Degree Requirements

1. Register for Monday Seminar each semester

This seminar (listed as GR9397x and GR9398y) will expose the student to research being conducted by faculty and students within the Department of Psychology, at other departments within Columbia University and in the NYC area more generally. NOTE: In December of their first year, students will give a 10-minute talk in this seminar, outlining their planned MA research.

2. Register for the Colloquium Series each semester

(This is listed as GR9999x and GR9999y). This series of talks will expose students to a broad range of research within psychological science from experts in the field. Students are encouraged to actively engage with speakers and attend the reception after the talk.

3. Register for Supervised Individual Research each semester (GR6600x and GR6600y)

4. Presentation at the Annual Research Day each year 

This will be held at the end of the spring semester each year. All MA students will present. Second year students will present their MA talk (see below) to the entire department at this event. Further details will be sent by email each year. 

5. Yearly Reviews of Satisfactory Progress

The student must demonstrate to the Primary and Secondary Advisors satisfactory progress at the end of Year 1 and Year 2. Prior to May 1st of each academic year, the student needs to meet with both his/her Primary and Secondary Advisor to review progress on their research and to discuss any issues of concern. Prior to this meeting, the student should prepare a 1-2 page written proposal/plan for the upcoming summer. Summer funding is contingent upon residence in NYC during the summer and upon an acceptable research plan, approved at this meeting, for the summer and for the following academic year. 

6. Apply for External Funding (e.g., NSF, NSERC, etc.) for which you are eligible

7. Completion of the MA Research Project in Year 2

You will give a brief (15-20 minute) presentation on your MA research project near the end of your second year during the Annual Research Day. A write-up of the MA research project should be prepared in a format appropriate for publication. On June 1st of Year 2, an initial write-up of the research is due to your Primary Advisor and a Second Reader (a faculty with appropriate expertise in the area of research). On July 1st of Year 2, your Primary Advisor and Reader will return comments/feedback to you. Between July 1 and September 1 there can be one or more rounds of editing between you and your advisor/reader, as is appropriate, but the paper must be finalized and approved by September 1. Approvals must be sent by email to both the DGS and Joanna Borchert-Kopczuk by September 1.

8. Seminar Course Requirements

Students will take three graduate level seminar courses within the department. These seminars, with one exception (Hassin's GR9350), cannot be 9000 level courses. The grade of B- or better must be obtained in each course in order to receive credit for completion of the requirement. Any course that is offered by a core faculty member of the Department of Psychology is eligible to be one of these three courses. If a student wishes to take a graduate level course that is not offered by a core member of the department to meet this requirement, he or she must consult with his or her advisor and obtain permission to do so from the DGS. Students are encouraged to use these seminar requirements to gain a broad understanding of psychology. 

9. Statistics Course Requirement 

a) Currently a two course sequence (GR6006x and GR6007y) is being offered. As part of your MA requirements one of these two courses should be taken. 

b) In the event that the above is not being offered in a particular year, a list of approved statistics courses that may be used to meet this requirement is provided at the following link.

10. TAships

Teaching is considered to be an integral part of your graduate training. As such, you are expected to serve as a TA for one course per year. Across your graduate career, at least two of your TA appointments should be in “hard” classes (i.e., lab or stats courses).

11. Training for Teaching.

Some training in the methods and theory of teaching prior to or concurrent with your first TA assignment is required for all GSAS students. This GSAS requirement can be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

a.) Participation in at least 3 TA Workshops offered through the Psychology Department

b.) Participation in at least 3 teaching workshops offered through the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning

c.) Any combination of (a) and (b) totaling at least 3 workshops

d.) Enrollment in G6200x/y, Teaching Practicum (if offered)

Note that enrollment in Teaching Practicum is required for students who want to submit a Teaching Scholar Award.

12. Apply for MA

Students who have fulfilled all of the requirements must apply for the MA through this link by *Sept 1* to get the MA in October of 3rd year. This is an additional step, aside from sending the requirements to Joanna for the courses, masters paper and advisor approval. Once submitted, students can check the status of their degree applications in SSOL.

The requirements for the MPhil. degree must be completed by end of Year 4 and appropriate paperwork indicating completion of requirements must be submitted to GSAS by May 15th of Year 4 (i.e., by the end of the 8th semester of graduate work). The MPhil students need both a primary and secondary advisor (as per the MA requirements). 

1) Completion of all MA Requirements.

2) Register for Monday Seminar each semester (listed as PSYC GR9397x and GR9398y)

3) Register for the Colloquium series each semester. (This is listed as GR9999x and GR9999y)

4) Register for Supervised Individual Research each semester (GR6600x and GR6600y)

5) Presentation at the Annual Research Day or Monday Seminar

This will be held at the end of the spring semester, each year. Further details will be sent by email each year. All advanced students will make a yearly presentation of their research to the entire department at the Annual Research Day or Monday Seminar. 

