Frequently Asked Questions

Are international students allowed to apply Early Decision?

Yes. However, even very competitive foreign candidates who are applying for financial aid and fall out of the “need-blind” category may be deferred to Regular Decision so the Admissions Committee can review the entire global applicant pool.

Does Columbia accept international transfer students?

To apply as a transfer, you must be enrolled in a “U.S.-style” college or university. 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.

If your school is not U.S.-style as defined above, you must apply as a first-year student, by the appropriate Early Decision or Regular Decision deadline, and 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 at all. Should you be admitted to Columbia and accept our offer, your post-secondary work cannot be considered for credit and you acknowledge that credit may not be received for any or all coursework taken at the previous college/university.

What forms/documents are required for financial aid consideration?

Please visit Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing website to see a complete listing of all forms required and the appropriate deadlines.

Can international families apply for financial aid in future years if they do not apply the first year?

If you are a foreign student who is admitted without institutional financial aid, you cannot be guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances. A foreign student whose family experiences a severe and unforeseen change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time, and such requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  

Can families apply for financial aid in future years if they do not apply the first year?

Yes, under certain circumstances. A student who is a US citizen or permanent resident and whose family experiences a change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time. For example, a family may suffer a job loss or illness, or a younger sibling may begin attending college. Please note, however, that not every change in circumstances may qualify a family for institutional aid. It is a good idea to include a letter describing your family’s change in circumstances with any new financial aid application.

Please note: foreign students and combined plan students who were admitted without institutional financial aid are not guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances.

What are the differences between Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Barnard College and the School of General Studies?

Columbia College is Columbia’s traditional undergraduate liberal arts college, its founding in 1754 as King’s College marks the birth of Columbia University.

Columbia Engineering is the University’s engineering school, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Barnard College is a liberal arts college for women in partnership with Columbia University.

At Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and Barnard College, students usually come directly from high school and attend full-time.

The School of General Studies is 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.

All four colleges are located on the Morningside Heights campus in New York City.

What is the percentage of international students on campus?

17% of the undergraduate student body brings an international perspective to campus. For more information on international programs and services, please visit A Global Community section of our website.

What is the international population at Columbia?

Including the entire University, Columbia has the fifth largest number of international students of any college or university in the U.S.

Among the undergraduate students in the 2014 fall entering class:

  • Percentage of international students for the Class of 2018: 19%
  • Number of countries represented in the Class of 2018, by citizenship and places of schooling: 62
  • Top countries represented include: South Korea, China, India, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Colombia

Among all undergraduates:

  • Number of countries represented in the entire student body, by citizenship and places of schooling: over 90

For more information on international programs and services, please visit the International Students and Scholars website.

How many students are admitted as transfers?

Due to the high retention rate in both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, there are usually very few spots in the sophomore and junior classes. As a result, we typically admit fewer than 10 percent of those who apply for transfer admission each year. Though the number varies from year to year, in recent years, we have admitted roughly 150 transfers from over 2,500 applicants.

How heavily do my high school record and standardized test scores weigh in the decision-making process?

Due to the timing of the transfer process, we are generally unable to consider grades earned in the second semester of the year of application; thus, high school grades, rigor of program and standardized test scores are all important in the evaluation of transfer credentials, especially for students applying for sophomore standing. If you have applied to Columbia previously, the documents you provided at that time will not roll over; you must resubmit any information requested by this transfer application.

How do you determine which of my credits will transfer?

Courses may be eligible for transfer credit if they are analogous to undergraduate courses offered in Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, and you have received a grade of C- or better for Columbia College or a B or better for Columbia Engineering.

How do transfers get involved in campus life?

Transfers become fully-integrated members of the campus community. This begins during your first days at Columbia, through our New Student Orientation Program. In addition to the many clubs and organizations available to you, the Columbia University Transfer Alliance is also a resource to help new students acclimate to campus life.

I am interested in the arts at Columbia. Can I send in a portfolio or sample of my work?

Please see our Supplementary Materials page for information on submitting art and/or music materials.

I currently attend a community college. Should I wait until I receive my Associates degree to transfer, or can I transfer without it?

You may certainly apply to transfer without having received an Associates degree.

I have attended more than one college. Can I just submit a transcript from the school I am currently attending?

No. You must submit transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended.

I have been in college for some time. Do I still have to submit SAT/ACT scores?

