Advanced Standing Students

The Advanced Standing Program at the Columbia School of Social Work requires students to complete their M.S. degrees in just 10 months. Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions.


Have questions about Financial AidAnswers here

Have questions about Refunds/Additional FundsAnswers here

Have questions about RegistrationAnswers here

Have questions about FieldAnswers here

Have questions about AdvisingAnswers here

Have questions about Minors or Dual DegreesAnswers here

  • Financial Aid - Header

    Financial Aid

  • What is the cost per year?

    Tuition and fees for 2015-16 total $56,265. Of that, an $8,334 is for your Summer Session. Tuition accounts for an estimated $20,880 each term for the Fall and Spring. This is a flat-rate cost that allows you register for up 19.5 credits per term at a cost equivalent to 15 credits. For an explanation and breakdown of other fees, go to Cost of Attendance.

  • What types of financial aid are available?

    Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional/merit scholarships, Federal Work-Study, federal loans, and other types of loans. NOTE: Those who have served in the military should find out if they are eligible for veterans educational benefits by completing the checklist linked from Columbia University’s Veteran Affairs site. Likewise, those who have completed a term of service with AmeriCorps should contact AmeriCorps directly to see if they are eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

  • How do I apply for financial aid?

    Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once we receive your FAFSA data, we can begin the evaluation process for determining your financial aid award package.

  • When will I find out about my package?

    We usually begin processing financial aid packages in March, and notifications are sent out thereafter. You will receive an e-mail at the address used for your admissions application.

  • What if I’m not satisfied with my package?

    You may appeal for more scholarship money to the Director of Admissions at (If you have received a higher scholarship offer from another graduate school of social work, a copy of that offer should be included in your appeal.) All other appeals, including appeals for work-study, should be e-mailed to Please be mindful that our scholarship and work-study funding is limited, and we do our best to provide need-based awards to all eligible students.

    Scholarship appeals are generally responded to within two weeks. Work-study appeals will initially be reviewed in late summer and will continue to be reviewed throughout the academic year; you will be notified via email if we are able to grant your appeal.

  • What types of loans can I apply for?

    All students who complete a FAFSA are eligible to receive the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Once you accept the loan, you must complete an entrance interview, sign a master promissory note, and fill out a loan request form. The funds will then be disbursed automatically to your student account at the beginning of each term. NOTE: The Department of Education charges a 1.068% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed. 

    In addition to the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you may choose to borrow either a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan or a private educational loan. The maximum amount you may borrow for either loan is listed under the Alternative Eligibility fund in your award letter.
    The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed interest loan program that enables graduate students to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for their educational expenses. This loan, which is based on credit-worthiness, requires a separate entrance interview, master promissory note, and loan request form. For more information, go to Questions and Answers About Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Students (PDF: 2 pages). If you are approved for a PLUS loan, the funds will be disbursed automatically to your student account at the beginning of the term. NOTE: The Department of Education charges a 4.272% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed.
    If you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Financial Aid at or 212-851-2293; or make an appointment to speak to one of us.
  • What if I’m denied the PLUS loan or a private loan?

    If you are denied the PLUS Loan, we strongly encourage you to request a copy of your credit report and clear up any delinquencies of 90 days or more, or challenge any discrepancies you find on that report. You should then appeal to the Department of Education, providing documentation that those discrepancies or issues have been resolved. In our experience, most students who do this succeed in having their initial denial overturned. Another option is to reapply for the PLUS Loan with a credit-worthy co-signer or endorser. If neither of these options works, we suggest that you reach out to our Office of Financial Aid. A financial aid officer will ask you to compile and submit a monthly budget listing all of your basic living expenses (rent, food, utilities, personal expenses, etc.). This additional information will allow the financial aid office to calculate the assistance you still need and how much CSSW can cover.

  • How do I pay for Columbia housing?

    Your charges for Columbia housing may be billed to your student account each term, or else you may be asked to sign a contract stipulating the amount of monthly rent you owe to the University. We advise you to discuss the terms of your rental agreement with University Apartment Housing (UAH) prior to signing the contract.

  • What if I have additional questions on my financial aid package, scholarships, loans, or related matters?

    For help with additional financial aid questions, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at:
    Telephone: 212-851-2293

    • By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.) Go to online appointment system.
    • Walk-in: Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
  • When will I receive the money I need to cover my daily expenses?

