Programs / Graduate

Ph.D. Student Handbook | 2017-2018

Please follow this link to review the OLD LAIC Ph.D. Handbook (for students who entered the program before 2016)

I . Academic program

1. Coursework

Students must complete satisfactorily a total of sixteen (16) 6000-level course units, with a minimum grade of B, for a total of 60-64 credits.1  Normally a student will complete 32 credits during the first year, 24 credits during the second year, and 8 credits in the third year. The third year will be devoted to a research workshop (4 credits) and one independent research study (SPAN GR9811: 4 credits), in which the student will prepare for the M.Phil. essay.

To ensure a combination of breadth and depth, during the first two years students should take courses in most of the areas available in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. Areas of study are defined in each faculty profile: All sixteen courses must be taken for a letter grade (not P/F). Each student may opt to enroll in one 4000-level course toward the doctoral degree, upon approval of the DGS. Courses beyond the required sixteen may be taken for a grade or “R” (Registered for the course; no qualitative grade assigned).

Three yearlong workshop series are required of all students in the first two years:


1. Research and Professional Development (SPAN GR6100: 4 credits)

2. Lecture Series (SPAN GR9045: 4 credits) 2


3. A pedagogical seminar and a yearlong series of applied pedagogy workshops (SPAN GR6000: 8 credits)

The Research and Professional Development workshop series (SPAN GR6100) will focus on research strategies and will provide students tools and resources to work with archival materials and to plan their research inquiries. These workshops will also offer guidance on how to draft seminar papers, essays, articles, and a research proposal. The workshops will foster the professional growth of students, introducing them to the world of academic journals, to professional associations, and to general resources that may facilitate or enhance their research. All workshop sessions will be required of all students and will be coordinated by the Director of Graduate Studies, who will invite specialists to address each of the different topics proposed.

The fall series on Research and Professional Development will include sessions on: introduction to research, library resources, Digital Humanities, New York City resources, summer research, grants and fellowships, and professional associations. The spring series will address questions of academic writing, such as seminar papers and abstracts, how to write a paper for a conference, and how seminar papers become publishable journal articles, among other topics.

The Lecture Series (SPAN GR9045) will require that students participate actively in the guest lectures and workshops that the department sponsors throughout the academic year. Students must attend each lecture and will fulfill various roles throughout the year: they will introduce guest speakers, coordinate panels, serve as discussants, or moderate debates following lectures and presentations. This series will train students to assume different professional roles. The workshop component of the Lecture Series, also required of all students in the program, will be led by the series coordinator along with the relevant event’s organizer, who will engage every first-year student as a collaborator in a particular role.

The faculty recognizes that students may need to supplement their studies with courses in other departments and programs. A total of four 6000-level courses may be taken outside the department with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). During their first year in the Ph.D. program, students may not take any of the six required courses outside the department, except in unusual circumstances, and then with the approval of the DGS. Courses beyond the sixteen seminars required for the doctoral degree may be taken within or outside the department. Courses outside Columbia University (IUDC) cannot be taken within the first year.

New and continuing students should meet with the DGS each semester to discuss course selections for the following term. New students meet with the DGS during orientation in early September. Continuing students meet with the DGS during pre-registration. Anticipated dates of registration are listed in the GSAS registration schedule.

After selecting courses, discussing their choices with the DGS, and obtaining course approval, students may register for classes through Student Services Online (SSOL). For more detailed registration information, refer to the GSAS Registration page. Registering in courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium requires a registration form and consultation with the DGS.

The expectations of a typical graduate career in the department (60-64 credits) are:



•  3 doctoral seminars at LAIC (12 credits)


•  3 doctoral seminars at LAIC (12 credits)

•  First language examination

2 Yearlong Series:

•  Research and Professional Development | SPAN GR6100 (4 credits)

•  Lecture Series | SPAN GR9045 (4 credits) 3



•  2 doctoral seminars (8 credits)


•  2 doctoral seminars (8 credits)

•  Second language examination

1 Yearlong Series:

Pedagogical seminar and applied pedagogy workshops | SPAN GR6000 (8 credits)

1 Yearlong Teaching Fellowship:

Teach 1 language section per semester



•  Supervised Independent Research for the M.Phil. list | SPAN GR9811 (4 credits)


•  Prospectus research workshop and discussion | SPAN GR6200 (4 credits)

1 Yearlong Teaching Fellowship:

Teach 1 section of 3300, 3349, or 3350 per semester 4



•  First dissertation chapter 5


•  Second and third dissertation chapters

1 Yearlong Teaching Fellowship or Professional Development Internship


•  Dissertation Writing Fellowship (no teaching)

•  Application for an external fellowship


•  Possibility of teaching or external service duties with full funding while on the job market

2. Independent study in lieu of coursework

Independent studies are usually intended to prepare the reading list for the M.Phil. 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 take only one independent study per semester, usually in the second or third year. The total number of independent studies throughout a student’s graduate career normally may not exceed two. Students should secure 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 SPAN GR9811: “Supervised Individual Research.”

