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Office of the Registrar
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Office of the Registrar

Degree Information > Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

General Requirements

The minimum requirements for degrees as established by the College and University are given below. Students must consult the appropriate departmental brochures for specific program requirements governing each degree.  Students may not be enrolled concurrently in two different institutions; students may not be in two different degree programs or areas of specializations at Teachers College or Columbia University.

General Residence

For each degree, a candidate offers a minimum of thirty semester hours of acceptable graduate credits taken over no less than the equivalent of a minimum of two academic terms under Teachers College registration. Living on campus is not required. Students electing to earn more than one degree must consult the Registrar about general residence including minimum point requirements for multiple degrees. Following is a chart of minimum residency requirements for several multiple degree requirements. In addition to satisfying residency requirements, a student must meet all degree requirements for each degree as outlined in the Degree Requirements section of the catalog and all degree requirements as outlined by the department.

Period of Candidacy (Master's Degrees)

Candidates must be formally admitted to a degree program by the Office of Admission. The period of candidacy for the degrees of Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Science, and Master of Education is limited to five years. Every candidate for the Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Science, and Master of Education must complete at least 16 points through Teachers College during the final five-year period prior to the award of the degree so as to meet recency requirements. A candidate may petition the Registrar for an extension of time for adequate reasons if the student has been in attendance in the degree program within the last five years. In such cases, an extension must be recommended by the major advisor and approved by the Registrar. Upon approval, all current degree requirements including the departmental integrative project and at least 16 points to satisfy the recency requirement must be completed. Petitions for extension may be obtained through the Office of the Registrar. If a student has not been in attendance within the last 5 years and wishes to pursue the completion of the degree, the student must reapply for admission and be accepted into the degree program. Applications for re-admission may be obtained from the Office of Admission. Applications for re-admission follow the same processes and standards as those for initial admission. If a student is subsequently readmitted to a Master's degree program with a period of candidacy after the expiration of the initial five-year period of candidacy, all current degree requirements including the departmental integrative project and at least 16 points to meet recency requirements must be completed.

Academic Performance

The faculty of the College requires that all students maintain acceptable grades. Some departments specify an overall minimum grade average (see specific department statements). Any department judging a student to be performing below expectations is authorized by the Faculty to require additional course work as a means to evaluate the student's continuance within the degree program or at the College. If satisfactory progress is not maintained a student may be dismissed from the program. In addition, a student at the doctoral level whose academic performance in course work and in other requirements is seriously below the level required for successfully completion of a degree may be denied permission for continued enrollment at the College on the initiative of the Department. Such a decision cannot be made by an individual professor but must be made by the department in which the student is enrolled. There is no formal appeal from such a decision, but the service of the Ombudsperson may be requested by the student. Any student receiving eight or more points in grades of C- or lower is not permitted to continue registration at the College in any capacity and may not receive a degree or diploma. Petitions for exception to this policy are to be submitted, in writing, to the Registrar with a written recommendation from the department in which the student was last enrolled. Such petitions will be submitted to a faculty committee for review and decision.

Application for Master's Degree or Certificate Award

Candidates for the award of the degree of Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Science, Master of Education, or a certificate must file an application (obtained from and returned to the Registrar, in accordance with dates listed in the Academic Calendar). All courses, except those of current enrollment, must be completed at the time of application. If the degree or certificate is not then earned, a Renewal-of-Application is to be filed for reconsideration of the award. (See Academic Calendar for dates). An application for award terminates at the next time for degree conferral but may be renewed upon filing a Renewal-of-Application with the $15 renewal fee in accordance with the dates listed in the Academic Calendar. Degree applications are kept on file for a period of three years from the date of the original degree application.

Graduation

All degrees and certificates are awarded in October, February, and May. Degrees are conferred by the President of the University at the annual Commencement in May.

Master of Arts Point Requirement

The Master of Arts degree is granted upon the satisfactory completion of no less than 30 points and a formal essay; or 32 points and an acceptable departmental integrative project; or 32 points and successful completion of a departmental comprehensive examination. At least 20 points must be earned in Teachers College courses. The remaining course work, through Teachers College registration, may be completed in Teachers College or other graduate divisions of the University, but no more than 12 points of graduate credit from other faculties of the University will be credited toward the minimum point requirement. Graduate level courses in the University are numbered from 4000 and above. A candidate for a second Master's degree must be readmitted to candidacy by the Office of Admission. Courses and the integrative project, comprehensive examination, or essay offered for the first Master's degree may not be applied toward the second. The same minimum point requirements stated above apply and must include three Teachers College courses (a course is defined as one for which at least 2 points are earned) outside the Teachers College major program.

