PhD Program

Graduate Student Handbook (Coming Soon: New Graduate Student Handbook)

PhD Program Overview

The PhD program prepares students for research careers in probability and statistics in academia and industry. Students admitted to the PhD program earn the MA and MPhil along the way. The first year of the program is spent on foundational courses in theoretical statistics, applied statistics, and probability. In the following years, students take advanced topics courses. Research toward the dissertation typically begins in the second year. Students also have opportunities to take part in a wide variety of projects involving applied probability or applications of statistics.

Students are expected to register continuously until they distribute and successfully defend their dissertation. Our core required and elective curricula in Statistics, Probability, and Machine Learning aim to provide our doctoral students with advanced learning that is both broad and focused. We expect our students to make Satisfactory Academic Progress in their advanced learning and research training by meeting the following program milestones through courseworks, independent research, and dissertation research:

  • By the end of year 1: passing the qualifying exams;

  • By the end of year 2: fulfilling all course requirements for the MA degree and finding a dissertation advisor;

  • By the end of year 3: passing the oral exam (dissertation prospectus) and fulfilling all requirements for the MPhil degree

  • By the end of year 5: distributing and defending the dissertation.

We believe in the Professional Development value of active participation in intellectual exchange and pedagogical practices for future statistical faculty and researchers. Students are required to serve as teaching assistants and present research during their training. In addition, each student is expected to attend seminars regularly and participate in Statistical Practicum activities before graduation.

We provide in the following sections a comprehensive collection of the PhD program requirements and milestones. Also included are policies that outline how these requirements will be enforced with ample flexibility. Questions on these requirements should be directed to ADAA Cindy Meekins at and the DGS, Professor John Cunningham at

Applications for Admission

Why should I apply to Columbia Statistics? 
How can I apply to the Columbia Statistics PhD program? 
  • Requirements
    • Suggested Prerequisites: A student admitted to the PhD program normally has a background in linear algebra and real analysis, and has taken a few courses in statistics, probability, and programming. Students who are quantitatively trained or have substantial background/experience in other scientific disciplines are also encouraged to apply for admission.
    • GRE requirement: Waived for Fall 2024.
    • Language requirement: The English Proficiency Test requirement (TOEFL) is a Provost's requirement that cannot be waived.
    • The Columbia GSAS minimum requirements for TOEFL and IELTS are: 100 (IBT), 600 (PBT) TOEFL, or 7.5 IELTS. To see if this requirement can be waived for you, please check the frequently asked questions below.
  • Deadline: Jan 8, 2024.
  • Application process: Please apply by completing the Application for Admission to the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
  • Timeline: P.hD students begin the program in September only.  Admissions decisions are made in mid-March of each year for the Fall semester.

Frequently Asked Questions

PhD Admission FAQs 
  • What is the application deadline? What is the deadline for financial aid?
    Our application deadline is January 5, 2024.

  • Can I meet with you in person or talk to you on the phone?
    Unfortunately given the high number of applications we receive, we are unable to meet or speak with our applicants.

  • What are the required application materials?
    Specific admission requirements for our programs can be found here.

  • Due to financial hardship, I cannot pay the application fee, can I still apply to your program?
    Yes. Many of our prospective students are eligible for fee waivers. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers a variety of application fee waivers. If you have further questions regarding the waiver please contact

  • How many students do you admit each year?
    It varies year to year. We finalize our numbers between December - early February.

  • What is the distribution of students currently enrolled in your program?
    (their background, GPA, standard tests, etc)?
    Unfortunately, we are unable to share this information.

  • How many accepted students receive financial aid?
    All students in the PhD program receive, for up to five years, a funding package consisting of tuition, fees, and a stipend. These fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success; they are contingent upon the student remaining in good academic standing. Summer support, while not guaranteed, is generally provided. Teaching and research experience are considered important aspects of the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship. PhD students are given funds to purchase a laptop PC, and additional computing resources are supplied for research projects as necessary. The Department also subsidizes travel expenses for up to two scientific meetings and/or conferences per year for those students selected to present. Additional matching funds from the Graduate School Arts and Sciences are available to students who have passed the oral qualifying exam.

  • Can I contact the department with specific scores and get feedback on my competitiveness for the program?
    We receive more than 450 applications a year and there are many students in our applicant pool who are qualified for our program. However, we can only admit a few top students. Before seeing the entire applicant pool, we cannot comment on admission probabilities.

  • What is the minimum GPA for admissions?
    While we don’t have a GPA threshold, we will carefully review applicants’ transcripts and grades obtained in individual courses.

  • Is there a minimum GRE requirement?
    No. The general GRE exam is waived for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle. 

  • Can I upload a copy of my GRE score to the application?
    Yes, but make sure you arrange for ETS to send the official score to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

  • Is the GRE math subject exam required?
    No, we do not require the GRE math subject exam.

