Current Degree Requirements for the Ph.D.
- Basic Courses
You must take the following courses in your first year:
- GR6211 Microeconomic analysis I
- GR6212 Microeconomic analysis II
- GR6215 Macroeconomic analysis I
- GR6216 Macroeconomic analysis II
- GR6411 Econometrics I
- GR6412 Econometrics II
- GR6410 Mathematical methods for economists
- GR6930 Perspectives
You must receive a grade of B- or better in each of these courses. If you do not receive a grade of B- or better in any one of these courses, you must retake it the following year. If you still do not receive a grade of B- or better, you are not permitted to continue in the program.
You may petition the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to substitute another course in lieu of Mathematical methods for economists. The DGS may ask you to prove your math competency in a manner of his/her choosing. If the DGS grants your petition and you choose to use this course to satisfy a field requirement the field requirement rules will apply–in particular, you will have to get a grade of B or better in that course, and questions from this course will be part of any field exam you are required to take in that field.
- Certifying Exams
You must pass the certifying examinations in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. These examinations are taken in the summer after your first year. They are graded pass or fail. If you fail any of these examinations, you are not permitted to continue in the program. You will not be permitted to continue in the program unless you have passed all certification examinations by the end of your second year.
If you receive a grade of B+ or better in both of the one-semester courses that make up the first-year sequence in microeconomics, macroeconomics, or econometrics, you are exempted from the requirement to pass the certification exam in that field.
You must select two fields during your second year. A list of fields and the required courses for each field will be available in the summer before your second year. Recent second-year fields can be found here. You may not use the same course to satisfy more than one requirement.
Individually-designed field: In lieu of one of the fields designated by the department, you may petition to take an individually-designed field. An individually-designed field consists of 3 courses, not all of which need to be offered by the Department. In order to take an individually-designed field, you must petition the DGS no later than two weeks before the semester starts, and receive DGS approval.
A petition should set out the courses in the field, and explain how these courses will further your education and how they fit together. Approval is solely at the discretion of the DGS. The DGS may approve an individually-designed field in which some (but not all) courses are taken during your third year. Generally, this will occur when a faculty member is on leave and no one else is teaching the material you will need. For more information about individually-designed fields, please see the following FAQ sheet. Generally, an individually-designed field should be an intellectually coherent set of courses that will provide you with a set of research skills to tackle some important problems. These skills should not be available in any of the regular fields being offered that year.
Course Requirements: You must take at least 6 courses for credit in your second year. The DGS may waive this requirement if you are taking an individually-designed field with courses in your third year. If you wish to count a course from outside the Department of Economics towards your required 6 courses in your second year, you must get approval from the DGS.
Successful completion of any field requires a grade of B or better in all required courses in the field. If you do not receive this grade or better in any required field course, you must retake that course in the following year, and receive a grade of B or better. If that course is not offered in the following year, you must take a substitute course designated by the DGS, and receive a grade of B or better.
Field Exams: In addition to courses, you must pass a field exam in each field you have selected. Field exams are given in the summer after your second year. You will not be permitted to continue in the program unless you have fulfilled all field requirements by the end of your third year.
If you receive a grade of B+ or better in all of the courses that you have taken to satisfy the requirements of a second-year field, you are exempted from the requirement to pass the field exam in that field.
- Colloquium Requirements
You must enroll in and attend a colloquium in your second year, and must make at least one presentation in that colloquium.
You must enroll in and participate in a colloquium each semester after your second year. You must make an appropriate presentation in each semester. With the permission of colloquium faculty, you may substitute a presentation in a regular department workshop, lunch, or breakfast for presentation in a colloquium. You may also substitute a job talk at a different university for presentation in a colloquium. During the year that you are on the job market, a Spring semester colloquium presentation is optional; with the agreement of your main advisor, you can also not enroll in a colloquium that semester.
You should invite your main advisor to all of your colloquium presentations.
You are strongly encouraged to attend department workshops as well as colloquia.
- Paper Requirements, Proposal Requirements, and Advising
Second-year papers: You must write a research paper in your second year. This paper will be due during the summer after your second year. In the spring of your second year, you must find a faculty advisor for your second year paper. This faculty advisor will judge whether your second year paper is of satisfactory quality to fulfill the second year paper requirement. You need approval from the DGS to choose a faculty advisor outside the Economics Department for your second year paper. The DGS sets deadlines and rules regarding advisor selection, interim reports, and final submission of the second year paper.
