Frequently Asked Questions

May I transfer from Columbia College to the Engineering School (or vice-versa) once accepted and enrolled?

If you are enrolled at either Columbia College or Engineering and you genuinely feel that you should attend the other, you may apply as an internal transfer student. Internal transfers must submit the Internal Transfer Application by March 1. The Internal Transfer Application is now available. There is no guarantee that you will be able to transfer to a different school. Undergraduate Admissions consults with the Center for Student Advising to review your academic performance and curriculum and determine if a change is appropriate.

Related FAQs

What is the process for being selected through the Higher Education Opportunity Program or the National Opportunity Program?

The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) was established by the New York State Legislature in 1969 to assist eligible residents in obtaining higher education at New York private institutions. The National Opportunity Program was created by Columbia in 1986 to provide the same kind of academic and financial support to students from all over the United States. Selection for the HEOP/NOP programs at Columbia involves meeting both academic and economic guidelines.

There are no additional application forms for HEOP/NOP; all eligible applicants to Columbia will be considered for these programs, but applicants may be contacted for an interview.

In order to be eligible for HEOP, applicants must:

  • Reside in New York State and be high school graduates.
  • Demonstrate (through academic records) a need for HEOP support services.
  • Meet economic eligibility criteria set by the New York State Education Department.

Economic documentation for HEOP/NOP

HEOP Economic Eligibility: Household income can be at or below the amounts listed for the number of family members, with the exception of the “single head of household” instruction.

Size of Household

Amount

1 household member$21,590
2 household members$29,101
3 household members$36,612
4 household members$44,123
5 household members$51,634
6 household members$59,145
7 household members$66,656 plus $7,511 for each additional family member thereafter

The primary criterion for admission to NOP is academic; there is no residency requirment and Columbia may select applicants for admission to NOP whose income levels exceed the HEOP criteria.

Although many of our NOP students demonstrate significant financial need, Columbia financial aid is determined on a case by case basis and we meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants admitted as first-year students. There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships at Columbia as all of our institutional financial aid is need-based.

Students can estimate their eligibility for need-based financial aid by using the Net Price Calculator.

Please contact the Academic Success Program at 212-854-3514 or asp@columbia.edu with further questions or concerns.

What is Columbia's policy on the submission of supplementary materials (i.e. musical recording, artistic portfolio, science abstract, etc.)?

While we request that the submission of supplementary credentials be kept to a minimum, there may be occasions where such credentials provide valuable information that the standard application does not. As a result, some recommendations are detailed below. If you plan to submit supplementary credentials, please follow the instructions below. Please note that we specifically ask that you do not send collections of award certificates and the like and explicitly direct that you refrain from submitting your application in binders or folders.

Science and Engineering

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 1-2 page scientific abstract 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 Writing Supplement of the Common Application. Your research mentor can send the letter via email to ugrad-confirm@columbia.edu, via fax to 212-854-3393, or via mail to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Creative and Performing Arts

Please follow the directions below depending on your area of interest:

Musical Performance

Students who wish to submit supplements in these fields should indicate their intention to submit a supplement on their application. On the Common Application, please indicate your intention to submit an arts supplement in Columbia’s member questions; you will then be provided a link to begin your supplement.

Music

Audio materials will be accepted as .mp3 files. Composition scores may be submitted as .pdf files. A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver.

We ask that students select two works contrasting in period and tempo, and choose from one of three possible types of submissions:

  • orchestral instruments (specify instrument);
  • jazz (specify instrument or composition);
  • piano, voice, non-orchestral instruments (e.g. classical guitar) or composition (score or recording of score).

We require that students also list the composer, title of the work and movement title or opus number. The total length of recordings should not exceed 20 minutes and should not include any biographical or introductory material.

Students may submit two music supplements only when their talent is equally impressive in two different areas within music performance or composition. 

Live auditions are not part of the admissions process, but auditions for private lessons and selective ensembles are held for enrolled students at the start of each academic year.

Columbia College candidates applying to the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange should submit materials so that Columbia faculty may assess their talent and potential.

Visual Arts

Digital images will be accepted as .jpg, .gif or .png files, up to 5 MB each. Students submitting a visual arts supplement should select up to 20 digital images that highlight the best work in their portfolio. Live portfolio reviews are not part of the admissions process. 

A processing fee of $10 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver.

Dance

Videos of dance accomplishments will be accepted as .m4v, .mov, .mp4, .wmv, .flv, .asf, .mpeg, .mpg or .mkv file, no more than 250MB and between four and six minutes in length. We require that students also list their name, title of the piece, choreographer, composer/music title, and place and date of performance. Students should also submit a professional resume listing their dance achievements in addition to a video.

Live auditions are not part of the admissions process, but auditions for various dance troupes are held for enrolled students at the start of each academic year.

A processing fee of $10 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver. 

Architecture, Creative Writing, Drama and Theatre Arts and Film

Applicants may upload professional resumes that list artistic achievement in the Columbia Writing Supplement to the Common Application. There is no need to create a SlideRoom profile. 

When do application decisions become available?

The Columbia community is committed to environmental responsibility; in keeping with this commitment, we will provide some admissions decisions only online, not via regular mail. Applicants will receive specific instructions as to how to check their decisions online before decisions are released.

Admission decisions for first-year candidates who apply Early Decision are typically available on or before December 15.

Admission decisions for first-year candidates who apply Regular Decision are typically available on or before April 1.

Admission decisions for transfer candidates are typically available on or before May 15.

Admissions decisions for Combined Plan Program candidates are available in mid April.

