The Columbia University Department of Computer Science invites applications from top-quality students to join its doctoral programs. The department hosts exciting projects in a growing number of research areas. The primary focus of the doctoral programs is research, with the philosophy that students learn best by doing - beginning as apprentices and becoming junior colleagues working with faculty on scholarly research projects. Thus every student must have an advisor throughout the program. Students normally arrange a research advisor (who will in most cases later become the thesis advisor) during the admissions process prior to enrollment, and work closely with him or her on directed research from their first day in the program. Students may have two or more joint advisors.
Coursework can be completed via CVN after which the doctoral candidate pursues research requirements as specified by the faculty advisor. Courses are selected with a focus on one of the areas in the department, such as network security, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, computer graphics, web technologies, robotics, databases and information systems, compilers, programming languages, software engineering, computational biology, algorithms and quantum computing.
Degree required for admission: Students admitted to the program must possess a master's degree in engineering, science, mathematics, computer science or other related field from an accredited academic institution. Applicants should have a strong academic record to be competitive for admission.
Applicants to the doctoral program must find a research advisor who would be willing to direct them for the research component of the degree before they apply. A listing of current faculty members and their research interests is available in the department's Faculty Research Guide. In order to facilitate finding an advisor, students can take courses as a non-degree student with a professor that specializes in their research interests.
Other application requirements: Three recommendation letters, transcripts, resume, and a personal-professional statement are required. TOEFL test scores are required of all students who received their bachelor's degree in a country where English is not the official and spoken language. All application requirements in the Graduate Application must be completed as specified in the application.
A student must obtain the master's degree (M.S.) before enrolling as a candidate for the Doctor of Engineering Science degree. Application for admission as a doctoral candidate may be made while a student is enrolled as a master's or professional degree candidate. The minimum requirement in coursework for the doctoral degree is 60 points of credit beyond the bachelor's degree. A master's degree from an accredited institution may be accepted in the form of advanced standing for 30 points of credit. Candidates can complete the required coursework via CVN.
Departmental requirements include a breadth requirement, a candidacy exam, the thesis proposal, and the dissertation and defense:
The breadth requirement includes distribution and electives. For distribution, the student must choose four 4000-level lecture courses cutting across the three major areas of computer science: theory, systems, and AI & applications. That is, one course in each area, plus one more course drawn from any of the areas. For this purpose, theory consists of all CS 42xx courses including CSOR 4231. Systems includes all CS 41xx courses except for 416x and 417x, and also includes CS 48xx courses, CS 4340 and CS 4444. AI & applications consists of all CS 47xx courses and also CS 416x and CS 417x. (Note: This organization is subject to change, but courses will always be accepted based on the student's date of entry into the program.)
For students who first enrolled in the doctoral program in Spring 2014 or earlier, the breadth requirement previously included a core -- instead of distribution -- and electives. The core consisted of four topics (analysis of algorithms, computer architecture, programming languages and translators, and operating systems), each of which may be satisfied by an examination or a specified course. These students may choose to complete the core, or switch to the new distribution requirement.
All students must also complete six elective topics approved by the advisor. Some or all of the electives may be waived on the basis of courses taken elsewhere, but the entire core or distribution must be fulfilled at Columbia. However, courses on the distribution list may be imported to serve as electives, in which case the student must take different courses from the distribution list. For students switching from the core to distribution, then courses previously considered core may now serve as electives.
The candidacy exam is an oral exam based on a syllabus prepared jointly by the student and his/her candidacy committee. Admission to candidacy (passing the exam) certifies that the student has demonstrated a depth of scholarship in the literature and the methods of the student's chosen area of research, and has demonstrated a facility with the scholarly skills of critical evaluation and verbal expression.
In the thesis proposal, the student lays out an intended course of research for the dissertation. By accepting the thesis proposal, the faculty agrees that the proposal is practicable and acceptable, that its plan and prospectus are satisfactory, and that the candidate is competent in the knowledge and techniques required, and formally recommends that the candidate proceed.
