Frequently Asked Questions

May I reapply to the Exchange as a Columbia College student if I was not initially admitted to as an incoming student?

Yes, a small number of current Columbia College students apply (or reapply) to the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange each academic year and occasionally students are admitted to participate for the following academic year. Once admitted into the Exchange, Columbia College students may continue each eligible academic year pending performance during annual juries.

May I be admitted to both Columbia College and Juilliard for the Bachelor of Music program but not be admitted to Juilliard specifically for the Exchange?

Yes, due to highly selective admissions for the Exchange, it is possible that applicants may only be admitted to Juilliard's Bachelor of Music degree and not admitted to the Exchange, regardless of admission status at Columbia.

May I apply to both the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange and Juilliard's Bachelor of Music program?

Yes, candidates will need to check the appropriate boxes when applying to Juilliard. However, successful Early Decision candidates must withdraw their Bachelor of Music candidacy to Juilliard, although they may keep their candidacy open for the Exchange.

May I apply Early Decision if I am interested in the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange?

Yes, first-year candidates admitted to Columbia College under Early Decision may keep their candidacy open for the Exchange. However, successful Early Decision candidates must withdraw their Bachelor of Music candidacy to Juilliard along with candidacy to all other institutions as part of the Early Decision binding agreement.

Is there an additional fee for Columbia College students participating in the Exchange?

The Columbia-Juilliard Exchange tuition is $4,750. Financial aid is available to cover the additional tuition expenses for Exchange participants based on demonstrated need and consistent with Columbia policies.

How do I obtain an application for Juilliard?

Please obtain an application and audition information from Juilliard's Office of Admission and submit the Juilliard application directly to Juilliard.

Do Columbia-Juilliard Exchange participants receive a degree from Juilliard?

No, the Exchange is a cross-registration program that does not lead to an additional degree. The lessons are for credit at Columbia College. However, Exchange participants may choose to continue with the Joint Program, which offers the opportunity to earn both a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College and Master's of Music from Juilliard.

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.

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.

May I take the SAT Subject Test in my native language?

Although not required, the SAT Subject Test in a foreign language is meant to demonstrate your achievement in a language that you have learned in school. You should recognize that if you have native fluency in a language, an SAT Subject Test can be put to better use by showcasing a different academic talent.

The SAT is not available in my country. May I still apply without this exam?

If you live in a country, such as the People’s Republic of China, in which the SAT is not available, you are not required to take the exam in order to apply for admission.


Does Columbia allow students to start in the spring semester?

No, for most candidates. We do not accept applications for January/spring enrollment from First-Year, Transfer or Combined Plan Program candidates. Only Visiting Student Program candidates may apply for January/spring enrollment.

How does the admissions committee evaluate transcripts and applications from different countries?

Applications are reviewed by region and members of the admissions office have read and evaluated applications from all over the world and are familiar with a variety of school systems and transcripts. Included with the secondary school report is a "school profile," which includes a description of the school, grading system, curricular and extracurricular resources. If we need more information to make an informed decision or have any questions, we have the option to contact an applicant's school and to do our own research.

Any documents that are part of your application file and not in English, such as transcripts or recommendations, need to be officially translated into English and submitted along with the original documents.

For more information, please visit the International Student Admission page.

If I am rejected under the Early Decision Program, may I apply under the Regular Decision Program?

No. If you apply under the Early Decision Program and are denied admission, you may not reapply to Columbia College, Columbia Engineering or the School of General Studies again that year.

May I submit supplementary recommendations?

We welcome an additional letter of recommendation if the writer has worked with you in a researcher or college course capacity. Any supplementary recommendations should not be completed on the Teacher Report forms, but instead submitted directly to our office. The Committee discourages the submission of additional recommendations, as admissions decisions will be based primarily on the required recommendations from your high school teachers and secondary school/guidance counselor.

What if I don't have a guidance counselor?

Many students in countries outside the U.S. do not have guidance counselors. At U.S.-style secondary schools, guidance counselors are responsible for important parts of the application: submitting the Secondary School Report, the official school transcript, and the Mid-Year School Report. They also write a letter of recommendation for applicants. If you do not have a guidance counselor, these parts of the application can be filled by a principal or director of school, essentially a school official who is able to comment on your academic ability, extracurricular activities and personal qualities within the context of your entire school community.

What is the deadline for applications?

Early Decision: November 1, 2016
Regular Decision: January 1, 2017
Transfer Admission: March 1, 2017
Visiting Student Program: October 15, 2016 (for spring admission); March 15, 2017 (for fall admission).
Combined Plan Program: February 15, 2017

Online applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. (your local time), the day of the deadline.

What is the Early Decision program for first-year applicants?

If you are willing to make a binding commitment to Columbia as your first choice, you may apply under the Early Decision Program.

What is the process for being selected through the Higher Education Opportunity Program or the National Opportunity Program?

