Nine-Year Policy for Time to the Doctoral Degree

GSAS doctoral students are expected to complete all requirements for the PhD or DMA degree in no more than seven years, beyond which they are no longer eligible for housing in Columbia Residential, nor for any additional funding from GSAS or the Arts and Sciences.

Despite the expectation of completing the PhD within seven years, doctoral students are nevertheless allowed up to nine years of continuous registration to satisfy all requirements for the doctoral degree, during which time they are required to maintain full-time status. (Official leaves of absence stop the clock.)

Due to the disruptive nature of COVID-19, we expect some students to ask for additional time beyond the nine years to complete the PhD. Any such appeal (detailed below) should include clear reference to the particular effects of the pandemic on the individual’s ability to conduct field or lab research, access archives, or otherwise complete work toward the PhD.

Students who do not complete all requirements for the doctoral degree by the end of the ninth year will no longer be considered to be GSAS doctoral degree candidates, and will be notified accordingly in writing by GSAS. Note that the ninth year ends on May 31. Students so notified may appeal this determination within thirty days of receipt of notification.

To appeal, students must do the following:

  1. Submit a letter to the Dean of GSAS that indicates all the steps that they will take, with a timetable, to distribute, defend, and deposit the dissertation in at most two additional semesters of candidacy.
  2. Submit to the sponsor all chapters and materials produced to date on the dissertation, as well as a copy of the timetable referenced above. After examining the materials, the sponsor should write a letter to GSAS that evaluates the materials received, and that endorses as feasible the timetable provided.

GSAS will review the request and determine either that a) the student be allowed to remain a degree candidate as a registered student for at most two additional semesters; or that b) the student not be allowed to continue as a degree candidate. There are no further possibilities of appeal beyond the Dean of GSAS. If the appeal is granted, but the student does not complete all requirements for the doctoral degree, including the deposit of the dissertation by the stipulated date, the student will no longer be considered to be a doctoral degree candidate by GSAS.

  • Students who have not registered continuously (and did not receive an official leave of absence) must reapply for admission in order to return to doctoral study.