Breadth Requirement Administration


PhD and DES students can complete part or all of the breadth requirement before formal enrollment in the doctoral program, e.g., while previously enrolled at Columbia and/or by “importingelective courses (not distribution courses) from another academic institution of equivalent quality.  All import applications must be submitted no later than two weeks (14 days) prior to the student’s first Black Friday enrolled in the doctoral program. Both distribution and elective courses taken at Columbia prior to formal enrollment in the doctoral program qualify automatically and do not need to be “imported”, provided that the grade was B+ or higher. However, in the case of courses completed more than five (5) years prior to formal enrollment, the appropriate faculty member (the person approving the import or the advisor in the case of prior Columbia courses) must judge that the course is sufficiently relevant to the goals of the doctoral breadth requirement.


CVN “pre-taped” courses are generally unacceptable for satisfying the breadth requirements, see exceptions below.  TAing or auditing a distribution or elective course is never acceptable in lieu of taking the course (or cumulative final exam, if offered) for a grade.

The following refers to courses that have already been approved for distribution or elective credit for the doctoral breadth requirement.

  • CVN courses taken while enrolled as a CVN-DES student always qualify.
  • CVN courses taken by a student prior to formally enrolling in the on-campus DES or PhD program (e.g., while an MS, Professional or non-degree student) always qualify.
  • Courses taken live in-person on-campus that happen to also be offered by CVN always qualify.
  • Pre-taped CVN courses managed (graded) by a regular faculty member, from any Columbia department, always qualify.  Pre-taped CVN courses managed by an adjunct faculty member who has lectured the same course on-campus also qualify. Both cases are exceedingly rare.
  • The typical pre-taped CVN course, which is managed by a graduate student, does not qualify. Exceptions can be made with the approval of the full faculty, including in particular the regular faculty member(s) in charge of the corresponding course – but be warned that said approval is highly unlikely.

Last updated on July 20, 2016.