Programs / Graduate

OLD Ph.D. Student Handbook (for students who entered the program before September of 2016)

Please follow this link to review the NEW LAIC Ph.D. Handbook

I. Academic program

1. Coursework

Students must complete satisfactorily a total of seventeen (17) course units, with a minimum grade of C+. Normally a student will take eight courses during the first year, six courses during the second year, and three courses in the third year. The third year will be devoted to two regular courses and one independent research course in which the student will prepare for the M.Phil. examinations (Spanish G9811, Supervised Individual Research). During the first two years students should take at least one course in each of the five broad periods of Hispanic culture, namely: Medieval, Early Modern Peninsular, Modern Peninsular, Colonial, and Modern Latin American. These required courses should be taken within the department. All seventeen courses must be taken for a letter grade. Courses beyond the required seventeen may be taken for a grade or “R” (Registered for the course; no qualitative grade assigned); but please note that some departments or professors may require their classes be taken for a qualitative grade.

Two courses are required of all students: Spanish G6000, Didactics of Spanish Language and Culture, and Spanish G9901, Graduate Seminar on Literary and Cultural Theory. Exemptions from these requirements will be made rarely and will be based on whether a student’s has taken an essentially similar course at the graduate level elsewhere.

The faculty recognizes that some students may need to supplement their studies with courses in other departments and programs. No more than four courses, however, may be taken outside the department, and those only with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students may not take courses outside the department during their first year in the graduate program, except in unusual circumstances, and then with the approval of the DGS.

New and continuing students should meet with the DGS each semester to discuss course selections for the coming term. New students meet with the DGS during orientation in late August. Continuing students meet with the DGS during pre-registration. Anticipated dates of registration are listed in the GSAS registration schedule. To view course information visit the GSAS Schedule of Classes.

After selecting courses, discussing their choices with the DGS, and obtaining course approval, students may register for classes. PINs (Personal Identification Number) and assigned registration times are distributed prior to registration and can be accessed through Student Services Online (SSOL). For more detailed registration information see the GSAS Registration web page. Registering in courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium requires an application and consultation with the DGS.

A typical program of courses during the first three years of graduate work resembles the following:

Table 1

2. Independent study in lieu of coursework

Independent studies are usually intended to prepare the reading lists for the exams. Otherwise, they will be reserved for those special cases in which a student needs directed reading in an area not covered regularly in coursework. Students may not take more than one independent study per semester, usually in the third year and never in the first. The total number of independent studies throughout a student’s graduate career normally may not exceed two. Students should get the approval of the DGS before making definitive arrangements with an individual professor to undertake an independent study. It is expected that an independent study will involve a syllabus, written assignments, and a final letter grade. A student who has been approved to engage in independent study should register for Spanish G9811, “Supervised Individual Research.”

3. Credit for graduate work done elsewhere

The number of credits received by an incoming student for work done elsewhere may not exceed six courses and will be determined on an ad-hoc basis. The fulfillment of requirements of the Ph.D. Program will be taken into consideration when awarding credit to a student for courses taken elsewhere. That is, a student may receive credit for graduate coursework done at another institution in the terms specified by the GSAS, excluding the departmental requirements, which must be satisfied by coursework pursued at Columbia. For more detailed information about GSAS Policy regarding credit for graduate work done elsewhere students should consult the GSAS web page on Advanced Standing for Ph.D. students.

4. Final exams and papers for graduate courses

In order to allow students adequate time to research and write the papers required by their courses, students will write two papers per semester during the first two years (and one per semester in the third year) and they will choose the courses for which they will write them. For the remaining course(s) the students will take an examination as the final exercise for the course—usually a take-home exercise to be completed and returned to the professor within 24-48 hours. Professor and students in each class should work out mutually convenient dates for undertaking the exercise.

Toward the middle of the semester students will be asked by the DGS to decide for which courses they will write papers and for which they will take exams. The DGS will gather and forward this information to individual instructors. Final exams should take place soon after the end of classes, and in any case before the end of the university’s final exam period; papers will be due around a month after the end of classes, on a date announced to both students and instructors by the DGS.

Instructors should assign a final grade to students who have opted to take a final exam by the university deadline announced by the Registrar for the semester in question. Students who have opted to write a final paper should be assigned a grade of IN(COMPLETE) by the same deadline. Both of these operations are done via SSOL‘s “Web Grading” feature. Final grades to replace the provisional grade of IN will be due one month after the deadline for receipt of papers announced by the DGS (see above). Instructors must request a “Change of Grade Form” from the office staff and complete it to assign the final grade.

