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Program Policies and Forms

For All Students

First Semester Performance:

The program faculty will monitor new students' performance during the first semester of enrollment in the program. New students whom the faculty judge to be academically under-prepared based on their performance in classes and on other program requirements may be asked to work with their advisors to get additional preparation outside of their programs.  This preparation may include (1) taking language class(s) at the American Language Program (ALP) at Columbia, (2) taking A&HL 4500 Advanced Language Studies, and (3) enrolling in our TESOL or TCSOL certificate program. Up to 6 credits from each of these certificate programs may be counted toward the M.A. program. The ultimate decision on the particular course of action rests with the program faculty.

Students who are beyond their first semester of enrollment are subject to the same review process should any concerns about academic performance arise.

TESOL/AL MA Paper Policy (for students entering Fall 2016 or later):

(1) Students may opt for an empirical study if they have taken Research Literacy as well as an AL/TESOL course (e.g., Interlanguage Analysis, Discourse Analysis) for which completion of an empirical study is a requirement.

(2) A minimum of B in each category (content/organization/language) is required for passing the paper.

(3) For students entering Fall 2016 and later, a maximum of 2 “rewrite” is allowed (only 1 allowed in the same semester when the paper is originally submitted), and the student is not allowed to graduate after failing the second “rewrite”; rewritten papers are to be read by a committee of faculty.

Taking Breadth Courses:

Students must consult with their advisor to confirm that potential courses will count as a breadth course in your program of study. Please note, the breadth course requirement is a college-wide policy for any academic program at Teachers College. Exemption from the requirement is not possible.

Click on the file below to download a list of recommended breadth courses.

Major/Concentration Changes within the TESOL and AL program: 

Major/Concentration Changes within the TESOL and AL program: Students must consult with their advisor before attending to the necessary procedures, only one change is allowed during a student’s degree program, and the application to switch must be processed before the student has completed 18 credits. To complete the paperwork, students must obtain two forms from the AL/TESOL Office: 1) Program Change Form for Enrolled TC Students (Admissions form) and 2) Program Change Form for Enrolled M.A. Students or Program Change Form for Enrolled Ed.M./Ed.D. Students (AL/TESOL internal form). After the student has consulted with their advisor about this decision, the student will obtain the necessary signatures on the forms and submit the forms to the respective offices.

Certificate of Equivalency: 

During a term in which the minimum number of points for a desired enrollment status is not maintained, certain "equivalent" activities that are directly related to a student's degree program may be considered. These acceptable activities include: supervised research on doctoral dissertation, supervised research, preparation for the required doctoral certification exam, practicum/student teaching/fieldwork. Students must consult and get approval from an advisor and the Registrar's office. 

Click on the file below to download the Certificate of Equivalency form.

Special Approval to Enroll/Closed Class Override:

Students should consult with the course instructor about obtaining special permission to enroll in a class. If granted, students must complete the form below with the appropriate signatures and turn it in to the program secretary. If the course is closed, students must take the form to the registrar. 

Click on the file below to download the Special Approval/Course Restriction Override Form.

Transfer of Credits:

Students may apply for transfer credit upon registering at TC. No transfer credit is awarded for M.A. students, including Teachers College credits that have already been applied towards a conferred M.A. degree. For the Ed.M., a maximum of 30 points completed outside of TC may be transferred. For the Ed.D., a maximum of 45 points may be transferred.

Only graduate courses that have been:

  1. completed with grades of B or higher,
  2. submitted on an official transcript from a regionally accredited institution, and
  3. granted or assigned credit on a transcript from that institution

May be considered for transfer credit. For educational institutions located outside of the United States or Canada, a course-by-course evaluation by World Education Services, Inc. (WES) is required. Transfer credit is awarded at the discretion of the faculty advisor.

Academic Standing: 

The TESOL Program follows the Teachers College policy regarding minimum grades for academic standing.  No more than three points of C- may be credited toward any degree or diploma.  Students who receive the letter grade of C- for 8 credits (or more) of coursework are considered in unsatisfactory academic standing and are dismissed from the College.


For Ed.D. Students

Change of Advisor: 

The doctoral study is a lengthy process requiring the commitment of both the student and the advisor. In the event that a mismatch in interests or in mentoring and learning styles arises in the course of the study, students can and should request change of advisor. The student can decide whether to approach their current or their prospective advisor first in initiating the process. Both advisors must subsequently be in communication to facilitate the transfer and ensure that the student will be working under adequate supervision through the remainder of their study. It is strongly recommended that the change of advisor occur prior to the proposal stage.In line with the College policy, professorial (tenure line) faculty sponsor doctoral dissertations. Lecturers may serve on dissertation committees.

The College policy regarding dissertation committee is as follows:
"Each dissertation is guided and supervised by two or more faculty members (one of whom serves as a dissertation sponsor) known as the Dissertation Committee. The dissertation sponsor is usually the candidate's major advisor but may be another professor if the major advisor approves. Regular, visiting or adjunct faculty members of professorial rank (assistant, associate or professor) in any faculty or school of Columbia University are eligible to serve on the Committee. In rare cases, upon the recommendation of the department and with the approval of the Vice Provost, Teachers College instructional staff and faculty from other institutions can serve as members of the Dissertation Committee. This request must be approved prior to the Dissertation Proposal Hearing. Faculty from other institutions need to be approved as an honorary appointee. Under the guidance of the dissertation sponsor, the candidate ascertains each professor's consent to serve as a committee member.

Registering for 8900 Courses: 

Dissertation Advisement (8900) is a Zero (0) point course that carries a fee equivalent to a three point course. Registering for this course carries the status of Full-Time for loan and housing purposes. This course is NOT to be included on the Program Plan.

Normally doctoral students will not register for 8900 until they are finished with coursework. However, once Obligation for Continuous Enrollment kicks in after Recommendation or completion of the Dissertation Proposal, they can register for 8900 instead of 3 points of coursework to meet Obligation requirements.

Applied Linguistics and TESOL Doctoral Residency Policy: 

Doctoral students are required to be “in residence” to fully benefit from the academic and social life of the program, a centerpiece of which involves meeting regularly with their sponsors and readers for advisement, attending doctoral seminars to seek and receive peer feedback, giving feedback to peers on their scholarly work, and taking advantage of the various apprentice opportunities (in addition to taking courses) such as attending invited lectures, teaching graduate level courses, co-authoring papers, and organizing symposiums and conferences.

In some cases, doctoral students may petition to temporarily waive the “in residence” requirement, for a semester at most, for the sole purpose of collecting dissertation data. During this time, the student must be registered for doctoral seminar, must meet regularly with the sponsor, make arrangements to attend doctoral seminar remotely, and to the extent possible, must be a full participant in the doctoral seminar.

Under extraordinary circumstances, a doctoral student may also be allowed to work from long distance in the “defending semester” of her dissertation, although the defense itself needs to take place on campus without exception. Whether a particular semester is to be treated as the “defending semester” is to be determined in consultation with the advisor.

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