3. Credit for graduate work done elsewhere

An incoming student may receive credit for up to two courses completed previously. The DGS will secure the fulfillment of all the first-year requirements of the Ph.D. program before awarding credit to a student for approved courses taken earlier in another academic institution. 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 regarding credit for prior graduate work students may consult the GSAS policy on Transfer Credit 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 year and one per semester in the second year. Students will choose the courses for which they will write them. For the remaining course(s), 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 each semester, students decide for which courses they will write papers and for which they will take exams. 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.

Instructors should assign a final grade to students who have opted to take a final exam by the university deadline announced by the Office of the Registrar for the semester in question. Students who have opted to write a final paper should be assigned a grade of IN (incomplete) by the same deadline. Both of these operations are done through 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. Instructors must assign the final grade through SSOL. Students who have chosen to write papers as final requirements for courses will submit their papers to the professor via  email by the announced due date.

This evaluation procedure was approved by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and allows for the timely assessment of students every semester. In each doctoral seminar, student performance is graded in the context of critical reports, reviews, oral presentations, midterm examinations, and other scheduled assignments. Students are also evaluated based on their interventions in class, which allow their professors recurrent opportunities to detect weaknesses and to engage in a sustained appraisal of academic performance throughout each seminar. Students are granted a month after a seminar concludes to submit a final project that entails research and analysis. Each student conducts the relevant research gradually throughout the semester, with the professor’s supervision. The result of this exercise is a critical essay that must be transformed into a publishable, peer-reviewed article with pertinent revisions submitted as part of the collective work pursued in the required workshops.

5. Late work and incomplete grades

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. An exception may 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 may not be carried for more than one 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 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 Registrar, in accordance to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences policy on incompletes.

6. Language requirements

Every student must demonstrate 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 Latin American cultural studies 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 elementary 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 exams and/or courses should have been taken by the end of the second year. Students must pass one of the language requirements during the first year to be eligible for the Master’s degree. Students will not be allowed to sit for their M.Phil. prospectus discussion (see below) until all language requirements have been met.

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

•  Department of French

•  Department of Italian

•  Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

•  Department of Germanic Languages and Literature

•  Department of Classics

•  Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

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 enhance 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.

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 each semester, faculty members will evaluate all aspects of his or her performance, including written assignments completed for courses (exams and papers). Faculty members evaluate the students during a meeting held once each semester. Students must pass one of the language requirements during the first year 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. Once all GSAS and departmental requirements have been met, the student may request to be awarded a Master’s degree. If the evaluation takes place before the deadline for the May conferral date, the student should have applied for the M.A. already and will receive the M.A. in May. If it takes place after the May conferral date, the student will apply for the October conferral date. Students must apply to the Office of the Registrar to be considered candidates for the Columbia University Master of Arts degree.

—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 if the departmental requirements have not been met and will be asked to withdraw or face dismissal from the program at the end of the first year.

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 each student’s 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 students who may not be able to complete the degree, any student who has generally performed below expectations may be placed on departmental probation or be asked to withdraw from the program.

Individual counseling and other support services are available on campus should students encounter difficulties with any aspect of their graduate careers or have problems of a personal nature that may impact their academic performance.

9. Dissertation Progress Report

Each year, post-M.Phil. students must submit a Dissertation Progress Report through SSOL. Pre-M.Phil. students on their sixth semester must submit the Dissertation Progress Report through SSOL as well. The dissertation sponsor reviews the student’s report, determines whether or not the student is making satisfactory progress, and reports this evaluation of progress to the Office of the Dean of GSAS via SSOL in the spring semester. Students have access to the online report from mid-January through mid-March, and sponsors have access until mid-April; specific deadlines can be found on SSOL. Please note that paper reports are not accepted.

In addition to the Dissertation Progress Report required by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, all students must submit a yearly progress report directly to the department’s Director of Graduate Studies.

