FAQ | Teachers College Columbia University

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Through its four core areas of expertise - health, education, leadership, and psychology - Teachers College prepares educators, psychologists, policy makers and planners for the challenges they will face in their careers.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Please use the categories below to find answers to your questions.

About TC

What programs does TC have to offer?

For a complete list of programs that we offer, please utilize our Interactive Guide or Department listing. The Interactive Guide lists of all of the programs at TC, the deadlines to apply for these programs, and any additional materials you need to submit in order to complete an application.

What areas of study does TC have to offer?

To learn more about the areas of study at TC, visit our Areas of Interest page.

Where can I find my program’s department?

Please view a list of our 10 departments.

How long will it take to complete a degree at TC?

Length of time to complete a degree varies by program, degree, credit requirement, and whether or not students are pursuing their degrees on a part-time or full-time basis and have field work requirements. In general, with a full-time course load, a 32 credit M.A. program can be completed in 1 calendar year and the 60 credit Ed.M. in 2 calendar years. The length of time to complete a doctoral program can range from 4-7 years. Factors determining length of study of a doctoral program include: the number of previous graduate credits transferred into the program and the nature of student's research and dissertation.

Where is TC located?

Teachers College is located at 525 West 120th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue), which is in the neighborhood of Morningside Heights.

For more information about visiting TC, navigate to our Visit page.

Can I request a catalog?

The Teachers College academic catalog is available online only.

Can I take classes as a non-degree student at TC?

Yes, students may register for courses without being admitted to a program. They must provide proof of having been awarded a baccalaureate degree or the equivalent (to be assessed by Teachers College). International students who attended an institution where the sole official language of instruction was not English must also provide proof of English Language Proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS score). Transcripts from institutions outside of the United States and Canada must be submitted to an evaluation provider.

For more information regarding the non-degree application process, refer to the Non-Degree Application Page. Not all programs or courses are available to students with Non-Degree status. Non-degree applicants are encouraged to confirm the availability of their desired courses prior to applying for Non-Degree Status. Visit the schedule of classes for more information. Non-Degree students may take up to 16 credits. Only 8 of these credits may be credited toward minimum requirements in the major field if admitted to a degree-program. There are no final deadlines for admission to Non-Degree Status, but it is recommended to apply well before the start of classes for your desired term of entry. Same-day processing is not guaranteed. Non-Degree admission does not guarantee admission as a Degree student. Applicants cannot submit both a Degree application and Non-Degree application for the same entry term. Financial Aid, Housing, Academic Advisement, and Student Visa Sponsorship are not available to Non-Degree students.

Does TC offer distance or online learning?

Yes. Some classes at Teachers College are offered online. The majority of our programs must be completed, in large part, through courses on the TC campus, though most can be subsidized with online coursework. In addition, TC offers two exclusively online degree programs: The MA in Computing and Education and the MS in Diabetes Education and Management.

Does TC offer summer courses?

Yes. Many classes at Teachers College can be taken in one of our two summer sessions. In fact, some programs (such as the INSTEP programs) can be taken entirely in the summer. Refer to the Interactive Guide for more details.

How can I request additional information about TC?

For additional information regarding TC, please create a NEXT STEP ACCOUNT.

May I apply to TC as a part-time student?

Yes, many programs at Teachers College allow for both part-time or full-time study Two-thirds of TC students are part-time students. However, many programs at Teachers College require full-time study. Please consult your respective program website to learn more about whether or not your program requires full-time study.

How do the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees differ?

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree emphasizes broad preparation for advanced professional responsibilities through a program based upon extensive study in a specialized branch of the field of education or in an area of instruction. The Ed.D. requires a minimum of 90 points to complete the program.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree emphasizes research and intensive specialization in an area of scholarship and is offered in selected fields of study at Teachers College through an arrangement with The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Columbia University. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 75 points to complete the program.

How do the Master of Arts (M.A.) and the Master of Education (Ed.M.) degrees differ?

The Master of Arts requires the completion of a minimum of 30 points. The Master of Education requires a minimum of 60 points to complete the degree.

The Ed.M. is an advanced Master's degree and applicants will often have professional experience before applying.

Is it okay for me to contact faculty members whose work I am interested in?

Each faculty member at Teachers College has a different perspective on prospective student inquiries. Some faculty enjoy interacting with prospective applicants while others prefer to engage with students once they are admitted to the College.

Does TC accept transfer credits?

Transfer credit is awarded at the discretion of faculty after admission and enrollment in a program.

