Early Decision

Whether or not to apply Early Decision is an important choice, one that should be made after careful consideration of many schools and hopefully a visit to our campus. The choice to apply Early Decision should be one driven by a true passion for Columbia and a certainty that should you be admitted, you would attend. We hope you resist external pressures to apply early, and instead make an educated and informed choice that applying early is right for you.

If Columbia is your first choice - and you are willing to make a binding commitment to attend if admitted - please do consider applying Early Decision. All application materials must be submitted by November 1. Candidates should also submit a signed Early Decision agreement. You must have all standardized testing completed by the November test date, and you must be very certain to have your scores reported directly to Columbia by the testing agency. Please review our Required Standardized Testing section.

If applying for financial aid, students receive an estimated financial aid package at time of admission. If admitted, you must withdraw all other applications and accept our offer of admission. Only students who, after consultation with the Office of Financial Aid, cite financial reasons for not attending will be released from the Early Decision agreement.

In mid-December you will be notified of the results of your Early Decision application:

  1. If you are admitted under the Early Decision program, you are obligated to accept Columbia’s offer of admission. Once you accept Columbia’s offer of admission, you may file no further college applications and must withdraw any other applications that have already been submitted. Only students who (after consultation with the Financial Aid Office) cite financial reasons for not attending will be released from the Early Decision agreement.

    According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling guidelines, “while pursuing admission under an Early Decision plan, students may apply to other institutions, but may have only one Early Decision application pending at any time.” While Columbia does not necessarily encourage the filing of both Early Decision (binding) and Early Action (non-binding) applications, we do not prohibit candidates from doing so. However, candidates should be aware that Columbia’s Early Decision program is a binding agreement and a candidate will be expected to enroll, regardless of any pending applications (early or otherwise).

    If you are offered admission under the Early Decision plan, we expect that you will maintain a rigorous course load and a strong academic performance for the remainder of your senior year. Any non-elective course changes to take place after admission must be discussed and approved in advance by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. You must submit the Mid-Year School Report and eventually a final transcript. Your academic performance will be monitored and evaluated through the end of the senior year.
  1. If you are deferred under the Early Decision plan, it means a final decision on your candidacy will be made with the regular applicant pool, and you will be notified in late March/early April.
  1. If you are denied under the Early Decision plan, you must consider carefully your other college options. You may not apply to Columbia (Columbia College, Columbia Engineering or the School of General Studies) again for that year.

Advice from Students

As an international student, I must encourage students from abroad to come to Columbia to pursue their academic goals. Situated in New York City, it is a great place to not only learn about American culture but also to find other international peers.”

Marek S.

I would advise students going through the college application process to trust themselves. I remember when I was applying to schools that everyone had a strong opinion: my parents' friends, my teachers, even my hairdresser. Ultimately, you know best what is right for you. Listen to what people are saying, but if you have a gut feeling that you know what you want, it's okay to ignore everyone else and follow your dreams.”

Julia M.