Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deadline for applications?

Early Decision: November 1, 2014
Regular Decision: January 1, 2015
Transfer Admission: March 1, 2015
Visiting Student Program: November 1, 2014 (for spring admission); March 15, 2015 (for fall admission).
Combined Plan Program: February 15, 2015

Online applications must be submitted electronically by these deadlines.

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. Applicants may be contacted for a telephone or in-person interview by a member of the Opportunity Programs and Undergraduate Services (OPUS) staff.

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 and NOP

HEOP/NOP 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

Amount

1 household member$21,257
2 household members$28.694
3 household members$36,131
4 household members$43,568
5 household members$51,005
6 household members$58,442
7 household members$65,879 plus $7,437 for each additional family member thereafter

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

What is your 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 and Engineering

If you have been involved in scientific research and you are interested in studying engineering or the sciences at Columbia, you are welcome to provide a 1-2 page scientific abstract or a letter of recommendation from your research mentor for our review as a supplement to your application. You may upload your abstract in the Writing Supplement of the Common Application. Your research mentor can send the letter via email to ugrad-confirm@columbia.edu, via fax to 212-854-3393, or via mail to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Creative and Performing Arts

Please follow the directions below depending on your area of interest:

Musical Performance

Please note that musical supplements are not a required part of our admissions process.

Students who do wish to submit electronic samples of their musical work should indicate their interest to submit an art supplement through the Common Application. In Columbia’s member-specific questions, please indicate your interest to submit an arts supplement.

Audio materials will be accepted as .mp3 files. Composition scores may be submitted as .pdf files. A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver. 

Students submitting a music supplement should select two works contrasting in period and tempo. Students will choose from one of three possible types of submissions:

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

We require that you 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.

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

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

Columbia College candidates applying to the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange should still submit materials for Columbia faculty to assess their talent and potential.

Visual Arts

Please note that visual arts supplements are not a required part of our admissions process.

Students who do wish to submit electronic samples of their artistic work should indicate their interest to submit an art supplement through the Common Application. In Columbia’s member-specific questions, please indicate your interest to submit an arts supplement.

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 the admissions process. 

A processing fee of $10 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver. 

Architecture, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama and Theatre Arts and Film Studies

Applicants should not create a SlideRoom profile through the Common Application. You may upload your resume in the Writing Supplement of the Common Application.Students are welcome to submit professional resumes that list artistic achievement. Please refrain from sending CDs, DVDs or hard copies of any materials, as they will not be reviewed. However, if samples of your work can be viewed online, please clearly indicate the relevant links in the Additional Information section of the Common Application.

Finally, please be advised that while we welcome the submission of such credentials, we can provide no guarantee that all materials will be reviewed or evaluated, as they are not required for the admission process.

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).

May I apply to both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering?

No. Applicants to Columbia must choose either Columbia College or Columbia Engineering.

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.

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, 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.

May I submit the ACT instead of the SAT and/or SAT Subject Test scores?

You may submit ACT scores in place of SAT and SAT Subject Test scores, but remember that the writing component offered by the ACT is mandatory for candidates for Columbia. Even if you are submitting the ACT, we would still welcome SAT Subject Test scores if they were taken. If you have a specific area of academic interest, we recommend that you submit a Subject Test score in that area of interest if one is available.

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 January tests are generally received in time for consideration, but it is strongly advisable to take testing no later than December. Testing taken in February or later cannot be considered.

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.

How competitive is admission to Columbia?

Admission to both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering is broad-based but highly selective, and the Committee is only able to offer admission to only a small fraction of all applicants.

In 2012, we admitted just over 7% of the students who applied for first-year admission.

Admission for transfer students is also highly selective. Over the past decade, the Committee has admitted between 5% and 10% of transfer applicants each year.

A profile of the current first-year class is available on the Admissions Statistics webpage.

Is there a minimum test score, class rank or GPA required for admission to Columbia?

No. Columbia does not have a “cut-off” GPA or test score for applicants. For detailed information on the statistics of the most recent entering class, go to the Admissions Statistics page.

