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Human Development
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Human Development



Can I receive credit for previous graduate work?

Students in Ed.M., Ph.D., and Ed.D. programs may transfer graduate points from other recognized universities; but points cannot be transferred into M.A. and M.S. programs. The maximum number of transferable points varies by program: Ed.M., 30 points; Ph.D., 30 points; and Ed.D., 45 points. However, the number of points that may be transferred is determined on a case-by-case basis by the student's academic advisor and its relevance to degree program course requirements. Students must contact the Office of Admissions to file a Transfer Credit Allocation form.

How many courses do I need to take to be a full-time student?

A full-time load is 12 points per semester. Most courses are offered for 3 points.

Can I be a part-time student?

It depends on your program requirements. Many master's students are part-time students. Prospective doctoral students should consult with the Office of Admissions and their particular program about full-time versus part-time status.

How long can I take to complete a degree?

The period of candidacy is 5 years for masters' degrees and 7 years for doctoral degrees.

Is it possible to earn the M.A. en passant to the Ed.M., Ed.D. or Ph.D.?

Yes, students can receive an M.A. provided that they meet the course and degree requirements for the M.A. If a student wishes to earn a degree in a different program prior to their Ed.M., Ed.D. or Ph.D., they must be formally admitted to a program through the Office of Admissions by filing a re-application form.

What is the relationship between Teachers College and Columbia University?

Teachers College is an affiliate of Columbia University. The College has its own Board of Trustees, administration, and budget, while having access to Columbia University resources, such as the libraries, health services, and recreational center. Ph.D. degrees are granted by Columbia University.

How do I apply for financial aid?

The initial application for financial aid is made when applying for admission to Teachers College.  A new application must be submitted each following year to be considered for further aid.  Unfortunately, scholarship support is limited and competitive.  Please see the Financial Aid website,, for forms, deadlines, and for information about loans and work study eligibility.   

What types of research projects are available for students to participate in?

How do students get involved?

Students get involved in research by enrolling in a research practicum led by a faculty member.

To what extent are students encouraged to pursue their own research ideas and projects?

Numerous opportunities exist for students to work on research projects with faculty in research workgroups as well as to develop and pursue their own research projects and interests. Faculty encourage students to develop their own ideas and studies, leading to papers to meet program requirements or to publication opportunities.

What kinds of opportunities available for Ph.D. students interested in teaching a course?

Students desiring to teach are supported in gaining skills by progressing through a sequence of experiences including serving as a teaching assistant and with feedback from faculty. A number of students have taught courses within our programs. Teaching opportunities are only available on an as needed basis.

Are teaching assistantships available to students?

Teaching assistantships are available although they are usually limited to doctoral students. Developmental Psychology doctoral students are required to serve as teaching assistants for two semesters. Students in Cognitive Studies and Measurement and Evaluation are encouraged to serve as teaching assistants. The remuneration is typically a small stipend of $800.

Are graduate assistantships available to students?

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to doctoral students who participate in faculty research programs. Typically, graduate assistantships receive a small salary and a maximum of 6 tuition points per year.

What supports will I be given?

In addition to advisors and sponsors, it is highly recommended that students take the initiative to form study groups with other program colleagues. In many cases, students find these groups extremely valuable for academic and social support.

How do I find an advisor?

When students are admitted to the program, they are free to choose their own advisor to assist with program planning. To the extent possible, students are encouraged to work with faculty with whom they share academic and research interests. However, students are free to change advisors at any time should they find another faculty member with whom they would prefer to work. This is not an unusual occurrence.

When and how can I see my advisor?

During the academic year, advisors are available during their regularly scheduled office hours each week. A list of faculty office hours is available from the department office at the beginning of each semester. Students unable to meet with an advisor during regular office hours should contact him/her directly for an individual appointment. Advisor email addresses and phone numbers can be found on the list of office hours.

Most advisors are quite responsive to email queries during the semester. However, please keep in mind that faculty may not be available to respond during times when school is not in session and/or during the summer. Please check with the department office to see which advisors are holding summer office hours.

How much can I tailor my program?

