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Photo by Brian Kahn

Many of the questions that you may have about the M.A. Program in Climate and Society are answered here! If you don’t find the answer you are looking for, please email Cynthia Thomson, Associate Director of the M.A. Program in Climate and Society at cthomson@iri.columbia.edu.

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1. What is the application deadline?

The application deadlines can be found on the Admission page of our website. Students who apply by the priority deadline will likely receive a decision by March 1. International students are highly encouraged to submit their application by the priority deadline. Admissions decisions are announced by late April or early May. For more information, see the Admission page of our website.

2. How long is the program?

The program requires approximately 12 months of full-time study. The Fall semester begins in early September, and the Summer term usually ends in the middle of the following August. For more information on the course of study, see the Curriculum page of our website.

3. What do graduates of the program do afterwards?

Visit our Alumni page to see some general statistics about what graduates of the M.A. Program in Climate and Society have gone on to do.

4. How do I apply?

All applications must be submitted online via the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences web application. You can fill out an application by setting up a registration ID and entering all relevant information online.

Select “Climate and Society” from the pull-down menu under the Program Information section of the online web application form, and submit your application electronically.

All supporting application materials should be forwarded directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the following address. Please make sure that your name is clearly indicated on all supporting documents (recommendations, transcripts, etc.).

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
107 Low Memorial Library
535 West 116th Street, MC 4304
Columbia University
New York, NY 10027

To read more about the application process, please see the Graduate School’s website.

5. Do I have to take the GRE? 

The GRE test is not required for admission to the M.A. Program in Climate and Society.

6. Do I have to take the TOEFL?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for non-native speakers of English. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences normally requires a score of 600 on the paper-and-pencil test or 100 on the computer-based test. Applicants are strongly urged to make arrangements to take the examination in early Fall. Inquiries about this test should be addressed to TOEFL, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ 08540, U.S.A; Tel.: (609) 771-7100; Web site: http://www.ets.org. The IELTS exam is also accepted. Acceptable scores for the IELTS exam are usually 7.5 or above.

For students who have received an undergraduate degree in a country where English was the language of instruction, the test is not necessary. For students who have received another master’s degree in an English-speaking program, the test is still necessary.

7. Can I apply to more than one graduate program at Columbia?

Applications for the M.A. Program in Climate and Society are handled through the Admissions office of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). GSAS does not permit simultaneous applications to more than one program. To read more about admissions procedures for GSAS, please consult the GSAS website.

8. I want to study for a Ph.D. in this field. Does the M.A. degree lead to a Ph.D.?

Admission to the interdisciplinary M.A. Program in Climate and Society does not include admission to other programs at Columbia. However, students in the program may wish to apply to programs of further study during or after completion of the M.A. Program. Studies of interest at Columbia might include the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Sustainable Development, the Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Science, and/or the Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Engineering. These programs require a separate application for each admissions cycle.

9. Are scholarships available for students from outside of the United States?

Partial scholarships are available for international and U.S. students who have been admitted to the program, and are awarded on the basis of merit and need. There is no additional application other than the application to the program.

All students, particularly international students, are strongly urged to apply for external sources of funding as soon as possible. Scholarship programs often have application deadlines between 6 months and 1 year before the start of the academic program. For more information, please see the Financial Aid page of this site.

10. What kind of a degree is this? Which division of Columbia University awards the M.A. in Climate and Society?

The interdisciplinary M.A. in Climate and Society is a program of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.

11. How many students are in the program? How many apply?

The program admits approximately 35 to 40 applicants each year. Because the program is very specialized, there is an extremely qualified applicant pool each year. The program is competitive and admits fewer than half of its applicants.

12. What are the prerequisites for admission? Can I still apply if I haven’t taken all of the recommended courses?

Applicants should have a background in either natural or social science, and/or have the aptitude to absorb the foundations of climate science and quantitative principles. Students come to the Climate and Society program from diverse range academic and professional backgrounds.

13. Who are the faculty involved with this program? How can I contact them to tell them about my research interests?

Please contact the M.A. Program office first; an updated listing of relevant faculty and researchers is available in the Faculty section of this site.

14. I am currently enrolled in/I have already completed a master’s degree program. Can this shorten the time that I would be enrolled in the M.A. Program in Climate and Society?

A set curriculum has already been established for the program that includes a significant component of uniquely designed core courses. All students must complete every component of the degree requirements. Credits from other institutions can not be transferred. See the curriculum section of this site.

15. Is it good for my application that I have been working in the field of environment/development for several years?

Work experience in a related field is considered desirable, although the program will also accept students who are currently finishing their undergraduate studies. Students are selected for admission based on academic background and related work experience.

16. Can I submit letters of reference from my employer instead of from former professors?

You are free to submit the references that you believe best support your application. The committee would prefer at least two academic references but recognizes that professionals who have worked for several years may have difficulty obtaining references from their undergraduate studies. In those cases, relevant professional references are certainly acceptable, but at least one reference from a professor who knows your work is still preferred.

References can be submitted through the online application electronic option, or through the mail to the Admissions Office of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

17. Who can I talk to about my application?

If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Associate Director, Cynthia Thomson at cthomson@iri.columbia.edu