Frequently Asked Questions

The MA in Global Thought program 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 are invited to apply. Applicants should demonstrate an interest in global issues through professional, international, research, or other experience.

General Questions

What is the timeline for completing the MA in Global Thought?

The MA in Global Thought is a nine month program. Accepted students begin the program in September and graduate the following May. Due to the highly structured nature of the program, we do not offer a spring semester start or a part-time option.

What is the Capstone MA Essay?

The capstone essay is a 10,000-word work of scholarship based on original research. You will develop the essay through MA Seminar I and II and with the guidance of the CGT advising team and CGT faculty.

What are the language requirements for completing the MA?

To complete the MA degree, students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. For more details, see the MA Curriculum Requirements.

Which elective classes at Columbia are open to Global Thought students?

The MA in Global Thought program recognizes elective courses from across Columbia University’s graduate schools. Global Thought students are part of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), so courses at all other schools require cross registration. Each school has its own policies and procedures for cross registration, which are available on their respective websites. In short, priority enrollment is often reserved for students enrolled directly at a school, and not all courses may be open for cross registration. Global Thought students can and do enroll at all 10 graduate schools each year, but we cannot guarantee the availability of any given course and encourage students to search widely for a variety of courses they may wish to take.

Are there university resources available to international students?

Columbia University has an International Students and Scholars Office that assists foreign students with visa issues and other transition questions.


Where can I learn more about Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Application policies, procedures, and instructions?

Global Thought students are part of GSAS, and you will apply to the MA in Global Thought via the GSAS application. Consult GSAS Admissions and the GSAS Admissions FAQ page for many commonly asked questions related to admissions, including general application requirements and instructions.

What should my statement of purpose include?

There is no single template for an effective statement of purpose, but those that work best present a clear voice and individual, demonstrate why the MA in Global Thought is a good fit for the applicant’s goals, and discuss well-researched plans for a year at Columbia University.

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. The writing does not need to be about your proposed research area or Global Thought, but it does need to demonstrate your ability to think critically and write clearly.

Your writing sample should be 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.

Who can write my 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).

How do I know if I have to fulfull the TOEFL or IELTS Requirement?

The English proficiency requirement is based on the official language of the country in which an applicant has earned their undergraduate (or bachelor’s) degree, regardless of an applicant’s citizenship. The English proficiency requirement can be fulfilled through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or may be fulfilled by submission of an English proficiency waiver request. Consult the GSAS page for international applicants for more information.

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 that 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 possible, and provide your results as soon as you have them. However, you should not delay submitting your application due to pending GRE scores. 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.

Should I contact CGT Faculty members with questions about the program or mentorship?

No, please do not write to Committee on Global Thought Faculty members, as their involvement with the program varies from year to year. There is not an expectation for prospective students to connect with faculty mentors before enrolling in the program. All queries about the program should be directed to

Financial Aid


The Committee on Global Thought is pleased to offer partial fellowships to select applicants, which are applied directly to reducing tuition costs. Priority for partial fellowships will be given to applicants who submit all requisite application materials by the priority application deadline. Partial fellowship applications received after the priority deadline will be considered depending on the availability of funds. We encourage all applicants to seek external funding, and to start applying for those funds as early as possible. For more information, please see our separate page on MA tuition and funding opportunities.

Work, Careers, and Professionalization

What kind of professionalization resources can Global Thought students access?

The diversity of our cohorts means that each student designs their own professionalization pathway, and Columbia and Global Thought provide a variety of connections, tools, and opportunities to do so. As part of the program, MA students develop a toolkit of disciplinary and practical approaches to a wide variety of questions and challenges, and learn to write for an educated but non-expert audience. Classes and events throughout the year introduce students to CGT faculty, Advisory Council members, and alumni, and our location in New York City opens up direct connections to a variety of sectors within and beyond the academy. GSAS Compass offers customized career advising, workshops, and resources for graduate students, as well as membership in a Columbia exclusive alumni network.

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 Ph.D. programs. Click here to view profiles of program alumni.


The MA in Global Thought is a demanding program that requires at least 40 hours per week for class work and preparation. Some students choose to hold part-time positions; part-time jobs must be flexible or on Fridays/weekends to accommodate the schedule of core and elective courses. All students (both U.S. citizens and international students) are eligible for casual campus employment. Our students pursue a variety of internships in New York City, via Columbia Global Centers, and beyond. Please note that international students on an F-1 visa are not eligible for paid internships while studying, but they can apply for these opportunities upon completion of the program via OPT (Optional Practical Training).


The intensive nature of this program leaves little time for additional commitments beyond coursework, and most student research focuses on their individual capstone projects. However, students can pursue research opportunities with faculty within and beyond the Committee on Global Thought. These roles may or may not be compensated, but they do offer an opportunity to engage in the production of scholarship and build a rapport with faculty in your field. We publicize any such positions that we know of, but the best way to find one is to research which faculty are working on projects that interest you, and to contact them directly (only after you have been accepted and enrolled) to ask about any potential roles for MA students to contribute to their work.


After completing the program in May, students are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students are not eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while studying as the one-year program does not meet the federal requirement of at least two consecutive semesters of study in the U.S. before applying for CPT. Please visit the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for more details.

For other questions about the MA program, please write to