M.A.: No transfer credit accepted;
Ed.M. and Ph.D.: Maximum of 30 credits completed outside of TC may be transferred;
Ed.D.: Maximum of 45 credits completed outside of TC may be transferred.

Note: You must be accepted to and enrolled in TC before your transfer credits may be evaluated. Forms and information regarding the process will be provided at that time.

Can I use undergraduate credit for graduate work?

No. You cannot use undergraduate credit for graduate work.

Admissions Events

Can I take a tour of TC?

Campus tours of Teachers College are usually offered on a daily basis at 12:00 PM. We also have a number of on-campus visit options you may also be interested in while at Teachers College.

Does TC have admission events outside of New York City?

Yes, TC travels across the United States to attend graduate fairs, Idealist Fairs, or to host Information Sessions in major cities.  Visit our off-campus events page for more information.

May I observe classes at TC?

Class observation opportunities can be challenging to schedule and are typically not allowed at TC. However, you may contact the program's office to inquire about the possibility of attending a class.

Application Info

How can I obtain an application?

You are able to apply to Teachers College online. This is the only application method.

Can I apply to more than one program at a time?

No. Applicants may only apply to one program at a time.

What is the process for re-applying?

Please contact tcinfo@tc.columbia.edu for more information.

Do I have to include the document cover sheet?

A document cover sheet is not required but preferred to accompany any mailed materials being sent to our office.

Can any of my application materials arrive after the deadline?

All application materials must be received in the office by the application deadline listed on the Interactive Guide.

Is there a minimum GPA required for admission?

Since the application review process is holistic, there is no minimum GPA requirement.

What does "Rolling" Deadline mean for me?

Rolling Admission means that there is no formal Final Deadline. We strongly encourage students to apply by the Early deadline as applications are accepted on a space availability basis.

What is a TC ID number?

Your TC ID number is a unique 8-digit code that you will receive once you have submitted your application. This code allows us to accurately add to and look up your application. This number should be used when sending material to the college or when calling in regards to your application.

May I check the status of my application online?

Once you have submitted your online application, you can check the status of your application by logging into The NEXT STEP TC. The username and password for the online application and The NEXT STEP TC are the same. Your NEXT STEP TC account, as well as our application status emails, are not in real time. They provide you with an estimated time frame of your application status. Please allow two weeks to pass before contacting our office.

How will I find out my decision?

The Office of Admission sends official admission decision notifications electronically. Once a decision has been made on your application, you will receive an email with instructions on how to view your decision through the online application system.

When am I notified of an admission decision?

These are estimated dates for decision notification based on past application review cycles. The Admission Committee is not obligated to provide decisions in the time frame listed below. Early Deadline: Applicants that met the early deadline for our programs that begin in the fall can expect to receive an admission decision via email around the middle-to-end of March. Final Deadline: Applicants that met the final deadline for our programs can expect to receive an admission decision via email toward the end of May. Rolling Deadline: Applicants applying to a "rolling" deadline program will receive an admission decision on a rolling basis that can range from 6-8 weeks from the point the application became complete.

Can I defer my admission to TC?

Many master's degree programs allow admitted students to defer their admission for up to one year. There are several programs that do not allow admitted students to defer. Deferment is not guaranteed and must be approved by the Office of Admission. In order to defer admission, students must submit a $300 non-refundable tuition deposit. Admitted doctoral students must have written permission from their program faculty in order to defer admission.

Application Materials

How do I submit an application?

You are able to apply to Teachers College online. This is the only application method.

What is the application fee?

The application fee is $65 for new applicants and $35 for re-applicants. This fee is non-refundable.

Do you offer fee waivers?

In general, we do not offer fee waivers. However, specific exceptions apply for the following program participants: McNair, Project 1000, IRT, City Year, and Fulbright.

How long should the Statement of Purpose be?

The Statement of Purpose should be 2-3 pages double-spaced.

What should I discuss in the Statement of Purpose?

The three prompts we advise students to keep in mind when writing their Statement of Purpose are, "Why You?" Why Now?" and "Why TC?" Applicants should explain to the faculty why they believe TC is the right "fit" at this moment in their lives. Applicants should have a good idea what their short-term, post-graduation goals will be. Be as specific as possible when writing your statement. Do research on the college and the specific program by looking at the program's Website. The more clarity that the applicant can provide about their decision to apply, the better.

What should I include on my Resume?

Your Resume should be a standard professional resume, which could be a chronological listing of your employment history, educational history, academic endeavors, and other significant activities.

