Arts at Columbia College

With more than a dozen conservatory-caliber arts majors and programs, Columbia College distinguishes itself as an artistic hub conveniently located in the heart of New York City: the arts capital of the world. Opportunities for students looking to pursue an academic study of the arts at Columbia include those in Architecture, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama and Theatre Arts, Film Studies, Jazz Studies, Music and Visual Arts.

The creative energy found at Columbia reflects a longstanding tradition of artistic excellence on campus. While undergraduate students at Columbia, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg laid the groundwork for the Beat Movement, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote and composed music for Columbia’s annual Varsity Show, and Tony Kushner reviewed theatre for the Columbia Daily Spectator. Such artistic verve stems not only from our dynamic undergraduate population but also from Columbia’s unique Core Curriculum, which inspires students to draw from the great artistic and intellectual traditions of the past two millennia.

A Creative Campus Community

A thriving campus arts scene that boasts over 70 arts and performance opportunities, organizations and student-led initiatives ensures that students will be able to hone their craft whether or not they study an arts field. Organizations like the Columbia University Performing Arts League serve as advisory boards to newly formed performing arts groups and also provide funding for undergraduate arts projects. Students perform in on-campus venues like Miller Theatre, a leading presenter of new music in New York City, and New York City institutions ranging from legendary spaces like Carnegie Hall, to the contemporary, such as the Symphony Space for the Jazz Performance Program, to the New York Fringe Festival and the cutting-edge of theatre.

The Music Performance Program is a division of the Department of Music that offers unique opportunities to students with a strong musical background. The Music Performance Program seeks to enable students to develop as musicians within Columbia's academic setting by offering a wide array of opportunities for musical instruction, participation and performance, regardless of whether a student majors in Music.

Studying the arts at Columbia gives students ready access to internationally renowned faculty who are both leading scholars and professors of practice within their given fields, including acclaimed ethnomusicologist Chris Washburne and Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Margo Jefferson. With about 77% of undergraduate classes having 29 or fewer students, students can call these giants in their fields mentors, not lecturers.

Programs like the Music Performance Program of Columbia University and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program enable students to develop as musicians within the academic setting of Columbia by providing and facilitating opportunities for musical instruction, participation and performance. Other programs for undergraduate students include participation in the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, which promotes printmaking through education and through the production and exhibition of prints, and student-led groups like Design for America, in which students make the city their canvas to enact design-based solutions to social issues.

New York City: The Arts Capital of the World

Having served throughout its history as inspiration for countless actors, artists, writers and musicians, New York City provides Columbia students with unending resources and opportunities for artistic growth. Columbia’s campus, a mere fifteen-minute subway ride from the Theatre District, a twenty-minute bike ride from Chelsea and a fifteen-minute walk from the Apollo Theatre, actively encourages undergraduate students to draw inspiration from the city it calls home. 

Other opportunities like the Center for Career Education Internships+ program provide selected students with New York-based internships in the arts. CCE interns participate in special events and educational programming designed to help them explore career possibilities in all of the arts. Current students have interned at such professional organizations as Carnegie Hall, the American Ballet Theater, the Center for Architecture and Lincoln Center.

Columbia Bhangra is committed to fostering an appreciation for Bhangra, a family of folk dance and music that originate in the Punjab region of India. Bhangra in the Heights has been promoting Punjabi culture in the New York City community since 2007.


Leveraging Columbia's free Passport to Museums program has quite literally opened doors to several museums I never knew I could visit.

Danvers, MA
Mechanical Engineering

Initiatives like the Passport to Museums, offered through the preeminent Columbia Arts Initiative, provide students with free access to over 20 museums and galleries throughout the city, including such world-renowned facilities as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography and the Museum of Arts and Design. The Arts Initiative also provides current students with discounted tickets to film, dance, music, theatre and lecture events throughout New York City.