Fieldwork – COMS E6910


What is Fieldwork?
An internship that is an integral part of the established curriculum of the school. If the work you are doing at your internship is relevant to your coursework at Columbia, it qualifies as Fieldwork.

What is the Fieldwork course?
The Fieldwork course, COMS E6910, is open to MS students in the Computer Science Department. COMS E6910 gives students academic credit for the work experience that they gain at an internship that is directly relevant to the CS@CU curriculum. You can register up to 3 times for a total of 3 points.

COMS E6910 has multiple sections. For which section should I register?
You need to register for your track advisor’s section upon his/her approval. The CS@CU Student Services team will give you the call number when you submit your application to him for approval.

Can I take this course P/F?
No, you must take this course for a letter grade.

When is the Fieldwork course offered?
It is offered every semester including summer.

Who is eligible to take this course?
All MS students are eligible to register for COMS E6910. If you are a US citizen or a permanent resident, you are eligible to register for it as soon as you are in the MS program. If you are a J-1 visa holder, you can register after a semester of holding the J-1 status. If you are on an F-1 visa, you must be in valid student status for one academic year (9 months) before you can register for COMS E6910.

I read that the Fieldwork course will satisfy my program requirement. How does that work?
Since the Fieldwork course is a 6000-level course, it will count as your general elective or a waiver replacement. Since this is a one-credit course, most students take it as an extra course instead of trying to fit it into the program plan.

How do I apply for CPT and enroll in COMS 6910 Fieldwork? 
Please see the CS department instructions here:

I am an international student. How can I get work authorization? How long does it take for it to be issued?
Yes, you can get Curricular Practical Training work authorization. It takes about a week for ISSO to process the application once it has been approved by the department.

I am an international student. What is the difference between CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and Pre-Completion OPT (Optional Practical Training)?
Please refer to CPT and Pre-Completion OPT.

How many hours can I work?
If you are an international student, the Curricular Practical Training work authorization requires you to work at least 100 hours during the semester in which you are on CPT (excluding exam week). You cannot, however, work more than 20 hours a week during the academic year, so please plan accordingly. During the summer, the 100-hour requirement still applies, but you can work more than 20 hours a week.

What is the grade based on?
You are required to write and submit a five-page report at the end of the term on which the grade will be based. The report should be approved by your internship supervisor before you submit it to your advisor. This is necessary to confirm the content of your work and to make sure that the report does not include any information the company does not wish to disclose. The report is due two weeks after the end of your internship. Please use this coversheet for your report.

If you are an international student, please note that ISSO requires students to submit their Fieldwork reports to the Student Services Team ( and their faculty advisor before they can process any subsequent Fieldwork applications. For example,  ISSO will not process a fall Fieldwork application for a student unless CS@CU Student Services confirms that that student has submitted his/her summer Fieldwork report. If you have any questions about this, please email CS@CU Student Services.

What happens if the company does not allow me to release some information about my project in my written report?
You can work with your supervisor to write a report that is acceptable to the company.

How closely aligned with my track does the internship need to be?
The internship must be related to computing and must have educational value as judged by your advisor.

I am an international student and was unexpectedly let go from my internship. What can I do?
Fieldwork duration can be shortened, but you cannot drop the course as that would mean that you had worked illegally in the US. You must contact your advisor/administrator/ISSO to resolve this issue as this would affect your legal working status.