Description of Program

The MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies provides the opportunity to undertake a year of graduate level work in any relevant field or fields of interest. The program is appropriate for students who will go on to apply to Ph.D. programs as well as for those who wish to complete a terminal MA. The three central elements of the program are 1) language study tailored to the students’ needs and interests; 2) coursework in which students work with original manuscripts, documents, or early printed books; 3) an original research project to be presented as an MA thesis.

Although most MA students attend full-time, they may also obtain the MA through part-time study during the academic year; they can also enroll during the summer. But it is a requirement of the program that part-time students complete the degree in no more than 4 years, and that they be continuously registered.

The curriculum requires coursework totaling 30 points (credits), including an MA thesis. Students generally take four courses each semester, one of which is a language course. In the second semester, one of the three non-language courses will involve preparation of the MA thesis (G6999), which will likely be completed over the summer. The program requires one elective course focusing on the study of manuscripts, documents, or early printed books (a list of approved courses will be provided at the beginning of each term). The program’s flexible structure enables students (in consultation with their academic advisors) to design a course of study that meets their goals.

For information about admissions go here.


  1. Language study. Two semesters of a language relevant to the study of the medieval and/or Renaissance period at the 4000 level or higher, appropriate for the student’s particular needs and interests; one semester of the course must be taken in the fall and one in the spring. Medieval and Renaissance Philology (G6020) counts toward this requirement.
  2. Manuscript/Print Culture. One one-semester course involving the study of original manuscripts, documents, or early printed books (selected from a list established each year by the Director of the MA program).
  3. Participation in a manuscript or book workshop each semester, to be organized by the Director.
  4. Four elective courses at the 4000 level or higher, selected from a list established each year by the Director of the MA program, and approved by the student’s appointed advisor.
  5. Two semesters of registration in MA Thesis (G6999).
  6. Courses may be taken for R-credit or Pass/Fail, but these courses do not count toward the degree.
  7. No advanced standing or transfer credit is granted for courses taken outside of Columbia University.

Note: All courses will be at the 4000 level and above. The MA thesis course (G6999) is pursued as an independent study with an advisor or advisors. In addition to the above coursework, attendance is required each semester at a special interdisciplinary workshop on manuscript or early book studies (a one-time event to be scheduled each semester).

Sample Full Time Schedule







Language 3 Language 3 Thesis II 4
Elective 3 Elective 3
Elective 4 Elective 3
Manuscript/Book Course 3 Thesis I 4
Total 13 13  4

*Not all courses carry the same number of points. Students in doubt should consult their advisers or the program coordinator.

For the Columbia University Academic Calendar, visit here.


Cost of Attendance

Information on the cost of attendance can be found here. Information on the Federal Work Study Program can be found here. Information on On Campus Employment can be found here.