The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) was established by the New York State Legislature in 1969 to assist eligible residents in obtaining higher education at New York private institutions. The National Opportunity Program was created by Columbia in 1986 to provide the same kind of academic and financial support to students from all over the United States. Selection for the HEOP/NOP programs at Columbia involves meeting both academic and economic guidelines.

There are no additional application forms for HEOP/NOP; all eligible applicants to Columbia will be considered for these programs, but applicants may be contacted for an interview.

In order to be eligible for HEOP, applicants must:

  • Reside in New York State and be high school graduates.
  • Demonstrate (through academic records) a need for HEOP support services.
  • Meet economic eligibility criteria set by the New York State Education Department.

Economic documentation for HEOP/NOP

HEOP Economic Eligibility: Household income can be at or below the amounts listed for the number of family members, with the exception of the "single head of household" instruction.

Size of Household


1 household member$21,590
2 household members$29,101
3 household members$36,612
4 household members$44,123
5 household members$51,634
6 household members$59,145
7 household members$66,656 plus $7,511 for each additional family member thereafter

The primary criterion for admission to NOP is academic; there is no residency requirement and Columbia may select applicants for admission to NOP whose income levels exceed the HEOP criteria.

Although many of our NOP students demonstrate significant financial need, Columbia financial aid is determined on a case by case basis and we meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants admitted as first-year students. There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships at Columbia as all of our institutional financial aid is need-based.

Students can estimate their eligibility for need-based financial aid by using the Net Price Calculator.

Please contact the Academic Success Program at 212-854-3514 or with further questions or concerns.

What is Columbia's policy on the submission of supplementary materials (i.e. musical recording, artistic portfolio, science abstract, etc.)?

While we request that the submission of supplementary credentials be kept to a minimum, there may be occasions where such credentials provide valuable information that the standard application does not. As a result, some recommendations are detailed below. If you plan to submit supplementary credentials, please follow the instructions below. Please note that we specifically ask that you do not send collections of award certificates and the like and explicitly direct that you refrain from submitting your application in binders or folders.

Science, Engineering and Other Academic Research

If you have completed research with a faculty member or mentor in science, engineering or other academic disciplines (e.g., humanities, social sciences or languages), you are welcome to provide a one or two page abstract and/or a letter of recommendation from your research mentor for our review as a supplement to your application. If you are submitting an abstract, on the same uploaded document please include a short paragraph (250 word maximum) that describes the duration of your research involvement and details regarding your specific role in and contributions to the research project. This will help us better understand your specific research experience beyond what you may have already included in your other application materials.

You may upload your abstract in the Columbia-specific questions to either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Your research mentor can send the letter via email to, via fax to 212-854-3393, or via mail to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Artistic Talents and Performance

Candidates who wish to bring their talents in the creative and performing arts to our academic and extracurricular community on campus are welcome to submit supplementary materials that demonstrate these talents, though please note that these submissions are optional and not required for the admissions process. Candidates are also welcome to submit a letter of recommendation from an instructor or adviser for our review as a supplement to the application.

Dance, Drama and Theatre Arts, Film, Music and Visual Arts

On the Common Application or the Coalition Application, please indicate your intention to submit an arts supplement in Columbia’s member questions; you will then be provided a link to begin your supplement through our SlideRoom portal page. Please be sure to select the program within SlideRoom that aligns with the application (Coalition Application or Common Application) that you are submitting.

Live auditions are not part of Columbia’s admissions process, but auditions for private lessons, selective ensembles, troupes and various productions are held for enrolled students at the start of each academic year.

Each SlideRoom submission incurs a fee, listed in each program below. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver through the Common Application system, and will be provided for all applicants receiving a Coalition Application fee waiver.


A video of dance accomplishments must be no more than 250MB and between four and six minutes in length. We require that students also list their name, title of the piece, choreographer, composer/music title and place and date of performance. 

Students should also submit a professional résumé listing their dance achievements. 

A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission.

Drama and Theatre Arts

Students should submit a professional résumé listing their drama and theatre achievements as well as one of the following:

  • A video, no more than 10 minutes in total length, highlighting theatrical performance, directing, design and/or playwriting.
  • A document in .pdf format, up to 15 pages, of either a theatre script or a portfolio demonstrating contributions in design (such as scenic, costume, lighting or sound fields). Students should provide descriptions of individual images and/or additional information as necessary.

A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission.


Students should submit a professional résumé listing their film achievements as well as one of the following:

  • A video, no more than 15 minutes in total length highlighting film work from one or multiple productions.
  • A document in .pdf format, up to 15 pages, of a screenplay.

A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission.


We ask that students select two works contrasting in period and tempo, and choose from one of three possible types of submissions:

  • orchestral instruments (specify instrument);
  • jazz (specify instrument or composition) or world music;
  • piano, voice, non-orchestral instruments (e.g. classical guitar) or composition (score or recording of score).

