Non-Degree Special Students and Visiting PhD Scholars

In select instances, students who are matriculated doctoral candidates at other institutions and who do not wish to enroll in a degree program may be permitted to register as non-degree special students.

Non-degree special student status is limited to a maximum of two terms and requires payment of tuition at either the Extended Residence rate (if enrolling in courses) or the Matriculation and Facilities rate (if conducting research only). Non-degree special students must register for courses at the 4000 level or higher and are not permitted to register for any undergraduate courses.

Non-degree special students and visiting scholars register only at the Graduate School, and are not eligible to participate as Columbia University students in other exchange or consortium agreements through the Graduate School. With the limited exception of students whose home institution has a partnership with GSAS (see "International Exchange Students" below), non-degree special students and visiting scholars are not eligible for fellowships or other financial aid from the Graduate School.

Post-baccalaureate applicants who are not doctoral degree candidates elsewhere, but who wish to take non-degree graduate-level courses at Columbia, should contact the School of Professional Studies at 203 Lewisohn Hall or (212) 854-9666.

Admissions Deadlines for Non-Degree Students

The following prior-season deadline dates are provided for reference only. Please check back in September to review updated deadline information and to access the 2024 application.

International Exchange Scholars

  • Spring 2024 Application Deadlines
    • Most programs: November 16, 2023
    • Ecole Polytechnique, EHESS, and Trilateral Agreement Applicants: November 1, 2023
  • Fall 2024 Application Deadlines
    • Most programs: April 24, 2024
    • Minzu STS Exchange: February 1, 2024

Special Student Non-Degree Applicants

  • Fall 2024 applications are due by April 24, 2024.

Please note: Non-degree applicants may not begin enrollment in the spring term; applications may be submitted for fall only.

Students applying through the Ivy Plus Exchange Scholar Program or from the Bard Graduate Center may be eligible for year-round admission. Those applying for the Ivy Plus program should submit the Ivy Plus Exchange Scholars application through their home institutions. Bard Graduate Center students should submit the Bard/Columbia Consortium form through our online consortium application, which may be found here.

Applying as a Non-Degree Student

Doctoral students from other institutions who wish to study at Columbia on a visiting basis should review the options below.

International students seeking doctoral degrees whose institutions participate in special exchange partnerships with Columbia GSAS may apply as International Exchange Scholars. Applicants offered admission through special exchange programs are eligible to take classes and/or conduct research at the Graduate School.

Please consult the exchange coordinator at your home institution for details about the partnership agreement between your institution and Columbia GSAS. Fellowship aid for any student admitted through an Exchange Scholar Program is strictly limited to the award described in the letter of admission.

The Exchange Scholar application should be submitted only if you are applying from one of the institutions/programs below and your home institution has officially selected you as an exchange participant.

To access the 2024 Exchange Scholar Application, please click here.

  • Alliance (Ecole Polytechnique, Sciences Po, Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne)
  • Ecole des Hautes en Science Sociales (EHESS)
  • Ecole du Louvre
  • Ecole Normale Superieure (Lyon or Paris)
  • Ecole Polytechnique
  • European University Institute
  • Freie Universitat - German Consortium
  • London School of Economics (Anthropology or History)
  • Minzu STS
  • Paris IV Sorbonne
  • Paris VII Diderot
  • Partnership PhD Mobility Program (London School of Economics, National University of Singapore, Sciences Po)
  • Sciences Po PhD Exchange Program
  • Trilateral Agreement (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Paris, Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at Freie Universitat Berlin)
  • Waseda University

Please note: Not all departments or programs at Columbia GSAS offer admission to International Exchange Scholars. Before beginning the application process, please coordinate your intended plan of study with both your home institution and the Columbia department to ascertain whether non-degree admission is possible and to confirm the availability of a GSAS faculty advisor.  

Doctoral students who are matriculated at institutions outside of the United States and who wish to take classes and/or conduct research at the Graduate School, but who do not wish to enroll in a degree program, may apply for non-degree special student status. 

Admission as a non-degree special student is offered by the Dean of the Graduate School in consultation with the faculty in the department with which the student hopes to study. Enrollment is limited to a maximum of two terms, during which non-degree special students may do the following:

  • Take classes for credit (and pay tuition at the Extended Residence rate), or conduct research under the formal guidance of a Columbia faculty member without taking classes (and pay tuition at the Matriculation and Facilities rate). Current tuition rates are available on the Cost of Attendance page.
  • Receive full student status, including an official statement of attendance at Columbia.

Please note: Not all departments or programs offer admission to non-degree special students. Before beginning the application process, prospective students should contact the department or program to ascertain whether non-degree admission is offered and if a faculty member is willing to serve as an advisor. Non-degree applicants may apply for fall term enrollment only; spring admission is not offered.

If your institution/program does not appear in the International Exchange Scholars section above and you wish to apply as a non-degree special student, please follow these instructions:

  • Apply using the regular GSAS MA/PhD application. Please check back later in September to access the 2024 application.
  • Select "Non-Degree" as the Primary Degree choice.
  • Select the department to which you are applying as the Primary Program choice.
  • Indicate your intention to take classes via the Yes/No questions that follow.

The following materials are required as part of your application:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Statement of purpose
  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Language proficiency exam scores, if your undergraduate degree was completed at an institution located in a country where English is not the official language. For more information, see the English Proficiency Requirement section.

Doctoral students who wish to visit the University to conduct independent research without formally enrolling in classes and without receiving formal guidance from Columbia faculty may apply for Visiting PhD Scholar status. The following conditions and limitations apply:

  • Visiting PhD Scholars should not submit the GSAS online application.
  • No tuition is charged.
  • Visiting PhD Scholars are not considered enrolled students and do not receive an official statement of attendance or grade transcript.
  • They do not receive university housing, administrative support, or other university services.
  • They may audit lecture courses only with the permission of the instructor.
  • This status is granted for up to one year.
  • They receive free reading privileges in the libraries and may have four-week borrowing privileges upon payment of a monthly fee to the libraries.
  • They may use the Physical Fitness Center and the university's other recreational facilities upon payment of a fee.

To apply for Visiting PhD Scholar status, interested individuals should contact the relevant department or institute of the University. Submit the following materials directly to that office:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Research proposal
  • Academic transcripts (note: please provide a notarized translation for any non-English transcript)
  • One letter of recommendation

Please note that departments can only accommodate a limited number of Visiting PhD Scholars, and will only invite a Visiting PhD Scholar after identifying a faculty member willing to serve as that Visiting PhD Scholar's contact. Departments that accept a Visiting PhD Scholar's application will issue a letter of invitation.

Doctoral students from the following graduate schools in the United States may take classes and/or conduct research at Columbia for one or two semesters, in order to take advantage of particular educational opportunities not available at their home institution. Please click here to access the application.

  • Brown
  • Cornell
  • Harvard
  • MIT
  • Princeton
  • Stanford
  • UC Berkeley
  • U of Chicago
  • U of Pennsylvania
  • Yale