PhD Orientation

It was a pleasure meeting you in March and we look forward to seeing you at this year’s orientation in August. We hope your time here will be stimulating and look forward to having you all onboard. 

Have Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Below you will find details about orientation, on boarding paperwork, and other helpful sites and links. Please review them carefully and follow-up as needed:

PhD Orientation Events

Saturday, August 17, 2019
SEAS Welcome Day
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
7pm-10pm: IEOR Social - Dave & Buster's

Friday, August 23, 2019 - MANDATORY 
12pm-2pm: PhD Orientation Luncheon and Program Overview (Mudd 317)

Friday, August 23, 2019
3pm-5pm: Incoming Student Networking Happy Hour - Boat Basin

Friday, August 23, 2019
PhD/Faculty Networking Event - TBA

August 26 - August 30 - MANDATORY
Engineering your PhD Modules

-Directions to 317 S.W. Mudd Building (Program Orientation)


The following is a list of ALL necessary documents you need to submit no later than August 15th to Lizbeth Morales either by email or in person. Delaying submission of your materials will result in a delay of your stipend payment for the semester.

  1. Social Security Card (see below for details on how to obtain; this can only be done in person) - IMPORTANT
  2. Visa (scanned electronic copy)
  3. Passport (scanned electronic copy)
  4. I-94 (scanned electronic copy)
  5. I-20 (scanned electronic copy)
  6. I-9: Employment Eligibility (I-9 form) (THIS CAN ONLY BE DONE IN PERSON)
    a. Please complete the first part online.
    b. Then go to 210 Kent Hall with your IDs to complete the remainder of the forms.
  7. PhD Information Sheet
  8. Ethnicity Form
  9. Inventions Agreement Form
  10. Direct Deposit Setup
    a. Students will be able to sign up for direct deposit once they are set up in the HR system

Social Security Number Required:

  1. Social Security Card (see below for details on how to obtain; this can only be done in person)
  2. International Students and Scholars need to follow the W-4 instructions on the International Students and Scholar Office (ISSO) website when filling out the W-4 form.
  3. IT2104 for Residents Form -  This form must be filled out using your NYC address.
  4. For international students who are from a country that has a tax treaty with the US - you must see Carlos Lira-Coppo at the address below to complete the Form 8233. The following countries apply: (BelgiumChinaFranceGermanyKoreaIcelandItalyMoroccoSpainThailand)

    Carlos Lira-Coppo
    615 West 131st Street
    Studebaker Floor 4
    New York, NY 10027

Below are some useful links if you have questions regarding the tax forms above:

Columbia International Students & Scholars Office
How To Fill Out Form W-4

Social Security Card

If you are an international student and have not yet worked in the U.S., you will need to get a Social Security Number (SSN) and Card in order to work. Getting your SSN card is a 4 step process:

1.) Pickup a SSN verification form from IEOR, fill out necessary information, and have it signed by one of the staff members in the office.

2.) Take the SSN verification form to International Students and Scholar Office (ISSO) , along with your passport, I-94, and I-20, to be signed.

3.) Take your signed SSN verification form to the nearest Social Security Office, which you can find on the ISSO’s website. They will give you further instructions at ISSO for completion of this step. You will be given a receipt for your SSN card – DO NOT LOSE THIS!

4.) Pick up your new SSN card when it is ready and bring it to IEOR to have a copy made. Full instructions for obtaining a SSN are available on the ISSO website linked above.

Additionally, the US Government's website on Social Security Numbers, visit the official Social Security website:

While we need these completed forms by August 15th, we do realize some cannot be completed until you arrive. If this is the case for you, please let us know.


Budgeting Information

Doctoral students are provided with financial support, including tuition, medical insurance/fees, and a stipend. Since it may take up to three to four weeks to get you onboarded, we strongly recommend that you prepare a small budget to help you with the transition to Columbia. You will obtain your full financial support, but it may not be disbursed by the time these expenses are incurred. Below are some examples of the types of expenses to expect:

  • Refundable housing deposit (payment required once you accept housing offer, ranging from 1.5 up to 2 times the amount of the rent)
  • First month's rent
  • Furniture and living necessities
  • Food/Recreational activities
  • Incidentals