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.

First-Year Applicants FAQs

What is Columbia looking for when evaluating students for admission?

With such an appealing pool of applicants, it is the job of the admissions committee to get to know all students and select those that we believe will take greatest advantage of the unique Columbia experience and will offer something meaningful in return to the community. Our review process is holistic and contextual, and we take many factors into consideration. 

How do I apply for financial aid?

The financial aid application process collects information about your family's income, assets, family composition and other circumstances. All requirements are detailed on the financial aid office website.

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.

Application Details

Application Requirements

Application Options

Columbia accepts either the Coalition Application 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 Admissions Committee 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 Admissions Committee 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 Mid-Year Report

Standardized Tests

Please review our standardized testing policy, which includes details about extending our test-optional policy for first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for Fall 2022, 2023 and 2024. In a typical year, we ask applicants to submit:

  • SAT or ACT, writing section not required
  • Applicants may self-report their scores
  • English proficiency examination score (if necessary)

Teacher Recommendations

  • These recommendations must come from teachers who taught you in academic disciplines
  • For engineering applicants, one 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 this form.

Dates & Deadlines

November 1

November 15


  • Admissions and financial aid decisions released online to Early Decision candidates

January 1

  • Deadline for Regular Decision applications

Early January

  • Early Decision response deadline

February 15

  • Deadline for Regular Decision financial aid applications

Early April

  • Admissions and financial aid decisions released online to Regular Decision candidates

May 2

  • Regular Decision response deadline

May 15

  • Enrollment deferral request deadline

Late June

  • Final transcript due for incoming students


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.)

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.)


Interviews are conducted by select Student Interviewers and by volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee. Because we only have a finite number of volunteers and a vast number of applicants, we’re unable to interview everyone. As such, interviews are not required.

If you’re granted an interview, you’ll be connected with an interviewer after you submit your completed application materials. If you are not offered an interview, you are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. Learn more about interviews.

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.