Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Visiting Student Program open to high school students?

No, only undergraduates in degree-seeking programs may apply for the Visiting Student Program at Columbia College. 

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 ugrad-confirm@columbia.edu, 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.

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.

We request that Mid-Year Report/senior grades are submitted by February 1, or as soon as they are available. If you have completed high/secondary school at the time of application, it is not necessary to send in new documents.

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 ugrad-confirm@columbia.edu 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 email 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.

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.

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 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.

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. 

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.

How can I find out if Columbia will be visiting my town?

Columbia admissions officers travel to various parts of the country and the world throughout the year, but the majority of our travel occurs during the fall. If you want to know if Columbia will be visiting a location near you, please visit the Columbia Visits You page.

I am interested in speaking with a faculty member, is this possible?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions works closely with faculty and we collaborate for both admissions review and in outreach to admitted students. As prospective students, we encourage you to direct specific academic questions to Admissions at ugrad-ask@columbia.edu.

I am interested in athletics at Columbia. How do I arrange a meeting with a coach?

Please visit the Columbia Athletics website, search for the sport you are interested in, and click on “Recruit” to complete the form that will be sent to the team’s coaches.

What is the percentage of students who live on campus?

Columbia undergraduate students are guaranteed housing for all four years. Nearly all undergraduates live on campus all four years and first-year students are required to live on campus.

How many students live on campus?

Columbia undergraduate students are guaranteed housing for all four years. Nearly all undergraduates live on campus all four years.

Does Columbia provide support for students who have unpaid internships?

Columbia strongly believes that students should be able to follow their passions and experience jobs and opportunities that will lead them toward their professional goals. Columbia supports students with unpaid internships in two distinct ways. First, The Work Exemption Program (WEP) is part of the financial aid program for undergraduate students in Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program is designed to enable financial aid recipients to take advantage of such unpaid opportunities as internships, research projects, and community outreach, locally, nationally, and internationally. Students have the option of applying for exemption from the summer savings portion of their financial aid package or exemptions from Federal Work Study during the academic year. Secondly, all students at Columbia are encouraged to apply for the Alumni Internship Fund administered by the Center for Career Education (CCE). CCE also offers an array of alternative funding sources for students that may help fund a summer internship or fellowship.

Can I be released from my Early Decision contract because of my financial aid package?

It is extremely rare for a family to ask to be released from the Early Decision commitment for financial reasons. If a family determines after discussion with the Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing that they cannot afford to finance a Columbia education, the admitted candidate can be released from the Early Decision agreement. The family must speak with a financial aid officer before the release is granted. Ultimately, it is the family’s decision whether or not they feel capable of accepting the need-based Columbia financial aid award.

Those who do opt out of their Early Decision contract are released to pursue other colleges and universities; the admission offer at Columbia University is then cancelled. A candidate who declines Columbia’s Early Decision offer will not be allowed to reconsider Columbia’s financial aid estimate in the spring Regular Decision cycle and will not be able to reinstate the original offer of admission.

Pages