Students who have chosen to write papers as final requirements for courses will submit their papers both to the professor and to the Director of Academic Administration via e-mail ( by the announced due date.

5. Late work and incomplete grades

Late work: Any student who does not comply with the announced deadlines for exams and papers will have the grade for the written exercise in question lowered. Exceptions will only be made in the case of a medical emergency. For the sake of equity students cannot make (and instructors will not agree to) unilateral arrangements with their professors regarding the timetable for submission of final exams or papers, except in medical emergencies.

Incomplete grades: Incomplete grades may not be carried from semester to semester, except in emergency circumstances. Students who have completed all work for a course and have not received a final grade for the course one month after the due date of the final paper are urged to notify the DGS and the DAA as soon as possible. Incomplete grades that are not removed by the submission of a qualitative grade by the instructor within one year will be changed to a final grade of “F” by the GSAS.

6. Language requirements

Students must acquire reading ability in two foreign languages appropriate to his or her prospective field of specialization. The choice of languages will be made upon consultation with the DGS; but students who are planning to specialize in Spanish American culture should choose Portuguese as one of their languages. The requirement is typically satisfied by passing a reading-proficiency examination administered by the relevant department. The language requirement may also be fulfilled by passing a one-semester course in the chosen language with a minimum grade of B+. At least one language exam must be completed by the end of first year in the program, and both should have been taken by the end of the second year. Students must pass one of the language requirements during the first year in order to be eligible to receive the Master’s degree. Students will not be allowed to sit for their M.Phil. oral prospectus examination (see below) until all language requirements have been met.

The links below show proficiency exam dates and registration information for some departments:

It is essential that all graduates of the department have a strong command of both Spanish and English. Native speakers of one language who need to improve their skills in the other are expected to do so speedily and professionally. The university sponsors free courses in English, and there are funds available to allow students to perfect their command of Spanish during the summer months. All incoming students should be certain that their Spanish and English skills are satisfactory by the end of their first year in the program. The faculty may recommend that students seek directed assistance in academic writing in English within the university, and conversely, encourage students to improve their Spanish language skills abroad.

7. Master’s evaluation

In order to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must pass a qualifying Master’s evaluation. First-year students will meet with the DGS soon after the completion of the first semester to receive an evaluation of their performance. At the end of the student’s first year, the faculty will evaluate all aspects of his or her performance during the year, namely: all written assignments completed for courses (exams and papers); grades; and contribution to class discussion. Students must pass one of the language requirements during the first year in order to be eligible to receive the Master’s degree.

After all the evidence is considered by the graduate faculty, the student will be informed that he or she has:

—passed the evaluation and is invited to continue studies toward the doctorate. If all GSAS and departmental requirements have been met, the student will be awarded a Master’s degree in the fall of the second year.

—passed the evaluation yet is not allowed to continue on to the Ph.D. The student would then be eligible for the one-year terminal Master’s degree. A student who is judged eligible for a terminal Master’s degree will need to complete all first-year course work successfully and prove proficiency in one language, after which he or she will be recommended to the GSAS to receive a terminal Master’s degree at the next possible date.

—failed the evaluation and will be asked to withdraw from the program at the end of the first year.

Students must apply themselves to the Registrar’s Office for award of the M.A. degree.

8. Annual evaluation of students

At the end of each academic year the faculty reviews the progress of each student (see above for the first-year evaluation). The faculty closely monitors the students’ scholarly and professional development, particularly during the crucial first two years. Among the items covered during this review are the following: quality of written material, performance in class, grades, teaching performance, and due progress toward the degree. Because the faculty does not wish to encourage any student who may not be able to complete the degree with distinction, any student who has generally performed below expectations may be placed on departmental probation or be asked to withdraw from the program.

Students should speak to the DGS if they encounter difficulties with any aspect of their graduate career or have problems of a personal nature that may impact their academic performance.

9. Annual progress reports

Beginning in the spring semester of their second year, a student must submit each spring the “Report on Progress in Candidacy” online at Student Services Online (SSOL). Until a student chooses a dissertation adviser, at any point after the first year, but always before the prospectus defense, the DGS is the sponsor of record. The sponsor reviews the student’s report, determines whether the student is making satisfactory progress, and reports this evaluation of progress to the GSAS via SSOL. Students have access to the online report from mid-January through mid-March; faculty have access until mid-April. Specific deadlines can be found on SSOL.

