Registration

This section is designed solely as a guide. For the official requirements, see the registration procedures in the GSAS and SEAS bulletins.  GSAS and SEAS often change their requirements and do not inform departments, so the information we have available to post may lag behind.

Registration can be done online only through SSOL (Student Services Online). Registration instructions can be found on the Registrar’s website. Note any information recorded in mice, e.g., your plans to take certain courses, does not automatically populate SSOL.

QUESTIONS ABOUT REGISTRATION? CONTACT:

MS students contact: gradvising@cs.columbia.edu
MS/PhD, PhD and DES students contact the PhD Program Administrator: Cindy Meekins at cam2362@columbia.edu

GSAS VS. SEAS REGISTRATION

The PhD is awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). PhD students who have already completed a Master’s degree will appear in SSOL as GSAS students, and should normally register following GSAS registration policies (listed below).  However, it is important to understand that SEAS rules override GSAS rules for PhD students whose home department is in SEAS, which includes the CS department.

Students who have not yet completed their MS degree are categorized as MS/PhD students and will appear as SEAS (School of Engineering & Applied Sciences) students in SSOL. MS/PhD students should register following SEAS registration policies (listed below) until they have completed the requirements of the MS degree. At that point, they will ‘graduate’ to GSAS.

DES students remain in SEAS throughout the program.

Both GSAS and SEAS require “continuous registration” every fall and spring semester unless a formal leave of absence is granted. Doctoral students are not required to register for the summer term.

ADVANCED STANDING

GSAS requires all PhD students to complete 60 total points of graduate coursework and 6 Residence Units for the degree. Upon completing the MS degree in SEAS (or at another institution prior to enrolling at Columbia), GSAS will award students with 30 points and 2 Residence Units of advanced standing toward the PhD. Therefore, students only need to complete 30 additional points of graduate coursework and 4 Residence Units upon entering GSAS.

SEAS REGISTRATION FOR MS/PHD STUDENTS

MS/PhD students should register for exactly 15 points every fall and spring semester. This maintains full-time status and will enable you to complete the 30-point requirement for the MS degree in one academic year. Courses graded P/F or taken for R credit do not count towards the degree, so please keep this in mind when registering. If you want to register for more than 15 points in a semester, please discuss with the PhD Program Administrator.

Step 1: Register for the lecture courses that you need to take that semester. MS/PhD students should complete two 3-point graduate lecture courses (6 points) per semester so they can complete the MS degree requirements in three semesters.  Note imports from other institutions, courses applied to a previous Columbia degree (BS or BA), comp exams, and research courses (9911) do not count towards the minimum six 3-point graduate lecture courses required for the MS degree.

Step 2: Register for your advisor’s section of COMS E9911: Graduate Research II. The number of points of COMS E9911 that you register for depends on how many points of coursework you register for. Your points of coursework + points of COMS E9911 should total 15 points. So if you have registered for 6 points of lecture coursework, you should register for 9 points of COMS E9911.  If you register for 4.5 points in lecture courses , you should register for 10.5 points of COMS E9911.  If you aren’t taking any lecture courses, register for the full (maximum) 15 points of COMS E9911. You must select the letter grade option for COMS E9911, otherwise the points will not count towards your degree.

*The call number for your advisor’s section of COMS E9911 may change each semester, and can be confirmed on our department’s course listing. If you can’t find the correct call number, contact the PhD Program Administrator.

Do not register for COMS E9910: Graduate Research I or any of the other project courses, such as W4901, E6900, E6901, E6902; those are only for undergraduates and MS students and cannot be applied to a doctoral degree.

SEAS REGISTRATION FOR DES STUDENTS

DES students need to register for at least three (3) points every fall and spring semester to maintain continuous registration.

Step 1: Register for the lecture courses that you need to take that semester.  Courses graded P/F or taken for R credit do not count towards the degree, so please keep this in mind when registering.  Note that satisfactory progress requires two (2) courses per semester until the breadth requirement has been completed.

Step 2: After completion of all coursework, or for any other semesters where you will not be taking courses, but have not yet embarked on your thesis research, register for three (3) points of your advisor’s section of COMS E9911: Graduate Research II. You must select the letter grade option for COMS E9911.

You must complete at least thirty (30) points, with letter grades, in a combination of lecture courses and E9911 beyond the MS (or 60 points beyond the bachelor’s degree).

Step 3: When you start working on your thesis, you should instead register each semester for three (3) points your advisor’s section of COMS E9800: Directed Research in Computer Science.  You must complete 12 points in COMS E9800.  These 12 points do not count towards the 30 points residence requirement.

Further information is available from SEAS.

*The call number for your advisor’s section of COMS E9911 and E9800 may change each semester.