Admissions decisions for Visiting Student Program candidates are typically available on or before May 15 (fall applicants) or December 15 (spring applicants).

May I apply to both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering?

No. Applicants to Columbia must choose either Columbia College or Columbia Engineering.

What criteria are used for admissions decisions?

The Columbia University first-year class of College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions asks questions about each applicant’s academic potential, intellectual strength and ability to think independently. The Committee also considers the general attitudes and character of the applicant, special abilities and interests, maturity, motivation, curiosity and whether he or she is likely to make productive use of the four years at Columbia. In its final selection, Columbia seeks diversity of personalities, achievements and talents, and of economic, social, ethnic, racial and geographic backgrounds. Each applicant’s academic record is examined, together with reports on personal qualities that have been supplied by the principal, headmaster or counselor and by teachers. The student’s record of participation in the life of his or her school and community is also important, as is his or her performance on standardized tests.

What is the Combined Plan Program?

Columbia offers a five-year plan in which you can attend Columbia College for three years and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science for two additional years, graduating with both the B.A. and B.S. degrees. If you are interested in the Combined Plan Program (sometimes known as “3-2”), you should apply to Columbia College.

Another five-year program allows you to complete your four-year B.S. program in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and then, with an additional year of study in Columbia College, to earn the B.A. degree as well. If you are interested in the “4-1” Program, you should apply to The School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Are admissions requirements different for home-schooled students?

Home-schooled students receive the same evaluation as other Columbia applicants – every application receives the careful attention of several members of the professional admissions staff, and decisions are made only after review by a committee of these officers. 

Home-schooled students should follow our Required Standardized Testing policy for the necessary tests. If you elect to take any SAT Subject Tests, we encourage you to submit those Subject Test scores. We also recommend that if you have a specific area of academic interest, you submit Subject Test scores in that area of interest, if available. Your scores can assist the Admissions Committee in evaluating content knowledge and mastery in individual disciplines.

I have already graduated from high school. How may I apply to Columbia?

The answer depends on a number of factors, so pay careful attention to the distinctions below. You should also consult the instructions in the application itself. If you still are unsure of your status, please contact us by phone.

The distinctions below apply to all candidates as specified, regardless of citizenship or visa status or need for financial aid. If you are enrolled at a college or university overseas that follows a U.S.-style curriculum (e.g., the American University of Paris), then you should follow the same policy as a student at a college or university in the U.S.

Prospective Columbia Engineering Applicants

A gap in your schooling, whether for military service or any other reason, does not affect your admissions status as delineated in these distinctions.

  1. If you have not already spent a full academic year or more in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia Engineering as a first-year student.
  2. If you have already spent a full academic year or more in a university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to SEAS as a transfer student.
  3. If you have spent more than two full academic years in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia Engineering as an undergraduate at all.
  4. If you have spent a full academic year or less in a university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you must still apply to Columbia Engineering as a first-year student.
  5. If you have spent more than a full academic year in a university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia Engineering as an undergraduate at all.

Prospective Columbia College Applicants

I. If you have had no interruptions in your schooling of more than one academic year in total, or if the interruption in your schooling has been for the minimum length of your country’s mandatory military service:

  1. 1. If you have not already spent a full academic year or more in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia College as a first-year student.
  2. If you have already spent a full academic year or more in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia College as a transfer student.
  3. If you have spent more than two full academic years in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia College as an undergraduate at all. (See paragraph II.)
  4. If you have already spent a full academic year or less in a college/university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia College as a first-year student.
  5. If you have already spent more than a full academic year in a college/university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia College as an undergraduate at all. (See paragraph II.)

II. If you have had any interruptions in your schooling of more than one academic year, or if you have been referred here by item I.3 or I.5 above, then you are strongly advised to apply instead to Columbia University’s School of General Studies, Columbia’s college for nontraditional students who want to earn a degree while attending full- or part-time. Nontraditional students have had a break of one year or more in their educational paths or have compelling personal or professional reasons for completing their bachelor’s degrees part time. Students in the School of General Studies take the same courses with the same faculty and undertake the same majors as all other undergraduates at Columbia.

By visiting the General Studies website, you will find information on applying either as a first-year student or as a transfer. Financial aid is available to all candidates who qualify.

If the foregoing criteria apply to you, you may still apply to Columbia College if you insist, but you should be aware that you are doing so at a great disadvantage and that your acceptance is extremely unlikely.

What are your secondary/high school course requirements for admission?

Columbia College

The College has no explicit number of unit requirements for admission, but applicants must present evidence that they are prepared for college work in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, foreign languages and natural sciences. Accordingly, the College strongly recommends the following preparation:

  • Four years of English literature and composition
  • Three to four years of mathematics
  • Three to four years of history and social studies
  • Three to four years of one foreign language (ancient or modern)
  • Three to four years of laboratory science

Students who plan to become scientists, engineers, physicians or dentists should be as solidly grounded in mathematics and the sciences as their high school schedules and curricula have permitted. The study of mathematics, at least through pre-calculus, is strongly advised wherever possible.

Modifying the preparatory program just outlined - by taking more work in some subjects and less in others - is not only acceptable but may be desirable in individual cases. The vast majority of successful applicants to the College have taken five academic courses per term for all four years of secondary/high school.

Columbia Engineering

The School of Engineering and Applied Science prescribes no standardized course of study for secondary school students applying for first-year admission. The School does, however, strongly recommend the following academic preparation:

  • Four years of mathematics (preferably through calculus)
  • One year of physics
  • One year of chemistry
  • Four years of English
  • Two to three years of a foreign language
  • Three to four years of history and social studies

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