10. The Residence Unit (RU) and other registration categories

Residence Unit (RU): The Residence Unit is a full-time registration category for one semester (whether or not the student is taking courses), which provides the basis for tuition charges. Six Residence Units—including the two for the M.A. degree—are required for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees.

Extended Residence (ER): After completing six Residence Units, students are required to register for Extended Residence in any term in which they are holding a university teaching appointment, they are taking a class, or completing a degree requirement other than the dissertation defense.

Matriculation and Facilities (M&F): Advanced students who are neither holding a university teaching appointment nor completing a degree requirement can satisfy the continuous registration requirement (see Continuous Registration) by registering for “Matriculation and Facilities” (M&F), which allows them to make use of various university facilities. M&F is the correct registration status for a student writing or defending the dissertation. Students may not register part time.

Students who are not on a teaching appointment at Columbia and who are finished with their M.Phil. degree requirements (for instance, while holding a Dissertation Writing Fellowship) should register for M&F status. Post 8th-year students who have not finished their dissertation register for M&F status. Students will not be allowed to register beyond the 9th year unless there are special circumstances.

11. The M.Phil.

The M.Phil. consists of three parts: two written examinations on the student’s field of specialization and an oral examination of the student’s dissertation prospectus. The two written examinations are based on the works included in two reading lists that are prepared by the student in consultation with faculty members as part of the independent study for which students register in the third year. The lists should be prepared and their related exams should be taken during the third year of study. The oral examination of the prospectus will take place no later than the end of the fourth year.

The written examinations

For the first list, the student will choose a broad period or area and will compose a comprehensive list of primary, critical, and theoretical works pertaining to it in consultation with two members of the department’s faculty. Examples of possible areas and periods are: Colonial Culture, the Caribbean, Theater of the Early Modern period, post-Civil War Spanish culture, etc. The intention of this list is to allow students to read widely in the chosen period or area in order to acquire a sense of its critical boundaries, main problems, and the critical discourse on it in order to contextualize their future work. The first list should consist of no fewer than 75 items.

The second list will be a more focused list of primary, critical, and theoretical works within the period studied in the first list. Ideally, for the second list students will have narrowed their interest to the broad outline of their dissertation topic. The second list should consist of no fewer than 30 items.

The examinations are based on the works included in the two lists, and will adhere to the following guidelines:

1. written in Spanish and on a computer

2. sent via email by the DAA on a Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. and emailed to the DAA and DGS by 5:00 p.m. the following Monday

3. student may consult whatever sources he or she may deem necessary

4. exams will consist of four questions, among which students will choose and answer three

5. answers should be comprehensive yet concise—between 15 and 20 pages in length each

The DGS will request questions for possible inclusion in the exams from the two members with whom the student has worked to formulate the reading lists. Copies of the completed exams will be distributed to the two faculty members involved, who will send comments to the DGS evaluating the student’s performance within two weeks. The DGS will provide the student with a synopsis of these comments. Professors will provide comments and feedback to the students as well. Before being allowed to proceed to the oral examination, a student may be asked to retake any section of the written exams if any aspect of the first effort is judged unsatisfactory. The two faculty members will go on to serve in the student’s dissertation reading committee.

The oral prospectus defense

Upon successful completion of the written examinations, the student will choose a dissertation sponsor if he or she has not done so previously. Students are encouraged to consult with the DGS regarding this choice. The student should approach a member of the graduate faculty with a tentative topic for the dissertation. The faculty member approached has the option of deciding whether to undertake the project. Once a sponsor has been secured, the student will proceed to draft the dissertation prospectus. The prospectus is a 15-20 page document with an appended bibliography. It begins with a narrative section that explains in detail the proposed thesis topic, the critical and theoretical instruments used to approach it, and the existing scholarship on the subject, followed by an overarching plan for its development in the form of a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Students should consult with the DGS if in doubt about the formal aspects of the prospectus.

The prospectus is prepared in consultation with the sponsor who, in turn, determines when the document is ready to proceed to its defense. The sponsor becomes the third member of the M.Phil. prospectus examination committee unless he or she was already involved in the preparation of the student’s reading lists. In such cases, the third member will be chosen by the DGS in consultation with the sponsor and the student. Students are encouraged to seek advice and guidance from all members of the examination committee while preparing the dissertation prospectus.