Program of Study

The program for the Master of Arts must include: a minimum of 12 points in the major field courses, the exact requirement to be determined in consultation with the major advisor. In order to broaden the student's background in education, three Teachers College courses outside the Teachers College major department (in this case, a course is defined as one for which at least 2 points are earned) must be completed as well as a formal essay, comprehensive examination, or an integrative project. No transfer credit is granted for work completed at other universities to satisfy the minimum point requirement. Electives are chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Essay

Students opting for the preparation of a formal essay should check with the Office of the Registrar for instructions. The formal essay must demonstrate the ability of the student to select, organize, and present the results of professional investigation in the major field. The essay may consist of a body of work in a studio or performance area, demonstrating the design, preparation, and presentation of professional works appropriate to the major field. Documentation of such works may include media such as photographs, color slides, TV tapes, film, recordings, or an approved computer software program. An outline of the subject of the essay must be approved by the major advisor and forwarded to the Registrar prior to or accompanying the application for the degree. The original copy of the formal essay is to be submitted to the Registrar no later than the dates indicated in the Academic Calendar. The approved essay is submitted to the College library for retention; the departmental integrative project is maintained in the major department.

Master of Arts in Teaching

The Master of Arts in Teaching, a Columbia University degree, for students from Columbia, Barnard, or the School of General Studies, is offered as an alternative to the Teachers College Master of Arts degree for prospective secondary school teachers of English, Spanish, mathematics, science, and social studies. For the current year, applications to this program are not accepted.

Master of Science

The Master of Science degree is granted upon the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 points and a formal essay; or 32 points plus a departmental integrative special project; or 32 points and successful completion of a departmental comprehensive examination. At least 20 points must be earned in Teachers College courses. The remaining course work may be completed, under Teachers College registration, in Teachers College or in other graduate departments of the University. Graduate level courses in the University are numbered from 4000 and above.

Program of Study

The program for the Master of Science degree must include at least 20 points in science courses and related technical fields. In order to broaden the student's background in education, a minimum of two Teachers College courses outside the Teachers College major department (in this case, a course is defined as one for which at least two points are earned) must be completed as well as a formal essay, comprehensive examination, or a departmental integrative special project. No transfer credit is granted for work completed at other universities to satisfy the minimum point requirement. Electives are chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Essay

Please refer to this requirement under the Master of Arts degree section.

Master of Education

The Master of Education degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 60 points of graduate work. This is a two-year program. Thirty points must be completed under the auspices of Teachers College, including 18 points in Teachers College courses. A maximum of 30 points of graduate credit may be transferred from other recognized institutions. Candidates who have completed a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree through Teachers College must offer a minimum of 45 points of the required 60 points under Teachers College registration. Candidates admitted to the Ed.M. program are required to offer a minimum of three Teachers College graduate courses in education outside the major program. (In this case, a course is defined as one in which at least 2 points are earned). Equivalent courses for which transfer credit has been granted may be substituted for Teachers College courses upon written petition to the Registrar. Additionally, a formal essay, a depart-mental comprehensive examination, or special departmental integrative project is required. Consult departmental advisory statements for additional requirements.

Doctor of Education/Doctor of Philosophy

Teachers College offers programs of study leading to the Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The requirements differ in accordance with the nature of the degree as described below. The Office of Doctoral Studies provides general information, administrative advice, and service to doctoral students and assists the doctoral committees in their supervision of the work of candidates for both degrees. Requirements outlined below are described in further detail in the bulletins Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education, Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education in College Teaching of an Academic Subject, and Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. A prospective student should obtain the appropriate bulletin from the Office of Doctoral Studies. Each student is responsible for fulfilling the stated requirements.  Doctoral programs are offered in many but not in all areas of specialization in Teachers College. Therefore, a prospective doctoral student should consult a faculty advisor, either through conference or correspondence, concerning programs offered, the degree most appropriate for specific goals, any departmental requirements for admission and programs of study, and application deadlines. Direct inquiries concerning admission to the Office of Admission of Teachers College and indicate the degree and field of interest in order to receive appropriate information and application forms.

