Applying to the M.A. in Global Thought

Global Thought welcomes applicants who have performed well in any academic discipline, and who demonstrate an interest in the study of global issues in an interdisciplinary setting. Given the thematic and disciplinary breadth of the program, applicants from a range of professional backgrounds and undergraduate experiences apply every year. There is no single ideal applicant or profile; our program assembles a diverse cohort from a variety of nationalities, expertise, age, career goals, and research interests. Applicants should demonstrate an interest in global issues through professional, international, research, or other experience.

Learn more about the M.A. in Global Thought from our alumni and staff in a recorded information session.


Applying • Deadlines

Application to the M.A. in Global Thought is conducted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Please reference the chart below for upcoming application deadlines for admission to the M.A. in Global Thought Program. The application portal opens each year in the fall:

Early Deadline for Fall Admission:  Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Final Deadline for Fall Admission:  Thursday, March 16, 2023

In order to apply for a partial funding fellowship, you must first initiate a program application. We strongly encourage all applicants to apply for external funding in addition to any Columbia funding. For more information, follow this link to the M.A. Tuition and Funding Opportunities tab.

Application Checklist

Application • Supporting Materials • Language Proficiency

  • CV
  • Official Transcripts showing courses and grades from all post-secondary schools attended.
  • Statement of Academic Purpose not to exceed 1,000 words, emphasizing academic goals, an anticipated program of study, and expected impact on career.
  • Writing sample of maximum 10 pages (double spaced) in English, composed of one piece or a combination of up to three pieces or selections showing critical thinking and analytic capability. The topic of the writing sample does not need to speak directly to Global Thought, but we do recommend work that reflects a Social Science or Humanities approach, if possible. Extracts of longer pieces are also acceptable. References/Bibliographies do not count towards the 10 page total.
  • Three letters of recommendation: applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, at least TWO of which must be from referees with direct knowledge of the applicant’s academic background and abilities, i.e. an instructor or academic tutor or advisor. No more than one letter should be from a professional supervisor or colleague (including internship supervisors).
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)/IELTS is required for most international students. Applicants who have studied for at least two years at a U.S. institution or at an institution in a country where the official language is English and earned the undergraduate degree at that institution are not required to complete the English proficiency requirement. If you earned your undergraduate degree in a country where the official language is not English, but from an institution there where the official language of instruction is English, submission of TOEFL/IELTS results may not be required. If you believe this to be the case, please complete the English Proficiency Waiver Request form. The completed form and required supporting documentation must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the application deadline for the program to which you are applying. 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.
  • GRE scores (Optional) You may choose to include a GRE score report to supplement the application materials listed above, but please note GRE scores are not required to apply. To submit your scores to Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, select 2162. Because Global Thought is interdisciplinary, we do not have a department code. You may select 0000.
  • Partial fellowship application (Optional) To be considered for a partial fellowship, you must first initiate a program application and plan to submit the partial fellowship application by the priority or general application deadline (either February 1, 2023, or March 16, 2023). If you do not receive a partial fellowship application by email within two weeks of initiating your GSAS application, please first check your email spam folder, and then contact Applicants who select Global Thought as their second-choice program in the GSAS application will receive a partial fellowship application only after their first-choice program has completed its review and rendered its decision; consult Introduction to GSAS Admissions for more information about applying to multiple programs. For more information about funding opportunities, please follow this link to the M.A. Tuition and Funding Opportunities tab.

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 2023-2024 entry:

Application Deadline  Priority  Regular
Date Wednesday, February 1, 2023 Thursday, March 16, 2023
Notification of application outcome from department Early March 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. 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

The distinguished faculty members of the Committee on Global Thought (CGT) assess applications that are submitted in full. They examine application materials holistically to determine if applicants have the academic experience, facility with academic writing, and critical thinking skills necessary to ensure their success in the MA program. In some cases, the faculty and staff of the CGT conduct interviews by phone or in person to learn more about applicants, and to determine whether or not they are well suited to the rigors and challenges of post-graduate study at Columbia University.

We receive applications from many more excellent candidates than we can accommodate, and can admit only the strongest among them. It is essential that you take care reviewing your completed application to ensure that all documents are well written and free of errors. Please select supporting materials that best illustrate your academic achievement, and clearly articulate the ways that the MA in Global Thought will help you reach your personal or professional goals.

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 $1000 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.

For questions about the program and admissions, please consult our M.A. FAQ page.

If you have specific questions about our program or department, please write to