The oral examination of the prospectus consists of a two-hour oral exercise in which the student defends the prospectus before the prospectus defense committee. The date of the oral examination is determined in consultation with the DGS, who will make the necessary arrangements for the defense to take place. The student will distribute copies of the prospectus to the members of the examination committee at least two weeks before the scheduled date of the oral examination. The student will receive written comments from the members of the committee at least 48 hours before the exam. At the end of the oral examination, the student will step outside, and the three members of the exam committee will determine the overall outcome of the examination, which should reflect the student’s performance in both the written exams and the oral defense of the prospectus. The members of the defense committee will vote formally on whether to approve the project and whether to recommend the student for receipt of the M.Phil. degree. Successful completion of the M.Phil. examination means that the committee approves the project and recommends that the GSAS grant the student the M.Phil. degree. The student’s status at that point will be ABD (All But Dissertation). The examination committee may also decide to grant the M.Phil. as a terminal degree.

12. Dissertation

Upon approval of the prospectus, the student will embark on the preparation of the dissertation. Students are encouraged to consult and share their work with the three members of the dissertation committee as they advance toward completion of the dissertation. The GSAS requires that all dissertations be written in English. Students who wish to write the dissertation in Spanish must request permission to do so from the GSAS. (See applicable regulations in the GSAS site.) Such requests are routinely granted.

Typically, the student applies for a Dissertation Writing Fellowship (DWF) for the next year, his or her fifth in the program.

13. Dissertation defense application and registration

Dissertation defense application

Once the final draft of the dissertation is completed and approved by both the sponsor and at least one of the readers, the student will submit an Application for Dissertation Defense form to the Director of Graduate Studies at least eight weeks in advance of the anticipated date of defense. The DGS will appoint the two outside members of the defense committee in consultation with the sponsor (See the GSAS dissertation timeline for application and distribution deadlines associated with a particular conferral date.) Either the DGS or DAA is responsible for scheduling dissertation defenses; students do not schedule their own defenses. Scheduling of the defense takes place soon after the proposed defense committee has been approved by the Dean of the GSAS, and after copies of the dissertation have been distributed to members of the defense committee. The student is responsible for distributing copies of the dissertation at least four weeks before the defense is to take place, and for notifying the DAA when all members have received their copies. Notification of distribution is critical to the scheduling of the defense date. The candidate will be given all materials necessary to complete the deposit of the dissertation with the GSAS Dissertation Office at the defense. The Dissertation Office web site has more information about this final step.

Present at the defense will be: the student, the sponsor, the two other internal members of the dissertation committee, and the two external readers. The chair of the defense committee, previously appointed by the Dean of the GSAS, will serve as moderator for the proceedings. The defense will begin with a short (20-25 minute) presentation by the student. Afterward, the members of the committee may direct questions or comments to the candidate in turn. At the end of the exercise the student will step outside, and the five members of the defense committee will vote formally on whether to recommend the dissertation to the GSAS for approval and for any other notations of distinction in the manner described by the GSAS. If the vote is positive, the student will proceed to prepare the final version for deposit with the GSAS Dissertation Office, making sure to incorporate any emendations suggested by the members of the defense committee during the proceedings. If the vote is negative, the student will not be recommended to the Graduate School for receipt of the doctoral degree.

Dissertation registration

All students must be registered during the term (including summer) in which they distribute the defense copies of the dissertation. Filing early in the semester is recommended to ensure approval of the defense committee before the deadlines. Provided that all required Residence Units are paid, students who are distributing and/or defending must register for either M&F or ER. Students who are defending while on teaching or research appointments, or who are also completing pre-dissertation degree requirements register for ER; all others should register for M&F. These rules apply to the summer as well as to the fall and spring semesters.

If students who are U.S. citizens distribute any time between the first day of the fall semester and the day before the start of the spring semester, their final registration is in the fall semester.

If students who are U.S. citizens distribute any time between the start of the spring semester and the day before the start of summer session, their final registration is in the spring.

If students who are U.S. citizens distribute any time between the start of summer session and the day before the start of the fall semester, their final registration is in the summer.

International students in F-1 or J-1 status must consult with the International Students and Scholars Office regarding their registration requirements.

For more information, see the Registration and Application for Ph.D. Defense site.