Third-year papers: You must write a research paper in your third year. This paper will be due during the spring semester of your third year. In the fall of your third year, you must find a faculty advisor for your third year paper. This faculty advisor will judge whether your third year paper is of satisfactory quality to fulfill the third year paper requirement. You need approval from the DGS to choose a faculty advisor outside the Economics Department for your third year paper. The DGS sets deadlines and rules regarding advisor selection, interim reports, and final submission of the third year paper.
Co-authorship of second-year papers: You are allowed to coauthor your second-year paper with another graduate student, either at Columbia or elsewhere, or a faculty member at Columbia. If you are would like a faculty coauthor outside Columbia, or if you wish to coauthor with more than person, please run that by your second-year paper advisor and the DGS well in advance. A paper co-authored by two second-year students may serve as the second-year paper for both students. A single paper cannot win more than one paper prize.
Co-authorship of third-year papers: You are allowed to coauthor your third-year paper with another graduate student, either at Columbia or elsewhere, or a faculty member at Columbia. Third-year papers may not be co-authored with faculty. A paper co-authored by two third-year students may serve as the third-year paper for both students. A single paper cannot win more than one paper prize.
Annual research proposal: In each year after your third year, you must write a one-page progress report and get a faculty member to endorse this report. The faculty member who endorses this report will serve as your advisor on record (main advisor). This progress report will be due in December. The DGS sets the deadline for these reports.
If your advisor on record is not a member of the Economics Department, you must receive prior approval from the DGS and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You must also designate a faculty member within the department as co-advisor, and that faculty member must agree in writing to be co-advisor. If you change your advisor on record, you must inform the DGS within two weeks of the change.
Dissertation Prospectus Defense: You must defend a dissertation prospectus before a committee of at least three faculty members, and at least two of them must be members of the Economics Department. (Exactly three faculty—no more, no less—must sign your prospectus report.) Your main advisor (and co-advisor if you have a co-advisor) must be a member of this committee. The other members should be faculty that you expect to become members of your dissertation committee. For more information about departmental guidelines, please consult the following document.
This dissertation prospectus will be graded pass or fail. You must pass your dissertation prospectus defense by May 31st of your fourth year in order to continue in the program. If your first defense is unsuccessful, you may request authorization from the DGS to undertake a second defense prior to the May 31st deadline. If you do not pass the dissertation prospectus defense, you will not be allowed to continue in the program. The successful defense of the dissertation proposal is a prerequisite for making use of your Dissertation Fellowship. For more information about these requirements, please consult the following link.
Advisors of Ph.D. students must be assistant professors, associate professors, or professors.
- Dissertation Requirements
You must complete a dissertation, and defend it before a committee of five faculty members. At least three members of this committee must be faculty of the Department, and either one or two must come from outside the Department. Your main advisor will serve as the sponsor at your dissertation defense. If you have two co-advisors, they will serve as co-sponsors.
Co-authoring: At least a third of your dissertation must be your sole-authored work. For instance, if your dissertation consists of three papers, at most two of them may be co-authored. Co-authored work may be part of more than one dissertation. For instance, a paper written by two students, may appear in each of their dissertations. In any co-authored paper, your contribution must be at least as great as that of any other co-author. No more than a third of your dissertation may be co-authored work with a Columbia University faculty member. Co-authors should agree in advance how their research output may be used because they share copyright jointly.
You must complete the dissertation within seven years from the date you enter the program. You are strongly encouraged to complete the dissertation within six years.
- Teaching Requirements
Students are expected to participate in the Department’s instructional activities during their second, third, and fourth years. You may be excused from this requirement for particular semesters because you have other responsibilities either to the department or to outside funders. However, you must participate in the instructional activities of the Department for at least two semesters during your first four years. You will gain exposure to teaching as assistants to faculty, as section leaders in lecture courses, or as instructors. Before participating in any of these capacities, you must attend the training sessions sponsored by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
When you are a teaching assistant, you are expected to live in the New York consolidated metropolitan area for the entire semester. You cannot be a teaching assistant in absentia.
- Miscellaneous Requirements
You must register for at least six consecutive Residence Units.
