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 driven by a true passion for Columbia. We hope you’ll resist external pressures to apply early for any other reason, and instead make an educated and informed choice that applying early is right for you.


I considered three factors in my college search: location, diversity, and curriculum. I applied Early Decision because I knew Columbia had the best of all three.

Queens, NY
History, Statistics

Applying Early Decision

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. To apply:

  1. Submit a first-year application by November 1.
  2. Submit a signed Early Decision agreement.
  3. Columbia is test-optional for applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. Early Decision applicants who choose to submit testing may self-report scores up through the November test dates. Please review our standardized testing policy for additional details.

Applicants submitting the Common Application should complete the Early Decision agreement through the Common Application website. Coalition and QuestBridge applicants will find the Early Decision agreement on their applicant status page after they submit their application. (In other words: submit your ED agreement once you have access to the applicant status page!)

Students who have also applied for financial aid will receive an estimated financial aid package at the time of admission. The same financial aid is available to students whether they are admitted through our Early Decision or Regular Decision program.

If admitted, you must withdraw all other applications and accept our offer of admission. Only students who, after consultation with Financial Aid and Educational Financing, cite financial reasons for not attending will be released from the Early Decision agreement.

What happens after you apply ED?

Possible Early Decision application outcomes


If you are admitted under the Early Decision program, you are obligated to accept Columbia's offer of admission. You may submit no further college applications and must withdraw any other applications that have already been submitted.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling guidelines, "it is unethical… to have more than one pending Early Decision application." 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 approved in advance by Columbia Undergraduate Admissions. You must submit the Mid-Year School Report and eventually a final transcript, as we will monitor your academic performance through the end of your senior year.


If you are deferred under the Early Decision plan, a final decision on your candidacy will be made with the Regular Decision applicant pool, and you will be notified by April 1. We encourage deferred candidates to update us in the winter with mid-year grades and any significant new achievements.


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.