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Registration Procedures

The majority of questions regarding academic affairs can be answered by visiting the GSAS website and the Registrar's help website. Please consult these resources before contacting QMSS staff with questions. We will be happy to help you with any further questions or issues.

QMSS students are eligible to register for most Graduate School of Arts & Sciences courses via the online website SSOL. Exceptions are courses that are capped or restricted. For these classes please consult the QMSS Program Coordinator. QMSS students may also cross-register for courses in other Columbia University Schools and Departments such as those listed below.

Registration for all GSAS courses takes place through Student Services Online (SSOL). For questions on registration, please see the Registrar's answers to registration FAQs before contacting QMSS staff with questions. If the available information is not helpful, we will be happy to discuss any further questions you may have.

When registering for classes, remember to register for the appropriate Residence Unit as well (full, half, or quarter). You can find this "unit" by conducting a search on SSOL as if it were a course. For more information on Residence Units, see the GSAS website.

Registration Times: The current registration dates can be found on the University registrar's website here. Specific registration appointment times will be available through SSOL.


Finding Courses

Different schools within the University use different course bulletin formats, most courses offered within the University can be accessed using one of the following: 

Directory of Classes: The directory lists all classes for GSAS, SIPA, and the School of Social Work. QMSS classes can be found under "Q" in Subjects.  

GSAS Course Bulletin: Includes course descriptions. 

SIPA Online Curriculum Guide 

Mailman School of Public Health Course Listings 

Teachers College Course Listings

*Business School courses available to QMSS students will be sent directly to current students a few weeks before registration for the upcoming term.  

Students are encouraged to shop classes in the first two weeks of the semester before finalizing their schedules. Additionally, for reviews of courses and professors, visit CULPA (the Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability).


Cross Registration

For students who wish to take elective courses in Columbia schools or affiliated institutions other than GSAS, please be aware that each has a distinct cross registration process.

School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA): SIPA's cross-registration instructions can be found on their website here. For non-Instructor Permission Courses, you will need to:

  1. Fill out the Registration Adjustment Form
  2. Have it signed by QMSS program staff
  3. Visit the SIPA Registration site on the 6th floor of the IAB to request approval. If the class is not full, approval will be granted and SIPA will register you for the class.

Teachers College: Complete the Columbia University Registration Adjustment Form and have it signed by your instructor. Turn the form in to the Columbia Registrar at 205 Kent Hall.

School of Social Work: Complete the Columbia University Registration Adjustment Form and have it signed by your instructor. Turn the form in to the Columbia Registrar at 205 Kent Hall.

Columbia College: Complete the Columbia University Registration Adjustment Form and have it signed by a program administrator. Turn the form in to the Columbia Registrar at 205 Kent Hall.

Mailman School of Public Health: Obtain permission from the department in whose class you wish to enroll. This form must be completed and turned in to the Registrar in 205 Kent Hall.

Columbia Business School: The Business School will announce which courses are open for cross-registration a few weeks before the beginning of the semester. You can read more about the Business School cross-registration procedures here

Columbia Law School: The cross-registration form can be found on their website here. Please note that only full-time students are allowed to enroll in law school courses. 

Note: Any student interested in taking courses in the Economics department would be well advised to take the math placement exam offered in the beginning of the school year as many courses require it as a prerequisite.


Grading Policies

All students are expected to maintain a 3.0 average while studying at QMSS. Students may, however, register for one course as Pass/Fail or "R" credit though this will not count toward their GPA nor will this count towards their graduation requirements.  Students must take for a grade any course they wish to count towards fulfillment of their graduation requirement. Please note that only graduate level courses (level 4000 and above) count towards the QMSS degree.

Incomplete Policy - The mark of IN is given to a student who has satisfactorily met all the requirements of a course except for the completion of certain assigned papers or reports or the final examination, which the student has been compelled to postpone for reasons that are 1) beyond his or her control and 2) satisfactory to the instructor. For a course in the Arts and Sciences, if the student does not submit the outstanding work by the deadline specified below, the mark of IN will be changed to an F, which will not be subject to change at a later date. Beginning in Fall 2014: For Incompletes earned in the fall semester, the deadline for students to submit their outstanding work is the June 30 that immediately follows. For Incompletes earned in the spring semester or summer term, the deadline for students to submit their outstanding work is the December 31 that immediately follows. Departments and instructors may set an earlier deadline for completion of the outstanding work; in such cases, that deadline will supersede the GSAS deadline. In order to maintain good academic standing, students may carry only one Incomplete at a time. Students who carry two or more Incompletes simultaneously will be permitted to register in their programs, but they will receive a message from GSAS, copying the DGS or program director, alerting them that they are not making satisfactory academic progress and are therefore not in good academic standing until they hold fewer than two Incompletes. 

