M.A. Curriculum Requirements

The Master of Arts in Global Thought requires 30 credits, which must be completed in two full-time semesters (2 residence units). Included within the 30 credits are 5 core courses: Global Governance Regimes, The Future(s) of the Global Economy and Society, Politics of Culture in a Global Context, M.A. Seminar I, and M.A. Seminar II. The remaining elective courses can be selected from across the university according to the student’s interest.

While most courses in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are open to students, registration in professional school courses can be subject to availability. Please note that places are limited in some courses to specific entry requirements. The M.A. program cannot therefore guarantee you a place in all of the courses that may be of interest to you. Changes to courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of admission. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience.

A maximum of two elective courses taken Pass/Fail can count toward the degree. Courses taken for R credit, in which a student is exempt from the final exam or essay, do not count toward the degree. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to remain in good academic standing. Language courses do not count toward the degree. Students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency in a language other than English (roughly equivalent to four semesters of collegiate study) in an exam taken during the fall semester. (See “Language Proficiency” below).

The degree requires an M.A. essay based on original research and comparative in most cases to an article in a scholarly journal. Students work with Columbia faculty and CGT advisers in the context of the year-long M.A. seminar to design, research, and write their essays.


Process Including Mid-Program Report

Students collaborate closely with the Graduate Program Director to plan individualized programs of study, and to ensure their progress toward the timely completion of the program. The Graduate Program Director provides close support throughout the year, including connecting students to resources on campus, ensuring the selection of appropriate courses, and advising in the development of the final essay. At the end of the first semester, students submit a mid-program report to confirm that they are meeting the requirements for the degree.

Core Curriculum

Five Core Courses

The M.A. in Global Thought program includes three core courses (17 credits), which provide a broad-based conceptual and interdisciplinary foundation in global governance, global political economy, and global politics and culture, as well as a two-semester M.A. seminar. Each of the core courses exposes students to a range of approaches, methods, and theories, while allowing them to work directly with leading scholars in global thought. 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. The M.A. seminar combines substantive engagement with CGT faculty members with workshop sessions that help students develop the original research, analytic argument, and persuasive writing of their capstone M.A. essays.

View descriptions of the five Core Courses here.


Five Elective Courses

Students choose five elective courses over two semesters, with the advice of the Graduate Program Director. 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 Graduate Program 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.

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

Language Proficiency

Proficiency in a language other than English

To complete the M.A. degree, students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency in a language other than English by completing the Columbia language placement exam upon arrival in the fall, or an ACTFL or IETLS recognized qualifying exam in their language of proficiency. Further details are available upon admission.

Students whose native language is not English may meet the language requirement by producing documentation of their secondary schooling (high school) or tertiary studies (bachelor’s degree) in an institution where the ordinary language of instruction is not English. Alternatively, they may submit evidence of professional translation work.

Sample Program Plans

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 M.A. in Global Thought degree program format and provide examples of some different types of individualized degree programs.

View sample program plans of M.A. Global Thought students here.

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