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.

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.

Testing for International Students

To be considered for admission to Columbia, you must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If your home language is not English and if your primary language of instruction has not been English for at least five years, you are required to take an English proficiency examination. Both of the examinations listed here are given all over the world, several times a year; you must take the examination no later than December of the school year in which you are applying:

  1. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). You are urged to visit www.toefl.org as quickly as possible 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). You are urged to visit www.ielts.org as quickly as possible 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.
  3. If you have a 650 on the Critical Reasoning or Writing sections of the SAT, you are exempt from taking an English proficiency examination.

Columbia does not accept the PTE Academic Test. 

Please see our Required Standardized Testing policies, and please note that these standardized tests are required 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 U.S.-style college abroad. A college or university is considered “U.S.-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 U.S.-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.