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 Midyear Reports due?
Please have your school submit the Midyear 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 Midyear Report/senior grades.
We do not track Midyear 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. Online document tracking will be available from November 9, 2012 until November 30, 2012 for Early Decision applicants and from February 13, 2013 until March 20, 2013 for Regular Decision applicants.
Combined Plan applicants will be able to track their applications online from March 18 to April 12, 2013. Transfer applications will be able to track their applications online from March 15 to April 15, 2013.
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 email@example.com 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 much is tuition?
For the academic year 2012-2013, the breakdown of billed costs is as follows:
Room and Board: $11,496
Books and Personal: $2,898
Estimated total cost of attendance: $61,642
Additionally, first-year students are assessed a one-time orientation and transcript fee of approximately $521. The purchase of medical insurance is also required for all students who do not have comparable coverage.
How can I get a paper application?
Paper applications are not available. First-Year applicants and transfers must apply online using The Common Application.
I am unsure of my application status. How do I know if I should apply as freshman or as a transfer?
If you have received your high (secondary) school diploma and will have completed one or more full year of college courses, you must apply as a transfer student. If you are applying to Columbia College and have taken a break of more than one full year from college, you should submit an application to the School of General Studies. Applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science should proceed with this transfer application regardless of any break in schooling.
I have already earned a Bachelors degree (or its equivalent). Am I eligible to apply to Columbia as a transfer student if I would like to earn a second degree?
You are not eligible to apply to Columbia College. Instead, you must apply to the School of General Studies. Applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science should proceed with your transfer application.
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 submit the ACT instead of the SAT and/or SAT Subject Test scores?
You may submit ACT scores in place of SAT and SAT Subject Test scores, but remember that the writing component offered by the ACT is mandatory for candidates for Columbia. Even if you are submitting the ACT, we would still welcome SAT Subject Test scores if they were taken. If you have a specific area of academic interest, we recommend that you submit a Subject Test score in that area of interest if one is available.
What is Columbia looking for when evaluating students for admission? What are the criteria for admission?
The Columbia University first-year class College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. Columbia employs a holistic approach in assessing candidates in order to judge which students are the best matches for Columbia’s unique educational experience.
In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions considers 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, cultural, religious, 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.
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 and associated materials by March 1. 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.
What are the final test dates that can be used for the application?
Early Decision candidates
The November test date is the latest acceptable test date on which scores may reach us in time. More information about Early Decision.
Regular Decision candidates
Scores for January tests are generally received in time for consideration, but it is strongly advisable to take testing no later than December. Testing taken in February or later cannot be considered.
Is there a different application for international students?
No. The admissions process for applicants applying with citizenship or schooling outside the U.S. is nearly identical to the general admissions process for all other candidates. The only differences are:
- If your high school does not employ a U.S.-based system, your school must submit the International School Supplement to the Secondary School Report.
- 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, either the TOEFL or IELTS.
- Financial Aid application
- If you are applying for financial aid, different financial aid applications are required for international students. The Office of Financial Aid has detailed information for first-year applicants:
Please visit International Admissions for more information.
Can I get an interview in my country?
Interviews are not required for admission.
Volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) conduct interviews throughout the world from October through February every year on behalf of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. However, because we have a finite number of alumni volunteers to interview the many thousands of candidates, we are unable to grant interviews to all of our applicants and can provide absolutely no guarantee that an interview will be available in any given area. Please note that interviews will be offered only in the area where your high school is located; if you have finished high school and are no longer nearby, an interview will not be available to you.
If the Alumni Representative Committee is able to offer you an interview, you will be contacted directly by an ARC member. Please note that interviews are conducted only by Alumni Representative Committee members, are not offered on campus and are positively not a requirement for admission.
Candidates who are not offered an interview are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. Because the actual assignment of interviews is not conducted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we respectfully ask that you do not call or write to inquire about receiving an interview. You will be contacted directly between the months of October and February if an interview is available in the same area as your high school. Interviews are not offered to transfer students.
Should I ever “rush” my test scores to Columbia?
No! Please do not utilize the “rush” service in sending your test scores to Columbia. Doing so does not speed up the processing of your test scores. We obtain all testing via secure websites to which we are provided access by the appropriate testing agency.