Who should be my recommenders?

Recommendations should ideally be provided by individuals who have supervised you in an academic or professional setting. Personal recommendations (recommendations provided by friends or family members) should not be submitted. The choice of academic versus professional recommendations will vary depending on the applicant's personal situation. The recommendations should be reflective of the applicant's most current accomplishments. An applicant who has not been enrolled in school for several years should utilize professional recommendations. Students recently graduating from college or students applying to doctoral degrees, when possible, should utilize academic recommendations. However, the recommenders should be those that can best speak on the applicant's ability to succeed in graduate school. The quality of the recommendation should not be sacrificed in order to provide a certain 'type' of recommendation (professional or academic).

Can my recommenders submit their recommendation online?

Yes, the Office of Admission strongly prefers that recommendations be submitted online through the Online Application System.

Can I submit more than three recommendations?

No. Refer to the Interactive Guide to find the required number of recommendations for your specific program. The requirement will be either two or three.

Can my recommenders submit paper recommendations?

The Office of Admission strongly prefers that recommenders utilize the Online Application System. If, for some reason, a recommender cannot utilize the online recommendation system then they may mail their letter to our office. For our mailing addresses, please visit our Contact Information page.

How should I submit my transcripts?

For applicants submitting transcripts from the U.S. or Canada, these transcripts can be uploaded to the Online Application for the review process.  If offered admission, students will be required to submit official transcripts to the Office of Admission.  Visit our application instructions page for more information.  For applicants submitting transcripts from outside the U.S. or Canada (excluding study abroad experiences), transcripts must be submitted to an evaluation service.  More information can be found in our International Students sections.

From which schools do I need to provide transcripts?

Applicants must submit transcripts from each college or university attended for academic credit for any period of time, showing all coursework, grades and degrees earned (if any).  Applicants must submit transcripts from study-abroad programs and transfer credit if the full course title and the grade earned are not listed on the undergraduate transcript.

Do I need to submit a transcript from my study abroad institution?

You do not need to send in an official transcript from your study abroad institution as long as the course title, credit received, and letter grade appear on the undergraduate/home transcript. If the course information does not appear on the undergraduate/home transcript, a separate transcript must be submitted to TC.

How should international students send transcripts?

If your post-secondary credentials are from an institution outside the U.S. or Canada, the Office of Admission requires you to submit all post-secondary credentials (undergraduate and graduate, if applicable) to an evaluation service.  Visit our website for more information.

I took the GRE/TOEFL/GMAT several years ago.  Are my scores still acceptable?

Educational Testing Services (ETS) stipulates that GRE and GMAT scores are only valid for five years, and TOEFL scores are only valid for two years. ETS will not forward expired scores to our office. The score reporting school code for TC is 2905 and the department code should be left blank.

Is the GRE required for admission to TC?

The GRE is not required for every program. Please consult the Interactive Guide for your specific program of interest. If the GRE is required it will be listed in the program heading under Supplemental Requirements. GRE scores are valid for 5 years. Only official scores sent from ETS will be accepted.

What is the minimum score requirement for TOEFL or IELTS?

The minimum score requirements are:

TOEFL: 100 internet based (IBT) 600 paper-based exam (PBT)
IELTS: 7.0

Note: The programs in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Applied Linguistics have different score requirements Please refer to the Program Website for details.

What are the GRE institution and department codes for TC?

TC's institution code is 2905. Department code is not necessary.

Do International Students with a U.S. graduate degree still need TOEFL scores and transcript evaluation?

Yes. Students who completed their undergraduate degree where the sole, official language of instruction is not English must submit the TOEFL score, regardless of where they completed their graduate degree. Additionally, all previous international transcripts must still be evaluated.

Who is required to take the TOEFL exam?

If you received your baccalaureate degree from an institution where English is not the sole, official language of instruction, you must submit official scores, not more than 2 years old, from an accepted English proficiency exam. We accept the TOEFL or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).  Applicants to TESOL and Applied Linguistics should review additional requirements.

Teacher Certification

I have my certification in another state, which certification track should I apply to at TC?

This will vary based on the specifics of the certification you have and of the certification you are seeking. Refer to our Teacher Certification Guide for information on which programs lead to initial and professional teaching certification to help determine which program is appropriate for you.

If I receive my certification at TC, may I teach in another state?

New York State has "Reciprocity Agreements" with most other states that allow teachers to easily utilize the credentials that they received for their NY certification to receive their certification in another state. These agreements vary from state. As a result, for specific information, TC recommends that students contact the Department of Education, in the state in which they wish to teach, for more details about their individual situations.

