Frequently Asked Questions

Application Information

The department offers a comprehensive research-based graduate program including concentrations in the following broad areas: Behavioral Neuroscience; Sensation and Perception; Cognition; and Social and Personality Psychology. Collaboration among different laboratories involving research spanning different areas is quite common. The graduate program is designed to provide a broad base in psychology, while offering an opportunity for intensive research. In addition, supervised teaching is integral to the graduate career, and all students serve as teaching assistants for one semester each year.

Master's and doctoral programs and specializations in the following sub-disciplines are offered through Teachers College:

  • Applied Educational Psychology, School Psychology, Health and Behavior Studies Applied Educational Psychology
  • Health and Behavior Studies Special Education, Health and Behavior Studies Health Studies
  • Counseling Psychology/Psychological Counseling, Clinical Psychology, Psychology in Education
  • Developmental Psychology Programs, Psychology: Developmental
  • Psychology: Organizational I/O, Social-Organizational Psychology

For more information on degrees in Clinical Psychology and the other programs listed above, please visit the TC Programs & Specializations website. For information on application procedures for the programs listed above, please visit the Teachers College Admissions website.

    Complete applications, including references, transcripts, and GRE scores, must be received by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Office by December 1 to be considered for entrance in September of the following year.

    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application, GRE scores, transcripts, and supporting documents in accordance with the December 1 deadline which includes the day of December 1. Late applications are rarely considered. Although incomplete applications are included in the evaluation pool, incomplete applications are very difficult to evaluate for admission to this program.

    • Information about a grace period for submitting supporting documents and scores beyond the Psychology Department deadline is provided in Graduate School of Arts & Sciences FAQs. Please note that our department is better able to address specific questions regarding extenuating circumstances much closer to the application deadline. Please contact info@psych.columbia.edu.

      Psychology department admits students in the Fall semester ONLY.

      The department receives about 200-300 applications yearly and, on average, makes offers to 12 students. For general information about Columbia University enrollment statistics, visit the Columbia University Facts website.

      The application fee is $105 for the on-line application.

      Your application will be reviewed without prejudice if you cannot afford to pay the fee. If you are accepted to Columbia, appropriate payment arrangements can be made at that time. You should include a letter with your application stating your reasons for financial hardship so the Admissions Department understands why you have not paid the admissions fee. Application fees are waived only for students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program and receiving substantial financial aid. In that case, the financial aid office at their school may write a letter documenting that it would be hardship to pay the fee.

      While the psychology GRE is not required, it is strongly recommended.

      The code for the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is 2162.

      The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not use department codes, therefore, the Psychology program does not have a department code. Accordingly, all application materials should be submitted to the GSAS admissions office only.

      Admission to the program is based on an overall evaluation of applicants' scores, grades, recommendation letters, as well as potential for scholarship in our program. Applicants who took the GRE before August 1, 2011 were encouraged by our department to score a minimum of 1200 on the combined verbal and quantitative GREs.  Applicants who took the GRE after August 1, 2011, and are therefore subject to the *revised scoring system*, are encouraged by our department to score a minimum of 310 on the combined verbal and quantitative GREs.

        The current policy states that test scores must come from ETS.

        Applications are usually made available on-line in the middle of the month of October to be completed on the web at Graduate School of Arts and Sciences SLATE.

        The application process is entirely web-based, therefore, the application should be completed and submitted on-line. If prospective students are unable to submit application materials such as supporting documents on-line, those documents should be mailed to the GSAS Office of Admissions at:


        Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
        107 Low Memorial Library
        535 West 116th Street, MC 4304
        Columbia University 
        New York, NY 10027

        ** Applicants should not send any materials to the Psychology Department **

        You can work on the various parts of your application sporadically and you must save all information each time you use the on-line system. You can view the status of your application in an electronic PDF on-line using GSAS Admissions Online 5-10 business days after you have submitted your application materials. When documents such as academic references are submitted on-line on your behalf, you will receive a confirmation from GSAS. Documents submitted on your behalf by post may take longer to appear on your application status PDF.

        • For information about visiting the Columbia University campus itself, navigate to the Columbia Campus Tours website.
        • Concerning visitation with Psychology faculty, currently enrolled Columbia students can schedule meetings with faculty during office hours and the program does not offer information sessions or tours of the department. The faculty traditionally do not offer advisement to those who are not currently enrolled at Columbia University. Additionally, the Psychology Department does not send information about the program to prospective students by post but, rather, encourages applicants to visit the department website for information about the Psychology program. The application process itself is entirely web-based therefore; the department website has many links that give site visitors electronic access to current Faculty, Staff, Researchers, RAs, Postdocs, and Graduate Students who can respond to correspondence at their discretion. 
          • You must take an English proficiency test. International students may, instead of TOEFL, submit results of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) administered in foreign countries by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), the British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia. The Graduate School normally requires a score of 7 or higher on IELTS (For information about IELTS).
          • Exception: International students who have earned a bachelor's degree from a U.S. institution or from an institution in an English-speaking country, and have studied there for at least two years, are not required to take the TOEFL or IELTS.