    Generally you will receive your funds during the first two weeks of classes. Refunds are determined based on any credit remaining after all expected funding has been applied to your student account to cover your tuition, fees and other charges that may be on your account. The University will issue a refund either via direct deposit—you can select this option online (it requires entering your personal banking information)—or a paper check. Refunds are initially processed during the first two weeks of school, and then processed throughout the year whenever credit balances appear. NOTE: New students should come to school with enough money to see them through the first 2-3 weeks. For various reasons, some students may not receive a refund until week 3 or 4 of classes. Most students will receive their refunds near the end of the second week of classes.

  • What if I need more money?

    If you need more money at any point during the year and have remaining “alternative eligibility” in your financial aid, you must submit another PLUS Loan Request Form or apply for a private loan to borrow up to the total amount of that remaining “alternative eligibility.” If you have maxed out on your aid and received all for which you are currently eligible, please make an appointment with our Office of Financial Aid so that we can assess your situation and need for funding.

  • Can I contact the Office of Financial Aid if I need assistance?

    If you have further questions about refunds or additional funds, you are welcome to contact the Office of Financial Aid at:
    Telephone: 212-851-2293

    • By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.) Go to online appointment system.
    • Walk-in: Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
  • When does my program start?

    Your program begins with a required four-week summer session that starts in late July or early August. (Exact dates will be e-mailed to you in March.) During that session you will take T7102 Direct Practice for ADV students, a course that provides a refresher on direct practice skills. It also has breakout sessions for the four method areas, to help prepare you for taking advanced practice courses in the Fall. This class meets from Mondays to Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Additionally, you will be registered for T6012 Field Education Seminar, a field education preparatory course that meets twice a week. NOTE: Advanced Standing students who did not meet the School’s statistics proficiency requirement will be required to enroll in statistics during the Summer term.

  • How do I register for classes?

    We will register you for your Fall courses. We do so based on your selected method area and field of practice, as declared on your Registration Approval Form and Field Placement Form. You will be able to see your Fall courses online once you begin your Summer session. You will have an opportunity in August and early September to register for electives or to change sections of your required courses, space permitting. NOTE: If you change your method area or field of practice prior to the start of Fall term—and this is confirmed by the Field Education Department—our Student Services staff will make any necessary changes to your required courses prior to the registration system opening in late August.

  • What are the required courses for my program?

    Your required courses vary based on your method area of specialization and field of practice. These requirements can be found in the 2014-15 Student Handbook.

  • What are the credit requirements for the Advanced Standing Program?

    To earn a Master’s in Social Work at CSSW, you must complete a minimum of 60 credits. The School will accept a maximum of 27 transfer credits from your BSW program, which means that you must complete a minimum of 33 credits during your tenure at CSSW. The amount of transfer credits you have been granted was outlined in your acceptance letter. If you received fewer than 27, it could be due to several factors: you earned below a B in the course; the course was taken more than five years ago; you earned your BSW from a Canadian institution (see Note); or your BSW program did not require you to take a course equivalent to one of our first-year required courses. Please keep in mind that since the school has a 60-credit minimum for degree completion, you may end up enrolling in 36 or 39 credits at CSSW, rather than the standard 33, in order to fulfill your requirements. NOTE: Students with a BSW from a Canadian institution can transfer a maximum of 24 credits because of not having taken the equivalent of T6801 U.S. Social Welfare Policy and will be registered for that course in the Fall.

  • Where can I find detailed course descriptions and course requirements for my classes?

    All of your courses—including their requirements, syllabi, grading policies, and online readings—are posted on CourseWorks.

  • How do I change my classes?

    During the first two weeks of classes each term, space permitting, there is an add/drop period when you can switch certain courses via the online registration system in Student Services Online.

  • I would like to take classes at another Columbia graduate school. How do I do that?

    You are able to enroll in classes at other Columbia University schools to count either as elective credits (related and pre-approved graduate-level courses only) or as “extra” courses that are covered under the School’s flat-rate billing program, which allows you to register for a maximum of 19.5 credits per term in the Fall and Spring. NOTE: Our flat-rate tuition plan does not cover classes taken at Teacher’s College, Jewish Theological Seminary, or Union Theological Seminary. If you choose to register for a course at one of those schools, you will be charged tuition in addition to your flat-rate cost.

    As each Columbia graduate school has its own cross-registration policies and procedures, our Office of Student Services compiles a document every term with links to classes at other schools that are open to CSSW students along with detailed instructions for registration, with links to necessary forms. This information is e-mailed to all students during the registration period and can also be found online.