Why would someone apply to a non-certification track in a program that offers certification?

The non-certification tracks at Teachers College are intended for students who know that they want to teach, but do not want to teach in public schools. These teachers will typically teach in private schools, in corporations, or abroad.

Which programs provide teacher certification?

Refer to our Teacher Certification Guide for information on which programs lead to initial and professional teaching certification.

What is the difference between "Initial" and "Professional" certification?

Initial Certification: Students who do not currently hold any certification in the subject/content and/or grade level they would like to teach must apply to an initial certification program. Initial certifications will eventually lead to professional certifications, providing that, after obtaining initial certification, the student follows NY State regulations for obtaining the professional certification. If students have not yet completed a teacher preparation program and/or obtained certification, they must apply to an initial certification program.

Professional Certification: Professional certification programs are designed for students who already hold initial certification in the respective subject/content and/or grade level and would like to obtain the advanced level certification. These students either completed a teacher preparation program and obtained initial certification at the undergraduate level or have completed an alternative path to certification. Please note that some professional certification programs are available to applicants who have professional experience in the field, but who do not hold or are not seeking certification. For more information regarding eligibility for each program, please consult the Interactive Guide to Admission.

We strongly encourage students to explore the Teachers College Office of Certification and Compliance website for more information about certification requirements and for links to helpful sites within the New York State Department of Education website.

Life at TC

When are classes held?

The majority of classes are held in the evenings. However, there are a limited number of courses offered during the daytime.

What services does TC provide for students with disabilities?

TC's Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) is dedicated to providing services to and access to opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For more information about services and accommodations, please visit the OASID Website.

What services does TC provide to International Students?

The Office of International Student Services (OISS) assists international students in their transition to Teachers College. For more information regarding OISS and the services they provide, visit their website.

What health services does TC provide?

Teachers College students may utilize Health Services at Columbia (HSC). The office provides Medical Services (urgent and routine), Counseling Services, and Sexual Violence Prevention Services. For more details regarding HSC and their services, click here.

In addition, TC maintains its own Office of Insurance and Immunization Records.

What career placement services does TC have to offer?

TC's Office of Career Services provides active support for students looking to find a job.

Their services include mock interviews, resume and cover letter review, career counseling appointments, workshops, access to TC's job database, and networking events. The Office of Career Services also provides annual statistics on TC graduates and information on what students do after they graduate. All this information can be found on the Career Services Website.

Does TC provide housing options?

Housing opportunities are available, but you should apply early as housing at TC is highly competitive. It is recommended that you submit your housing application online with the $30 fee even before submitting your application for admission. Both single student and family housing options are available at TC. Please refer to the Housing Website for additional information.

Are there clubs and organizations at TC?

Teachers College is home to several Clubs and Organizations that operate under the Office of Student Activities and Programs.

In addition, many TC students reach out to Clubs and Organizations on the Undergraduate Campus. The Columbia University undergraduate campus boasts nearly 500 student organizations.

Both TC and Columbia host fairs at the beginning of each year that allow students to gain more information about the communities on campus and what they have to offer. Stay up to date on their websites for more information about the fairs as the fall approaches.

Are there athletics at TC?

Like most graduate schools, TC does not have a formal athletics program. However, TC students have full access to Columbia University's Athletic Center.

In addition, Teachers College is host to several athletically focused Clubs and Organizations and TC students often partner with Columbia University Clubs and Organizations to pursue their interests on the undergraduate campus.

Can I cross-register for classes at other divisions of Columbia?

Yes. Matriculated degree students can cross-register for courses (that allow out-of-program students to enroll) in any graduate division at Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, and Jewish Theological Seminary. Consultation with your departmental adviser is needed prior to cross-registering.

Is the TC area safe?

Teachers College is located in the heart of Morningside Heights, one of the safest neighborhoods in one of the safest cities in the world. In addition, Teachers College maintains a full service proprietary Office of Public Safety. Public Safety staff members operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing security at both the academic and the residential buildings on campus. This office operates in addition to Columbia University Public Safety which also functions 24/7.

My address and/or name has changed.  Who should I notify?

You may notify either your admission liaison or tcinfo@columbia.edu to update your records.

Financial Aid

The Office of Financial Aid has an extensive Frequently Asked Question section. Please review their FAQs for the most up-to-date information.

Transfer Credit

Please visit the Transfer Credit website for details regarding eligibility, process, application and contact information.