Thereafter, the student must write a dissertation embodying original research under the sponsorship of his or her advisor and submit it to the department. If the department recommends the dissertation for defense, the student applies for final examination, which is held before an examining committee appointed by the Dean. This application must be made at least three weeks before the date of the final examination. The defense of the dissertation constitutes the final test of the candidate's qualifications. It must be demonstrated that the candidate has made a contribution to knowledge in a chosen area. In content the dissertation should, therefore, be a distinctly original contribution in the selected field of study.
The typical doctoral student completes his/her breadth and candidacy requirements by the end of the third year enrolled, the thesis proposal by the end of the fourth year, and the dissertation during the sixth or seventh year.
Doctoral Research Instruction:
The following research requirements must be met by candidates for the Doctor of Engineering Science program:
Completion of Requirements:
The requirements for the Doctor of Engineering Science degree must be completed in no more than seven years. The seven-year time period begins at the time the student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree or a candidate for the professional degree, whichever occurs first, and extends to the date on which the dissertation defense is held.
Please note: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Once a completed application has been received it will be processed and given to the Admissions Committee for review. Applications will be considered for the next upcoming semester's admissions cycle. For example, an application received in February will be evaluated for the upcoming Summer semester. Only completed applications will be submitted to the Admissions Committee for review.
Please refer to the Requirements & Courses section of this degree program to determine what materials must be submitted with your application. Requirements vary slightly from department to department, so it is important to read this information carefully.
These application materials are designed to help individuals provide personal and academic information about themselves, which will be used to evaluate their candidacy for admission to graduate study in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. Applicants can assist the Graduate Admissions office in providing prompt feedback about their application status by not submitting extraneous information which has not been requested such as excessive numbers of recommendation letters, copies of abstracts and theses, videotapes and/or photographs of research work, and secondary school transcripts. The information below indicates what items are required for a complete application.
Please note: Students that begin their studies at Columbia University under non-matriculated status through CVN must continue to take all of their coursework through CVN. When applying for admission to a degree program, students must submit all of their application materials directly to Columbia Video Network for processing. Applications that are sent directly to the Office of Graduate Student Services or submitted online via the ApplyYourself Application form instead of CVN's forms will result in total forfeiture of all credits taken under non-matriculated status through CVN. All Columbia courses to be used towards a student's program must be completed via CVN. Also note that any student taking courses through the auspices of CVN can take on-campus courses solely under the administrative guidance of CVN with advisor approval. To enroll in an on-campus course, please send an email to:
If you have any questions, please contact the CVN Records Team at: (212) 854-6441.
Please make checks payable to Columbia Video Network, and mail all application materials to:
Columbia Video Network
Attn: Graduate Admissions
500 W 120th St
540 MUDD, MC: 4719
New York, NY 10027
Please keep a copy of all materials that you submit to CVN for your own records. CVN suggests that you submit your application materials by courier service in order to allow you to track shipments.
NOTE:In order to maintain accuracy of records, please provide the same name on your application that you have had as a CVN student. In case of any name change, please go ahead and contact the CVN office immediately to verify. Failure to update CVN could result in having an erroneous name on your graduation diploma. All admission enquiries should be submitted by email to email@example.com.
Please note that all tuition and fees are in U.S. dollars and are estimated. Tuition and most fees are prescribed by statute, and are subject to change at the discretion of the Trustees.
CVN Credit Tuition:$1782 per point (Credit Hour)
CVN Audit Tuition:$834 per point (Credit Hour)
CVN Fee:$395 per course
Transcript Fee:$105 non-refundable one-time fee
Graduate Admission Application Fee:$200 non-refundable one-time fee
Certification Program Application Fee:$150 non-refundable one-time fee
Late Registration Fee:$100 non-refundable fee
CVN Withdrawal Fee:$75, plus prorated tuition and all non-refundable fees
A three credit course would be $5346 + transcript fee $105(one-time) + CVN fee $395 = $5846