Fellowship Categories

The fellowship categories below describe the different types of awards available at the Graduate School. Questions about the assignment of GSAS awards should be directed to the director of graduate studies of the student’s program.

Time Commitment: Expectations and Limits

Funded doctoral students in Arts and Sciences programs who are appointed as student officers on fellowships with service responsibilities—Teaching Fellows, Preceptors, Research Fellows—may not spend more than twenty hours per week in the discharge of the responsibilities associated with their fellowship and those associated with any other activity within or outside Columbia for which they are compensated.

Students on fellowships with no service—typically, a Dean’s Fellowship or a Dissertation Fellowship—may spend up to ten hours per week on any other activity within or outside Columbia for which they are compensated.

Furthermore, during the school term, federal regulations prevent international students on F-1 visas from working more than twenty hours per week under all circumstances. During the summer, international students may work more than twenty hours per week.

Dean's Fellow (Year One)

Dean’s Fellowships are awarded to entering students. In the Humanities and Social Sciences, this award entails no service obligation in the first year, beyond satisfactory progress in study and research, and students are not permitted to hold student officer appointments (see below) or any other appointment. (However, those who enter with advanced standing may be expected to teach in their first year at Columbia.) In the Natural Sciences, a Dean’s Fellowship may include teaching or research obligations in the first year; those students will be appointed to the appropriate student officer category.

Dissertation Fellow (Year Four or Five)

Dissertation Fellowships are awarded only to Humanities and Social Science students who have successfully defended their prospectus and have had the MPhil degree conferred by May 31 of their fourth year (see Satisfactory Academic Progress) or of the year before which they wish to receive their Dissertation Fellowship. The fellowship supports such students as they research or write their dissertation. Dissertation Fellows must use this fellowship year to make significant progress by focusing exclusively on the dissertation, and are not permitted to hold student officer appointments (see below) or register for classes. However, students on the Dissertation Fellowship may work between five and ten hours a week at other paid pursuits, such as those of a research assistant or tutor on campus.

Students may postpone a Dissertation Fellowship only if they receive an outside award or a GSAS International Travel Fellowship in the year when they were to receive the Dissertation Fellowship (and "bank" that funding for future use).

Teaching Fellow (Years Two, Three, and Four)

A teaching fellowship is awarded to students who, as part of their academic requirement and training, perform duties ranging from reading and grading assignments to running discussion sections or labs, or teaching sections of undergraduate courses excluding Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization (see below). The expected time commitment for these duties can average about fifteen hours per week, but per university policy may not exceed twenty hours per week.


A preceptorship is a type of teaching fellowship awarded only by competitive application to students appointed to teach a section of Literature Humanities or Contemporary Civilization, full-year courses in the Columbia College Core Curriculum. This appointment is renewable for one year, but appointment to teach for a second year is contingent on satisfactory performance in the first year. Students may apply to be a preceptor only if they have or expect to have the MPhil by the May prior to being appointed as a preceptor, and if they will be in no more than their sixth year of registration during the first year of the preceptorship.  For additional information concerning the Core Curriculum, please see its website here

Research Fellow

A research fellowship is awarded to students who, as part of their academic requirement and training, assist a faculty member in the undertaking of a research project. The duties associated with research fellowships average fifteen to twenty hours per week. Research fellowships are most common in the natural and social sciences.

Graduate Research Assistant

A graduate research assistantship is awarded to students in the natural sciences departments who are supported on an external research grant, but who also require a fellowship for tuition and health fees from GSAS.