Doctor of Education

The degree of Doctor of Education 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 minimum requirements for this degree are: satisfactory completion of a planned program of 90 points of graduate course work beyond the Bachelor's degree (at least 45 points of which must be taken through

Teachers College registration); submission of a statement of total program indicating periods of intensive study subsequent to the first year of graduate study which accompanies the program plan of study; satisfactory performance on a departmental Certification Examination; and the preparation and defense of a dissertation. Additionally, students are required to complete a minimum of 20 points after taking the certification examination for the first time, including the points taken during the term in which that examination was taken. Some fields of study have additional requirements; consult departmental advisory statements. Special programs leading to the degree of Doctor of Education for persons preparing for college teaching of an academic subject are offered in several departments. The programs emphasize broad preparation in the candidate's major field, specialized competence in a limited area within that field, and an understanding of the broader problems of education, especially at the college level. The minimum requirements are: satisfactory completion of a planned program of 90 points of graduate course work beyond the Bachelor's degree; submission of a statement of total program indicating periods of intensive study subsequent to the first year of graduate study which accompanies the program plan of study; satisfactory performance on a departmental Certification Examination; and the preparation and defense of a dissertation. The point requirement beyond certification is the same for the program as described in the above paragraph. Some fields of specialization have additional requirements such as an examination in one foreign language or in mathematical statistics; consult departmental advisory statements. Former Teachers College doctoral students who have not registered in the last five years must apply for readmission through the Office of Admission. Applications for re-admission follow the same processes and standards as those for initial admission. If re-admitted, current degree requirements must be satisfied.

Continuous Registration Requirement for the Ed.D. Degree

Students are required to be in continuous enrollment for a minimum of 3 points of Teachers College course credit, or for the dissertation advisement course, in each fall and spring term, starting with the term following successful completion of the certification examination or following the term in which the dissertation proposal was approved in a departmental hearing, whichever comes first, and continuing until all requirements for the degree are met. (See Ed.D. Requirements Bulletin for policy on the dissertation advisement course). Certification examinations for students who take the examination in the summer term are not usually evaluated by departments and programs until the fall term. Consequently, these students will not be obligated for continuous enrollment until the following spring term.

The obligation to register continuously ends after the dissertation has received final approval.

Doctor of Philosophy

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy emphasizes research and intensive specialization in a field of scholarship. Under an Agreement with Columbia University, Teachers College offers programs leading to the Ph.D. degree in designated fields in which the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the University does not offer programs, namely in education, including education in the substantive disciplines and certain applied areas of psychology. The minimum requirements for the degree are: satisfactory completion of a planned program of 75 graduate points beyond the Baccalaureate; submission of a statement of total program indicating periods of intensive study subsequent to the first year of graduate study which accompanies the program plan of study; satisfactory performance on foreign language examinations and on a departmental Certification Examination; and preparation and defense of a research dissertation. Some fields of specialization have additional requirements; consult departmental program statements. Relevant courses completed in other recognized graduate schools to a maximum of 30 points, or 45 points if completed in another Faculty of Columbia University, may be accepted toward the minimum point requirement for the degree. Each degree candidate must satisfy departmental requirements for the award of the M.Phil. degree prior to continuance in the Ph.D. program. These degree requirements are specified in the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Bulletin, obtainable from the Office of Doctoral Studies. A Ph.D. candidate must complete all requirements for the degree in not more than seven years. The time limit is six years for those who have received an applicable Master's degree or 30 points of advanced standing. The candidate must register continuously each fall and spring term until all requirements are met unless granted a leave of absence. A candidate who expects to interrupt study for any reason should consult the Office of Doctoral Studies so as to avoid the risk of severing connection with the program. All candidates are required to register in residence in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences through Teachers College and to pay a fee in the term in which the dissertation is defended.

Continuous Registration for Dissertation Advisement: Ph.D. Degree

Each Ph.D. student must register continuously for the course in doctoral dissertation advisement offered by the department following enrollment in the department's designated dissertation seminar course(s) or following the term in which the dissertation proposal was approved, whichever comes first, and continuing until all requirements for the degree are met. (See Ph.D. Requirements Bulletin for policy on the dissertation advisement course.) Continuous registration for doctoral advisement is required each autumn and spring term, whether or not the student is in attendance, and in the summer term when special permission has been granted to schedule an oral examination on the dissertation. Registration for TI 8900 Dissertation Defense: Ph.D. is required for the term in which the oral defense is held. See Fees and General Offerings sections for further details. The obligation to register for dissertation advisement ends after the dissertation has received final approval.

Postdoctoral Study

The facilities of Teachers College may be made available to persons holding the doctoral degree from approved institutions who desire to spend a period in advanced research or study. Application for admission to postdoctoral study for transcript credit should be made to the Office of Admission. Persons who do not wish transcript credit may apply for Visiting Scholar status. Refer to the Visiting Scholar section in the Policies and Procedures section of this bulletin for more information.