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 (TFs), 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 must register M&F during the term in which their dissertation distribution takes place, even if the distribution occurs during the summer term.

Students who are not on a teaching appointment at Columbia and have completed their M.Phil. degree requirements (for instance, those holding a yearlong Dissertation Writing Fellowship) should register for M&F status. Post eighth-year students who have not finished their dissertation register for M&F status. Students will not be allowed to register beyond the ninth year unless there are special circumstances. Students may not register on a part-time basis.

11. The M.Phil.

The M.Phil. examination consists of two parts: an essay on the student’s field of specialization and a discussion of the student’s dissertation prospectus. The M.Phil. essay is based on the works included in a reading list that is prepared by the student, in consultation with faculty members, as part of the independent study for which all students register in the third year. The list should be prepared and the related M.Phil. essay should be written during the fall of the third year of study. The discussion of the prospectus will take place during the spring semester of the third year (the student’s sixth semester).

The M.Phil. essay

For the first part, the essay, the student will choose a broad period or area and will compose a comprehensive list of primary, critical, and pertinent theoretical works, in consultation with two members of the department’s faculty. This list will allow students to read widely in the chosen field or area to acquire a sense of its boundaries, main problems, and the relevant critical discourse in order to contextualize their future work. The list should consist of no fewer than 75 items.

The essay is based on the works included in the list, and will adhere to the following parameters:

1. The guidelines for the exercise will be sent via email by the Director of Academic Administration or the Director of Graduate Studies on a Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. and submitted via email to the Director of Graduate Studies and the examination committee, with a copy to the Director of Academic Administration, by 5:00 p.m. the following Monday.

2. The essay will be written in Spanish, Portuguese, or English

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

4. The exercise will consist of four statements, among which students will choose and respond to three.

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

The DGS will request statements for possible inclusion in the essay guidelines from the two members with whom the student has worked to formulate the reading list. Copies of the completed essay 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 share a synopsis of these comments with the student. The examiners will provide individual comments and feedback to the student as well. Before being allowed to proceed to the dissertation prospectus discussion, a student may be asked to retake any section of the essay if any aspect of the first effort is judged unsatisfactory. The two faculty examiners will go on to serve in the student’s dissertation reading committee.

The prospectus discussion

Upon successful completion of the M.Phil. essay, 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. Once a sponsor has been confirmed, the student will proceed to draft the dissertation prospectus. The prospectus is a 15 to 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 a discussion with the committee. The sponsor becomes the third member of the M.Phil. prospectus committee, unless he or she was already involved in the preparation of the student’s reading list. 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 reading committee while preparing the dissertation prospectus.

The prospectus discussion is a two-hour oral exercise in which the student confers with the reading committee regarding the proposal. The date of the discussion is determined in consultation with the DGS, who will make the necessary arrangements for the meeting to take place. The student will distribute copies of the prospectus to the members of the committee at least two weeks before the scheduled date. If the committee approves the prospectus, the student will receive written comments from every member of the reading committee at least 48 hours before the meeting. At the end of the discussion, the student will step outside, and the three members of the committee will determine the overall outcome of the M.Phil. examination, which should reflect the student’s performance in the essay and in the discussion of the prospectus. The members of the reading committee will vote formally on whether to approve the project and 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 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences grant the student the M.Phil. degree. The student’s status at that point will be ABD (All But Dissertation). The reading 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 to share their work regularly with the three members of the dissertation committee as they advance toward completion of the dissertation. The committee will meet with the student to discuss every chapter. GSAS requires that all dissertations be written in English. Students who wish to write the dissertation in Spanish or Portuguese must request permission to do so from GSAS. (See applicable regulations in the GSAS website.) Such requests are routinely granted. Typically, the student receives a Dissertation Writing Fellowship (DWF) during his or her fifth year in the program.

13. Dissertation defense application and registration

Dissertation defense application

Once the final draft of the dissertation is completed and approved by the sponsor and the reading committee, 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 the defense. The DGS will appoint the two outside members of the defense committee in consultation with the sponsor. (See the GSAS Degree Calendar for application and distribution deadlines associated with a particular conferral date.) The DGS is responsible for scheduling dissertation defenses; students do not schedule their own defenses. Scheduling of the defense takes place soon after the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has approved the proposed 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 Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of Academic Administration once 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 website 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 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 GSAS for approval and for any other notations of distinction in the manner described by 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 of Arts and Sciences for receipt of the doctoral degree.

