How to Register for Classes

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

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.

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.

Before registering, the onus is on the student to reach out to their assigned Faculty Adviser to have the individual course list approved if a course is not already on the Approved Electives List.  Fill out the MA Program Course Checklist to review the Program Requirements

HERE is a video that describes how to use SSOL for registration.  HERE is a video about using Vergil for planning your courses and schedule.  HERE is a pictorial summary on Course Registration.  

Residence Units

Below are Residence Unit Categories for each of the MA Programs. For more information about Residence Units, see also Tuition & Fees  and the GSAS Website.  Registration in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is a two-part process that consists of registering for both individual classes and also for a full or fractional Residence Unit.  A Residence Unit (RU) is a registration category that determines the amount of tuition.

Students in F-1 status must complete the program in three semesters maximum (full-time).  The number of classes each semester may vary as long as all requirements are completed within three semesters (maximum).  It is possible to graduate after two semesters, but this is not recommended as the courses are challenging and all students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.  Always check with ISSO about international and visa-related issues. 

Full-Time Student (Registration for one full RU or ER is considered full-time.)

Part-Time Student

Part-time allows for QR (Quarter Residence Unit) or HR (Half Residence Unit).  ALL MA Program students are required to complete two RUs to graduate. 

All Students

After completing a total of two RUs, all students who wish to continue their studies in the MA Program for a subsequent semester must register for ER.  One can register for ER for more than one semester (e.g., Summer Term and Fall Term).  ALL MA Program students are required to complete two RUs to graduate. 

Statistics  Categories  
Full Residence Unit (RU)*

RESI: 15 credits max. 20 credits max with approval (Review “The Registration Adjustment Form (RAF)” section below for approval instructions).  

Extended Residence (ER)*

EXRS (Taken after completion of two Residence Units): 15 max credits. 20 credits max with approval (Review “The Registration Adjustment Form (RAF)” section below for approval instructions)  

Summer ER* EXRS (Taken during the summer semester): 15 credits max. 20 credits max  with approval (Review “The Registration Adjustment Form (RAF)” section below for approval instructions)  
Half Residence Unit (HR)* Three courses max
Quarter Residence Unit (QR)*

Two courses max

*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. 

Registration Guidelines

For registration guidelines please review:

How many courses?

  • 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, especially in the first semester.
  • Students on F-1 visa must register for a full RU in their first two semesters.  Most students need a third semester to complete all requirements , but anyone who completes all their program requirements (courses and 2 RUs) may graduate.  After completing 2 RUs in GSAS, one must register for ER to continue for a subsequent semester. 
  • A full RU or ER allows any number of points up to and including twenty points.
  • Part-time students may register for a QR or HR, as long as the program is completed within four years and a total of two RUs have been fulfilled.
  • Most full-time students should plan for three full semesters. Completing the MA Program in two semesters requires faculty adviser approval. 

Which classes to take?

  • 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 the Ph.D. track.
  • Here is a list of courses that will not count for the MA Degree in Statistics.

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.

What if a class is full?

  • SSOL is the primary source for all registration including the waitlists.
  • The student should register as soon as possible to get on the electronic waitlist.
  • Waiting is the next step.  Eventually, the student’s request to join the class will either be accepted or denied.
  • Students should not email the instructor to bypass others on the waitlist.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It is not permissible to remain on the waitlist if you are accepted into another section of the same course.
  • If accepted into a desired section, please drop all other sections to open those waitlists to others.

Residence Unit (RU) Status

  • Always review RU status.
  • Questions about tuition may be sent to
  • If the total number of points goes over twenty, there will be extra charges.
  • If a student needs to change to a lower RU, this must be done manually by the student.  It does not happen automatically when one registers for fewer credits.
  • 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.

Courses must have a letter grade to count for graduation.

  • Any course with P/F or R Grade does not count toward graduation.
  • The three CORE courses and the CAPSTONE COURSE MAY NOT be taken Pass/Fail. 

How to add or drop a class after registration:

  • The first two weeks of the semester is called the “Change of Program Period” because students may add and drop classes in SSOL without penalty.
  • Your schedule should be set at 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.
    • No classes may be changed to R or Pass/Fail after the DEADLINE to change to PASS/FAIL or R.
  • 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.)
  • HERE is information about the post-Change of Program Period.
  • Students who stop attending a course without officially dropping will be assigned a grade unless they communicate with the instructor and make proper arrangements.  Students in academic challenges should reach out to their instructor and TA first, then to the faculty adviser, and the MA Team. 

