Registration, Academic Policies, and Procedures

What are the steps I need to take to register for courses?

What is the cost for tuition?

Tuition and fees
If the current year is not posted, please contact the Office of Graduate Student Affairs for updated tuition information.

Does it matter if I am part-time or full-time?

International Students (F-1 or J-1) are required to be full-time. These students should contact ISSO to inquire about dropping courses at any point during their program. All others should plan out their programs. Since the cost of tuition generally increases each academic year, students are encouraged to complete their program in the shortest time possible that fits with their own schedule and constraints.

Can I still add or drop a course after the official add/drop period?

Yes, but with faculty and school approval.  Students are cautioned that there are no refunds for courses dropped after the University's Change of Program Period.  Even if you are adding a course, the cost of the new course will not be “offset” by dropping (swapping) with a discarded course. Students will be charged in full for both courses. Because of this, we encourage students to be fully advised as to their intended course load each term. Students who desire to add or drop courses after the add/drop timeline will need to complete the Registration Adjustment Form available through the Registrar’s office. SSOL cannot be used for this purpose as faculty and school approval are required.

Is it possible to have my grading option changed after I have registered?

Please review the timeline established by the Registrar’s office for students wishing to change their grading options (i.e. Letter Grade to Pass/Fail etc.).  The Registration Adjustment Form is used for this purpose as well.

Can I take non-Engineering Courses?

The following should be noted:

  • Students can take courses outside of their requirements. However, they should be aware that these courses may not count towards their degree program.
  • Students who take undergraduate courses through Engineering will be charged graduate-level tuition for those courses.
  • Some courses require permission from both the students academic department the course is being offered with (cross-registration) as well as the school.
  • Funded students will need departmental permission to take non-program-related courses.
  • Course listing may also stipulate whether course registration is open to non-program students.
  • Students wishing to take graduate courses at the School of Business must receive permission from the Academic/Career Advisor in the IEOR department.
  • Students wishing to obtain academic credit for courses taken at Columbia but outside of the School of Engineering will need to inquire about advanced standing.

Can I take other Engineering courses other than my own academic department?

Some of the above still applies. Student’s academic department will determine if the courses will count towards your program. CVN courses require departmental approval and will also cost an on-campus student more per academic credit.

What is considered a full-time student?

M.S. and Doctor of Engineering Science (DES) students registered for 12 or more points during a semester are considered to be full-time students. Ph.D. students are considered full-time when they have registered for a full residence unit.

What are the registration categories for Ph.D.?

Ph.D. students cannot register part-time.There are three full-time registration categories for Ph.D. students. Please make sure to confirm your registration category with your department administrator. 

  • Full Residence Unit (RESI G0001, call number 99991) – “R.U.” is for students who will be taking courses or who will still be within their first six semesters. The completion of six R.U.s is a requirement for the MPhil and PhD degrees. 

  • Extended Residence (EXRS G0001, call number 77771) – “E.R.” is for students who are beyond the first six semesters of their PhD program and are serving as Teaching Assistants (TAs), as Research Assistants (RAs), as Research Fellows, or as Core Preceptors. 

  • Matriculation and Facilities (MTFC G0001, call number 88881) – “M&F” is exclusively for Ph.D. students who are beyond their first six semesters, who will not be teaching, and who are instead:

    • completing a degree requirement such as a language examination or qualifying examination;

    • preparing the dissertation proposal; or

    • writing or distributing the dissertation.

For more information about each registration category, please see here.

Ph.D. students must register continuously until they distribute to their committee the copy of the dissertation that will be evaluated at the defense; if the dissertation defense is scheduled for a subsequent term, students need not register again. 

How often can a SEAS Ph.D. student register for M&F?

SEAS Ph.D. students can only register for M&F during the last year of the doctoral program for a maximum of two semesters. Prior to registering for M&F the student must inform their advisor and the department chair that they entering thier final year and only working on writing or distributing their dissertation. 

What are points?

Equal to "credits" at other institutions, one point represents one hour of contact with a professor each week for the length of the term. Most classes are three points.

What is the maximum amount of points that can be taken each semester?

Beginning with registration in April 2018, master’s students will be able to register for a maximum of 18 credits, including courses for which the student is registering on the waitlist. As has been past policy and practice, graduate students may not take  more than 15 credits per semester, and students are reminded that they are billed per credit. In addition, graduate students are reminded that if they drop classes after the last day of the Change of Program (add/drop) period, they will be charged tuition for the dropped classes.

Master’s students in SEAS will be limited to the following parameters:

  • 1st Year students will only be able to be simultaneously registered and waitlisted for credits up to 18 credits.
  • 2nd Year students will only be able to be simultaneously registered and waitlisted for credits up to 12 credits.

For example, if you are a 2nd year student and you are registered for 10 credits and want to waitlist a class for 3 credits, you will not be able to. Your total waitlisted/registered credits would be 13 which would be above the 12 credit max. You will either need to register or waitlist a class that is 2 credits or drop a class you are registered for to waitlist the 3 credit class.

If you are a 1st year student, currently registered for 12 credits and waitlisted for 3 credits and want to register for an open 4 credit course, you will not be able to. Your total waitlisted/registered credits would be 19 which is above the 18 max. You will need to either drop a class or remove yourself from a waitlist.

500 W. 120th St., Rm. 530 Mudd, New York, NY 10027    212-854-6438                
©2012 Columbia University