Frequently Asked Questions

I’m not sure if transferring is the right option for me. Can I attend Columbia as a Visiting Student and then transfer?

Visiting Students to Columbia College may not subsequently apply for transfer admission. Also, you may not apply simultaneously as a transfer and as a visitor.

Related FAQs

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.

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.

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.

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.

I’m not sure if transferring is the right option for me. Can I attend Columbia as a Visiting Student and then transfer?

Visiting Students to Columbia College may not subsequently apply for transfer admission. Also, you may not apply simultaneously as a transfer and as a visitor.

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.

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.)

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.).

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.

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.

Is housing guaranteed for transfer students?

As a transfer, you will be guaranteed housing during your time at Columbia, unless you choose to move off-campus at any time, at which point the housing guarantee is forfeited.

Are transfers required to live on campus?

Transfers are not required to live on campus.

May I study abroad as a transfer?

Your ability to study abroad depends quite a bit on your class standing when you enter Columbia, and your remaining degree requirements. If you enter Columbia as a sophomore, the possibility of studying abroad is greater. If you enter Columbia as a junior, it is unlikely that you will be able to study abroad. Regardless of your class standing, this is a conversation you should have with your academic adviser as soon as possible.

Do I have to take the Core Curriculum, even if I’ve already taken similar courses at my current college/university?

The Core is the cornerstone of undergraduate academic life at Columbia. Even those transferring in with advanced credit should expect to take elements of the Core, if not all of it. Students are very rarely exempt from Core classes like Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, Art Humanities and Music Humanities.

May I study part-time?

You cannot study part-time in either Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. If you wish to study part-time, you must apply to the School of General Studies.

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.

May I transfer for the spring semester?

No. We do not accept applications for January/spring enrollment from transfer candidates.

How can I get a paper application for transfer admissions?

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

Must I have a minimum number of credits in order to transfer?

To be eligible to enroll at Columbia, you must have completed, or be in the process of completing, the equivalent of one full academic year, typically a minimum of 24 credits. Please review the Academic Credit for Transfer Students guide for more information.

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.

What are you looking for in a transfer applicant?

Our evaluation of transfer applicants is a holistic process. We consider the strength of the applicant’s academic record (both in high school and college), standardized test scores, extracurricular involvement, letters of recommendation and the essay.

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.

Will college courses I took while in high school count toward the transfer credits you will accept?

Credit will not be awarded for courses taken while in high school, even if they were taken at a college or university. However, we will award credit for qualifying scores on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams (typically, scores of 4 or 5 on AP exams; 6 or 7 on Higher Level International Baccalaureate exams).

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.

Will I be able to stay an additional semester or year if I need to complete requirements for graduation?

Students are expected to graduate within eight semesters, including time spent at another college or university. Students are typically not permitted to extend their undergraduate studies unless they are enrolled in one of our Joint Degree programs (e.g. the Combined Plan).

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.

Will I know how many of my credits have transferred before I have to deposit?

If admitted, you will receive a Transfer Credit Evaluation (TCE), informing you of how many credits you have (tentatively) been awarded. Final credit approval will not be granted until all final official transcripts from previous institutions have been received and been reviewed by your advising dean and/or academic department.

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 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 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.

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