6) Yearly Reviews of Satisfactory Progress

The student must demonstrate to the Primary and Secondary Advisors satisfactory progress at the end of each year. Prior to May 1st of each academic year, the student needs to meet with both his/her Primary and Secondary Advisor to review progress on their research and to discuss any issues of concern. Prior to this meeting, the student should prepare a 1-2 page written proposal/plan for the upcoming summer. Summer funding is contingent upon residence in NYC during the summer and upon an acceptable research plan, approved at this meeting, for the summer and for the following academic year.

7) Apply for External Funding (e.g., NSF, NSERC, or other brief proposal, such as with a foundation)

Note that an NRSA proposal is a major undertaking. If you decide to apply for this particular grant (and we urge you to do so), it can count as 2 comps--please see below under (10). If you are not applying for an NRSA, however, and you do not have external funding already, you must apply for any other small grant(s) for which you are eligible. 

8) Two Additional Elective Graduate Level Courses 

These can be graduate level seminars or lecture courses from Psychology or from another department at Columbia (or institution that offers cross-registration, such as NYU). Monday seminar and lab meetings offered for credit do not count for this requirement. You must receive a grade of B- or better in any elective course that you want to count towards your M. Phil.

9) One Statistics Course Beyond the One Taken to Fulfill the MA Requirement

a) Currently, a two course statistics sequence (G6006-G6007) is being offered. These courses are specifically designed for you, and you are urged to fulfill the statistics requirement with these courses. If you took one of these two courses as part of your MA requirements, the other can count for the M.Phil. requirement. 

b) Alternatively, as long as you have taken one of these courses, you can take another course selected from an approved list of statistics courses, including Niall Bolger’s new methodology course G6050 as well as many other courses from outside the department. The second statistics course should be completed by the end of your third year. For a list of approved statistics courses see the following link.

10) Comprehensives

The student must fulfill three comprehensives to complete their MPhil. The comprehensives are intended to broaden the student's research experience and add to both the breadth and depth of his or her knowledge base. Ideally, they may also result in publications. The goals of the comps are: (1) to enhance the student’s competence in his or her primary area of research, (2) to enhance competence in methodology, and (3) to provide competence in an area of psychology outside the area of the dissertation research. This latter will be invaluable when students apply for jobs, and when they interview. The student should work closely with his or her advisor to determine a plan for the comprehensives that will further the student’s own needs and research objectives.

The comp requirements can be satisfied by conducting three separate projects or by writing an National Research Service Award (NRSA; which counts for 2 comps), plus one additional project. Students are encouraged to conduct comps with core faculty members of the Department of Psychology. However, because the academic goals of different students differ, some students (guided by the advice of their mentor, and with permission from the DGS) may benefit from doing one or more comp with other faculty, such as with researchers in MBBI, the School of Business, the Department of Biology, Teacher's College, or Barnard College. One of the three comps may be conducted with the student's primary advisor.

For each of the individual comps, the student should first discuss with their advisor, in detail, how the particular comp will contribute to their research plan and to their intellectual objectives. Then, they should approach the potential comp mentor(s). If the faculty member agrees, the student should make a 'contract' with that comp mentor, that outlines the structure, timeline and end-product of the comp. Together they should lay out the plan of the project and agree on what is needed to fulfill that plan. For instance, conducting and writing up an experiment resulting in a manuscript that is ready to be submitted for publication might be the agreement. Alternatively, a literature review, a meta-analysis, or a theoretical model, resulting in a submission-ready paper, might be the agreement. Alternatively, the student might learn a new skill, (gaining, for example, fluency in ERPs, TMS, Bayesian statistics, neural network models), or they might do serious research with a different participant population than the one with which they would normally engage (for example, minority populations, infants, children, birds, rats, mice, monkeys, elders, memory champions, patients with schizophrenia, people with eating disorders, substance users, artists, prisoners, etc.). The particular details of the contract will depend on both the student and the comp mentor, who should consider the student’s overall goals and interests to determine what comps would most benefit the student. The comps need to have a clearly demarcated endpoint, that should be specified in the agreement that is made at the outset between the student and the comp mentor. These contracts may vary greatly depending on the students' intellectual path, but the expectations need to be coherent with the student’s overall goals (as discussed with the primary advisor) and well defined between the comprehensive mentor and the student. In those cases in which the student is eligible, he or she is strongly encouraged to fulfill two of the comps by writing and submitting an NRSA. The grant writing experience is invaluable, and many alumni of the program have attested to the importance of learning this skill in graduate school. In the case of using an NRSA (which is assumed to be developed with his or her primary advisor) for 2 comp requirements, the third comp must be conducted with a different faculty member. Taking advantage of the opportunity to write and submit an NRSA honors two of the three 'in principle' goals, namely, that students develop in-depth knowledge in the specific area of their own research, and that they learn the crucial pragmatic skill of grant writing, a skill that will be of importance for their career.