Regardless of how long they have been out of high school or in college, all transfer candidates must submit standardized test scores. You must take or have taken either the SAT or the ACT Plus Writing, and the scores must be directly reported to Columbia by the appropriate testing agency. If you have previously taken the SAT Subject Tests, those scores must also be officially reported; if you have not taken the SAT Subject Tests, you are not required to take them now.

I have taken some time off from school. May I still apply as a transfer?

Potential applicants to Columbia College who have taken a break of more than one full academic year in their education (with the exception of those who must complete national military service) should consider instead Columbia’s School of General Studies; the same is true for students who wish to attend a part-time program. Applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science should proceed with this transfer application regardless of any break in schooling.

If I previously applied to Columbia, will my application roll over?

If you have applied to Columbia previously, the documents you provided at that time will not roll over, so you must resubmit any information requested by this transfer application. (Note: Standardized testing previously sent by the College Board or ACT does not need to be resubmitted.)

Is financial aid for transfers need-blind?

All applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or students granted refugee visas by the United States are read in a need-blind manner, no matter where they attend school or where they reside. The term “need-blind” means financial need has no bearing on the admissions decision. All other applicants are evaluated in a need-aware manner, which means that the admissions committee takes into consideration how much financial aid a student requires when rendering an admissions decision. Columbia admits a large number of foreign students who receive a substantial amount of financial aid.

How can I get a paper application for transfer admissions?

Paper applications are not available. Transfers must apply online using The Common Application.

Do you meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for transfers?

All transfer applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or students granted refugee visas by the United States are read in a need-blind manner. Foreign students applying for aid must understand that such aid is awarded on an extremely limited basis. Columbia meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted transfer students and Columbia does not give any scholarships for academic, athletic or artistic merit.

Please visit the Financial Aid website for more information on financial aid for transfer students, including all required forms.

Do you offer a fly-in program or travel funding for prospective QuestBridge participants or scholars?

We do not have fly-in programs for prospective applicants or QuestBridge scholars. You are always welcome to visit our campus for a campus tour or information session as well as any open houses or events we host on or off campus throughout the year. You can find more information on the Visit section of our website.

Can I track my QuestBridge application online?

Since QuestBridge processes your application and forwards documents to us on your behalf, we cannot provide you with online tracking. Please note that someone from our or QuestBridge’s office will be in touch if we are missing a part of your application.

Can international students apply through QuestBridge?

Yes, Columbia will consider students who are not United States citizens or permanent residents for the QuestBridge College Match program.

Foreign and international students are an integral part of the university and Columbia is deeply committed to enrolling a student body that includes students from around the world. We do not have a separate application or process for international students. Please visit our International Student Admissions webpage for more information.

How many students attend Columbia?

Undergraduate enrollment is approximately 4,500 in Columbia College and 1,500 in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

What is the percentage of students of color on campus?

Over 50% of our undergraduate student body identify themselves as students of color, and diversity has long been recognized as one of Columbia’s hallmarks. Recently, Black Enterprise Magazine ranked Columbia as the top Ivy League university for African American students. Hispanic Magazine ranked Columbia as one of the top ten colleges in America for Latino/a students. The Office of Multicultural Affairs exists as a resource to respond to the needs of a diverse undergraduate student body and aims to promote an inclusive university climate and to prepare students to succeed in a heterogeneous and ever-changing society.

What is the female to male ratio at Columbia?

Columbia is approximately 51% male and 49% female between the two undergraduate schools.

Are interviews available for transfers?

It is not our policy to interview prospective transfer applicants. Therefore, you should use the application as the appropriate platform to discuss and/or explain anything that you feel is of particular importance.

Are there any scholarships available for transfers?

There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships at Columbia, as all of our institutional financial aid is need-based. However, our students are often the recipients of merit-based scholarships from outside organizations (state grants/scholarships, local/national merit-based awards, etc.).

Are there specific classes that I must take prior to transfer?

There aren’t any courses that are strictly required for admission as a transfer. We require a minimum of 24 credits, or the equivalent of one academic year, to transfer.

If you are applying to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Columbia Engineering), we would certainly hope to see strong math and science preparation (Calculus, Chemistry, Physics, etc.). Columbia Engineering recommends that prospective transfers follow a course of study similar to our First Year-Sophomore program.

If you are applying to Columbia College, we recommend only that you take courses that are similar in content to courses offered in Columbia College. You should familiarize yourself with the appropriate course bulletin to get a sense of which courses might be appropriate.

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