          No, but international students must hold the equivalent of an American university baccalaureate (B.A.) and be fluent in both written and spoken English. International applicants who are not natives of English-speaking countries must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in time for the score to be included with the completed application. Exam information is available from TOEFL, Box 6151, Princeton, NJ, 08541-6151 or ETS.

          Applicants can contact the International Students and Scholars Office and GSAS to determine if their degree is equivalent to an American university degree. For example, on the GSAS website, applicants with questions about their 3 year Bachelor's degree will note that "GSAS is now accepting applications from students earning 3 year Bachelor's degrees in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Australia, South Africa and any country which is a participant in the Bologna Process."

          Admission Information

          Admission information can be found at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.

          Columbia's Psychology Department is relatively small; it admits about 12 full-time students each year. Such a highly selective system affords graduate students the opportunity to become acquainted with all department research conducted by faculty and fellow students.

          There are no rules or quotas regarding admittance of international students. For general information about Columbia University enrollment statistics, visit the Columbia University Facts website. 

          The average GPA for students entering the program is 3.7. The range of the GRE scores for applicants who took the GRE prior to the August 1, 2011 revised scoring system was 640-750 for the verbal section and 600-800 for the quantitative section. Prior to the revised system, applicants scored an average of 664 on the verbal section and 760 on the quantitative section of the GRE. For information about the revised scoring system, click here.

          The department begins the review process after December 1 and invites selected students to the campus in late February or early March for interviews, tours, and a chance to get to know faculty and current graduate students. Official notification from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences about admission decisions will be mailed mid-March.

          Students will be notified of all decisions by mail by mid-March. After applicants submit their application materials, they can view the status of their application on the web in PDF form at GSAS Admissions Online. Please note that Columbia does not post the admissions decisions online.

          Practical Program Information

          Faculty who sponsor thesis work can be found in a list on the Approved Dissertation Sponsors page.

          Applicants are not admitted to the graduate program to work for a particular research group and, therefore, do not request the sponsorship of a particular faculty lab before an admissions decision is reached. Admitted students are encouraged to get to know several different faculty members, become acquainted with faculty research, and become involved with research in more than one lab. Applicants can find information about the different kinds of research conducted by faculty and address specific questions about sponsorship directly to Psychology faculty within the  Faculty Research Labs.

          Students typically complete the program in five years. The program does not offer distance learning and it is a full-time program.

          All students accepted to the Ph.D. program in psychology receive a multi-year Faculty Fellowship which provides tuition, health and insurance fees, and an annual stipend for five years. All fellows receive equal awards. The stipend level is adjusted each year to keep pace with the rate of inflation.In 2014-2015 the stipend was $26,286 for the academic year and $8,656.44 for the summer of 2015. 

          Students may apply for outside, need-based loans. Questions about financial aid can be directed to the Financial Aid Office.

          Columbia University provides housing for graduate students. Funded students have a guarantee of only 5 years of housing. Housing beyond 5 years of study is at the discretion of the dean's office and is determined by availability and by timely progress towards the degree. Most accommodations are apartment shares in graduate student apartment buildings; there are a few studio and one-bedroom apartments in University buildings. All are located within a ten-minute walk to campus. On average single bedroom apartment costs about $1,025-$1,550 per month, a shared double about $670-750 per month. More information can be found on Columbia University Apartment Housing's website.

            Students who are interested in a terminal master's degree should consider the Programs & Specializations at Teachers College. TC offers masters programs and specializes in multiple sub-disciplines in psychology as seen in the answer to question #9.

            Separate from Teachers College, our research-based Psychology program is a five-year consecutive series of classes and research culminating in the Ph.D. degree. Students usually earn a master's degree by the end of their second year, through the completion of research leading to a master's essay and an oral presentation of the master's essay to faculty and other graduate students.

              All students are admitted into the five-year Ph.D. program, and every student must fulfill all of the degree requirements. Previously taken courses will be evaluated on an individual basis. The program's emphasis, however, is research and there are very few course requirements.

              • Teachers College offers masters and doctoral programs in the following sub-disciplines in psychology:
                • Applied Educational Psychology, School Psychology, Health and Behavior Studies Applied Educational Psychology
                • Health and Behavior Studies Special Education, Health and Behavior Studies Health Studies
                • Counseling Psychology/Psychological Counseling, Clinical Psychology, Psychology in Education
                • Developmental Psychology Programs, Psychology: Developmental
                • Psychology: Organizational I/O, Social-Organizational Psychology
              • Columbia Business School also offers a Doctoral Program with fields of study which may be of interest to psychology students (Management, decision risk and operations, and Marketing). Additionally, Columbia Business School offers the MBA, Executive MBA, and Executive Education. Because psychology is such a broad subject, the other related disciplines at Columbia which may be of interest to students are too numerous to list here. We encourage prospective students to explore Columbia's offerings through their website listed above.