Frequently Asked Questions

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.

General Questions

Is there a prospectus?

View and download the MA in Global Thought Prospectus by clicking below.

Are there any former students I can reach out to for more information?

Profiles of our alumni can be found here. We can also help you contact students with whom you can discuss the program.

Are there university resources available to international students?

Columbia University has an International Student and Scholar Office that assists foreign students with visa issues and other transition questions. The ISSO has compiled a handbook which provides necessary visa and immigration information for incoming international students. Students should contact with any additional questions.

How long will it take me to complete the MA in Global Thought?

Students must complete the MA in a single year, and students are expected to write their MA essay during that time. To support producing a piece of original research for the essay on this schedule, students enroll in a two-semester M.A. seminars, which constitute 20% of the course load for the degree. Individual needs can be taken into account to accommodate the schedules of non-traditional students.

What are the thesis requirements for the MA?

Students submit a research essay of the length and quality of an article in a scholarly journal (30-35 pages, based on original research) by mid-April of their Spring semester. Students work with faculty in designing and pursuing their topics.

What are the language requirements for completing the MA?

To complete the MA degree, students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency (“intermediate proficiency” is roughly the equivalent of four semesters of collegiate study) in a language other than English by completing either the Columbia language placement exam or an ACTFL recognized qualifying exam. Further details are available upon admission.

Students whose native language is not English may meet the language requirement if they can produce evidence that shows they have completed secondary schooling (high school) or tertiary studies (bachelor’s degree) in an institution where the ordinary language of instruction is not English. They may also submit evidence of professional translation work.

Can I transfer credits and classes to fulfill the requirements for the MA in Global Thought?

The program is composed of core courses and electives. All students must complete the core courses and thesis seminars. Columbia’s transfer credit policy permits only qualifying units earned at Columbia may be applied to MA programs administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). If you have such units, a maximum of six may be transferred from a non-degree Columbia program to the MA in Global Thought.

What types of careers can I pursue with an MA in Global Thought?

Students will acquire a strong background in the political, economic, and cultural processes that shape the contemporary world and will be prepared to contribute to a range of fields at the conclusion of their studies. They pursue careers in development, nongovernmental organizations, education, research, government, public policy, and the private sector. This program also prepares students for further study in professional schools and PhD programs.


What type of writing sample should I submit?

You can submit any type of writing sample that is no longer than 10 pages. Extracts of longer pieces are also acceptable.

How do I know if I have to fulfill the TOEFL or IELTS requirement?

Applicants must complete the English proficiency requirement if their native language is not English and they have received an undergraduate degree from an institution in a country where the official language is not English. See for more information.

What is the minimum required TOEFL or IELTS score for consideration?

The minimum score for TOEFL is 100 on the internet-based test and 600 on the paper-and-pencil test. Students must reach 7.5 if they opt to submit the IELTS test.

I would like to provide GRE scores to supplement my application. When should I submit these?

You may choose to include a GRE score report to supplement the required application materials, but please note GRE scores are not required to apply. If you would like to provide GRE scores to supplement your application, we recommend that you take the GRE as early as is practicable for you and provide your results as soon as you have them. You should not delay making your application due to pending GRE scores.

Financial Aid

Is any funding available through the MA in Global Thought specifically, aside from the financial aid offered by GSAS?

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. We encourage applicants to seek external funders where practical and to start looking as early as they can. Research assistantships are available on a case-by-case basis with CGT faculty members both prior to and during attendance on the course.