to:

To drop the last class of Summer,  fill-out the  withdrawal form.

How can I drop my last class of the summer? 

To drop the last class of Summer,  fill-out the withdrawal form.  

  • It will have instructions on where to send it.
  • State on the form that you wish to drop the last class of summer and that you are not withdrawing completely from the MA Program. 
  • HERE is information from the Registrar's Website. 

Questions about registering for Summer courses in SPS can be sent to:

May I take a leave of absence? 

All students, full-time and part-time, are required to register each Fall and Spring semester until all degree requirements have been completed or until the deadline for completing the degree has been reached.  See Continuous Registration and Satisfactory Academic Progress.  Students who must interrupt studies for compelling reasons need to request a Leave of Absence by filling out the Form on this  PAGE.  GSAS will respond to the request.

GSAS allows part-time students to take up to four years to complete the degree.  All part-time students must be registered continuously for each Fall and Spring semester.  A Leave of Absence Form must be filled out if a part-time student does not take class during any Fall or Spring semester.  Please review the information HERE.

Students in F1 status must complete the Masters Degree within three semesters of full-time registration.  A Leave of Absence may interfere with the ability to qualify for OPT.  Please contact ISSO for details. 

Students who wish to return from any approved leave of absence – whether personal, medical, or military – need to complete the Return from a Leave of Absence Form  by the deadline on the GSAS Website.  For more information on how one gets reinstated into the program after an unofficial leave, please refer to this link:  Reinstatement

Cross Registration

How do I take courses in another school or department (cross registration)? 

Cross Registration is always at the discretion of the school, the program and the course instructor. The Statistics Department does not have any influence on allowing you into a cross registered class. Before attempting to cross register, MA Students must review the Approved Electives List and/or check in with their Faculty Adviser to ensure that it is a class they can take for credit.

Some graduate schools have their own cross registration processes. Please review the links below for information on how to cross register for those graduate schools. For schools not listed below, reach out to the specific department and inquire about their cross registration options and process.

Admittance into any course is not guaranteed.  All courses are subject to availability.  Some schools do not allow students to cross-register until the first week of classes. 

Below are links for how to cross register into the following schools:

MA students may register for courses at TC, as long as they get permission from TC and their adviser. 

Does the GSAS Drop Date apply to me when I take a course in another school with a DIFFERENT Drop Date? 

Even if you are cross-registered into a class in another school with a different DROP DATE, YOU (as a GSAS student) are required to abide by the GSAS DROP DATE and other GSAS deadlines. 

What if a class is “restricted?” 
  • This means that it is closed to MA Statistics Students.
    • Look up the course in the Columbia Directory and review the section “Open To.”
    • Some courses open to additional students on a later date.  This is often found in the “Notes” section of the course.
  • Here is information about cross registration into other schools.
Where do I find information about prerequisites and registration restrictions? 

The Columbia Course Directory and Vergil offer key information about each class including the course size, prerequisites, and if there are any restrictions. For example, if a course is not open to students in GSAS, it would not be open to an MA Statistics student. For further details about registration procedures, students may refer to the GSAS Registration page. 

Note that most courses in other departments are often restricted until the first week of the semester.  Courses that are not full by the first week of the semester will often open to MA Statistics students.  Keep checking if there is a particular course you are interested in. 

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.

Sometimes a new course needs to be evaluated for inclusion.  If a course is not on our list, but...   

  • It relates to your studies in Statistics, obtain a syllabus and review it with your Faculty Adviser.  Your Faculty Adviser can approve your particular course schedule. 

Since new courses are coming up all the time, the MA Program has a procedure to request a new Approved Elective for all MA Statistics Students. 

  • The first step is to obtain the syllabus. 
  • The second step is to fill out and submit the ELECTIVES APPROVAL FORM.   

Please do not assume you can receive credit for an elective just because you can register for the course.

May I take a language class or something that doesn’t directly relate to this program? 

In order to graduate you must have both a:

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0, which includes all the courses you take.
  • 3.0 GPA in the ten courses which will count for graduation.  Only approved electives will count toward graduation. 

It is possible to take courses that will not count for graduation, as long as they do not interfere with your required studies.  You should review all electives with your adviser each semester.  Make sure you remain in Good Academic Standing.

