The MA in Global Thought degree requires completion of 30 points of course work to be completed in two semesters. Students must work closely with the MA Faculty Director and MA Director of Studies to plan an individualized program of study and to ensure that they are progressing toward a timely completion of the program.

The degree requires two Residence Units and completion of 30 points, including the five core courses (Global Governance, Global Political Economy, Global Politics and Culture, and two semesters of the MA Seminar) and five specialization elective courses. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to remain in good academic standing. Students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency in a language other than English equivalent to four semesters of collegiate study.

Core Curriculum

Five Core Courses

The purpose of the core curriculum is to ensure that every MA student in the Global Thought program receives a theoretical, broad-based, interdisciplinary foundation in the concepts behind global thought. Each of the core courses will expose students to a range of approaches, methods, and theories, while allowing them to work directly with leading scholars in global thought. This includes graduate-level course work in trans-national relations, economics, politics, philosophy, and cultural analysis. Students are required to take a one-semester long course in global governance, a one-semester long course in global political economy, a one-semester long course in global politics and culture, and a two-semester long research seminar course to help students hone their research interests within an essay.

Global Governance

Global Governance explores the challenges of governance in a global era, including the international legal order, global public goods, and the mechanisms and processes of global governance.

Global Political Economy

Global Political Economy explores the economic forces that shape globalization and its effects on different countries and their citizens, from trends in human development to global financial systems and debt crises.

Global Politics and Culture

Global Politics and Culture explores the impact of globalization on cultural diversity, including cosmopolitanism, feminism and religion in relation to secularism and “tolerance”.

MA Seminars I and II

MA Seminars are composed of a two-semester sequence that concentrates in the Fall on different research methodologies and disciplinary approaches as well as on the choice of research topic for the essay. The Spring semester is dedicated to developing the argument and completing the research project.


Five Specialization Elective Courses

Students choose five specialization elective courses over two semesters, with the advice of the MA Faculty Director and MA Director of Studies. They may choose from courses offered by CGT Faculty as well as from hundreds of available graduate courses across the university. The students shape their own course of study to accommodate and develop their interests. Courses must be taken at 4000-level or higher, except in cases where students can demonstrate, in conjunction with the course’s professor and the MA Academic Director, that the course is suitable for a graduate level education.

Students may harmonize their electives with the topic of their thesis, or split their electives between their thesis concentration, global themes, methodological work, or other areas of interest that enhance their intellectual and professional prospects.

Use Columbia’s Directory of Classes to find the widest range of courses open to students of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Our students have enrolled in courses in Columbia’s:

  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)
  • School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
  • Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP)
  • School of Professional Studies (SPS)
  • Columbia Business School
  • School of the Arts
  • School of Journalism
  • School of Public Health (SPH)
  • Teachers’ College (TC)

Find a list of specialization elective courses taken by MA Global Thought students here.

Language Proficiency

Proficiency in a language other than English

Students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency in a language other than English equivalent to four semesters of collegiate study. Students may choose one of two options in which to confirm their language proficiency:

  1. 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.
  2. Students who cannot provide this evidence, whether native English-speakers or not, will need to document their competence through examination. Ordinarily this will be a Columbia language placement exam or ACTFL recognized qualifying exam. Further details are available upon admission.

Time to Completion

Two full-time semesters

Students must complete the program in two full-time semesters. The entire course load for the program is 30 credits (10 courses).

Sample Programs

Sample Individualized Program Plans

Our students arrive from all over the globe and pursue interests that take them throughout Columbia’s rich resources. These sample program plans illustrate the MA in Global Thought degree program format and provide examples of some different types of individualized degree programs.

View sample program plans of MA Global Thought students here.