In addition to completing the core courses, students admitted into Cognitive Studies and Developmental Psychology must eventually choose a concentration of study. Each concentration has its own course requirements in addition to required core requirements. However, it is important to stress that these requirements are not intended to be strictly prescriptive, nor are they meant to limit students to one area of professional interest. In conjunction with their advisors, students have considerable latitude in tailoring a course of study that will meet their needs and prepare them to develop and carry out a dissertation.

Can I take courses outside of Teaches College?

Students are able to take courses outside of Teachers College according to reciprocity criteria established by the College. All courses taken outside TC are subject to the tuition rates of the school offering the course. Consult the Registrar for current rates and for instruction on how to register to courses outside TC but within CU. Please see the Registrar for information about taking courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium. There are necessary forms that may require advanced planning.

What is a dissertation sponsor?

Dissertation sponsors provide the most continuous and specific support to students as they plan, conduct, report, and defend their dissertation work. Students should select a faculty sponsor who is interested and expert in both their topic and method of inquiry. It is expected that students will take the initiative in selecting their sponsor and in seeking his or her agreement to serve on their committee.

What is the required format of the dissertation? Is there flexibility?

For general stylistic guidelines, students follow the APA Publication Manual. Formatting requirements are provided in the handout, Preparation of Doctoral Dissertations, obtainable from the Office of Doctoral Studies.

Where is the Office of Doctoral Studies?

The Office of Doctoral Studies is located in 324 Thorndike Hall. They can be contacted at:

Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 172, 324 Thorndike
525 West 120th Street
New York, N.Y. 10027
(212) 678-4058

When and how do I apply for award of the master's degree?

Students should apply for the degree in the semester in which they will complete their credits, including all the required final projects for that degree. A degree application must be filed with the Registrar's office on or before the deadline indicated for the degree award (February 1 for the May degree award; August 1 for the October degree award; November 1 for the February degree award).

Is there a final project required for the award of a degree?

Masters' students in Human Development complete a masters' essay. Please refer to the individual program descriptions for more information on the type of project involved. Projects are conducted under the supervision and approval of an advisor.

Doctoral students complete an approved dissertation supervised and supported by their dissertation sponsor and the members of their dissertation committee.

Do you have to be full-time for any of the programs?

Full-time status is required for the Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology. Other programs and degrees may be done on a part-time basis. Candidacy rules apply for all admitted students. Doctoral students have seven years from the time of admission and masters' students have five years from the time of admissions to complete their degrees.

Do doctoral programs require an admissions interview?

None of the programs in Human Development require an admissions interview.

What type of funding do doctoral students receive?

There is very limited funding offered to doctoral students. This is based on both merit and need.

Do you offer any online courses or online degrees?

Cognitive Studies offers both entry-level and intermediate courses online. Statistics offers basic-level courses online. Developmental Psychology rarely offers online courses. Please note, at this time, Human Development does not offer any online degrees.

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. program?

In general, Ph.D. programs require 75 points of academic study and are research and theory oriented. This orientation is reflected in the type of dissertation required for completion of the degree. Students completing the Ph.D. often work in research, development, and policy areas of their fields.

Ed.D. programs require 90 points of academic study and tend to be applied in orientation. Consequently, Ed.D. dissertations are more applied in nature. The Ed.D. may be more appropriate for those intending to pursue a career in higher education. Please refer to specific programs for more detailed information on these degrees.

How do I apply for admission?

Prospective students may submit their application through the Office of Admissions website:

Should applicants for admission to doc programs indicate interest in working with specific faculty?

Applicants should be familiar with the research programs of department faculty. Check individual faculty websites, accessible through the department's website, for information regarding specific research interests. When applying for admission, applicants should indicate their research interests and how it corresponds with individual faculty research. This is particularly important when applying for the Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology.

Do degree programs begin only in the fall, or is a spring or summer start an option?

The Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology starts only in the fall. All other programs can be started any semester. However, new students should be aware that the majority of entry-level courses are offered in the fall semester. Such courses are often prerequisites for more advanced coursework. Also, scholarship awards may not be available to those starting in spring or summer.

For the reasons listed above and because international students typically have a restricted timeframe in which to complete a degree, starting in the fall is better.