Frequently Asked Questions

I have completed scientific research during high school. How can I share this information in my application?

If you have been involved in scientific research and you are interested in studying engineering or the sciences at Columbia, you are welcome to provide a one or two page scientific abstract and/or a letter of recommendation from your research mentor for our review as a supplement to your application. You may upload your abstract in the Columbia Writing Supplement to the Common Application or in the Application section on the Columbia First-Year Application. Your research mentor can send the letter via e-mail to, via fax to 212-854-3393, or via mail to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Does Columbia work with third-party agents?

Columbia University does not work with any admissions agent who expects compensation from a college or university. 

Columbia’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions is pleased to work directly with applicants and their families, with their school officials, and with a variety of government and non-profit community-based organizations in the United States and abroad.  While we respect the work of independent educational consultants, we of course expect them to adhere to the highest standards of professional ethics.

How should my school counselor and teachers submit their materials?

If you have decided to use the Columbia First-Year Application, please notify your school counselor as soon as possible.  If you attend a school that uses Naviance, you should indicate on your school list that you are not using the Common Application to apply to Columbia.

When you are completing the Columbia First-Year Application, you will be asked to provide your counselor’s contact information in the Academics section and your teachers’ contact information in the Recommendations section. These are also the sections where you can send a request to your recommenders. They will then receive notification e-mails with instructions for uploading their materials. School officials may also send documents to Columbia via mail or email.

I have already started filling-out the Common Application and have not had any technical issues, but I want to switch to the Columbia First-Year Application now that it is an option. May I?

If you have already started the Common Application and have not encountered any issues in doing so, please continue with it. The Columbia First-Year Application is simply here to serve as an alternative for those students who are unable to submit the Common Application. 

Will I still be able to track my application if I use the Columbia First-Year Application?

Yes, application tracking will be the same for both options, but tracking is available only during certain times in the admissions process. If, during that period, you discover that any items are listed as “not received/processed,” please have your school submit a duplicate copy of this missing information to us via fax or via e-mail at as soon as possible. Faxed/e-mailed materials will take up to one week for processing. You will have time to submit the missing credentials before decisions are released without being penalized.

As our Application Instructions state, we will consider a file complete with only one Teacher Evaluation on file.

We do not track Midyear Reports/senior grades or additional materials.

The questions on the Common Application and the Columbia First-Year Application are slightly different. Does that matter?

No, the components we require for our admissions review process are covered by both applications, and any differences are minor. Applicants are not at an advantage or disadvantage based on which application they choose.

Can I submit the Columbia First-Year Application as a paper copy?

No, the Columbia First-Year Application and the Common Application can be submitted only electronically. 

Are the application fees the same for both the Common Application and the Columbia First-Year Application?

Yes, the application fee for either the Common Application or the Columbia First-Year Application is $85. We also offer fee waiver options for students who qualify. Information regarding application fee waivers can be found here.

Are the deadlines the same for both the Common Application and the Columbia First-Year Application?

Yes, either the Common Application or the Columbia First-Year Application must be submitted by Columbia’s Early Decision deadline of November 1 or our Regular Decision deadline of January 1.

Columbia accepts either the Common Application or the Columbia First-Year Application. Is there an advantage in using one application over the other?

The Columbia First-Year Application is an option for students who wish to apply to Columbia. We will evaluate candidates using our own application with the same holistic review process that we will use to review those who submit the Common Application; there is no preference for one over the other. Please be aware that students must submit only one complete application, using either the Common Application or the Columbia First-Year Application.

My country has mandatory military or other national service. How does that affect the timing of my application to Columbia?

It is your choice whether to apply during your final year of secondary school or during your obligatory service, but keep in mind that first-year students may enter Columbia only in September. You may prefer to apply to Columbia while you are still in secondary school and you have your counselors and teachers near at hand when you are arranging for transcripts, recommendations and other credentials to be submitted; if you are admitted, then we will grant a deferment of your entry to Columbia so that you may perform your mandatory service. On the other hand, you may wish to apply during your time of service in case it brings you additional self-awareness and life experiences that you feel may make your candidacy more compelling.

