Comparative and International Education PhD

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative and International Education

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Admissions Information

Displaying requirements for the Spring 2024, Summer 2024, and Fall 2024 terms.

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Points/Credits: 75
  • Entry Terms: Fall

Application Deadlines

Entry Term AvailablePriority DeadlinesFinal DeadlinesExtended Deadlines
FallDecember 1, 2023December 1, 2023N/A

Select programs remain open beyond our standard application deadlines, such as those with an extended deadline or those that are rolling (open until June or July). If your program is rolling or has an extended deadline indicated above, applications are reviewed as they are received and on a space-available basis. We recommend you complete your application as soon as possible as these programs can close earlier if full capacity has been met.

Application Requirements

 Online Degree Application, including Statement of Purpose and Resume
 Transcripts and/or Course-by-Course Evaluations for all Undergraduate/Graduate Coursework Completed
 Results from an accepted English Proficiency Exam (if applicable)
 $75 Application Fee
 Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
 Academic Writing Sample
 Must hold Master's degree

Additional Information

  • Informational meeting recommended
  • Please visit program website for more information

Requirements from the TC Catalog (AY 2023-2024)

Displaying catalog information for the Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024 terms.

View Full Catalog Listing

Comparative and International Education (CIE – code: COMP)

Check the Course Planning sheet in the Student Handbook for the most recent degree requirements.

Coursework (at least 75 graduate level points, including up to 30 transferred credits)

Ph.D. coursework falls into four broad areas:

Area 1: Core Courses (9 credits)

  • ITSF 6580: Advanced Seminar in Comparative Education
  • ITSF 6581: Advanced Seminar in International Educational Development
  • Choose 1 other ITSF course (approved by advisor)

Area 2: Concentration in an Academic Discipline (at least 30 credits)

  • Courses counting towards the concentration must be advisor-approved.
  • Many of these courses can be taken at Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).
  • This area may include discipline-based research methods (note that Ph.D. students must have at least 12 credits of research methods courses).
  • In some cases, transferred credits may be applied in this area.

Area 3: Comparative Education/Transcultural/Area Studies (at least 18 credits)

  • The majority of these courses will come from the ITS department.
  • This area may include research methods (note that Ph.D. students must have at least 12 credits of research methods courses).
  • Transferred credits may be applied in this area.

Area 4: Non-Major Foundations/Electives (at least 18 credits)

  • This includes courses taken outside the primary program of study.
  • Transferred credits may be applied in this area.


Only graduate-level language courses at an advanced level of proficiency count towards the degree. These require approval from your advisor and the Registrar. No more than 6 credits of language courses can be used towards a graduate degree.

Courses Outside of TC:

Please see the TC Catalog for information about taking courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.

Transfer credit:

A maximum of 30 credits may be transferred from other accredited institutions. Only graduate courses which have been (1) completed with grades of B or higher, (2) submitted on an official transcript from a regionally accredited institution, (3) granted/assigned graduate credit on the transcript of that institution, and (4) completed prior to enrollment at Teachers College may be considered for transfer credit. Transfer credit is awarded at the discretion of the faculty advisor and according to College policy. After registering for the first semester, students should obtain and fill out an Advanced Standing Review (ASR) application from the Office of the Registrar and return it to the Office of the Registrar. Transcripts will be evaluated and sent to the International and Comparative Education Program Assistant, who will then contact the student with further instructions. The entire process can take several months.


Ph.D. students must complete all degree requirements in no more than seven years. Those with 30 points of advanced standing prior to doctoral admission are to complete requirements within six years.

Departmental certification examination

Students complete their certification exam (AM) by the end of their first year in the program. The exam is integrated with the Advanced Seminar and includes two parts: one completed in the fall semester and one completed in the spring. Students must be authorized by the Office of Doctoral Studies (ODS) to take this exam; please see advisor for more details. The certification exam may be attempted twice. More information is available on the “Ed.D/Ph.D Policies and Procedures” page.

Specialization examination

Each discipline has different examination requirements. Students must register for the exam with ODS during the first week of the semester and should consult the main advisor for more information.

Defense of a dissertation proposal

  • The dissertation proposal defense requires two readers. The advisor/sponsor is the first reader, and students are responsible for finding a second reader appropriate for their concentration.

  • Students should register for ITSF 7500 during the semester of the proposal hearing. Please note that students are liable for dissertation advisement fees (ITSF 8900) in every semester following registration for ITSF 7500 or following the term in which the dissertation proposal is approved, whichever comes first.

  • Students are responsible for making arrangements with the two readers for the proposal hearing. Students should fill out the “Dissertation Proposal Hearing Report,” available from the ODS website. After a successful hearing, this form needs to be signed by both readers and the department chair. A copy should be submitted to the International and Comparative Education Program office and the original should be turned into ODS.

  • After a successful proposal hearing, students must submit an application to TC’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the research project. Please refer to the TC IRB website for more information ( Once approved, copies of the IRB approval letter must be filed with the International and Comparative Education program office and ODS.

Foreign Language Examinations

  • Ph.D. students are required to pass two proficiency examinations in foreign languages. Examinations are usually arranged through the appropriate language department at Columbia University.

  • One of these examinations may be replaced by receiving a passing grade for two of the following statistics courses offered at TC: HUDM 4122 (Probability and Statistical Inference), HUDM 5122 (Applied Regression Analysis), HUDM 5123 (Experimental Design).

  • Languages to be used must be listed on the Program Plan.

Program Plan

  • Download the documents, "Instructions for Completing the Ph.D. Course Program Plan" and "Ph.D. Course Program Plan Form" from the ODS website. Students should complete the Program Plan and obtain the advisor's signature on the form. This should be done by the time of the proposal hearing.

M.Phil. Certification

  • Once students have 1) completed all required coursework, 2) passed the department exam, the specialization exam, and the proposal hearing, 3) passed the foreign language examinations, 4) received IRB approval for the dissertation research, and 5) submitted the approved Program Plan, students are eligible for M.Phil certification. This process must be completed through the International and Comparative Education program office with the assistance of the International and Comparative Education Program Assistant.

Fieldwork Outside of the United States

  • Students who are conducting fieldwork outside of the United States may register for ITSF 6200 for one or two semesters. This is a 0-credit course. If this course will be taken, it should be included in the Program Plan.

Preparation and defense of a research dissertation

  • After taking ITSF 7500, all Ph.D. candidates are required to continuously register for ITSF 8900 and pay a fee in the term in which the dissertation is defended. Students who are not going to receive advisement may submit a “Personal Exemption for Dissertation Advisement” to ODS. 

  • Students may also refer to the document "General Instructions for the Preparation of Dissertations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy" downloadable from the ODS website for more information on dissertation preparation.

  • Consult the Office of Doctoral Studies for requirements on continuous enrollment.

For more information, review the full International and Comparative Education Student Handbook here.

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