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. 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 your official score report(s) through the testing agency, 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

"Why Columbia" is a pretty typical question, and one that deserves a lot of thought as students are beginning to consider the college process. The thing is, you've got to pay a lot of attention, because there are SO MANY excellent colleges and universities in this country and across the world. It's definitely possible to find the place that will suit you, so you have to go with your gut.”

Simon J.

Understand that all schools have a balance of aspects, and that you’ll love some parts more than others. ”

Will H.