The Dissertation


The PhD dissertation is a research document that makes a significant and original contribution to existing knowledge in the discipline. While the precise form of the dissertation will vary by field, the dissertation's fundamental function as an element of doctoral training is to attest to the author’s capacity to produce novel scholarship independently according to the standards of a particular academic discipline. This is why the final requirement of the dissertation is for it to undergo an examination by a panel of scholars in the field who can ascertain the originality of the argument advanced as well as its adherence to the conventions of the discipline.

The Dissertation Office provides advanced doctoral candidates with dissertation guidelines and forms including the application to defend the dissertation and the final deposit and award of the PhD degree. The Dissertation Office also receives academic progress inquiries and applications for the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree.

Key Contacts

Dissertation Office
107 Low Library, MC 4304
535 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
[email protected]

Dissertation Toolkit

Guidelines & Resources

Dissertation Prospectus

The aim of the prospectus is to persuade a panel of scholars in the student’s field of the plausibility of the proposed research.


Faculty Advisor of the Dissertation

Students are responsible for finding a faculty member to guide dissertation research and to participate in dissertation defenses.


Dissertation Progress Meetings

Beginning in the semester after defending their prospectus, students will meet once each semester with their sponsor and at least one other faculty member to review and discuss their most current work.


Dissertation Dates and Deadlines

View dates and deadlines for MPhil students, distribution, dissertation deposit, and degree conferral.


Writing and Researching Your Dissertation

These guidelines will get you started and help you throughout the dissertating process.


Distribution, Defense, and Deposit of the Dissertation

Navigate the process with our ten-step guide.


Formatting Guidelines and Dissertation Template

A dissertation must be correctly formatted before it can be submitted for deposit.


Defending Your Dissertation

The information you will need to go about presenting, explaining, and defending your dissertation.


Fellowships & Awards

GSAS International Travel Awards

Travel Fellowships provide funding for international travel that is necessary for the completion of the dissertation.


Lindt Dissertation Fellowship

The Lindt Fellowship enables exceptionally well-qualified PhD candidates to complete their dissertations during the period of tenure.


Zuckerman Dissertation Fellowship

This fellowship is awarded to applicants whose proposals address core concerns in the history, philosophy, and/or sociology of science.


Bancroft Award

The Bancroft Awards were established by the Trustees of Columbia University to make possible the publication of up to two dissertations in the areas of American history (including biography), diplomacy, or international relations.


Salo and Jeanette Baron Dissertation Prize

This prize is awarded every four years to honor excellence in a dissertation in Jewish studies.