Frequently Asked Questions and General Details

Student Resources

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


For prospective students who want to learn more about the areas of study for Psychology programs offered please see:

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. Students may inquire directly with their Program Directors for possible fellowships and funding offers. For other funding opportunities, please see the Financial Aid website,, for forms, deadlines, and for information about loans and work study eligibility.   

Prospective and current doctoral students may be offered program fellowships, scholarships, and stipends. Further, graduate research assistantships and Doctoral Research Fellowships may be available to students working with faculty members on active grants. Please inquire with your Program Director regarding program funding opportunities, a Principal Investigator, or faculty member, for research funding opportunities, and the Office of Financial Aid for all other funding sources and opportunities.

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. 

The Department of Human Development has established a Student Conference Travel Grant program to reimburse Human Development (HUD) students/majors in the Department for travel to present papers (or posters) at conferences associated with HUD faculty research. Grants to students are limited to one conference per academic year. Approvals are also based on funding availability and expenses should only include flights, lodging, and conference registration. Other conference expenses must be pre-approved by the Department's Director of Academic Administration. All students with travel related projects must have a sponsoring HUD faculty member and students must be actively registered as Human Development students (graduating students must submit receipts before graduation as these grants do not apply to graduated students). Contact the Director of Academic Administration, Celia Goldsmith, at goldsmith[at] for additional information and requests. 

Please note that the Department follows the reimbursement guidelines set by the Office of Accounts Payable, including details related to appropriate receipts and receipt processing. All receipts must be submitted in accordance with the fiscal year they apply to. Currently, TC uses the Accounts Payable system ChromeRiver for travel expense reimbursements and all students must submit receipts for reimbursement through this method. Find more information regarding Accounts Payable expense reimbursement policies here, All requests should include the HUD Student Travel Documentation Form

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

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

A student enrolled in 12 or more credit hours per semester is considered a full-time student. 

While none of the programs in Human Development require a formal admissions interview, some Program Faculty members may reach out to potential students to inquire further about educational/research background, research details/opportunities, and funding needs. 

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. Further details and inquiries regarding dissertation sponsors can be directed to Program Directors and the Office of Doctoral Studies

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.

All doctoral degree programs and the MS in Applied Statistics start 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.

Teaching assistantships (or TAs) are available to most Human Development programs, although they are usually limited to doctoral students. As of Fall 2018, TA compensation can vary from $2,925 to $5,000 per semester depending upon the level of work required. A TA must work at least 15 hours per week and no more than 20 hours a week for 15 weeks in the Fall or Spring semester. TA positions are dictated by the faculty members teaching the course. The faculty member will provide the Assistant DAA the student's name to hire and they'll start the hiring process. 

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 and dictated by the Program Directors. Current and active students who teach are hired as Part-Time Instructors and receive a salaary for the course taught. For possible teaching opportunites, please inquire with the Program Director of the course you're interested in. 

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 9 tuition points each academic year. If interested in these opportunities, please inquire with faculty members directly to see if they're offering any positions housed within their grants. 

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.

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.

When students are admitted to the program, they are free to choose their own advisor to assist with program planning however their default advisor will be the Program Director. 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.

In addition to completing the core courses, students admitted into Cognitive Science 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.

Any student who has completed graduate level course work outside of Teachers College and is enrolled in an Ed.D., Ed.D.C.T., Ph.D., or Ed.M. program is eligible to transfer credit with a few exceptions. MA and MS students in HUD are NOT eligible to transfer credit. Please inquire with the Program Director for possible exceptions. The Office of the Registrar manages transfer credits and can be contacted with further transfer credit inquiries. 

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.

The Office of Doctoral Studies is located in 528 West 121st St., Room 324. They can be contacted at:

Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 172
528 West 121st St., Room 324
New York, N.Y. 10027
(212) 678-4050

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. Please inquire with faculty directly if interested in joining any of their research groups and opportunities that could lead to independent research ideas and projects. 

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.

Cognitive Science 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.

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. 

How do students get involved?

Students get involved in research by enrolling in a research practicum led by a faculty member and inquiring with faculty directly about research labs and opportunities. 

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 located in Grace Dodge Hall 453 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.

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.

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