International Student Admission

Columbia’s admissions application process is largely the same for all students regardless of their citizenship or country of residence. Please see our Application Instructions for more information on procedures and requirements, and What Does Columbia Look For for more information about how our office reviews applications and distinguishes candidates.

Applications are reviewed by region, and members of the admissions office have read and evaluated applications from all over the world and are familiar with a variety of school systems and transcripts. Included with the secondary school report is a “school profile,” which includes a description of the school, grading system, curricular and extracurricular resources. If we need more information to make an informed decision or have any questions, we have the option to contact an applicant’s school and to do our own research.

Undocumented students are encouraged to visit our Undocumented Students webpage.

All prospective students and their families should be aware that the Columbia University Office of Undergraduate Admissions does not authorize or work with any independent agents anywhere in the world for our recruitment efforts.

Students at Non-English Speaking Schools

Any documents that are part of your application file and not in English, such as transcripts or recommendations, need to be officially translated into English and submitted along with the original documents.

English Language Proficiency Requirement for International Students

To be considered for admission to Columbia, you must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. There are several different ways to demonstrate that you are proficient in English on your application.

  1. Your home language is English.
  2. Your primary language of instruction at school has been English for at least 5 years.
  3. You earned one or more of the following subsection scores:
      1. 650 or higher on either the Critical Reasoning or Writing sections of the SAT before March 2016
      2. 700 or higher on the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section of the redesigned SAT (beginning in March 2016)
      3. 29 or higher on the English or Reading sections of the ACT

If you meet one or more of the above criteria, you have fulfilled Columbia’s English Language Proficiency requirement. If you do not, you will need to take one of the following English Language Proficiency exams.

  1. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Please visit www.toefl.org for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 600 (paper-based test) or 100 (Internet-based test) is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia by the testing service, using report code 2116.
  2. IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Please visit www.ielts.org for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 7.0 is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia Undergraduate Admissions.

Columbia does not accept other English Language Proficiency exams at this time.

Please note that our Required Standardized Testing policies are in addition to any testing required for English language proficiency.

International Transfer Students

Columbia welcomes applications from international transfer students. However, in order to be eligible to apply as a transfer, you must first meet certain criteria. You must be enrolled in a college in North America or in a US-style college abroad. A college or university is considered “US-style” if:

  • courses are offered term by term (quarters, semesters, etc)
  • a grade is given for each course in each term
  • your college/university can provide an English-language transcript showing those courses and those grades

To apply from abroad if your college is not US-style as defined above, you must apply as a first-year student only in your first year of study. If you have begun your second year of study or beyond, you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia as an undergraduate.

Post-secondary work can be considered for possible transfer credit after you are admitted to Columbia and accept our offer.

You must fulfill our English Language Proficiency requirements, in addition to the Transfer Admission requirements to apply for transfer admission.