Frequently Asked Questions

Student Life

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What is the female to male ratio at Columbia?

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

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.

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.

How do I get Dining Dollars and Flex dollars?

Dining dollars and Flex Dollars can be purchased at the beginning of the term when paying the yearly bill and can be added to the account throughout the year.

What housing options are available for first-years?

First-year students have four distinct housing options, all located on the main quad of Columbia within minutes of every academic building and with easy access to Butler Library, Columbia’s main library, and Alfred Lerner Hall, the student center. John Jay Hall and Carman Hall are the only first-year exclusive living options. Hartley and Wallach Halls, collectively the Living and Learning Center, house students from all four classes. Furnald Hall houses first-year students and sophomores. New students are placed in one of the four options based on the preferences they submit in their housing applications.

How is housing selected for upperclassmen?

Students will enter into a lottery system in order to select their future housing; they may choose to group with friends and live in one of Columbia’s suites, or they may decide to enter into the lottery alone and live in one of Columbia’s many singles. Over 70% of all undergraduate rooms at Columbia are singles.

Can I seek off-campus housing?

Housing at Columbia offers a wide variety of living opportunities-from corridor style to apartment style living, from residence halls in the middle of the main quad to those on quiet side streets only five minutes walk to the center of campus. The University-wide Office of Off-Campus Housing Assistance supports all affiliates in seeking non-Columbia owned properties.

Can I live on campus during school breaks?

Yes. Continuing students may stay on campus during shorter breaks and apply to stay on campus during summer break through the Columbia University Undergraduate Housing office.

Are students required to live on campus?

Columbia is first and foremost a residential college; first-year students are required to live on campus. Upper-class students may choose to live off campus if they wish, but nearly all of the student body chooses to reside on campus all four years.

Can students who are non-U.S. citizens get internships or jobs in New York City or on campus?

Students may work part time on campus. There are a number of University offices who hire international students, including the University Libraries and the Columbia University Tutoring and Translation Agency.

Students are also eligible to work part-time during the academic year and full-time during vacation periods for international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, etc. When a student is particularly interested in full-time employment, sectors with foreign offices, larger legal departments or greater financial options often yield the best results. When students with international background do find a job, it is often one that utilizes language skill, global knowledge, and so forth.

Practical training is employment in one’s field of study. Optional Practical Training (OPT) - OPT is defined as “employment related to one’s field of study.”

It offers you valuable opportunities to supplement your education through work experience in your field of study. For more specific information about volunteer or paid work as an undergraduate student at Columbia, please refer to  the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) as well as the Center for Career Education (CCE), which also maintains a database for searching for part-time jobs.

Where do students come from?

Students come from all 50 states and over 90 countries. The states sending the greatest number of students are New York, California, New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut. The highest sending international countries are South Korea, Canada, China, India and United Kingdom. Visit our Admissions Statistics page for more detail.

What kinds of internship opportunities are available for students?

Columbia’s location in New York and access to internships are among the most distinct advantages of our educational experience. The Center for Career Education (CCE) oversees the thousands of internships available for undergraduates each year. These opportunities can be either during the academic term, while complementing a student’s academic coursework, or over the summer, when a student can commit to a full-time internship.

How safe is the campus and neighborhood?

Although Morningside Heights is consistently named one of the safest precincts in New York City, the Department of Public Safety further ensures the security of Columbia’s campus and its students. Columbia students have direct access to the public transportation, which eliminates walking far distances to travel between campus and other locations. Should you feel unsafe in the neighborhood, you can ask the merchant at businesses featuring the Red Lion sticker in their windows to phone Columbia Public Safety or the police and wait for security personnel to respond.

Where is Morningside Heights?

Morningside Heights is a residential neighborhood located on the west side of the island of Manhattan. It is approximately a ten-minute walk from the northwestern tip of Central Park and another ten-minute walk to the heart of Historic Harlem. Columbia is located on the #1 subway line and various bus routes. On the #1 train students can get to Times Square in approximately 20 minutes, go uptown to Columbia’s Medical Center in 15 minutes, and get to Columbia’s Baker Field Athletic Complex at the northern tip of Manhattan in 25 minutes.

