Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

What steps do I need to take after being admitted to Columbia in order to receive the appropriate documentation?

There are steps that both Columbia and the student are responsible for in order to receive an F-1 entry visa to the United States.

Columbia University will:

  • Upon acceptance provide you with an Application for Visa Certificate (AVC), otherwise known as Form I-20
  • Issue an authentic I-20 after AVC has been approved.

The student must:

  • Hold a current passport valid at least six months into the future at all times
  • Officially register with Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Pay the $100.00 USD fee and print the receipt
  • Make a visa appointment at a United States Consulate. Bring your official letter of acceptance, any financial aid award letter and funds validation letter from your bank, Columbia issued I-20, SEVIS receipt and a passport sized photo.
  • Review the visa once issued to check for correctness. Make sure you have the original copy of the I-20 for entry to the U.S.

Please visit the International Students and Scholars Office immigration website for more information.

Are international students eligible to work in the United States after graduation?

If you are in the United States on an F-1 Student visa you could be eligible to work in the US pending employment status. Please visit the US Citizen and Immigration website to become more familiar with your legal options.

How do I arrange to sit in on a class?

Class listings and dates are available online and at the Visitor Center in 213 Low Library. No reservations are necessary. You may call the Visitor Center at 212-854-4900 to discuss your options if you have a specific date and area of study in mind. On the day that you wish to visit a class, you must go to the Visitor Center to pick up a class ticket.

How do I arrange an on-campus overnight visit?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions does not provide overnight accommodations for prospective students, but you are welcome to stay on campus as a guest of a friend. Alternatively, please refer to our Visitor Information page for a list of hotels and housing options that are within commuting distance to campus.

What hotels do you recommend that are easily accessible to campus?

There are a number of hotels within easy access to campus. For addresses and phone numbers, see Visitor Information.

Where is the Visitors Center? And where is the Office of Undergraduate Admissions?

The Visitors Center can be found at 213 Low Library. Guests should go to the Visitors Center for all questions regarding Columbia, including checking in for information sessions and campus tours.

Low Library is located in the center of campus, a magnificent domed building facing south toward College Walk-which is a continuation of 116th Street. The Visitors Center is immediately on your left as you enter the building.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is located at 212 Hamilton Hall. Hamilton Hall is on the southeast corner of College Walk at the heart of campus.

How do I get to campus?

Please consult our Directions to Campus and Parking page to learn how to get to campus.

Are there any other events offered on campus for prospective students?

Throughout the year Columbia holds many other events that provide a more focused understanding of academic and residential life. These sessions require an RSVP for attendance. Please consult the Events page for information about such specific events held on campus.

I am interested in speaking with a current student, is this possible?

Current student leaders in the Undergraduate, Multicultural and Global Recruitment Committees welcome your questions. To speak with a student directly, please email ugrad-ask@columbia.edu.

Do I need to make an appointment to attend an information session or tour?

Reservations for information sessions and campus tours are strongly recommended and required for groups over 10.

If your plans have changed, you do not need to formally cancel your reservation.

The Visit section is designed to help you plan your visit to Columbia.

What kind of visa or documentation do I need to study in the US?

Full time students must acquire an F-1 (student) entry visa.

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 may not subsequently apply for transfer admission. Also, you may not apply simultaneously as a transfer and as a visitor.

I am interested in your HEOP program. As a transfer, am I eligible for the program?

In order to be eligible for the Higher Education Opportunity Program as a transfer, you must currently be enrolled at a similar program in New York State.

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.

May I transfer for the spring semester?

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

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.

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.

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).

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).

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 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 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 application.

I attend a college/university outside of the United States and Canada. How do I know if it is “U.S.-style?”

A college is considered to be “U.S.-style” if courses are offered in similar terms to U.S. colleges (i.e. quarters, semesters, etc.), you will receive a grade for each course in each term, and you will also receive an English-language transcript. 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.

What role do parents and families play in the Columbia community?

We believe that college is a time when young adults begin to separate from their parents, assume greater responsibility for their decisions and actions, and seek to rely more on institutional support systems. This philosophy, however, does not preclude our belief that familial support systems are extremely important for students, and that parents and families can and should be involved in their student’s education.

How then can you be involved in your student’s Columbia experience while allowing for his or her development? Here are just a few ways:

Listen

Hear what your students have to say. While respecting their newfound autonomy, check in with them every once in a while to see how they’re doing. Don’t assume you know what it’s like for them; remember that the college experience has changed since you were their age!

Learn

Find out more about Columbia. Learn about the school’s history, constituents, leadership, and mission. Check the Columbia website for the latest news on events happening on and off campus. Consult the Family Handbook to learn more about the various resources available to your student.

Help

Help your student take advantage of these resources by directing them to the appropriate office. Remember, we expect students to take responsibility for their own actions and consult these resources themselves, so don’t call on their behalf. Rather, suggest they seek out various resources and follow up with them. Remember that they value your advice, even if they don’t always say so! Network—Get to know other parents and alumni living in your area. Network with other parents, alumni, and administrators. Attend a College Day, Dean’s Day, panel discussion, or other event.

Volunteer

Get involved through the Office of Parent and Family Programs. Welcome new families to campus, help staff a registration table, or sit on a panel at a Summer Advising Session. Volunteering is a great way to get to know other parents and a great way to give back to Columbia.

For more information, please visit the Family Handbook or the Office of Parent and Family Programs.

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.

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.

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 $2.75 per trip with various options for weekly and monthly Metrocards.

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 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.

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