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 under International Students

Full-Time Students

I am a full-time student, how many classes do I take each semester? 
  • Full-time status is determined by registering for a full RU or ER each semester (as appropriate).  Full-time status is not determined by the number of classes taken. 
  • A full RU or ER allows any number of points up to and including twenty points. 
  • You must take at least one course per semester or request a Leave of Absence
  • In order to be full-time, a student must register for a full RU or ER.  A student cannot be full-time and register for HR or QR. 
  • The number of classes taken must be approved by the Faculty Adviser. 
  • To remain in Good Academic Standing (GPA at 3.0 and above), it is recommended to take no more than four classes per semester unless you have an exceptionally strong background in the material. 
  • Most full-time students complete the program in three semesters, but it is possible to finish all requirements in two semesters.
  • Students in F1 status are required to be full-time which means they must register for a full RU or ER each semester on campus (as appropriate).  They also have a time limit to complete all program requirements.  Please consult ISSO
I am a full-time student, how many RUs do I take each semester? 

Full-time students must be registered for a Full Residence Unit (RU) or Extended Residence Unit (ER) as appropriate.  All program requirements must be completed in order to graduate.  Registration for one full RU or ER is considered full-time. Only part-time students may register for QR or HR.

Full-Time Student - typical track:

  • First Semester – RU
  • Second Semester – RU
  • Optional - Summer courses (ER) and/or  Statistical Fieldwork
  • Optional - Third Semester – ER

Full-time students register for a Full Residence Unit (RU) in the first two semesters.  Students who complete 2 RUs can graduate if they fulfill the graduation requirements. Otherwise, they can register for Extended Residence Unit (ER) and take a third semester. 

International students in F-1 status must be full-time.  They have a time limit in which to complete the program (usually no more than three semesters with a summer option).  Always check with ISSO about international and visa-related issues.  

How many classes may I register for in my final semester? 
  • The number of classes taken must be approved by the Faculty Adviser. 
  • To remain in Good Academic Standing (GPA at 3.0 and above), it is recommended to take no more than four classes per semester unless you have an exceptionally strong background in the material.
  • It doesn't matter how many courses you take per semester as long as you complete all the Statistics MA Program requirements.
  • You must take at least one course per semester or request a Leave of Absence
  • A full RU or ER allows any number of points up to and including twenty points.  
  • Full-Time Student - typical track:

    • First Semester – RU
    • Second Semester – RU
    • Optional - Summer courses (ER) and/or  Statistical Fieldwork
    • Optional - Third Semester – ER
  • International students in F-1 status have a time limit in which to complete the program.  Always check with ISSO about international and visa-related issues. 
What is a typical schedule for a Full-Time Student? 

Full- Time Schedule:  Review Program Requirements

  • Semester 1
      • GR 5203 Probability (3 points) – First half of the semester (core course)
      • GR 5204 Inference (3 points) – Second half of the semester (core course)
      • GR 5205 Linear Regression Models (3 points) – Full Semester (core course)
      • One approved elective - Usually GR 5206 (Stat Comp, 3 points)   
      • RU (Residence Unit)
  • Semester 2
      • Four electives*
      • RU (Residence Unit) Allows a maximum of 20 points
  • Semester 3
    • Capstone Course:
      • GR5291 Advanced Data Analysis (3 points) – To be taken in the second or last semester.
      • GR5242 Advanced Machine Learning (3 points) – GR5241 is the prerequisite for this course. 
    • One or more electives*
    • ER (Extended Residence Unit) Allows a maximum of 20 points

*In addition to the three core courses (5203, 5204, 5205) and one capstone course (5291 and/or 5242), students must also complete the equivalent of at least six (3-pt) electives approved by their Faculty AdviserAt least three (3-pt) electives must be selected from the Statistics Department, upon approval by the Faculty Adviser.  All courses must have a letter grade to count toward graduation. 

Part-Time Students

I am a Part-Time Student, how many RUs do I register for? 

ALL MA Program students are required to complete two RUs to graduate. 

Part-time allows for QR (Quarter Residence Unit) or HR (Half Residence Unit).  

Half Residence Unit (HR) - Three courses maximum

Quarter Residence Unit (QR) - Two courses maximum

To find the call number for the kind of residence unit you want, look in the Columbia Course Directory under Richard Slusarczyk – (Assc. Dean-Academic Affairs, GSAS) who will be listed as the “instructor” for GSAS residence units.  Choose the correct unit and semester. 

I am a Part-Time Student, how many classes should I take each semester? 
  • The number of classes taken must be approved by the Faculty Adviser. 
  • A part-time student must complete the program within four years. 
  • Part-time students usually take two courses per semester.
  • You must be registered each semester or request a Leave of Absence
What is an example of a schedule for a part-time student? 

Possible Part-time Schedule - Many other variations are possible. 

