Applying to the MA 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 MA in Global Thought from our alumni and staff in an upcoming or recorded information session.


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 upcoming application deadlines for admission to the MA in Global Thought Program. The application portal opens each year in the fall:

Early Deadline for Fall Admission: Thursday, January 25, 2024
Final Deadline for Fall Admission: Thursday, March 21, 2024


The Committee on Global Thought offers partial fellowships to select applicants. We strongly encourage all applicants to apply for external funding in addition to any Columbia funding. For more information, follow this link to the MA 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.
  • Personal statement not to exceed 1,000 words, explaining how your personal experiences and history will allow you to contribute to the wealth of perspectives in the entering class of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and in the Columbia community at large.
  • 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 (International English Language Testing System) is required for most international students applying to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Consult the GSAS page for international applicants for details about the English proficiency requirement, including deadlines, exceptions to the policy, minimum score requirements, and TOEFL/IELTS score submission instructions.
  • 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 submit both a program application and a partial fellowship application by the priority or general application deadline listed above. Please note that MA admissions are need-blind; partial fellowship decisions are made after MA admissions decisions have been made and through an entirely separate review process. For more information about funding opportunities, please follow this link to the MA 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.

The timetable below is for admissions decisions for 2023-2024 entry:

Application Deadline  Priority  Regular
Date Thursday, January 25, 2024 Thursday, March 21, 2024
Notification of application outcome Mid February onwards Early April onwards

Please note: This timetable is for guidance purposes only. All decisions are communicated in writing from GSAS, usually by email.

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.

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.

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 MA FAQ page.

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