14. Graduation

The deposit, and not the defense, is the final requirement for the Ph.D. and professional degrees. After the successful defense and complete deposit of the dissertation, the degree is awarded on the next subsequent conferral date, in October, February or May of each year. Students must clear all outstanding accounts in order to receive their degree. See the GSAS site for more information on the Award of the Degree.

The table below summarizes the expectations and deadlines of a typical graduate career in the department:

Table 2

15. General expectations

Awareness of requirements: All students must be familiar with theGSAS rules and guidelines as explained on the GSAS web site and in the GSAS handbook. Students should pay special attention to information regarding registration and the submission of material for degree-granting dates. It is not the responsibility of the DGS, the Chair of the department, the student’s dissertation sponsor, or the departmental staff to ensure a student’s compliance with official GSAS regulations. Exceptions and/or exemptions from any of the department or the GSAS requirements or schedules are granted, if at all, with reluctance and after consultation with and/or written request to the appropriate officer. Students should consult with the DGS as early as possible with any question concerning requirements, overall progress toward the degree, deadlines, etc.

Teaching opportunities and responsibilities: Graduate students have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses in Spanish language and Hispanic culture, in preparation for which they attend teacher training seminars and workshops sponsored by the department. Students teach during the second, third, and fourth years in the Program. Teaching assignments are determined by the department with a view to giving students wide pedagogical experience. Students can also apply to become Columbia College Core Preceptors after they have fulfilled all requirements for the M.Phil. The Office of the Core sends a general request for applications annually to all graduate students.

Students are expected to perform their teaching responsibilities professionally and judiciously, including attendance to meetings, following directions from the language or section coordinator, and other related tasks. A student’s pedagogical performance is assessed as part of the yearly evaluation of the graduate cohort. Any student who experiences difficulties related to teaching should seek help immediately from the appropriate source. For more information on teaching responsibilities see the GSAS Graduate Student Teaching Guidelines.

The GSAS Teaching Center offers an extensive list of resources. All students are encouraged to create a teaching portfolio from the beginning of their teaching career, as described in the GSAS document Preparation for an Academic Career.

Time to degree: The GSAS will not allow a department to fund a student for an eighth year in the program. Dissertations must be defended within ten years of the student’s first matriculation in the GSAS.

Updating personal information: If a student’s permanent or local address changes he or she should notify the DAA. Students may update their name and address information through Student Services Online (SSOL). All foreign students must be sure that the main office has on record a copy of their current visa. If a student’s visa expires, the student should submit a copy of the renewed visa to the DAA as soon as possible.

II. Financial matters

1. Fellowships

Fellowships are awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences through individual departments on the basis of demonstrated academic merit, in recognition of current academic achievement, and in expectation of further scholarly success. Fellowship recipients are subject to the GSAS rules and regulations.

Fellowship awards provide full tuition, 9 month stipend, basic health and insurance fees available through the University, on a yearly basis. Students are responsible for all other fees such as the student activity fee, one time transcript fee, international and University facilities fee, on a yearly basis.

Students are typically offered on admission a five-year award that combines fellowships and teaching assistantships. Normally students hold a Graduate Fellowship during year one (no teaching responsibilities) and a teaching assistantship in years two through four. In year five the student holds a Dissertation Writing Fellowship (DWF), which carries no teaching duties.

All GSAS fellows, except those with specific research fellowships that require them to be away from campus, must register during the registration period indicated in the GSAS Academic Calendar and must reside in New York City or its vicinity during the term of their award in order to devote their full attention to their academic studies.

U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents who are recipients of fellowship awards that include teaching or research responsibilities are required to complete the financial aid forms for the federal aid programs. Students must submit the Columbia University Application for Loan and/or Federal Work-Study and must have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The financial information contained in these documents will NOT alter the amount of the fellowship award from GSAS. For more information on fellowships see the GSAS Fellowship Information web page.

2. Stipend disbursement

An email notification will be sent when stipend checks are ready to be picked up. Students must be registered and are required to show a valid CUID card to do so. U.S. citizens or permanent residents may sign up for direct deposit via SSOL or pick up stipend checks at the Cashier at 210 Kent Hall. Stipends are processed as follows for GSAS students:

Students without teaching or research responsibilities will receive 2 stipend checks over the academic year, in September and January.

Students who are appointed Teaching Fellow or Research Fellow will receive one third of their stipend in September and one third in January. The remaining one third of the stipend will be distributed as 18 bimonthly checks (September through May) that will be either directly deposited or sent to the department. All checks received in the department will be held at the front office.

