MA Registration

Registration at the Graduate School is a two-part process that consists of registering for individual courses and registering for Residence at the University. All students must complete BOTH parts of the registration process themselves.

    1. Course Registration

    Students register for courses through Student Services Online (SSOL). You may only register during your designated Registration Appointment times. A list of your Registration Appointments is available in SSOL. For general information regarding registration periods, see the Registration Dates page on the Registrar's website or the Academic Calendar.

    To register, you will need a course's five-digit call number, which is available in Vergil or the Directory of Classes. When registering, you should follow the guidelines and requirements of your department or program and consult with your advisor. Additionally, individual courses may be restricted to students in a particular program only, or may require completion of prerequisites and/or permission from the department or instructor; these and any other special instructions will be listed in the course entry.

    You may add or drop courses without penalty through the first two weeks of the semester, known as the Change of Program period. For more information, see the Registrar's website.

    Please note that your registration is not complete until you register for Residence at the University (see below). For more information on how Residence Units affect your tuition bill, please click here.

      2. Residence at the University

      In addition to registering for individual courses, students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are required to register for Residence at the University as follows.

      MA students must register for one of the following four categories each semester*. Search for the correct five-digit call number in the listings for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (listed under Departments) in the Directory of Classes, then register in SSOL (following the same process as in Step 1).

      • Full Residence Unit (RESI G0001, call number 99991) – a full “R.U.” is for students who will be taking four or more courses in a semester; additional tuition is charged per point if the student registers for more than 20 points per semester.
      • Half Residence Unit (RESI G0002, call number 99992) – a “0.5 R.U.” is for students who will be taking up to three courses in a semester.
      • Quarter Residence Unit (RESI G0003, call number 99993) – a “0.25 R.U.” is for students pursuing their degree part-time who will be taking one or two courses in a semester .
      • Extended Residence (EXRS G0001, call number 77771) – “E.R.” is for students who have already completed two full Residence Units.

      Please note that students holding a visa must register for either a full Residence Unit or for Extended Residence to maintain their visa status.  

      For more information about these registration categories, click here. Full, half, and quarter Residence Units are calculated on the basis of courses taken for a letter grade, Pass/Fail, or for R credit.

      Two Residence Units are required for the free-standing MA degree (with the exception of the programs listed below*).

      * Exception: Students entering the following free-standing MA programs in Fall 2016 or later register for a full or fractional Residence Unit following the rules above. Students who entered these programs in Spring 2016 or earlier do NOT register for Residence Units.

      • American Studies
      • European History, Politics and Society
      • Human Rights Studies 
      • Islamic Studies 
      • Jewish Studies 
      • Medieval and Renaissance Studies 
      • South Asian Studies
      Registration Policies

      Students must meet the University's immunization requirements. Students will not be able to register until the requirements have been fulfilled. To provide documentation and for more information about how to meet the requirements, please see the Columbia Health website.

      According to University regulations, each person whose registration has been completed will be considered a student of the University during the term for which he or she is registered unless the student’s connection with the University is officially severed by withdrawal or otherwise. No student registered in any school or college of the University shall at the same time be registered in any other school or college, either of Columbia University or of any other institution, with the exception of students participating in the Exchange Scholar Program or the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.

      The privileges of the University are not available to any student until he or she has completed registration. A student who is not officially registered for a University course may not attend the course. No student may register after the stated period unless he or she obtains the written consent of the appropriate dean or director.

      The University reserves the right to withhold the privilege of registration or any other University privilege from any person with an unpaid debt to the University.

      Continuous Registration Requirement

      Students in all degree programs are required to register in each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements have been completed or until the time-to-degree limit (as noted in the Satisfactory Academic Progress page) has been reached. Students are exempt from the requirement to register continuously only when granted an official Leave of Absence by the GSAS Office of Student Affairs.


      Students who register for a course offered by another school at the University are subject to the registration policies and procedures of that school.

        Course Numbering
        • 1000 and 2000
          These are undergraduate-level courses; typically but not always, 1000-level courses are general introductions to a broad field and 2000-level courses are introductions to an area or aspect within a broad disciplinary field.  Introductory and intermediate language courses are typically numbered at the 1000 level. 
        • 3000
          3000-level courses are advanced undergraduate courses, generally offered either in a seminar or lecture format. Courses at the 3000 level in language departments may involve the study of literature rather than practice in reading or speaking. 
        • 4000
          Generally, though not in all departments, graduate students and advanced undergraduates may register for 4000-level courses.
        • 6000 and higher
          These are graduate-level courses; some 8000- and 9000-level courses are reserved for PhD students only.