Do not register for COMS E9910: Graduate Research I or any of the other project courses, such as W4901, E6900, E6901, E6902; those are only for undergraduates and MS students.

GSAS REGISTRATION PRIOR TO COMPLETION OF SIX (6) RESIDENCE UNITS

PhD students in GSAS should register for one residence unit (RU) every consecutive fall and spring semester until they have accumulated six total RUs (including the two RUs obtained through advanced standing). The Residence Unit will give you full-time status. Make sure to keep track of exactly how many RUs you have completed as over-payment of RU tuition will not be refunded. You can see how many RUs you have completed in SSOL. The call number for the RU is 99991.

In addition to the RU, you should register for exactly 15 points every fall and spring semester until you have completed 30 points beyond the MS degree. You should meet the minimum point requirement within 2 semesters of your first day as a GSAS student.

Step 1: Register for the  RU using call #99991 in SSOL.

Step 2: Register for the lecture courses that you need to take that semester. Courses graded P/F or taken for R credit do not count towards the degree, so please keep this in mind when registering.

Step 3: Register for your advisor’s section of COMS E9911: Graduate Research II. The number of points of COMS E9911 that you will register for will be dependent on how many points of coursework you have registered for. Your points of coursework + points of COMS E9911 should come to 15 points total. So if you have registered for 6 points of lecture coursework, you will register for 9 points of COMS E9911. You must select the letter grade option for COMS E9911. If you aren’t taking any lecture courses, you can register for a full 15 points of COMS E9911.

*The call number for your advisor’s section of COMS E9911 may change each semester, and can be confirmed on our department’s course listing. If you can’t find the correct call number, contact the PhD Program Administrator. 

Do not register for COMS E9910: Graduate Research I or any of the other project courses, such as W4901, E6900, E6901, E6902; those are only for undergraduates and MS students.

 

GSAS REGISTRATION AFTER COMPLETION OF SIX (6) RESIDENCE UNITS

After you have completed your six residence units in GSAS, you should stop registering for RUs. How you register after that depends on several factors.  There are two options, Extended Residence (ER) and Matriculation and Facilities (M&F).

Extended Residence: Most students should register ER after completing six (6) RUs. ER (or RU) registration is required for international students on a student visa to maintain full-time status and for any students to take courses, including COMS E9911, or to complete any degree requirements except the dissertation, defense and deposit.  The GSAS rules for registering ER are posted here.   Note those rules imply that students could register for M&F instead under various circumstances, e.g., while working on their thesis proposal, but M&F is disallowed by SEAS in most cases.  See below.

Students who are unsure whether they should register for RU or ER should contact the PhD Program Administrator.

Students should register for any classes they are taking in addition to the ER unit.  Students should also register for COMS E9911 every semester, to bring the total number of points up to 15, until they have completed 30 points beyond the MS degree.

Students who are unsure whether they need to register for COMS E9911 or for how many points should contact the PhD Program Administrator.

Matriculation and Facilities:  M&F registration maintains the “continuous registration” required by GSAS and is considerably less expensive than ER.  Students may not take any courses, including COMS E9911, while registered as M&F.  M&F is not available to international students on a student visa, students funded by a TA or RA appointment, and students who have not yet completed all degree requirements except the dissertation, defense and deposit. Other students may register M&F in their last year only (last two semesters).  The GSAS rules for registering M&F are posted here. The significantly stricter SEAS rules are available here.

Students who want to register for M&F should contact the PhD Program Administrator before doing so to check their eligibility.

GSAS REGISTRATION FOR THE DISSERTATION DISTRIBUTION, DEFENSE, AND DEPOSIT

It is not necessary for US citizens or permanent residents to register during the semester of the thesis defense or deposit.  However, all students must be registered during the semester in which the dissertation is distributed to the defense committee. For example, if you distribute in the fall, but defend in the spring, you only need to be registered for the fall semester.

International students should contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) to confirm whether they need to be registered for the defense and deposit, if these activities take place in a later semester than the distribution.

Important note: While in most cases summer registration is optional, the thesis distribution registration rule includes the summer semester: you must be registered for the summer term if your dissertation is distributed during the summer.

SUMMER REGISTRATION

Summer registration is the same whether enrolled in SEAS or GSAS.  If you are funded through Columbia during the summer, you will need to register for a full-time summer research appointment. Student Services will send you the call number for this registration status during the spring semester.

If you are externally funded and your funding source requires summer registration, contact the PhD Program Administrator to see if you can register for the full-time summer research appointment or some other status.

If you are not being funded, there is no need to register for the summer unless you plan to distribute your dissertation during the summer term. Do not register for any courses during the summer.

Last updated on September 28, 2022.