3. Other types of financial aid

Departmental funds to sponsor participation in academic conferences: The Department awards funds competitively on a yearly basis to students who are invited to deliver a paper in a scholarly conference. Only one request will be considered per student per year, and never in the first year; furthermore, a student may receive funding a maximum of twice in his or her graduate career. Funds will not be granted for participation in graduate student conferences.

Department deadlines are as follows: by November 1st (for a fall conference) or April 1st (for a spring or summer event) a student should submit a brief request in writing to the DGS accompanied by official information about the conference (a web site address or printed publicity), a copy of the abstract submitted to the conference organizers, the message indicating acceptance of the proposed paper, and a detailed budget of estimated travel expenses. The maximum amount of a departmental travel grant is $500. He or she should apply simultaneously for the GSAS Matching Travel Fund subvention, which grants a maximum of $250 toward conference expenses. This award is not guaranteed, and requests are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon return to campus, the student should present all original receipts to the Financial Assistant at LAIC, along with the notification of award of a travel subvention by the GSAS, if applicable.

Funds for summer study and/or research abroad: GSAS guarantees summer funding awards of approximately $3,000 to Ph.D. students for short-term research abroad, for enrollment in summer academic programs, or to advance in meeting program requirements while remaining in New York during the summer months.

FLAS awards and other available fellowships: FLAS awards are available for students planning to study languages pertinent to their field of research. For more information about FLAS awards see the FLAS web page. For available fellowships, applications, and deadlines see the GSAS Fellowship web page. The GSAS maintains a searchable database of fellowships and grants available to Columbia graduate students. See also the Graduate Fellowship Notebook, an extensive electronic database of national fellowships hosted and maintained by Cornell University.

Teaching during the Summer Term: There is a limited number of language courses taught on campus during the Summer Term sponsored by Columbia’s School of Continuing Education. Students must be in good standing in the program to be considered as summer instructors, and they must be at least in their second year in the program when they apply. Priority for staffing these courses is determined as follows:

  • graduate students who have not yet taught in summer school, in order of seniority (i.e., starting with fifth-year students, then fourth-year, etc.)
  • graduate students who have taught once in summer school, again in order of seniority
  • graduate students who have taught twice in summer school, etc.
  • if sections to be staffed remain they will be assigned to lecturers at the discretion of the Director of the Language Program
  • no one individual will be assigned to teach more than one course unit (and this in separate sessions if at all) unless the entire priority list has been exhausted.

Summer teaching is not an entitlement; in other words, pedagogical performance by the student in all previous teaching opportunities during the academic year and/or summer term will be factored into the determination of teaching assignments for the summer session.

The Director of the Spanish Language Program will send during the previous fall semester a general call to all students to inquire about their willingness to engage in teaching during the summer.

4. Taxation issues

U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents: Income tax is not withheld on fellowship stipends paid to U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. However, all grant aid (scholarships, fellowships) that exceeds the cost of tuition and required fees, books and related classroom expenses is subject to U.S. income tax. Also subject to tax are any amounts received representing payments for teaching and research. The Controller’s Office at Columbia withholds income tax amounts earned through research or teaching appointments. W-2 forms will be issued for amounts earned and withheld for research or teaching appointments only. The student is responsible for accurately reporting stipend amounts and for making estimated tax payments if appropriate.

International students: Financial aid received by international students is subject to U.S. income tax. Income taxes for international students are withheld from university payments for teaching and research in the humanities and the social sciences. Fellowships awarded to international students are subject to taxation and 14% federal withholding on the amount in excess of tuition and fees. International students should receive the 1042-S form as tax documentation for their fellowship.

The United States has tax treaties or agreements with roughly 40 countries and territories under which their citizens may be exempt from all or part of U.S. income tax. Treaties are negotiated for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital. Treaties vary from country to country, and tax exemption may vary based on an individual’s status (student, professor, etc.) and the number of years that individual has been in the U.S. For more information about tax treaties see the Department Treasury’s Publication #901, United States Tax Treaties.

Please contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for further information.

III. Facilities

1. Graduate student lounge

The graduate student lounge is located in room 07. The room contains several laptops, a networked laser printer, a scanner, telephone, and work and seating areas. Lockers are located in the basement hallway near the TF office.

2. TF office

One office is available for shared use by teaching fellows: B06A. The office includes desk space, computer equipment, bookshelves, and a filing cabinet.