  • What is the minimum TOEFL or IELTS  requirement?
    The Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences minimum requirements for TOEFL and IELTS are: 100 (IBT), 600 (PBT) TOEFL, or 7.5 IELTS

  •  I took the TOEFL and IELTS more than two years ago; is my score valid? Scores more than two years old are not accepted. Applicants are strongly urged to make arrangements to take these examinations early in the fall and before completing their application.

  • I am an international student and earned a master’s degree from a US university. Can I obtain a TOEFL or IELTS waiver?
    You may only request a waiver of the English proficiency requirement from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences by submitting the English Proficiency Waiver Request form and if you meet any of the criteria described here. If you have further questions regarding the waiver please contact

  • My transcript is not in English. What should I do?
    You have to submit a notarized translated copy along with the original transcript.

  • Can I apply to more than one PhD program?
    You may not submit more than one PhD application to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. However, you may elect to have your application reviewed by a second program or department within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences if you are not offered admission by your first-choice program. Please see the application instructions for a more detailed explanation of this policy and the various restrictions that apply to a second choice.

    You may apply concurrently to a program housed at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and to programs housed at other divisions of the University. However, since the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not share application materials with other divisions, you must complete the application requirements for each school.

  • How do I apply to a dual- or joint-degree program?
    The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences refers to these programs as dual-degree programs. Applicants must complete the application requirements for both schools. Application materials are not shared between schools. Students can only apply to an established dual-degree program and may not create their own.

    With the sole exception of approved dual-degree programs, students may not pursue a degree in more than one Columbia program concurrently, and may not be registered in more than one degree program at any institution in the same semester. Enrollment in another degree program at Columbia or elsewhere while enrolled in a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences master's or doctoral program is strictly prohibited by the Graduate School. Violation of this policy will lead to the rescission of an offer of admission, or termination for a current student.

  • When will I receive a decision on my application?
    Notification of decisions for all PhD applicants generally takes place by the end of March.

    Notification of MA decisions varies by department and application deadlines. Some MA decisions are sent out in early spring; others may be released as late as mid-August.

  • Can I apply to both MA Statistics and PhD statistics simultaneously? 
    For any given entry term, applicants may elect to apply to up to two programs—either one PhD program and one MA program, or two MA programs—by submitting a single (combined) application to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Applicants who attempt to submit more than one Graduate School of Arts and Sciences application for the same entry term will be required to withdraw one of the applications.

    The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences permits applicants to be reviewed by a second program if they do not receive an offer of admission from their first-choice program, with the following restrictions:

    • This option is only available for fall-term applicants.
    • Applicants will be able to view and opt for a second choice (if applicable) after selecting their first choice. Applicants should not submit a second application. (Note: Selecting a second choice will not affect the consideration of your application by your first choice.)
    • Applicants must upload a separate Statement of Purpose and submit any additional supporting materials required by the second program. Transcripts, letters, and test scores should only be submitted once.
    • An application will be forwarded to the second-choice program only after the first-choice program has completed its review and rendered its decision. An application file will not be reviewed concurrently by both programs.
    • Programs may stop considering second-choice applications at any time during the season; Graduate School of Arts and Sciences cannot guarantee that your application will receive a second review.

  • What is the mailing address for your PhD admission office?
    Students are encouraged to apply online. Please note: Materials should not be mailed to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences unless specifically requested by the Office of Admissions. Unofficial transcripts and other supplemental application materials should be uploaded through the online application system.

    Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Office of Admissions
    Columbia University 
    107 Low Library, MC 4303
    535 West 116th Street 
    New York, NY 10027
PhD Academic FAQs 
  • How many years does it take to pursue a PhD degree in your program?
    Our students usually graduate in 4‐6 years.

  • Can the PhD be pursued part-time?
    No, all of our students are full-time students. We do not offer a part-time option.

  • One of the requirements is to have knowledge of linear algebra (through the level of MATH V2020 at Columbia) and advanced calculus (through the level of MATH V1201). I studied these topics; how do I know if I meet the knowledge content requirement?
    We interview our top candidates and based on the information on your transcripts and your grades, if we are not sure about what you covered in your courses we will ask you during the interview.

  • Can I contact faculty members to learn more about their research and hopefully gain their support?
    Yes, you are more than welcome to contact faculty members and discuss your research interests with them. However, please note that all the applications are processed by a central admission committee, and individual faculty members cannot and will not guarantee admission to our program.

  • How do I find out which professors are taking on new students to mentor this year? 
    Applications are evaluated through a central admissions committee. Openings in individual faculty groups are not considered during the admissions process. Therefore, we suggest contacting the faculty members you would like to work with and asking if they are planning to take on new students.

  • I am interested in a specific research area. Do you have any faculty members working in this area?
    Please see our faculty research interests.

    For more information please contact us at

GSAS Application Procedures FAQs 

For more information please contact us at