If I am accepted, may I defer for a year?

Yes. A candidate who has been offered first-year admission may ask to defer enrollment for a year to work, travel, complete mandatory military service or pursue a special opportunity. A student may not defer admission in order to enroll full-time at another college or university. A second year of deferral may be granted upon request. Students must request a deferral in writing by May 15 after submitting their first-year response form and deposit. Transfer students are not permitted to defer their admission.

What is Columbia’s policy on admissions interviews?

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, 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.

How many Columbia students go on to professional or graduate schools?

Many Columbia students decide to go to graduate or professional school either directly after graduation or after several years of work. Columbia graduates are very successful in gaining admission to professional schools.

In 2008, Columbia undergraduates matriculated at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (14), The Albert Einstein College of Medicine (8), Harvard Medical School (8), Yale Medical School (8), and Cornell’s Weill Medical College (5). Columbia undergraduates also matriculated at law schools including Columbia Law School (50), Harvard Law School (48), New York University Law School (44) and Yale Law School (12). Students who choose to apply to medicine and law schools work with the Office of Pre-professional Advising throughout the application process.

If I speak a language other than English, may I be exempt from the Foreign Language requirement in the Core Curriculum?

Yes, if you are fluent in another language, and you pass the placement exam on campus, you may be exempt from the foreign language requirement.

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.

What is Columbia looking for when evaluating students for admission? What are the criteria for admission?

The Columbia University first-year class College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. Columbia employs a holistic approach in assessing candidates in order to judge which students are the best matches for Columbia’s unique educational experience.

In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions considers each applicant’s academic potential, intellectual strength and ability to think independently. The Committee also considers the general attitudes and character of the applicant, special abilities and interests, maturity, motivation, curiosity and whether he or she is likely to make productive use of the four years at Columbia. In its final selection, Columbia seeks diversity of personalities, achievements and talents, and of economic, social, ethnic, cultural, religious, racial and geographic backgrounds. Each applicant’s academic record is examined, together with reports on personal qualities that have been supplied by the principal, headmaster or counselor and by teachers. The student’s record of participation in the life of his or her school and community is also important, as is his or her performance on standardized tests. 

Can I apply to the Combined Plan program if I have not fulfilled all of the requirements for guaranteed admission?

Yes. Your application materials will be reviewed by the Combined Plan Admissions Committee.

If I am a Combined Plan student, can I pursue an internship while I am at Columbia?

Yes! Combined Plan students have access to the Center for Career Education, which assists students with finding appropriate internship opportunities and preparing for postgraduate careers.

Can foreign/international students get financial aid?

Financial aid is available for foreign students, but it is limited. Columbia does not guarantee that it will meet 100% of a foreign student’s demonstrated financial need. A “foreign” student is one who has neither U.S. citizenship nor U.S. permanent resident status.

Do I have to take physical education classes?

No. Combined Plan students are exempt from the Columbia Physical Education requirement.

Do you offer a Combined Plan program for the M.S. in Engineering degree?

Yes. For more information, contact the Graduate Student Services office at seasgradmit@columbia.edu.

Do you offer fee waivers for the Combined Plan application?

Yes. Please obtain documents demonstrating eligibility from your Financial Aid office and contact the Combined Plan program by e-mail.

How many classes will I take in a typical Columbia Engineering semester?

Depending on the course of study, Combined Plan students will take five or six classes per semester (including laboratory supplements to classes).

How many Combined Plan students are at Columbia?

We have a total of approximately 150 students in the two years of the Combined Plan.

I’m planning to visit Columbia. Are there any Combined Plan specific things I can do?

In addition to a general information session and campus tour, you may be interested in our Engineering tour. Spaces are limited, so we encourage you to RSVP.

If you have any specific questions regarding the Combined Plan program, you may speak to an admissions officer available during your visit, or you may e-mail us at combinedplan@columbia.edu.

May I reapply to the Combined Plan program?

Yes. You will need to resubmit a new application along with an updated transcript and materials.

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