If you hold a Columbia fellowship, you cannot work more than 20 hours a week during the academic year. Being a teaching fellow or a research fellow counts as 15 hours a week. If you are a fifth year or sixth year student with a dissertation fellowship, you cannot hold any other appointment.
- Master Degrees
Masters of Arts (M.A.) degree: To receive the M.A. degree en route to the Ph.D., you must complete 30 points of graduate credit. Generally, the required courses carry 4 credits and other courses carry 3 credits. You must achieve a grade of B or better in at least 6 courses. You must complete at least two residence units. Generally, the M.A. degree can be completed in two years. You must have an M.A. degree to be eligible for the Ph.D. degree.
Masters of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree: To receive the MPhil degree, you must complete the certifying exams, the basic courses, and the field requirements. You must also have fulfilled the colloquium requirements for second and third year students, except for completing a third-year paper (see the subsection on third-year papers under section 5 above). You must also have registered for at least six residence units. Generally, the MPhil degree can be completed in three years. You must have an MPhil degree to be eligible for the Ph.D. degree.
- Rules of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
You must comply with the rules of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Graduate students are expected to exhibit the high level of personal and academic integrity and honesty required of all members of an academic community as they engage in scholarly discourse and research.
Scholars draw inspiration from the work done by other scholars; they argue their claims with reference to others’ work; they extract evidence from the world or from earlier scholarly works. When a student engages in these activities, it is vital to credit properly the source of his or her claims or evidence. Failing to do so violates one’s scholarly responsibility.
In practical terms, students must not cheat on examinations, and deliberate plagiarism is of course prohibited. Plagiarism includes buying, stealing, borrowing, or otherwise obtaining all or part of a paper (including obtaining or posting a paper online); hiring someone to write a paper; copying from or paraphrasing another source without proper citation or falsification of citations; and building on the ideas of another without citation. Students also should not submit the same paper to more than one class. This information is adapted from the material published by Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab.
Graduate students are responsible for proper citation and paraphrasing, and must also take special care to avoid even accidental plagiarism. The best strategy is to use great caution in the handling of ideas and prose passages: take notes carefully and clearly mark words and ideas not one’s own. When in doubt, consult your professor. Failure to observe these rules of conduct will result in serious academic consequences, which can include dismissal from the university.
All incoming doctoral and master’s students in the Arts and Sciences at Columbia are required to complete an academic integrity tutorial prior to arrival on campus.
Students engaging in research must be aware of and follow university policies regarding intellectual and financial conflicts of interest, integrity and security in data collection and management, intellectual property rights, and data ownership, and necessary institutional approval for research with human subjects and animals.
Academic integrity concerns honest research practices as much as avoiding plagiarism. Research misconduct falls into three categories: plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication. Falsification includes purposeful manipulation, modification, or omission of data or results. Fabrication is the making up of data or results and the recording or reporting thereof. The university does not tolerate any form of research misconduct, and violation of this policy may result in serious sanctions, including termination.
Columbia’s Office of Research Compliance and Training offers a variety of useful training materials and information.
Columbia University also offers Responsible Conduct of Research training developed by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative, or CITI Program, at the University of Miami. Students who are or will be supported by funding from the NIH or NSF are required to complete this training. All GSAS students, however, stand to benefit from the training, which explores graduate students’ rights and responsibilities across a variety of disciplines, and addresses how to identify and prevent accidental misconduct as well as mistreatment and abuse from others.
The training is specific to one of four divisions (biomedical sciences, humanities, physical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences) and includes modules on the following topics:
- Intellectual property rights, attribution, and criteria for claiming authorship of publications
- Ownership of data produced at the university and how is it managed
- The process of peer review and potential obstacles to publication
- Regulations and requirements for research involving human subjects
- Conflicts of interest, financial relationships with industry partners, and entrepreneurship
- The advantages and possible challenges of collaborative research
- Research misconduct, including plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication
- Mentoring and career development
To complete the training, you will need to register with the CITI Program website. From the CITI Program homepage, click “Register,” then search for “Columbia University” as the Affiliate Organization. Continue through the registration process and provide your UNI when prompted. Once you have registered and logged in, click on “Main Menu,” then “Add a Course.” Choose “Responsible Conduct of Research Training,” followed by your field (Biomedical, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities, or Physical Sciences). You will then be able to begin the course.