The Registration Adjustment Form (RAF)

The Registration Adjustment Form may NOT be used to enter a class that is noted as RESTRICTED in your SSOL schedule. The Registration Adjustment Form (RAF) may be used only under these special circumstances:

  • During cross registration when the other school has no special procedure. The form should be brought to GSAS Main Office located at 107 Low Library with the signature and UNI of one’s Faculty Adviser, the instructor, and possibly an appropriate administrator of the other school.  An email print-out approval attached to the RAF will count for a signature.
  • In order to register for more than 15 credits, MA Statistics students should fill out the RAF (*Action Code E) and get their faculty advisor’s approval. After filling out the form and getting approval, students should email the completed RAF to
  • To drop the last or only class. A special request must be made to the Office of Student Affairs at 107 Low Library. An application for a Leave of Absence or Withdrawal is required based upon the particular situation.

 The RAF is emailed to after it is completed.

Important Links for Registration


The Statistics Department does not have any influence on allowing you into a cross registered class. Cross Registration is always at the discretion of the specific School/Department/Instructor. 

Admittance into any course is not guaranteed.  All courses are subject to availability. 

Most schools/departments do not allow students to cross-register until the first week of classes. 

Schools and departments all have their own cross registration processes. Please review the links and information below. For schools/departments not listed, review each individual website and, if needed, reach out to their student affairs office to inquire about their cross registration options and processes. 

  • Computer Science
  • Industrial Engineering and Operations Research 
  • Columbia Business School
    • Most courses have a prerequisite of Capital Markets “FINC B8306/ MATH G4076” or “waiver exam”.
    • Email  
  • Data Science Institute
    • Non-Data Science students will be able to join a waitlist via SSOL.  
    • Space permitting, Non-DS students will be moved from the waitlist to the class roster during the first week of classes
    • Students are encouraged to attend the first day of class to get the syllabus and to get a pulse for the course.
    • Email:
    • Fall courses open via waitlist are:
      • CSOR W4246 – Algorithms for Data Science
      • COMS W4995 – Topics in Computer Science: Elements of Data Science
      • COMS W4995 – Topics in Computer Science: Applied Deep Learning
      • COMS W4995 – Topics in Computer Science: Applied Machine Learning
  • Math Finance  
    • All Math Finance courses have managed waitlists.  This means that everyone who registers is automatically added to a waitlist which is managed by the instructor. 
    • The first priority goes to Math Finance students.  After those students are given places, then spaces will be available for Statistics Students.  
    • Some Math Finance courses will not be available for cross registration until the first week of classes.
  • Biostatistics
    • The approved electives in this department are 8100 level courses which all have P6103/4 as their prerequisite. 
    • Biostat 6000 level courses are not approved for graduate credit in the MA Program in Statistics.  

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

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.

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:

  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 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.

Courses Taken for R Grade or Pass/Fail

After the deadline to drop a class, all classes will remain on the transcript and receive a grade. 


  • The decision to choose Pass/Fail or R is PERMANENT after the deadline.  
  • Courses taken for Pass/Fail or R do not count toward the 30 credits required for graduation.  
  • A PASS will not affect the GPA, but a FAIL grade will be the same as an F in any course.  

Not all classes are Pass/Fail eligible:

For R Credit, a student must make an arrangement with the instructor before the deadline.  

GSAS DEADLINES for dropping classes and choosing Pass/Fail or R are strictly enforced

  • HERE are further details on the GSAS grading system.  

From the GSAS Website:  

R credit and Pass/Fail (P/F) are two different marks. Unlike R credit, the mark of P/F assesses the quality of a student’s performance. Additionally, students taking a course Pass/Fail are evaluated on all the gradable assignments for the course. 

Students who elect to take a course for R credit are not required to take the final examination; however, they must meet all other course requirements, unless the instructor states otherwise in writing.

Summer Registration

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.  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.

Continuous Registration and 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.

International students 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 at least a few weeks prior to returning to the program.  For more information on how one gets reinstated into the program after an unofficial leave, please refer to this link:  Reinstatement.