How accessible is the subway?

The New York City Subway System, with 422 stations, is one of the most comprehensive subway systems in the world. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Columbia’s subway station is Columbia University-116 Street on the #1 subway line, located at 116th Street and Broadway, just a few steps from our main gate. (There are also several bus routes serving Morningside Heights.) The subway connects to all major train stations, and mass transit also connects to the three major airports. The transit fare is $2.50 per trip with various options for weekly and monthly Metrocards.

How does Columbia help students engage with New York City?

You are living in New York City! A subway ride away to all the culture and life of the city. Take advantage of everything that there is to offer, but don’t forget your Columbia ID card. Flash your student ID card to gain free entry into dozens of museums and galleries thanks to the Arts Initiative. That same ID will get you discounted Broadway and movie tickets through Columbia’s Ticket and Information Center (TIC). Then there is Columbia Urban New York which offers free tickets to plays, musicals, and various other events throughout the city through a lottery system. Students also find New York to be an incredible extended classroom. See a painting up close at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, listen to some of the world’s greatest musicians at a small jazz club in the West Village and encounter dozens of cultures, thousands of ideas and millions of people, all in your future home.

What kind of meal plans does Columbia offer?

All first-year students are required to be on a meal plan that they will select over the summer before their arrival. In all succeeding years they may choose to continue a meal plan or utilize the various grocery stores and restaurants in the neighborhood. Meal plans at Columbia consist of a varying number of meals at John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons, JJ’s Place, or Barnard College’s Hewitt Dining Hall, and dining dollars that can be used at any of Columbia’s 13 different on-campus dining locations.

How can I take advantage of everything I want to do in New York City on a student budget?

New York City has something for everyone, which is why it is so often rated as one of the best college towns in the nation. It is full of hidden treasures that offer an inexpensive and yet unique array of food, shopping and entertainment. Some of the most creative culinary experiences are intimate restaurants within a few blocks from campus. Websites such as NYC Visit’s Go Local operates as a service for New Yorkers to get the most out of their city. There are also a variety of e-mail lists that help students gain free access to opportunities such as going to a major motion picture premiere. There are yearly bargains such as New York Restaurant Week, which gives students an inexpensive taste at some of the finest establishments in the city. Columbia helps students by providing discounted and free tickets to many events around the city through the CU ARTS Initiative.

Can Dining Dollars be used off campus?

No, but Columbia students can have a Flex Account, which allows them to make dollar-for-dollar food purchases at a number of off-campus eateries, including Chipotle, the Heights Grill, and Whole Foods Market. Students can also use their Flex Account at all on-campus locations, including the campus bookstore, as well as off-campus drugstores and shops. Please visit the Accepted Flex Locations for a full list of partcipating businesses.

Does Columbia have fraternities and sororities?

Yes. Approximately 10-15% of undergraduate students are affiliated with fraternities or sororities. Over 25 chapters exist on campus, and many are housed in the brownstones and row houses that line 113th and 114th Streets.

What athletics are offered at Columbia?

Columbia University competes at the NCAA Division I level (Division I-AA for football) as a member of the Ivy League. Columbia sponsors varsity teams in 31 intercollegiate sports in addition to many intercollegiate club and intramural teams as well. For more detailed information, please visit the Columbia Athletics website.

Does Columbia have ROTC?

Columbia welcomes students who receive ROTC scholarships. Since Columbia does not presently offer ROTC courses on its campus, students with Army scholarships may enroll in ROTC courses at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice or Fordham University. Students with Air Force scholarships may enroll in ROTC courses at Manhattan College, and students with Navy scholarships may enroll in ROTC courses at the State University of New York-Maritime. Students receive transcripts from these institutions which certify the completion of their ROTC participation.

As of April 25, 2011, Columbia announced that it would officially recognize Naval ROTC. More information about that announcement can be found on the Columbia College website.

Prospective applicants can download the Naval ROTC national scholarship application.

If you have further questions about NROTC, you can contact the Accessions Officer at the NROTC Office via phone at (718) 409-7240 or email at NROTC@SUNYMaritime.edu.

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