If you apply to Columbia during your final year of secondary school and are not admitted, then you may apply again during your obligatory service. That is permitted only if you are not holding a place at another college or university anywhere in the world.

When are Mid-Year Reports due?

Please have your school submit the Mid-Year Report as soon as first quarter or first trimester grades are available if you are an Early Decision candidate; for Regular Decision candidates, as soon as first semester or second trimester grades are available. We will accept the documents either electronically or in paper form via postal mail or fax.

There is no deadline for submitting the Mid-Year Report/senior grades.

We do not track Mid-Year Reports/senior grades through the online tracking system.

How do I track the status of my application?

Admissions online document tracking is only available during certain times in the admissions process. 

If, at that time, you discover that any items are listed as “not received/processed,” please have the school submit a duplicate copy of this missing information to us via fax or via e-mail at as soon as possible. Faxed/e-mailed materials will take up to one week for processing. You will have time to submit the missing credentials before decisions are released without being penalized.

According to our Application Instructions, we will consider a file complete with only one Teacher Evaluation on file.

We do not track Midyear Reports/senior grades or additional materials.

How does Columbia support international students?

Columbia University is one of the most international institutions of higher education in the United States. In order to best support the myriad international communities in the student bodies of Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, Columbia Student Affairs created the office of International Student Programs and Services (ISPS).

ISPS is committed to providing a caring and supportive atmosphere for international students through a variety of academic and student life resources. ISPS aims to infuse international perspectives into the support services offered to students, enable individuals to represent their international background with their own story, advocate for the importance of a diverse international population in academic and social life and stimulate conversation about international issues.

How does Columbia accommodate students with food allergies?

Columbia Dining is committed to making dining halls safe places to eat. As such, Columba Dining has taken the following measures for some common allergies:

Nuts: John Jay Dining Hall and Ferris Booth Commons have removed nuts from all recipes, but they have also created special “nut zones” for peanut butter, nut-containing muffins and nuts to be used as toppings. A special set of utensils and dishes are used as these stations.

Identification System: Both printed menus and those that appear online are coded with certain allergen identification tags. For instance, a “GF” symbol next to an item means the item is gluten-free. Vegetarian and Vegan options are also labeled.

Special Staff Training: Columbia Dining culinary staff have been trained to prevent cross-contamination and are educated on various food allergies and food sensitivities. A Registered Dietitian offers individualized assistance for students with food allergies, food sensitivities or any other food concerns, and on-site managers can answer questions. 

Are Halal dining options available for students?

Yes, John Jay Dining Hall offers a Halal meal plan option. A delicious variety of traditionally prepared meats, such as Mediterranean fish, roasted lemon chicken and curried beef, is offered and the vegetables served are all vegan and gluten-free products. Columbia Dining receives most of the food on the Halal menu from Midamar.

Are Kosher dining options available for students?

Yes. There are two Kosher Dining Plans available:

1. Columbia University Kosher Dining Plan

Students may elect to participate in the Kosher Dining Plan for an additional 10% fee. This allows access to a restricted kosher area within John Jay Dining Hall that serves a full array of kosher items (Freshko sandwiches, salads and snacks).

2. Barnard College Kosher Dining Plan

The Barnard College Kosher Dining Plan provides 3 kosher meals a day, 7 days a week. High quality food, including freshly-made pizza and a great salad bar, is conveniently located in Barnard’s main dining facility, Hewitt Hall. Both Barnard and Columbia students can enjoy their meals in comfort with the rest of the student population. The Kosher dining plan is strictly supervised k’halakhah by the Columbia/Barnard Hillel Rabbi. Additionally, the Barnard Kosher Dining Plan provides a homey atmosphere for Shabbat, Yom Tov and other festive occasions. For more information, please contact Barnard Dining Services.

Is housing guaranteed for students at Columbia?