We require that students also list the composer, title of the work and movement title or opus number. The total length of recordings should not exceed 20 minutes and should not include any biographical or introductory material. Recordings should be as clear as possible. Students will have the opportunity to indicate the time ranges for any highlighted portions of their recordings.

Audio materials will be accepted as .mp3 or SoundCloud files. Composition scores may be submitted as .pdf files. A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission.

Students may submit two music supplements only when their talent is equally impressive in two different areas within music performance or composition.

Columbia College candidates applying to the Columbia-Juilliard Program should submit materials so that Columbia faculty may assess their talent and potential.

Visual Arts

Digital images will be accepted as .jpg, .gif or .png files, up to 5 MB each. Students submitting a visual arts supplement should select up to 20 digital images that highlight the best work in their portfolio. Live portfolio reviews are not part of Columbia’s admissions process.

A processing fee of $10 will be required at the time of submission.

Architecture and Creative Writing

Applicants may upload professional resumes that list artistic achievement in the Columbia-specific questions to the Common Application or the Coalition Application. There is no need to create a SlideRoom profile. 

When do application decisions become available?

The Columbia community is committed to environmental responsibility; in keeping with this commitment, we will provide some admissions decisions only online, not via regular mail. Applicants will receive specific instructions as to how to check their decisions online before decisions are released.

Admission decisions for first-year candidates who apply Early Decision are typically available on or before December 15.

Admission decisions for first-year candidates who apply Regular Decision are typically available on or before April 1.

Admission decisions for transfer candidates are typically available on or before May 15.

Admissions decisions for Combined Plan Program candidates are available in mid April.

Admissions decisions for Visiting Student Program candidates are typically available on or before May 15 (fall applicants) or December 15 (spring applicants).

Can I get an interview in my country?

Volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) conduct interviews throughout the world from October through February every year on behalf of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. However, because we have a finite number of alumni and current student volunteers to interview the many thousands of candidates, we are unable to grant interviews to all of our applicants and can provide absolutely no guarantee that an interview will be available in any given area. Please note that interviews will be offered only in the area where your high school is located; if you have finished high school and no longer live in the vicinity, an interview will not be available to you. 

After you submit the Common Application or the Coalition Application, your name and contact information are provided to the interviewers in your area; if an interviewer is able to meet with you, you will be contacted directly by e-mail or by phone. Interviews are not offered on campus. Some applicants may be offered interviews via phone or video chat if an interviewer is not able to meet in person – please know that all types of interviews have equal weight in the interview process.

Candidates who are not offered an interview are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. Because the actual assignment of interviews is not conducted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we respectfully ask that you do not call or write to inquire about receiving an interview. You will be contacted directly if an interview is available in the same area as your high school.

Interviews are not available for transfer candidates.

Applicants from China

Columbia recommends that applicants attending high school in China schedule admissions interviews with InitialView or Vericant. Interviews must be scheduled, completed and submitted to Columbia by November 15 for Early Decision or January 15 for Regular Decision. Given the ratio of applicants to alumni interviewers in China, the interview with InitialView or Vericant will take the place of an alumni interview for most candidates. Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions directly should InitialView or Vericant fees present a hardship for you and your family. Both InitialView and Vericant also offer fee waivers.

What do students do after Columbia?

Upon leaving Columbia students enter into a wide variety of fields and industries. Many eventually go back to school for graduate or professional study. Learn about some of Columbia's alumni in our About Our Alumni page.

I'm a U.S. citizen studying in a country outside the U.S. Am I considered an international applicant?

Applicants are considered within both the context of their secondary school and the context of their personal experiences, including where they have lived and their cultural background. The admissions committee recognizes that regardless of citizenship, living and/or attending school in a country outside the U.S. provides a student with the opportunity for an international experience. Applicants are not simply placed into international vs. non-international categories based on citizenship or place of schooling.

What standardized tests are required for first-year admission?

Information on standardized testing requirements is found on the Required Standardized Testing page.

What are the final test dates that can be used for the application?

Early Decision candidates

The November test date is the latest acceptable test date on which scores may reach us in time. More information about Early Decision.

Regular Decision candidates

Scores for February tests can be provided in time for consideration. Testing taken after February cannot be considered.

If you wish to provide updated scores after you have applied, you can submit your scores on your Columbia application status page. The page will only be available after you have submitted your application.

Does Columbia give preference in the admission process to applicants whose parents attended Columbia?

We are always pleased to receive applications from students whose family members have graduated from Columbia. When an applicant is extremely competitive and compares favorably with other similarly talented candidates, being the daughter or son of a Columbia University graduate (from any Columbia school or college) may be a slight advantage in the admission process. This advantage may especially apply for "legacy" candidates.

Please note: applicants are considered to be "legacies" of Columbia only if they are the children of Columbia College or Columbia Engineering graduates.