Home ] Contact Us ]

Program Requirements
MS along the way
Community Service

Milestones Towards Completing the Doctoral Degree

This is intended to be an informal document, not policy.  In the case of any discrepancy between this chart and the written policy, the written policy shall apply.

Note: All timing requirements ("N") are counted as semesters formally enrolled in the department's doctoral program, whether enrolled as MS/PhD, PhD or DES, referring to the end of the relevant semester, not the beginning of that semester. Semesters of approved "leave of absence" are not counted. Students for which the "Discuss at Black Friday" applies may in rare cases be dismissed from the program, but more likely will be placed on probation. Also see the FAQ for current students.

By End Of


Congrats if Milestone(s) successfully completed

Remedy if Milestone(s) not fulfilled

N = First Semester

All "imports" signed off. 2 new comps completed. Preferably both research and departmental advisors (if different) established.

Hopefully things are going smoothly for you.  If not, please discuss asap with your research and/or departmental advisor. Or see Doctoral Program Chair and/or Department Chair. N/A unless there are "severe" problems.

N > First Semester

Both research and departmental advisors (if different) MUST be established. Great, you're all set! See Doctoral Program Chair and/or Department Chair immediately.

N > First Semester

"Satisfactory progress" on research, meaning at least 50% time devoted to research, with promising results. Wonderful - this is what you're here for, the research.  Although we need to do all the other official hurdles, frankly, after you graduate, no one will care about anything other than your research results. Unsatisfactory progress, expect substantial attention to research during upcoming semester(s). Discuss at Black Friday.

First Semester < N
<= Fifth Semester

2 new comps this term OR 2*N comps total (where N is number of semesters enrolled in the doctoral program), but NOT counting "imports" taken elsewhere. Good for you - but do be careful to balance your time between research and comps.  Although you do need to pass everything within the time allotted, its not necessary to go overboard wrt number of comps per semester - since research is fundamentally more important in the long run (see above). Unsatisfactory progress, expect substantial attention to comps during upcoming semester(s). Discuss at Black Friday.

N >= Sixth Semester

Comps completed. Glad that's over! Unsatisfactory progress, expect  comps to be completed by end of upcoming semester.  Discuss at Black Friday.
N >= Sixth semester Teaching/TAing requirement completed (plus "English Language" requirement passed if applicable). Excellent - and do feel free to "volunteer" to teach extra during academic year or  summer (if your advisor approves, duh), you can earn a little extra money this way.  (If you are thinking about an academic career, teaching - with strong student evaluations -  will look very good on your CV.) N/A, since there's no official deadline except before the MPhil (or defense in case of DES candidates).

N >= Sixth semester

Candidacy exam passed. Now you're a candidate - apply (to GSAS) for your MPhil as soon as possible after you have 6 RUs as well as the teaching/TAing requirement - and don't forget the language requirement if applicable. (The MPhil does not apply to DES candidates, so you should just pat yourself on the back.) Unsatisfactory progress, expect  candidacy exam to be completed by end of upcoming semester.  Discuss at Black Friday.

N >= Eight semester

Thesis proposal passed. Almost there, now you're what they call "ABD".  Make sure your proposal and the signoff form has been filed with GSAS (or with SEAS for DES students). Unsatisfactory progress, expect  thesis proposal to be completed by end of upcoming semester.   Discuss at Black Friday.

N >= Eleventh semester

Thesis defense scheduled. You are nearly done! Bring out the champagne! There is lots of information specific to your situation in the special FAQ for soon-to-defend students. (And don't forget to get a job - in most cases, you should have started applying for positions a semester ago.) Unsatisfactory progress, expect defense next semester. Discuss at Black Friday.

N >= Twelfth semester

Thesis defense passed. (Note GSAS requires deposit within strictly six months after the defense!) Even bigger congrats and more champagne! Sorry, you cannot stay a grad student forever.  But, hey, being a faculty member somewhere is the next best thing! See Doctoral Program Chair and/or Department Chair immediately. (Note GSAS requires defense by 6 years after initial enrollment in GSAS,  with an analogous SEAS rule for DES candidates, with enrollment beyond that point requiring "special permission of the Dean".)

Last updated on March 03, 2005


Home ] Applying ] Registration ] Program Requirements ] MS along the way ] [ Milestones ] FAQ ] Awards ] Community Service ] Photos ]

Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to phdczar@cs.columbia.edu
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Last modified: 05/17/05.