  • Are my instructors evaluated? If so, where can I find copies of their evaluations?

    Instructor evaluations are available in a binder in the Social Work Library (2nd floor) and the Student Union Office (4th floor). We would also encourage you to reach out to your second-year colleagues for feedback about instructors’ teaching styles, classroom expectations, and areas of specialization.

  • What if I have additional questions about class listings, course registration, or related matters?

    For help with additional questions about registration-related matters, please contact the Office of Student Services and Enrollment at:
    Telephone: 212-851-2364

    • By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.) Go to online appointment system.
    • Walk-in: Wednesdays, 10 a.m – 6 p.m.
  • How is my field placement determined?

    Our Field Education Department carefully reviews your Field Placement Form, résumé, previous field experience and evaluation to select the best possible placement for you that matches your selected method area within your chosen field of practice. A Field Department staff member will contact you over the summer to set up a confirmational interview for this placement site and provide you with relevant information to help prepare you for the interview and what to expect.

  • When will I be notified of my field placement?

    You should receive your field placement assignment during your August Advanced Standing session.

  • What will I be doing at my field placement?

    Tasks at your placement will vary depending on your method and field of practice, type of agency, and population with whom you will be working. For information on possible assignments, education plans, as well as the learning objectives for various method specializations, go to our Field Education Manual (PDF: 110 pages).

  • Once I’ve received my field placement assignment, if I have questions about it, who can I talk to?

    Please contact the Field Education Department by first reaching out to the Field Department staff member who notified you of your placement and has been working with you to set it up. You also may contact the Assistant Dean and Director of Field Education at

  • What is my field instructor’s role?

    Your field instructor is the agency employee responsible for overseeing your training at your field placement. He or she is there to support your learning in the field, to answer questions you may have about interactions with clients and agency employees, and to help you develop direct practice skills. At the end of the term, your field instructor evaluates your work at the agency for your advisor and recommends whether you should receive a pass or fail grade. NOTE: Your advisor is the final arbiter of the grade you receive for field education. Under some circumstances, he or she may choose to override the recommendation of the agency field instructor. 

  • What if I have additional questions about my field placement or related matters?

    For help with additional field-related matters, please contact the Field Education Department at:
    Telephone: 212-851-2307
    See also: Field Education staff list.

  • When will I find out who my advisor is?

    Your advisor’s name and contact information will be viewable on Student Services Online by the end of orientation week. You will receive an e-mail once the information has been posted online. NOTE: If you have questions about your academic program, class scheduling or registration prior to orientation, please contact the Office of Student Services by sending an e-mail to

  • What is my advisor's role?

    Your advisor is a social work professional who is employed by CUSSW to serve as your educational support in both the classroom and the field. You may consult with your advisor about issues concerning your courses or program requirements. If you have to miss class, it is always a good idea to keep your advisor in the loop. In addition, your advisor assesses your performance in the field. He or she meets with your field instructor and also reviews that person’s evaluation of your work at the end of the term. In preparation for your second year, your advisor helps you decide on your method specialization and field of practice.

  • What if my advisor is not available: is there someone else at the School I can speak to?

    If you're not able to reach your advisor, you should contact one of the administrative staff in the Office of Advising. Go to staff listings.

  • What minors do you offer, and how do I sign up?

    The School offers three minors for Advanced Standing students: 

    1. Business
    2. International Social Welfare
    3. Public Policy and Administration 
    As an Advanced Standing student, you are not able to pursue the Law Minor as the requirements must be completed in two years. If you decide to pursue a minor, you must declare your intention on your Registration Form, and then plan to register for the appropriate classes to fulfill the minor requirements. For more information about our minors, go to the Student Handbook.

  • Can I apply for a dual-degree program?

    Dual-degree programs require a minimum of 42-45 credits of coursework and a minimum of three semesters of full-time residency at each school. Since your program is only 10 months long and requires only a minimum of 33 credits, you are not eligible to pursue a dual-degree program.

  • Which CSSW office should I contact if I have questions about minors or dual degrees?

    If you have further questions about minors and dual degrees, please contact the Office of Student Services and Enrollment at:
    Telephone: 212-851-2364

    • By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.) Go to online appointment system.
    • Walk-in: Wednesdays, 10 a.m – 6 p.m.
  • Still have questions?

    Still have questions?

    If your questions haven't been answered, we urge you to enter them into our online form. Once your form is submitted, we will direct it to the appropriate department. Our goal is to answer any questions submitted by current students within 24 hours.