First-Year Applicants

We accept first-year applications from students who are hoping to enroll full time at Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. Our admissions staff reviews each application holistically and with care in order to understand what each candidate might contribute to our undergraduate community. Our goal is to identify the applicants we believe will make the most of this experience—both during their time here, and throughout their lives.

Application Process

Application Requirements

Application Options

Columbia accepts either the Coalition Application on Scoir or the Common Application. We will also accept the QuestBridge Application from QuestBridge Finalists. These applications include:

  • Autobiographical information
  • Lists and descriptions of a student’s achievements, activities, employment and summer activities
  • Personal essay
Columbia-Specific Application Questions

In addition to the Coalition Application and the Common Application, you must also respond to Columbia-specific questions to provide the Committee on Admissions with a fuller sense of you as a person—including your academic, extracurricular and intellectual interests. These questions allow us to better understand your intellectual curiosity, habits of mind, love of learning and sense of self. These questions also allow the Committee on Admissions to learn more about you in your current community and why you feel Columbia’s distinctive experiences in and out of the classroom would be a good fit for your undergraduate education.

Secondary School Report
  • An official high school transcript from all high schools attended
  • One high school counselor’s recommendation and school profile
  • The completed midyear report
Teacher Recommendations

Columbia requires two teacher recommendations. These recommendations must come from teachers who taught you in academic disciplines. For applicants to Columbia Engineering, one of the teacher recommendations must come from a math or science teacher.

Application Fee or Fee Waiver

An $85 nonrefundable application fee is required as part of an application to Columbia University. We are unable to refund the application fee under any circumstances. Submit payment online using an electronic check or Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express credit card. Payment (or fee waiver) is due at the time that you submit your application.

If paying the application fee is a significant financial burden for your family, we encourage you to request an automatic fee waiver through your admission application. You can determine your fee waiver eligibility today using our fee waiver form.

Optional Application Components

Standardized Tests

Columbia is test-optional for first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. Please review our standardized testing policy for additional details, as well as our English language proficiency requirement if applicable.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials are not a required part of our admissions process—but there are occasions where they can enhance our understanding of your application. (In other words, it’s completely up to you if you’d like to include these materials.)

Dates & Deadlines

November 1: Early Decision and QuestBridge National College Match application deadline

Deadline for Early Decision applications and QuestBridge National College Match applicants

November 15: Early Decision financial aid application deadline

Deadline for Early Decision financial aid applications

Mid-December: Release of Early Decision admissions and financial aid decisions

Admissions and financial aid decisions released online to Early Decision candidates

January 1: Regular Decision application deadline

Deadline for Regular Decision applications

Early January: Response deadline for Early Decision applicants

Early Decision response deadline

February 15: Regular Decision financial aid application deadline

Deadline for Regular Decision financial aid applications

Late March: Release of Regular Decision admissions and financial aid decisions

Admissions and financial aid decisions released online to Regular Decision candidates

May 1: Response deadline for Regular Decision applicants

Regular Decision response deadline

May 15: Request deadline for enrollment deferral

Enrollment deferral request deadline

Late June: Final transcript deadline for incoming students

Final transcript due for incoming students

A Columbia admissions officer talks about how we review applications and the philosophies that guide our work.

Additional Information


The first-year application is for students who plan to enroll full time in either Columbia College or Columbia Engineering.

If you’re a current college student, explore our Transfer, Combined Plan and Visiting Student programs. If you’re a potential applicant to Columbia College and you’ve taken a break of more than a year in your education (with the exception of those in mandatory military service) you should, instead, consider Columbia University's School of General Studies. The same is true for all students who wish to attend a part-time program. (If you’re interested in attending Columbia Engineering but have taken a break as described above, just apply as a first-year.)

If you have already submitted and then withdrawn an application during this application cycle, you are not eligible to reapply until the next application cycle.


Interviews are not a part of the application processPlease see the announcement from May 18, 2023.

Accuracy & Authenticity

All applicants should review our Accuracy & Authenticity statement prior to submitting their application, as all applicants to Columbia University must confirm on their application that they understand and agree to adhere to the above expectations.


For questions about undergraduate admission and the application process, please visit our online FAQsIf you still can't find your answer, please contact us.

First-Year Applicants FAQs

Should I apply Early Decision?

If Columbia is your first-choice school — and you are willing to make a binding commitment to attend if admitted — we encourage you to consider applying Early Decision. Learn more about the Early Decision process.

What are your secondary/high school course requirements for admission?

Columbia College: Columbia College has no explicit number of unit requirements for admission, but applicants must present evidence that they are prepared for college work in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, foreign languages and natural sciences. Accordingly, Columbia College strongly recommends the following secondary school preparation:

  • Four years of English literature and composition
  • Four years of mathematics—unless you have already completed what is available at your school
  • Three to four years of history and/or social studies
  • Three to four years of laboratory science
  • Three to four years of one world language (ancient or modern) taken during high school

Students who plan to become scientists, engineers, physicians or dentists should be as solidly grounded in mathematics and the sciences as their high school schedules and curricula have permitted. The study of mathematics, at least through pre-calculus, is strongly advised wherever possible.

Modifying the preparatory program just outlined—by taking more work in some subjects and less in others — is not only acceptable but may be desirable in individual cases. The vast majority of successful applicants to Columbia College have taken five academic courses per term for all four years of secondary/high school.

Columbia Engineering: The School of Engineering and Applied Science prescribes no standardized course of study for secondary school students applying for first-year admission. However, the Engineering curriculum is heavily driven by physics and calculus, so Columbia Engineering strongly advises these courses within the following recommended academic preparation:

  • Four years of mathematics through calculus—unless you have already completed what is available at your school
  • Four years of laboratory science, including one year of chemistry and one year of physics—preferably in the last two years of secondary school
  • Four years of English literature and composition
  • Three to four years of history and/or social studies
  • Two to three years of a world language (ancient or modern) taken during high school

What if I need an application deadline extension?

We understand that students personally affected by natural disasters, community disturbances or other extenuating circumstances may have challenges in completing their applications on time; they are invited to email us at if their application will be arriving late.