Dissertation registration

All students must be registered during the term—including the summer term—in which they distribute the defense copies of the dissertation. Filing early in the term 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. degree. 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 website for more information on the award of the degree.

15. General expectations

Awareness of requirements

All students must be familiar with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences guidelines as explained on the GSAS website and in the GSAS handbook. Students should pay special attention to information regarding registration and the submission of material for degreegranting dates. It is not the responsibility of the DGS, the Chair of the department, the student’s dissertation sponsor, or the department’s administrative personnel to ensure a student’s compliance with official GSAS regulations. Exceptions and/or exemptions from any of the department or 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 Latin American or Iberian cultures, in preparation for which they must attend pedagogical training seminars and workshops sponsored by the department. Students teach during the second, third, and fourth years in the program. The department determines teaching assignments 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.

A minimum of two years of teaching are required and additional pedagogical duties may be assigned if warranted. After completing two years of pedagogical practice, students may opt for alternative academic or administrative duties, such as a translation project, an internship at the Revista Hispánica Moderna , an advising appointment at the Writing Center, an internship at the Digital Humanities Center, or a research assistantship, among others. All of these activities will be assigned by the chair and supervised by the DGS.

Students are expected to perform their teaching responsibilities professionally and judiciously, including attendance to meetings, following directions from the language or section coordinator, timely grading, holding office hours, 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 Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning offers an extensive list of resources. All students are encouraged to create a teaching portfolio from the beginning of their teaching careers.

Time to degree

Students are only guaranteed full funding for five years. The department may request additional funding on behalf of a student in the sixth and/or seventh year, but such a request must be warranted by the instructional needs of LAIC’s language program. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 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 must update that information through Student Services Online (SSOL). All international 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 Director of Academic Administration as soon as possible. Students must be cognizant and in strict compliance with any and all applicable laws of the United States federal government and with the requirements and expectations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is not the responsibility of the DGS, the chair of the department, the student’s dissertation sponsor, or the department’s administrative personnel to ensure students’ compliance with U.S. legal stipulations.


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 GSAS rules and regulations.

Fellowship awards provide full tuition, a nine-month stipend, and basic health insurance coverage 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.

Upon admission, students are offered 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 Fellowship 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 deposited or ready to be picked up. Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for the direct deposit option via SSOL. Should they decline the direct deposit option, students must be registered and are required to show a valid Columbia University ID card to 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 of Latin American and Iberian Cultures 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 only receive funding twice in his or her graduate career. Funds will not be granted for participation in graduate student conferences.

Department deadlines are as follows:

- February 15 for conferences held January through April

- June 15 for conferences held May through August

- October 15 for conferences held September through December

Students should submit a brief request in writing to the DGS accompanied by official information about the conference (a website 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. The student 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 Academic Coordinator, 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. Funds may not be used solely for the purposes of enhancing language proficiency. Students are asked to submit detailed and reasoned research proposals to the department to access those funds. These proposals should be submitted during the spring semester upon request by the DGS.

Students should submit a letter addressed to the DGS detailing research or other plans to be undertaken and why they are apposite to the course of study or the dissertation. For research trips please be sure to include: a) a list of the libraries, archives, or other institutions where you will conduct research; b) a list of the materials you expect to use. For academic programs, please be sure to include: a) the name, location, and sponsoring agent of the program; b) a description of courses or workshops you will attend.

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 Fellowship awards see the relevant website. For other available fellowships, applications, and deadlines see the GSAS Fellowship website. 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

A limited number of Spanish language courses are taught on campus during the summer term, administered by Columbia’s School of Professional Studies (formerly known as the 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.

•  no student 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.

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.

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 fellowships.

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


Graduate lounge

The graduate lounge is located in room B07. The room contains several computers, a networked high-volume laser printer, a small refrigerator, desks, and seating areas. Lockers are located in the basement hallway near room B06A.

Teaching Fellows office

One office is available for shared use by teaching fellows: B06A. The office includes desk space, computers, and a filing cabinet. The Teaching Fellows office is intended for holding office hours.


Please ask the Administrative Aide for teaching supplies or office supplies 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.


Students applying for academic positions may mail up to twenty 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 addresses.

Photocopy machine

A multi-function photocopier/scanner is located in the departmental office. Graduate students have an allowance of 1,000 copies per year and unlimited scanning.

Telephones and fax machine

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. The fax machine in themain office may be used for local numbers and to receive faxes from any source. The fax machine line number is (212) 854-5322.