The TF office is meant only for holding office hours according to the schedule of office hours composed at the beginning of each semester. This office should not be used as work or study space apart from office hours; the graduate lounge should be used instead for these purposes. Please do not use this office to hold appointments with students being tutored privately.

3. Kitchen

The kitchen is located on the second floor.

4. Supplies

Please ask a member of the departmental office staff if you need teaching supplies or if supplies are needed for the graduate lounge. Students who are applying for academic positions may ask for a supply of departmental letterhead and envelopes for their job applications.

5. Mail

The outgoing mailbox in the main office may be used by graduate students to send off-campus mail related to their academic studies. Students should make sure to put stamps on all off-campus mail and should not use the outgoing mailbox for personal mail. Students applying for academic positions may mail up to 20 job applications through the department free of charge. Campus mail does not require postage; please ask the staff for an intramural envelope for such mailings.

Students who go abroad for the academic year or who leave campus for an extended period of time should inform the office staff of their forwarding address.

6. Photocopier

A multi-function photocopier is located in the departmental office. Graduate students have an allowance of 800 copies per year.

7. Telephones

There is a telephone in the graduate student lounge from which students can make local calls. The telephones in the main office are reserved for departmental use.

8. Fax machine

The fax machine in the main office may be used for local numbers and to receive faxes from any source. Please see the office staff for assistance with the fax machine. The fax machine line number is (212) 854-5322.

9. Building access

Regular hours for the Casa Hispánica are from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Full-time students enjoy 24-hour access to Casa Hispánica with their Columbia University ID cards.

10. Assignment of carrels in Butler Library

Carrel space available to graduate students in Butler Library is extremely limited; hence, only students who are in need of using library resources and who are sure that their work habits will adapt effectively to the carrel situation should consider applying.

The GSAS has provided a basic set of requirements for awarding carrels, and has further requested that departments develop criteria for assigning them on a yearly basis. The GSAS guidelines are as follows:

  • Students must have earned the M.Phil.
  • The department must support the students’ application.
  • Students must be within six years of first date of registration in the Ph.D. program, and must have submitted an approved academic progress form to the GSAS during the current academic year through SSOL.
  • Students must claim carrel space granted to them in 201 Butler Library. The space will be reassigned to another student if unclaimed after a month.

Toward the end of the spring semester, the DGS will make a call for proposals for carrel space for the following year. Students who meet the above criteria and who wish to apply for a carrel assignment must write a brief proposal to the DGS detailing the work to be accomplished during the period of award and the reasons for needing carrel space. The following criteria will determine the department’s recommendation to the GSAS on the assignment of available carrel space:

  • Carrels will be assigned for a period of two years.
  • Priority will be given to students who will have a Dissertation Writing Fellowship (DWF) during the year of award.
  • If any carrels are left, they will be offered to students who have already held a DWF—first to students who have not been assigned a carrel previously, and then to students who have had a carrel previously and who show in their proposal that they are close to finishing their dissertation.
  • If any carrels are left, they will be awarded among applicants who have passed their M.Phil. but who have not yet held a DWF, and based on a student’s demonstrable need as explained in the proposal.

IV. Resources

1. Dossier service

As of September 4, 2007, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Career Education began using a new dossier service vendor: Interfolio. All credentials and letters related to the search process will be handled henceforth by this outfit. You must open an account online with Interfolio; referees can either upload online or mail their letters of recommendation to the service.

To assist in learning how to use this new service, the Center for Career Education has created an Interfolio “Dossier Tip Sheet” that provides both an overview of the features available through Interfolio and step-by-step instructions for using the system. This information can be found on the Center for Career Education website. Interfolio’s website contains further information.

2. Columbia resources and forms for graduate students

Columbia resources

3. Library research

4. Professional resources

5. Important telephone numbersTo contact the New York City Police/Fire Department or Ambulance Service, dial: 911

  • Main Office of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures  (212) 854-4187
  • Director of Administration | Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures  (212) 854-8661
  • Office of Student Affairs | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:  (212) 854-4932
  • Office of Financial Aid | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:  (212) 854-3808
  • Columbia Health
  • Counseling and Psychological Services  (212) 854-2878
  • Department of Public Safety: for a security, fire or medical emergency Morningside  99 ; off campus  (212) 854-5555
  • Medical Center: On campus  7-7979 ; off campus  (212) 305-8100

Program contacts


Director of Graduate Studies (DGS):

Director of Academic Administration:

Last Updated 4 years ago