Applying to the MA in Global Thought

The MA in Global Thought welcomes applicants with a background in the social sciences and humanities and an interest in the study of global issues in an interdisciplinary setting. Given the thematic and disciplinary range of the program, applicants from a range of professional backgrounds and undergraduate experiences are invited to apply. Applicants should demonstrate an interest in global issues through professional, international, research, or other experience.


Applying • Deadlines

Application to the MA in Global Thought is conducted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Please reference the chart below for application deadlines for admission to the 2018-2019 MA in Global Thought Program:

Early Deadline for Fall Admission:  Friday, February 2, 2018
Final Deadline for Fall Admission:  Friday, April 20, 2018

Priority for partial scholarships will be given to people who apply by February 2 but requests for financial aid will be considered throughout the entire application cycle depending on availability of funds.

Application Checklist

Application • Supporting Materials • Language Proficiency

  • CV
  • Transcripts showing courses and grades from all post-secondary schools attended.
  • Statement of Academic Purpose not to exceed 1,000 words, emphasizing academic goals, anticipated program of study and expected impact on career.
  • Writing sample of maximum 10 pages in English, composed of one piece or a combination of up to three pieces or selections showing analytic capability.  You can submit any type of writing sample that is no longer than 10 pages. Extracts of longer pieces are also acceptable.
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons with direct knowledge of the applicant’s academic background and abilities. No more than one letter should be submitted from supervisors or colleagues at an applicant’s place of employment.
  • GRE scores (strongly recommended but not required).
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)/IELTS is required for all international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English. See for more information.
  • Language On their applications to the program, prospective students must be able to indicate at least intermediate-level proficiency in a language other than English. Upon acceptance, students will be required to prove proficiency by taking a CU Language Placement exam or by other approved means. For more information, please review the “Language Proficiency” section of our MA Curriculum Requirements page.

Please note: only applicants who are admitted should send materials (i.e., official transcripts) by mail to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Unofficial transcripts and other supplemental application materials should be uploaded through the online application system.

After You Apply

Notification Timetable • Assessment • Outcome

Once your completed application has been submitted in time for the deadline, with all required supporting materials (including references submitted by your referees) and payment of the application fee, our admissions committee will assess your application and notify you of its outcome. If you are successful and receive an offer from our department, you will then also receive an offer from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

The timetable below is for admissions decisions for 2018-2019 entry:

Application Deadline  Priority  Regular
Date Friday, February 2, 2018 Friday, April 20, 2018
Notification of application outcome from department Late February onwards Early May onwards
Expected notification of GSAS placement 1-2 weeks following departmental decision

Please note: this timetable is for guidance purposes only. In some cases, notifications may take longer and occasionally applicants may hear from our department or GSAS before the times given above. There is no formal decision-making timetable for applications submitted after the May deadline, though you may still expect to be notified of our decision within four to six weeks of completing your application during this period. All decisions are communicated in writing from GSAS, usually by e-mail.

If you have specific questions about our program or department, please contact us via email at

For questions regarding your application, please contact GSAS Admissions by email at, or by phone at (212) 854-6729.

Assessment of Your Application

Our department’s admissions committee is responsible for assessing the academic quality and suitability of your application.

All applications are academically assessed against the admissions requirements for the program and then in terms of the quality of previous academic excellence and future potential in comparison with the applications received from other candidates for the program. If necessary, our department may want to conduct an interview with you by phone or in person which we will contact you directly to arrange. Our department receives many more excellent applications than we have spaces available, so it is important that you take care reviewing your application and select supporting materials that best illustrate your academic achievement and future potential. Meeting the minimum requirements is not often sufficient to guarantee a space, and competition for spaces is very strong. Columbia University seeks to admit the very best candidates who apply for the courses that we offer.

Assessment Outcome

Our department will notify you, usually via e-mail, to let you know the final outcome of your application as per the admissions timetable.

Successful outcome

If you have been successful, our department will make you an offer and these sometimes have academic conditions attached. We will ask whether you wish to accept the offer we have made to you and we will give you a deadline for your response and a deadline by which you will need to fulfill any conditions of your offer.

Unsuccessful outcome

If your application is unsuccessful, you will also be notified. However, due to the high volume of applications our department receives, it is not possible to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.

Re-evaluation in a later deadline

In some cases, our department may feel that you have met the selection criteria for our program but we wish to evaluate your application against those received in the next deadline. In this instance, we will consider your application as part of the next deadline and you will receive a notification that your application will be re-evaluated.

Waiting list

If our department feels that you have performed well against the selection criteria for the program but there are no more spaces available, we may place you on a waiting list. You will be notified should any additional spaces arise.

Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

As an institution, Columbia University is committed to the principles of equity and excellence. It actively pursues both, adhering to the belief that equity is the partner of excellence. Columbia University’s goal is a workforce and student body that reflects the diversity and talent of New York City, the larger metropolitan area, and the nation. In furtherance of this goal, Columbia has implemented policies and programs which seek to ensure that its employment and educational decisions are based on individual merit and not on bias or stereotypes.

Admitted Students

Offer Letters • Acceptance • Deferral

Accepting Your Offer

If you have been successful, you will receive an initial offer letter, via email, from the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Only the Dean of GSAS has the authority to make an offer of admission. A letter or email from a faculty member is not an official offer of admission. Only when you receive the official offer signed by the Dean of GSAS are you considered admitted. However, the offer of admission is only considered fully official after we have received your official paper transcripts and are able to verify authenticity. Any discrepancies between the uploaded and official paper transcripts may result in the rescinding of the offer of admission.

Your offer letter

If you receive an offer from our department, you will also receive an offer from GSAS. Your offer letter will ask whether you wish to accept the offer of a space made to you. You should read the offer letter, including any conditions set by our department before accepting the offer. If you have questions about your offer, you should contact our department directly.

Deferring an offer

The Graduate School offers admission with the expectation that students will matriculate in the semester specified during the application process. If extraordinary circumstances will prevent you from matriculating, you may submit a request to defer your admission for up to one calendar year. Deferral requests are not automatically granted and will be evaluated by the Office of Admissions.

MA applicants may request a deferral only after accepting the original offer of admission and submitting the $750 tuition deposit. After the deposit is paid, a Deferral Request Form will be available on the Applicant Status Page.

You will be notified about the disposition of your deferral request via email. Please contact with any questions.