My native language is not English. Do I have to take an English proficiency exam?
To be considered for admission to Columbia, you must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If your home language is not English and if your primary language of instruction has not been English for at least five years, you are required to take an English proficiency examination. Both of the examinations listed here are given all over the world, several times a year; you must take the examination no later than December of the school year in which you are applying:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). You are urged to visit the TOEFL website as quickly as possible for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 100 (Internet-based test) or 600 (paper-based test) is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia by the testing service, using report code 2116.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System). You are urged to visit the IELTS website as quickly as possible for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 7.0 is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia Undergraduate Admissions.
- If you have a 650 or higher on the Critical Reading or Writing sections of the SAT, or a 29 or higher on the English or Reading sections of the ACT, you are exempt from taking an English proficiency examination.
Columbia does not accept the PTE Academic Test.
Please see our Required Standardized Testing policies, and please note that these standardized tests are required in addition to any testing required for English language proficiency.
What is the Visiting Student Program?
Columbia welcomes college students who wish to spend all or part of an academic year taking classes at Columbia. This program has been designed as an opportunity for students to broaden their college experience and is intended as a supplement to the undergraduate program at their home institution. Students in the Visiting Student Program are not permitted to apply for transfer admission.
While we will try our best to accommodate students who wish to live on campus, we are not able to guarantee Visiting Student Program students campus housing. Admitted students will be notified at the time of admission if we are able to offer campus housing.
Students may enter in either January or September and may spend one or two consecutive semesters at Columbia. All Visiting Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at their home colleges. Application deadlines are March 15 for September entrance and October 15 for January entrance. No financial aid is available to visiting students, but they are welcome to use financial aid from their home institutions.
What majors are offered in Columbia College?
There are 59 Departments of Instruction offering more than 80 different Areas of Study for students in Columbia College. A complete listing of majors and concentrations offered by Columbia College is available under Columbia College Programs of Study.
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.
How can I start a club?
Clubs are organized by five governing boards-the Activities Board at Columbia, the Club Sports Governing Board, Community Impact, the Intergreek Council and the Student Governing Board. Each governing board oversees a particular set of organizations and has specific guidelines for prospective groups. Student life fees fund the over 450 clubs and organizations at Columbia. Check out the various governing boards in order to learn how to start up a new group that will offer something distinctive to the campus community.
Can I minor in the Engineering School?
Does Columbia allow students to double (or triple) major?
Yes. Students are allowed to take on more than one major. Doing so, however, is likely to require additional coursework and may not be possible in four years.
Does Columbia offer pre-professional majors?
Columbia College does not offer any specific pre-professional majors, such as “pre-med” or “pre-law.” However, many students at Columbia aspire to professional fields and take courses, perform research and intern in order to better understand their anticipated careers. For undergraduates who hope to apply to medical school, law school or other professional schools, the Office of Pre-Professional Advising will assist students in applying and work with them throughout the application process.
What academic requirements are necessary for graduating from Columbia Engineering?
All students in Columbia Engineering must complete a major area of study as described in the departmental section of the school bulletin. Students must complete the Core Curriculum as specified for the Engineering school and in total earn 128 points, approximately 40 classes.
What is the difference between a major and a concentration?
The purpose of the major or concentration requirement is to give each student the experience of doing sustained and advanced work, including individual research, in a field of special interest. A major consists of intensive study in one department involving the satisfaction of a variety of requirements; a concentration demands fewer departmental course points or requirements than a major.
Can undergraduates take classes at Columbia’s graduate and professional schools?
Yes. Columbia undergraduates may generally take up to four classes toward their degree in most of the graduate and professional schools at Columbia, with the exception of those at Columbia Law School and the Columbia Medical Center. Special restrictions may apply.
How are classes selected?
First-year students register during orientation week of their first semester.
In subsequent years students are assigned a registration time; this registration time gives seniority to upper class students, and times are distributed by lottery within each class year. Students then can participate in on-line registration for courses.
For more particulars about the registration process, consult the academic bulletins for the College and the Engineering School.
How large are Core classes?
Though celebrated for their content, these courses are equally important for their small class format. The hallmark courses in the Core (Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, Art Humanities and Music Humanities) are taught in seminars of approximately 22 students; these courses ensure that education at Columbia begins with an emphasis on every student’s active intellectual engagement.
How many courses do Columbia students take per semester?
