Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below a list of frequently asked questions for potential applicants to the QMSS program. In addition, Columbia University maintains a comprehensive and searchable database of frequently asked questions available online at:  Click on the links below to link directly to specific questions.

No; we have one deadline on January 19th. We will not open any applications until that point. You have exactly the same odds whether you submit today or at 11:59 PM on the January due date.

Standardized test scores are just one aspect of the entire application, and we treat them as such. We evaluate each application in its entirety and do not have cut off points for scores or GPAs. Furthermore, the standardized test requirement is optional during the 2022-23 application cycle. Valid scores will still be evaluated if submitted.

The Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences mandates that all applicants submit a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL or 7.5 on the IELTS to be considered for admission. These standards are our only hard cut-offs when it comes to admissions decisions. This is a school-level policy; we cannot release admissions letters to any applicant who has submitted a score that does not meet the minimum English Language Proficiency requirements. GSAS's full policy can be viewed HERE

For admitted students who have met the English Proficiency Standards but still wish to improve their English skills, we have a strong relationship with American Language Program (ALP). They will test students and work with them on their academic English at their own level. 

Our institution code is 2162. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not use department codes, as all test scores are reported to the Office of Admissions. Scores are then forwarded to the appropriate department. If ETS requires designation of a department code, please use a default code of all nines (9) or all zeroes (0).

Applicants should upload a transcript or record (e.g., web-based transcripts, mark sheets, relevé de notes) of any academic work from each university-level institution you have attended for use in review of your application. Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission has been made and accepted. GSAS retains official documents for admitted applicants only. If an official document is sent to us by an applicant who does not enroll, the document will not remain accessible, even if an offer of admission is made at a later time.

Transcripts should be uploaded on the Educational History page of the online application. Transcripts should not be combined into one document; they should be uploaded as individual documents.

  • Scan at the lowest DPI that results in a legible document. (We recommend to use under 300 DPI whenever possible.)
  • Ensure that the institution name and other identifying marks are not missed during the scanning process and that your scanned copy is clearly legible and can print on letter-size paper (8 ½" x 11").
  • Include the transcript legend (found on the back page, in most cases).
  • Save your document as a PDF file.
  • Make certain that its size is less than 2000 KB (2 MB).
  • Scanning in grayscale or black and white may produce the best results. If the scanned file is too large, first make a photocopy (experimenting with different settings until you find one that results in the smallest file size), then scan the photocopy.

Columbia GSAS now permits applicants to be reviewed by a second program if they do not receive an offer of admission from their first choice program, with the following restrictions:

  • Applicants will be able to select a second review by a Free-standing MA program only.
  • The option of a second review must be elected at the time of submission of the application.
  • Columbia GSAS cannot guarantee that an application will receive a second review. Review by the second choice program is contingent upon the deadline and space availability for the second program.
  • Applicants will be able to view and opt for a second choice (if applicable) after selecting their first choice. Do not submit a second application.
  • Applicants must upload a separate Statement of Purpose and submit any extra supporting materials required for the second program. Transcripts, letters and test scores should only be submitted once. However, if your second program requires a writing sample, you are required to upload a second writing sample.

Check out the GSAS website for full application instructions.

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences requires applicants to submit at least two academic references. However we encourage you to define "academic" creatively. We understand that if you have been out of school for a while, it is highly possible your undergraduate professors will not be able to speak to this. We strongly advise against using a reference simply because they are "academic."

We want to know about the qualities that will make you a good, interesting, and QMSS-oriented student. This is what we mean by academic. Therefore, we accept references from sources other than academic professionals. Often, if you have been out of school for a while, relevant recommendations will be from colleagues, co-workers, supervisors, etc. However, be sure that they do tell us about you and your potential to be a student not just a professional.

Yes! QMSS is a designated "STEM program". Students and graduates are elligible for the OPT STEM extension. 

Yes. QMSS is designed to help both the full-time student and the working professional fulfill their educational goals. Part-time students usually finish the program within 2 to 2.5 years as compared to the traditional 9 month program.

Approximately a third to a half of our students do the program part-time and work full or part-time. The four required QMSS courses all have evening sections, and most other departments offer evening classes as well. We are a very flexible program, and would be happy to work with you in planning your overall schedule.

Students do not need to designate whether they intend to study part-time or full-time in their application, or until shortly before their first semester.

Here are two categories of students are required to maintain full-time status:

  1. International students studying on F-1 or J-1 visas can be in violation of their legal status if they fall below full-time enrollment.
  2. Students living in University housing will be asked to leave their housing if they fail to maintain full-time enrollment.

Many of our applicants have a strong social science background, but have only limited training in quantitative methodologies. Some students come to QMSS with strong numeracy skills but little social science experience. This is what makes the program so unique; the goal of QMSS is to improve your quantitative research skills from wherever you are now.

Students should have some exposure to statistics or higher-level analysis. The program needs to have some way to assess your ability to handle the quantitative course load at QMSS. If you have had no experience in maths and statistics, it will be very difficult for us to be able to determine this. Some students will take continuing education classes at accredited programs to demonstrate this. Or, some applicants have extensive quantitative components to their jobs that can demonstrate their capabilities. The GRE Quantitative portion is also a good way to demonstrate this aptitude.

Please contact the GSAS Admissions Office directly as they receive all materials before passing them along to us.

We do not have a set number of students we admit. Each year the number varies based on the strength of the applications. We evaluate each application carefully and completely before making this decision. We are a small program but have grown consistently each year as the number of quality applications has increased.

No, we only accept students for fall entry. QMSS carefully constructs cohorts that are diverse in perspective, experience, and interests which support and enhance the seminar based course structure of our program. Students entering at the same time then take courses together which enhances the quality of the courses and student learning. Therefore, we will only admit students in the fall so as to preserve the cohort effect.

QMSS is a terminal MA program which means that it does not feed directly into any other programs. This is a plus for our students as we are able to focus on them as Masters students without other distractions. Many of our students choose to continue on in their graduate study by applying to PhD programs; our students and alumni have a high rate of success as applicants.

 QMSS aims to provide applicants with responses by no later than the last week of April.

Please contact the ISSO Office

Mailing Address:
Columbia University
2960 Broadway, Code 5724
New York, N.Y.
Tel: (212) 854-3587
E-mail: [email protected]

Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except Wednesday, when the ISSO opens at 10:30 am.