The MA Mentored Research (STAT GR5398) provides a mechanism for MA in Statistics students to undertake on-campus project or research, particularly for students who want to gain research experience or apply for a Ph.D. program after graduation. 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. 

STAT GR5398 can count towards the MA in Statistics Degree if the project is relevant to the educational goals of the program.  

Research Eligibility 

  • Research projects and faculty mentors must be identified before a student can register.
  • Students in their first semester of the program are not eligible to register for GR5398.
  • 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, a list of available projects will be shared with students. Students interested in a particular project can submit an application for that project. The Project Mentor will review the applications and select students for their project(s). Students who receive an offer to participate in a project have the option to register on the waitlist for GR5398 if they want the MA Mentored Research to be posted on their transcript. In order to be approved and accepted into the class roster, students must submit the MA Mentored Research Project Confirmation Form and upload a copy of email from the project mentor confirming the workload (number of hours/week) for the project.

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, please follow the instructions for “Application Process for Approved Projects” if you decide to register for GR5398.

Credit and Grading Registration Guidelines

This course may be taken in the Fall, Spring, or Summer semester.

  • Zero (0) credit for approximately 5 hours of work per week with P/F option only.
  • Students must register for a letter grade if they plan to take GR5398 for credits. 
    • One (1) credit for approximately 5 hours of work per week with letter grade.
    • Two (2) credits for approximately 10 hours of work per week with letter grade.
    • Three (3) credits for approximately 15 hours of work per week with letter grade.

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 is 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