Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find out if Columbia will be visiting my town?

Columbia admissions officers travel to various parts of the country and the world throughout the year, but the majority of our travel occurs during the fall. If you want to know if Columbia will be visiting a location near you, please visit the Columbia Visits You page.

I am interested in speaking with a faculty member, is this possible?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions works closely with faculty and we collaborate for both admissions review and in outreach to admitted students. As prospective students, we encourage you to direct specific academic questions to Admissions at ugrad-ask@columbia.edu.

I am interested in athletics at Columbia. How do I arrange a meeting with a coach?

Please visit the Columbia Athletics website, search for the sport you are interested in, and click on “Recruit” to complete the form that will be sent to the team’s coaches.

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 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.

Can I be released from my Early Decision contract because of my financial aid package?

It is extremely rare for a family to ask to be released from the Early Decision commitment for financial reasons. If a family determines after discussion with the Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing that they cannot afford to finance a Columbia education, the admitted candidate can be released from the Early Decision agreement. The family must speak with a financial aid officer before the release is granted. Ultimately, it is the family’s decision whether or not they feel capable of accepting the need-based Columbia financial aid award.

Those who do opt out of their Early Decision contract are released to pursue other colleges and universities; the admission offer at Columbia University is then cancelled. A candidate who declines Columbia’s Early Decision offer will not be allowed to reconsider Columbia’s financial aid estimate in the spring Regular Decision cycle and will not be able to reinstate the original offer of admission.

Will my financial aid package be any different if I apply for admission under the Early Decision Program?

No. Some families may think that their chances for financial aid might be worse when applying early, or that they should not ask for financial aid in the Early Decision process. Please be reassured that both Early and Regular Decision processes are need-blind and that financial aid packages are not any more or less comprehensive in the Early Decision process. Columbia College and The Fu Foundation of Engineering and Applied Science award need-based financial aid to all admitted first-year students.

We know Early Decision candidates have made Columbia their first choice, and we make every effort to help these families finance a Columbia education. If, after receiving the estimated Early Decision financial aid offer, an admitted student’s family has concerns about meeting the expected family contribution, we encourage the family to contact the Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing and speak with one of our counselors.

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 or transfer student who is admitted without institutional financial aid, you are not guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances. If you are a US citizen or a US permanent resident, you apply for financial aid every year, and you may be eligible for aid in later years. A family that experiences a change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time. For example, it is not uncommon for a family to suffer a job loss or illness or for a younger sibling to begin attending college. Please note, however, that institutional aid will usually be awarded only in cases that involve an involuntary change in circumstances. Parents who decide to retire early or to invest in a business start-up may not be awarded institutional aid. It is a good idea to include a letter describing your family’s change in circumstances with any new financial aid application.

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

Yes, under certain circumstances. A family that experiences a change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time. For example, it is not uncommon for a family to suffer a job loss or illness or for a younger sibling to begin attending college. Please note, however, that institutional aid will usually be awarded only in cases that involve an involuntary change in circumstances. Parents who decide to retire early or to invest in a business start-up may not be awarded 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 transfer students who were admitted without institutional financial aid are not guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances.

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 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 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 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.

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 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 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.

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