Columbia students usually take an average of 16 points (generally five classes) per semester. Students must be registered full-time and therefore must take at least 12 points per semester.
How often do professors teach courses?
Professors lead every departmental level course at Columbia. In the Core Curriculum, full-time professors teach the vast majority of the courses with select advanced graduate students leading some sections.
Can I minor in Columbia College?
No. Columbia College does not offer minors, but students may elect to complete a concentration which demands fewer requirements than a major. A concentration is alone sufficient for graduation.
How many students go on to top professional schools?
Columbia does not officially track this information, since many students may choose to apply to graduate or professional school many years after college and other students choose to go into careers where their undergraduate degree is sufficient.
Nevertheless, a large number of students and alumni benefit each year from the support of the Office of Pre-professional Advising and gain admission to preeminent graduate and professional schools around the country and all over the globe.
Does Columbia provide support for students applying to major fellowships?
The Fellowships Office works with students at all levels in preparing for a variety of fellowship applications. In recent years, Columbia students have won more Fulbright grants than those of most other universities, in addition to many other prestigious fellowships and grants.
How available are research opportunities?
Since Columbia is a major research institution distinguished across a wide variety of fields and subfields, research opportunities are plentiful for students who wish to begin research immediately.
Please review our Research page for some special programs for research at Columbia, a sampling of some student work and an introduction to Columbia’s more than 200 different research institutes.
How does the Core differ for Columbia Engineering students?
Engineering students will take half of the humanities Core: they can elect to take either Literature Humanities or Contemporary Civilization or a Global Core course and either Art Humanities or Music Humanities. They must also complete University Writing and the Physical Education requirement. In this regard, all students at Columbia are fully integrated into the philosophy beyond the Core-critical thinking, debate, respect for ideas-and the unifying educational experience which is a hallmark of Columbia.
Columbia engineers will also take courses specifically designed to better prepare them for their lives as innovators and entrepreneurs. These technical courses will prepare students in the five major areas of technical inquiry: engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science. The level of inquiry will depend on an individual student’s prospective major choices.
The technical Core courses consist of the following:
- Computer Science
- Design Fundamentals Using the Advanced Computer Technologies
Is it possible to be able to work while going to class?
Columbia holds classes from early in the morning until late at night. This allows students to hold on-campus jobs, pursue internships in the city and adjust their schedules to make the most of their academic and extracurricular experience. Many students, moreover, have no classes on Fridays, so many use Fridays as an opportunity to pursue internships and other commitments. The Center for Career Education also provides students with opportunities for employment on and off campus.
What academic requirements are necessary for graduating from Columbia College?
All students in Columbia College must complete either a major or a concentration as described in the departmental sections of the school bulletin. Moreover, students must complete the entirety of the Core Curriculum, and in total earn 124 points, approximately 40 classes.
When do students take Core courses?
Students will primarily take Core courses in their first two years, but only in the first year will students be pre-registered for specific Core courses.
Columbia College: students will be pre-registered for Literature Humanities and University Writing. Most students will elect to take Contemporary Civilization in their sophomore year and then have the choice of when to complete the remaining Core courses. In general the Core will make up roughly one third of the courses a student will take in the College.
Columbia Engineering: students will be pre-registered for The Art of Engineering, University Writing and Principles of Economics. Most students will complete most of their technical Core courses in their first two years to better prepare them for specific majors. Students will complete the remaining humanities requirements throughout their tenure at Columbia. In general the Core will make up roughly one fourth of the courses a student will take in the Engineering School.
Does Columbia grant credit for college courses and credits earned during high school?
No. Entering first-year students are not granted credit for college courses taken before graduation from secondary school. However, a maximum of six credits may be awarded for college courses taken after graduation from high school and prior to matriculation at Columbia. For more specific information, please consult the bulletin of Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Does Columbia grant placement, advanced standing or credit for standardized examinations?
Yes. Some placement, advanced standing or credit may be granted for nationally or internationally standardized examinations. Columbia will grant a maximum of 16 credits toward the bachelor’s degree. For more specific information, please consult the bulletin of Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Are there advisors for specific departmental majors?
Yes. All departments will assign faculty advisors to every student committing to either a major or concentration in that department.
What are the advising and support services on campus?
All Columbia undergraduates will have a single all-purpose advisor from the Center for Student Advising for all four years.