Leaves of absence approved by GSAS stop the clock on Incomplete deadlines. If a student is granted a Leave of Absence from the University during the grace period of an Incomplete, the grade of Incomplete will remain on the student's transcript while the student is not enrolled, and the time of the leave will not count against the student's grace period. (The new deadline to submit outstanding work will be the original deadline—June 30 or December 31—plus the length of time of the leave.) A grade of Incomplete received by a student who does not register but is not granted an approved Leave of Absence from the University will be changed to an F after the original deadline has passed.

Pass/Fail credit are awarded up to a date determined by the University registrar and are approved by the Program Staff. Students must submit a pass/fail grade change form to the registrar by the date indicated on the academic calendar for that year to receive Pass/Fail. Faculty are not notified of this change though program staff will be--please consult program staff before activating this option.

R credit is a unique Columbia University system designed to indicate a special arrangement between student and professor. More like auditing than Pass/Fail, it reflects is most often as a result of special circumstances (usually in the form of a need for maternity leave, sick leave, etc.). 

Please also take note of the academic calendar (be sure you've selected the appropriate school and year!) for information about add/drop and pass/fail deadlines. Please note that withdrawal/leave of absence deadlines are different.

Holds: Students with holds listed on Student Services Online cannot register and are not officially enrolled until any and all holds are removed. Students should contact the office administering the hold to determine what course of action is needed to remove the hold. Only the office that placed the hold can remove the hold from record.
Immunization: New York State Public Health Law 2165 requires all students born on or after January 1, 1957 and registered for 6 or more credits to document proof of their immunity to measles (2 doses), mumps and rubella (MMR). You must demonstrate compliance with this public health law by completing the Columbia University MMR form or you will not be permitted to register for classes after your first semester.
Students are also encouraged to become vaccinated against meningitis. While meningitis vaccination is not required, students must certify their vaccination decision.
For more detailed information, and to document your MMR immunization and/or your meningitis vaccination decision, please see the Health Services website


Extension requests for academic reasons

Full-time students are expected to complete the program in two semesters and should make every attempt to do so.  The program can make exceptions for students to allow them to continue in the program for additional semesters with proper academic justification.  Full-time students must complete all core required classes with the possible exception of the thesis seminar within the first 2 semesters in the program. Students seeking extensions must submit a formal request to Meghan McCarter (mdm2222@columbia.edu), QMSS Program Coordinator, by December 1st of their first semester at QMSS. Failure to meet the deadline for submission will have negative consequences for the approval of the request.

The petition for extension should include: 

  • An explanation as to why two semesters is an insufficient time period for the student to complete program requirements. 
  • A list of the courses the student has already taken and plans to take during their time in the program, broken down by semester. Keep in mind that generally during the extension semester, students may select one or more QMSS classes and up to two non-QMSS classes during fall or spring extension semesters. Only if the extension semester falls during the summer semester, students may take up to 3 non-QMSS classes.
The program staff will review petitions and respond promptly with their approval and/or concerns. Please keep in mind that petitions that do not have sufficient academic justifications will not be approved. 


If the extension request is approved by the program, students will register for Extended Residence Units beyond their second semester.

Students seeking program extensions should note that University Housing beyond the first two semesters of the program is not guaranteed. Please contact University Housing or the GSAS Office of Student Affairs for more information on available housing options.

In addition, international students must be mindful of their I-20 status. For all questions regarding I-20 status, please contact the ISSO.

Please contact the Program Coordinator if you have any question about the process if requesting a program extension.


Leave of Absence

Occasionally students need to take a leave of absence from the program for various reasons and some even find it necessary to withdraw from the program. If you find yourself in this situation, before taking any action please:

  1. Consult with the program coordinators or director about your options.
  2. Visit the Registrar's website for more information about the timing and finances of Withdrawal/Leave of Absence.
  3. Visit GSAS website to see what the school policies are for Withdrawal/Leave of Absence.
  4. Notify the QMSS staff of your final decision.

We hope that QMSS students won't need to use this information but if you do please know we will do our best to help you through the process.