This course (STAT GR 5398) provides a mechanism for MA Students in Statistics to undertake on-campus project work or research. The Mentored Research Course can count towards the MA in Statistics Degree if the project is relevant to the educational goals of the program.  MA Students who plan to apply for a Ph.D. after graduation find the research experience especially helpful. 

All students are strongly encouraged to prioritize their performance in core required and elective courses before considering a research project or any extracurricular data science experience. 

Research Eligibility 

  • Research projects and faculty mentors must be identified before a student can register.
  • Students in their first semester are not eligible. 
  • While working with Columbia University faculty is preferred,  the project mentor can be an academic researcher, professor, or research scientist in the university OR a previously Statistics Department-approved setting. 

Application Process for Approved Projects 

At the start of each semester, an email announcement with available projects will be sent to all MA Statistics Students with the deadline to apply. Students interested in a particular project can submit an application for that project.  Applicants will be chosen by the Project Mentor.

As applicants are approved, they will be contacted by Chrissie Kong and asked to register on the waitlist for GR 5398.  Approved applicants will be accepted into the class roster. 

Application Process for New Projects

Any student already working on or with a confirmed and eligible research project, may send an email to Professor Demissie Alemayehu,, for consideration. The email should include:   

  • A description of the research project
  • Confirmation from the faculty mentor

Once the project is approved by Professor Alemayehu, the student may contact Chrissie Kong about course registration.  

Credit Registration Guidance 

This course may be taken in the Fall, Spring, or Summer Semester for

  • Zero (0) credit for approximately 5 hours of work per week with P/F option only
  • One (1) credit for approximately 5 hours of work per week with P/F option or
  • One (1) credit for approximately 5 hours of work per week with letter grade option or
  • Two (2) credits for approximately 10 hours of work per week with letter grade option or
  • Three (3) credits for approximately 15 hours of work per week with letter grade option

In order for a course to count towards the MA Degree, it must be taken with a letter grade. 

The credit option must be indicated at the time of registration. 

Depending on whether the course is taken for P/F or a letter grade, the end-of-semester requirement is different: 

  • For P/F,  a student must receive a letter from the faculty member certifying the student’s contribution to their research. 
  • For a letter grade, the student must submit a research report to Professor Alemayehu,

The grading option must be determined by the Deadline to choose Pass/Fail

Questions about the course or about the research component of the course should be sent to Professor Alemayehu,  


NOTE:  Students who are not interested in pursuing a Ph.D. after graduation are recommended to focus on class projects, data science hackathons/competitions, or activities organized by on-campus student associations such as the Columbia Statistics Club or the Columbia Data Science Society