  • Semester 1
    • GR 5203 Probability (3 points)
    • GR 5206 Statistical Computing & Introduction to Data Science (3 points)
  • Semester 2
    • GR 5204 Inference (3 points)
    • GR 5205 Linear Regression (3 points)
  • Semesters 3 and 4
    • Two approved electives each semester
  • Final Semester  
    • GR5291 Advanced Data Analysis (3 points)
    • GR 5242 Advanced Machine Learning (3 points)
      • GR 5242 is offered in the Fall Term only
      • GR 5241 is the prerequisite for 5242 & is offered in the Spring & Summer Terms only

Part-time students must also complete a total of 2 RUs to graduate. 

Internships & Employment

Is there a CPT option? 

This program has a CPT option.  Please review the Statistical Fieldwork Course GR5399

Please direct all visa-related questions about internships to the ISSO Office.

Will I be eligible to apply for OPT if I take online classes outside of the U.S.? 

Please visit the ISSO website for information on OPT eligibility and process. 

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

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. 

How can I find an internship/job? 

Read the MA Weekly Newsletter (the communication email) to find new internship and job opportunities. The MA Program has a dedicated LinkedIn group for MA Statistics students and alumni where job leads are posted.  

There is a wealth of Career Resources with GSAS Compass.

For international students, review further details of employment at ISSO.  



How do I request transcripts? 

Inquiries for transcript requests should go to the Office of the Registrar –

How can I receive official proof of enrollment? 

If official proof of student enrollment is required by an employer or another entity, please visit the Office of the University Registrar in 204 Kent.  For academic certification, an official document provided by the University Registrar verifying your dates of attendance, award of degree, and/or student status (full-time or part-time) by semester please visit Office of the University Registrar: Certifications.  Current matriculated students can request enrollment certification via SSOL

Filing for Graduation

Do I automatically graduate or do I have to do something? 

Students beginning their final semester should review the dates to file for graduation.  If you miss the deadline, apply as soon as possible.  Please send questions to  

Filing for graduation involves filling out the PDF form called the Application for Degree or Certificate  that can be found on this  PAGE .  There are instructions on the form that let you know where to email it.  If you send it correctly, you will receive an auto-reply.  No further action is needed (except to complete your semester and pass all your classes).  

Please note that your SSOL may not be updated with your correct graduation date until a few weeks before your graduation.  Please be patient.  If it is still not updated at that time, please email  When your records have been updated, you'll be able to go to SSOL and click on “Degree Application Status.”  Your correct graduation date should show in “Expected Graduation.”  The word “Submitted” should show in the Application Status Field.  

Students must complete program requirements to graduate. 

Is there a deadline to file for graduation? 

Students beginning their final semester should review the dates to file for graduation.  If you miss the deadline, apply as soon as possible. 

For more details on filing for graduation, please review the previous FAQ and send all questions to  

When are degrees conferred? 

Notification of graduation will be listed in SSOL:  SSOL > Academic Profile > Columbia Degrees and Specializations.  Students who complete their studies in December will have the following February as their official graduation date. 

Degrees are conferred on the:

  • Second Wednesday in February
  • Third Wednesday in May
  • Third Wednesday in October

Once graduated, the “Degree Application Status” will read “There Are No Programs on File” and the newly conferred degree will appear near the bottom of the Academic Profile in the box headed “Columbia Degrees and Specializations”.

It is the student’s responsibility to stay on track with graduation requirements, and to make sure their Faculty Adviser approves course selections prior to registering for each semester.  Schedules should be reviewed again if changes are made.

How do I receive my diploma? Is it paper or electronic? 

The Office of the University Registrar provides an Electronic Diploma to graduates.   Students without any outstanding holds automatically receive their electronic diploma 1-2 weeks after their degree conferral. They receive an email from Parchment, our digital vendor, with download instructions. For questions, please contact the Diplomas Team at

Paper diplomas for graduates will be mailed to the address on file in the “Diploma Address” section of the “Addresses:  View and Update” page in SSOL.  Diplomas are mailed within two months of the graduation date.  If there is no DP address on file, the diploma cannot be sent.  To pick up the diploma in 205 Kent Hall, the DP address should be:  “Hold for Pickup.”  An email is sent when the diplomas are ready for pick-up.  Questions should be sent to

Graduation Ceremonies

When are graduation ceremonies? 

Columbia holds its formal graduation ceremonies in April/May for all students.  Check the links above for details. 

MA Statistics students who graduate in the previous February or October may participate in the ceremonies in April/May.  Further information for students on participation in the ceremonies can be found HERE

International students should check with ISSO about inviting distant friends and family.

How do I invite friends and family from other countries to the Graduation Ceremonies? 

Information on how to invite family and friends for Graduation is HERE.  The GSAS Convocation does not require individual tickets for family members to attend.  The Columbia Commencement limits the number of tickets. 

* Please note these instructions are subject to change, based on guidelines we receive both from the university and the government.