Building access

Regular hours for the Casa Hispánica are from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. If a student must enter the Casa Hispánica under an emergency circumstance beyond this hours, he or she should call the Department of Public Safety by dialing 99 or (212) 854-5555.

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 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 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 GSAS during the current academic year via 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 requests for carrel space for the following year. Students who meet the above criteria and who wish to apply for a carrel assignment must write 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 dissertations.

•  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.


Dossier service

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Career Education uses the Interfolio dossier service to handle all credentials and letters related to the search process. Each student must open an Interfolio account, so that reference providers can either upload or forward their letters of recommendation to the service. The Center for Career Education has created an Interfolio dossier service overview that provides step-by-step instructions for using the system. This information can be found on the Center for Career Education website.

Work in Progress Workshop

Work in Progress is an ongoing conversation between faculty members and graduate students affiliated with the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. This professional development workshop offers an ideal space to discuss dissertation projects, forthcoming books, and new research lines in a meaningful way.

LAIC Graduate Student Writing Workshop

The Writing Workshop | Taller de Redacción hosts peer-review sessions of academic prose in Spanish and in English, as well as colloquia, mock panels, writing retreats, and editorial round tables for graduate students.

Applied Pedagogy Workshops

LAIC is home to many linguists and language specialists who are active researchers and well-known references in fields related to second-language acquisition, applied linguistics, and language pedagogy, among many others. The monthly Applied Pedagogy workshop series is aimed at the professional development of our lecturers and of anyone at LAIC interested in language pedagogy, such as our graduate students. The goal of these workshops is to enhance the development of our Language Programs (Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese) by presenting, discussing, and debating pedagogical approaches to foreign language teaching.

Columbia resources and forms for graduate students

Columbia Resources:

•  Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)

•  Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning

•  Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC)

•  Graduate Student Association @ LAIC (GALAIC)

•  Columbia Libraries

•  Latin American and Iberian Studies Resources at Columbia

•  Institute for Latin American Studies

•  Center for Brazilian Studies

•  Center for Mexican Studies

•  Cuba Program

•  Language Resource Center

•  STOR (Spanish Teaching Online Resources)

•  Center for Career Education

•  Interfolio Dossier Service

•  Health Services at Columbia

•  University Apartment Housing

•  Off-Campus Housing

Columbia Forms:

•  GSAS Matching Travel Fund Application

•  Application for Advanced Standing

•  FLAS Application

•  International Travel Fellowship Application

•  Request for a Leave of Absence

•  Inter-University Doctoral Consortium Registration Form

•  Application for the Dissertation Defense

Library Research:

•  Main telephone for Butler Library: (212) 854-2271

•  Butler Library Circulation Desk: (212) 854-2235

•  Latin American and Iberian Studies Librarian (307 SIPA): (212) 854-1679

•  Latin American and Iberian Studies Library: (212) 854-3630

•  Other Columbia library locations and addresses

Professional Resources:

•  Modern Language Association (MLA)

•  Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA)

•  Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

•  American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP)

•  Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA)

•  North American Catalan Society (NACS)

•  American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)

•  Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO)

•  Universia

•  InfoAmérica

•  Guía del Investigador Americanista

•  Latino Heritage Documentation Project

•  Connected Academics

•  Versatile PhD

•  The Professor is In

Important Telephone Numbers

- To contact the New York City Police/Fire Department or Ambulance Service: 911

- Department of Public Safety; for a security, fire or medical emergency Morningside 99; off campus: (212) 854-5555

- Main Office of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures: (212) 854-4187

- Main Office Fax number: (212) 854-5322

- Director of Graduate Studies, Graciela Montaldo: (212) 854-4882

- Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: (212) 854-4932

- Student Medical Services: (212) 854-2284

- Student Health Insurance and Immunization: (212) 854-7210

- Counseling and Psychological Services: (212) 854-2878

- Student Financial Services: (212) 854-4400

- Registrar’s Office: (212) 854-4330

- Medical Center: On campus extension 7-7979; off campus (212) 305-8100



Alberto Medina  | (212) 854-7485

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS):

Graciela Montaldo  | (212) 854-4882

Director of Academic Administration:

Eunice Rodríguez Ferguson  | (212) 854-8661

Academic Coordinator:

Luis Carlos Fernández | (212) 854-7093

Administrative Aide:

Kosmas Pissakos  | (212) 854-4187

Last Updated 3 years ago