Academic Planning, Procedures, and Policies

The IEOR Department offers the following degree programs that lead to a Doctor of Philosophy:

  1. MS/PhD track in IE, for students who have not yet earned an M.S. degree in a relevant field
  2. MS/PhD track in OR, for students who have not yet earned an M.S. degree in a relevant field
  3. PhD in IE, for students who have already earned an M.S. degree in a relevant field
  4. PhD in OR, for students who have already earned an M.S. degree in a relevant field

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) has the sole authority in the University to award the Doctor of Philosophy degree.  Hence, MS/PhD track students are in resident in SEAS for the first two semesters then transferred to (GSAS) for the remainder of their tenure.  PhD students start in GSAS.

Academic Calendar

Degree Requirement

Master of Science Degree Requirements (MS/PhD Track Student only)

Application for Master of Science Degree

Academic Advising

Selecting Courses


Official Letters and Transcripts

Academic Calendar

The University calendar can be found on the Registrar's website.

In general, the Fall term starts the day after Labor Day.  The Spring term starts the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  First day of classes during the Fall and Spring terms are on Tuesdays.

Degree Requirement

In order to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree, the following must be completed:

  1. 60 credits worth of coursework and/or research (30 credits will be earned from having completed a M.S. degree)
  • For MS/PhD track students, you will have earned 30 credits and 2 residence units from completing the M.S. degree.  You will be automatically transferred to GSAS once you complete your M.S. degree in May.  You will have 4 residence units and 30 credits to complete after earning your M.S. degree.
  • PhD students with an M.S. degree upon arrival will earn 30 credits and 2 residence units of advanced standing during the first academic year of study. You will have 4 residence units and 30 credits to complete at Columbia.
  1. 6 residence units (1 residence unit is earned per semester while in GSAS)
  • If you have earned 6 residence units, you need to register for Extended Residence Unit (not Full 1-Residence Unit) or Facilities and Matriculation (if all course work is completed and not expecting to receive funding).
  • Master of Philosophy granted upon successful completion of 60 points; for more information, visit the GSAS website.
  • English Proficiency requirement (see English Proficiency)
  • Pass qualifying exams
  • Dissertation 

MS/PhD students are expected to earn exactly 30 credits at SEAS during the first two semesters.  You will then earn an M.S. degree at the end of the academic year.  Most students take 15 credits per term.  The Department does not permit MS/PhD students taking beyond 30 credits as a SEAS student as it will incur extra tuition cost.  Tuition in SEAS is charged per credit.  Extenuating circumstances should be discussed with the faculty advisor.

PhD students registered in GSAS may take additional courses without incurring extra tuition cost as tuition is a fixed cost per residence unit.

Master of Science Degree Requirements (MS/PhD Track Students only)

In order to earn a Master of Science degree in IE or OR (MS/PhD track students only), the student must satisfy the following:

  1. Uphold academic good standing, with a minimum grade point average of 2.5/4.0.
  2. All courses taken with letter grading (i.e. A, B, C, D, no pass/fail courses).
  3. Completed all courses at Columbia University.
  4. For International students: achieve level 8 or higher on the English Certification Test (ECT) (see English Proficiency).

For specific information, please refer to the SEAS Bulletin.  In addition to the above requirements, each degree has specific requirements, as specified in each section(Section 8 - 12).

Application for Master of Science Degree

MS/PhD track students must apply for their M.S. degrees during the spring semester.  You are to print out the form from the Registrar Website and bring it to 210 Kent Hall no later than March 1.

University Commencement is held once per year in May.  You and your family are invited to participate.

Academic Advising

Each student is assigned to one academic advisor.  Student must meet with his/her assigned advisor to discuss academic progress and course scheduling.  Student's course schedule must be approved by his/her academic advisor.  Taking courses without approval may jeopardize degree completion.

Prior to meeting with the academic advisor, the student should research the courses and schedule.   The student should fill out a PhD Program Plan prior to meeting with the advisor.  The advisor will sign the sheet approving the course selection.  The Student Information Sheet serves as a binding agreement between the student and advisor.  Changes to the agreed upon schedule must be reviewed.

The table below indicates the academic advisors for the doctoral students:


Academic Advisors

1st and 2nd Year PhD & MS/PhD

Dr. Daniel Bienstock

Dr. Jose Blanchet

Dr. Maria Chudnovsky

Dr. Steven Kou

Dr. Mariana Olvera-Cravioto

Dr. Jay Sethuraman

Dr. David Yao

3rd year and beyond

Research Advisor (The Faculty)

Selecting Courses

All first year doctoral students take four core courses in the following sequence:


IEOR E6613: Optimization I (4.5 credits)
IEOR E6711: Stochastic Models I (4.5 credits)


IEOR E6614: Optimization II (4.5 credits)
IEOR E6712: Stochastic Models II (4.5 credits)

Beyond the core, there is considerable freedom in choosing courses.  It is important to select courses you find interesting while considering your background and in conjunction with your academic adviser.

Doctoral students should only take courses at or above the 4000-level.  Courses listed 3000-level or below are undergraduate level courses and will not be counted towards the degree.  Students should consider courses from other Departments including Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics, Economics, and Decision Risk and Operations.

The two courses above are recommended for students with undergraduate engineering degrees with limited mathematics training.

MATH W 4061 Real Analysis I
MATH W 4061 Real Analysis II

A complete listing of courses can be found through the Directory of Classes.


After meeting with you academic advisor, you register for your classes through the Student Services Online (SSOL) during designated periods.  You can find your registration periods by logging onto Student Services Online.  Failure to register in a timely manner may result in additional fees being charged or unavailable classes. Register in a timely manner.

As a reminder, MS/PhD track students are to register for exactly 30 credits during the first two semesters of study to complete their M.S. degree.   PhD students register for one (1) residence unit and approved courses.

For specific policies regarding registration, visit the Registrar's registration page.

For specific instructions to register for classes, visit the Registrar's registration process page.

Official Letters and Transcripts

Official letters from the Department can be requested from the Department for the following purposes:

  • Confirmation of students' academic status, including ongoing and finished courses and expected diploma conferral.
  • Extending students' visa status to continue required academic courses at Columbia University; this requires the approval from the faculty advisor or director.
  • Letters of invitation for family members, in need of visas, to attend Columbia University Commencement.

Should a student require such a letter, a formal request must be written to the IEOR Departmental Academic Staff.  Once approved, the letter will be ready within three (3) business days.

Please note that the Department does not issue official transcripts nor provide copies of previous transcripts submitted with your application.  Official Columbia University transcripts can be ordered through the Office of the Registrar through SSOL or in-person at the University Registrar's Office in 205 Kent Hall.

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