Yes, students are guaranteed housing for up to 8 terms during their time at Columbia. Over 95% of undergraduate students and 100% of the Class of 2016 live on campus.

Where do transfer students live?

All transfer students are housed with their class in upperclass residence halls. Assignment is based on seniority and building preference with applications processed on a rolling basis. Students are notified by e-mail when rooms are assigned.

Are students required to be on a Dining Plan?

All first-year students are required to be on a Dining Plan, but enrollment after the first year is optional. 

Where can students eat on campus?

Students can use their Dining Plan at John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons and JJ’s Place. They may use Dining Dollars, Flex, cash or credit card at any of the on-campus dining locations. You can view the list of locations and hours of operation online.

I received a B- in a required prerequisite class. Do I still qualify for guaranteed admission?

For students who began at an affiliate school in fall 2011 or later, the minimum grade for each pre-engineering prerequisite course must be a B (3.0) on the first attempt. As a B- is less than a B on a 4.0 scale, receiving a B- or less would preclude a student from guaranteed admission, and would put the student in our competitive review process. Students who began at an affiliate school prior to fall 2011, there are no minimum grade requirements for guaranteed admission.

How much is tuition?

For the academic year 2015-2016, the breakdown of educational costs is as follows:

Tuition and Fees: $53,000

Room and Board: $12,860

Books and Personal Expenses: $3,224

Estimated total cost of attendance: $69,084

Additionally, first-year students are assessed a one-time orientation and transcript fee of approximately $523. The purchase of medical insurance is also required for all students who do not have comparable coverage.

What is Joint Travel?

Joint Travel refers to information sessions offered in conjunction with other universities. These give students the opportunity to hear from multiple universities so they can form a better understanding of which school represent the best fit for their intellectual and personal goals. Currently, Columbia participates in joint travel with Brown University, Cornell University, Rice University and the University of Chicago; this travel group is known as Exploring Educational Excellence. We will also be traveling this fall with Barnard College, Fordham University, The Juilliard School and New York University for the Arts Capital of the World Tour.

Does Columbia perform any outreach efforts away from New York?

Columbia has a presence around the world through our outreach efforts. Prospective students will be able to meet current admissions officers at local high school visits, college fairs, community-based organization sessions, Introduction to Columbia information programs and at information sessions offered jointly by Columbia and other colleges. Our efforts are supplemented by members of our Alumni Representative Committee who attend college fairs and other events on Columbia’s behalf. Please go to Columbia Visits You for more information on upcoming programs around the world.

When are tours and information sessions offered?

Tours and information sessions are offered throughout the year on a varying schedule. For the majority of the year, information sessions that are approximately one-hour long begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are followed by the general tour at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Please consult the Visit section of this site for specific information on the day that you choose to visit.

Does Columbia have any special internship programs?

The Center for Career Education is constantly developing new internship programs in order to expand opportunities for students and respond to new interests.

One program specific to Columbia is the Columbia Arts Experience that connects undergraduates interested in career in the arts with internships in those fields.

The Columbia University Internship (CU In) Program offers undergraduate students high-quality internship experiences in a diverse array of industries in Los Angeles and San Francisco through alumni and employer partnerships.

Columbia Communities in Action (CCIA) provides selected students with a New York-based internship in the local community in order to gain the necessary skills and experience to make a difference in the community.

I do not think I can visit Columbia. Is there a way in which I can get a sense of the campus?

We provide an online campus tour podcast that allows prospective students and families throughout the world to gain a better understanding of campus. The tour is led by Columbia students who describe academic and student life on Columbia’s historic Morningside Heights campus in the middle of New York City.

My family does not speak English. Does Columbia provide information in other languages?

Columbia provides self-guided walking tours in five other languages to accommodate families that do not speak English. Copies of these self-guided walking tours are available in the Visitor Center.

Are there information sessions offered in my country, and where can I find the schedule of such events?

You can determine if Columbia will be visiting a location near you by reviewing Columbia Visits You.