Does Columbia allow students to start in the spring semester?
No, for most candidates. We do not accept applications for January/spring enrollment from First-Year, Transfer or Combined Plan Program candidates. Only Visiting Student Program candidates may apply for January/spring enrollment.
Should I send my AP/IB test results to Columbia?
AP and IB test results are not necessary for application to Columbia, although the information when available may be helpful in assessing a student’s academic achievements. Students who seek to gain credit for AP or IB results should know that credit is granted only after a student is enrolled at Columbia and at the discretion of individual departments.
How does the admissions committee evaluate transcripts and applications from different countries?
Applications are read 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.
In addition, students schooled in non-U.S. styled schools outside of the United States should also submit the Common Application’s International School Supplement to the Secondary School Report.
My native language is not English. Do I have to take an English proficiency exam?
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:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). You are urged to visit the TOEFL website as quickly as possible for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 100 (Internet-based test) or 600 (paper-based test) is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia by the testing service, using report code 2116.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System). You are urged to visit the IELTS website 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.
- If you have a 650 on either the Critical Reading or Writing section of the SAT, you are exempt from taking an English proficiency examination.
If I am rejected under the Early Decision Program, may I apply under the Regular Decision Program?
No. If you apply under the Early Decision Program and are denied admission, you may not reapply to Columbia College, Columbia Engineering or the School of General Studies again that year.
I'm a U.S. citizen studying in a country outside the U.S. Am I considered an international applicant?
Applicants are considered within both the context of their secondary school and the context of their personal experiences, including where they have lived and their cultural background. The admissions committee recognizes that regardless of citizenship, living and/or attending school in a country outside the U.S. provides a student with the opportunity for an international experience. Applicants are not simply placed into international vs. non-international categories based on citizenship or place of schooling.
Students schooled in non-U.S. style schools outside of the United States should also submit the Common Application’s International School Supplement to the Secondary School Report.
Does Columbia offer on-campus interviews?
No. Columbia does not have on-campus interviews. Interviews are only offered by alumni in the area where your high school is located.
May I submit supplementary recommendations?
The Committee discourages the submission of additional recommendations, as admissions decisions will be based primarily on the required recommendations from your high school teachers and secondary school/guidance counselor. In general, we recommend the submission of a supplementary recommendation only if the writer has worked with you in a research or college course capacity. Any supplementary recommendations should not be completed on the Teacher Report forms, but instead on personal stationary.
What is the Visiting Students Program?
Columbia welcomes college students who wish to spend all or part of an academic year taking classes at Columbia. This program has been designed as an opportunity for students to broaden their college experience and is intended as a supplement to the undergraduate program at their home institution. Students in the Visiting Student Program are not ordinarily permitted to apply for transfer admission.
While we will try our best to accommodate students who wish to live on campus, we are not able to guarantee Visiting Student Program students campus housing. Admitted students will be notified at the time of admission if we are able to offer campus housing.
Students may enter in either January or September and may spend one or two consecutive semesters at Columbia. All Visiting Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at their home colleges. Application deadlines are March 15 for September entrance and October 15 for January entrance. No financial aid is available to visiting students, but they are welcome to use financial aid from their home institutions.
What if I don't have a guidance counselor?
Many students in countries outside the U.S. do not have guidance counselors. At U.S.-style secondary schools, guidance counselors are responsible for important parts of the application: submitting the Secondary School Report, the official school transcript, and the Mid-Year School Report. They also write a letter of recommendation for applicants. If you do not have a guidance counselor, these parts of the application can be filled by a principal or director of school, essentially a school official who is able to comment on your academic ability, extracurricular activities and personal qualities within the context of your entire school community.
What is the deadline for applications?
Early Decision: November 1.
Regular Decision: January 1.
Transfer Admission: March 1 or the first business day after March 1.
Visiting Student Program: October 15 or the first business day after October 15 (for spring admission); March 15 (for fall admission) or the first business day after March 15.
Combined Plan Program: Priority/preferred deadline is February 15; final deadline is March 15.
Please note that these are postmark deadlines. An online application must be submitted electronically by these same deadlines.
What is the Early Decision program for first-year applicants?
If you are willing to make a binding commitment to Columbia as your first choice, you may apply under the Early Decision Program.