The college experience is a journey, and journeys often take us to destinations we did not originally intend to reach. At Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, we’re intentional in our efforts to welcome over 100 transfer students each year, from a range of two- and four-year institutions, and we value the unique and diverse perspectives they bring to our community.
Transfer Applicants FAQs
Are SAT/ACT scores required for transfer applicants?
Columbia has extended its test-optional policy for both first-year and transfer applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for fall of 2022.
May I transfer from Columbia College to the Engineering School (or vice-versa) once accepted and enrolled?
If you are enrolled at either Columbia College or Engineering and you genuinely feel that you should attend the other, you may apply as an internal transfer student. Internal transfers must submit the Internal Transfer Application by March 1. There is no guarantee that you will be able to transfer to a different school. Undergraduate Admissions consults with the Berick Center for Student Advising to review your academic performance and curriculum and determine if a change is appropriate.
Are interviews available for transfers?
It is not our policy to interview prospective transfer applicants. Therefore, you should use the application as the appropriate platform to discuss and/or explain anything that you feel is of particular importance.
Are there any scholarships available for transfers?
There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships at Columbia, as all of our institutional financial aid is need-based. However, our students are often the recipients of merit-based scholarships from outside organizations (state grants/scholarships, local/national merit-based awards, etc.).
A completed transfer application includes the following items. Please be sure to read the additional details about each component in the folders below.
- The Coalition Application
- Additional Columbia-specific questions
- $85 application fee or fee waiver request
- An official high school transcript from all high schools attended
- An official college transcript from all colleges attended
- The Coalition Application Transfer Report
- The Coalition Application Curriculum Report
- Standardized tests are not required during the 2021-2022, 2022-2023 or 2023-2024 application cycles.
- Applicants may choose to self-report their scores.
- Please see our standardized testing policy for details.
- Two College Academic Recommendations
The Coalition Application
Transfer applicants must use the Coalition Application to apply for admission to Columbia. (The Common Application is for first-year applicants only.) The Coalition Application Profile has multiple sections, but not all are required.
The following Profile sections are required for a complete transfer application to Columbia:
- Personal Information
- Contact Information
- Demographic Information
- Citizenship Information
- Family Information
- High School Information
- College Information
- College Coursework
- Additional Tests
- English Proficiency Tests
- Fee Waiver
- Honors & Distinctions
- Academic Interests
- In the Activities/Experience section, please include details about activities from both high school and college. Be sure to include all clubs, organizations, research positions, jobs, internships and/or volunteer activities that you participated in beyond the classroom.
You are also welcome to upload a resume detailing your high school and college extracurricular activities in the “Uploads” section of the application.
The following Profile sections are not required for a complete transfer application to Columbia:
- 9th-11th Grade Coursework
- 12th Grade Coursework
- Coalition Essay
We encourage transfer applicants to list all college coursework on their application, including current coursework, but discourage students from listing high school coursework.
Please note: While the Coalition Essay in the Profile is not required for a complete transfer application, applicants will be asked to upload a 400-600 word essay responding to the following prompt in the Uploads section of the application:
- Please explain why you are interested in transferring from your current institution. (The personal essay does not need to be specific to Columbia, but it should inform the committee why you wish to leave your current institution.)
Columbia-Specific Application Questions
Applicants are asked to respond to Columbia-specific questions to tell the Admissions Committee more about their 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.
Please submit transcripts from all high schools and colleges attended. Electronic transcripts are preferred for fastest processing. Please note that we receive many documents daily and that transcripts may take several days to process.
We cannot accept transcripts submitted by applicants as official unless they are mailed in a signed, sealed envelope; electronic transcripts are official if they are sent directly from an institution and/or from a school official.
The Coalition Application Transfer Report, which collects information about your standing at your current institution, should be completed by a school official such as an adviser, dean or registrar at your current institution.This form may accompany your official college transcript. Transfer Reports should be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org if they cannot accompany your official transcript.
The Coalition Application Curriculum Report collects information about courses in which you are currently enrolled. Mid-term grades are often not available by March 1; we will accept this form until April 15 but strongly recommend that it be submitted as soon as mid-term grades are available.
Curriculum Reports should be submitted electronically to email@example.com, or uploaded directly through your applicant portal. Please do not submit the curriculum report until mid-term grades are available. A curriculum report with grades listed as "in progress" or with no grades listed will not meet this requirement.
The curriculum report is not required for students who are not currently enrolled in a college or attending a school that operates on the quarter system.
Please review our standardized testing policy, which includes details about extending our test-optional policy for transfer 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, with writing not required
- Applicants may self-report their scores
- English proficiency examination score (if necessary)
- If you have previously taken the SAT Subject Tests, you may also report those scores.
To be eligible for enrollment as a transfer student at Columbia, you must have earned:
- 24 points of credit (the equivalent of one year of full-time study) at another institution, or be registered to complete 24 points of credit by the time you enroll.
- A high school diploma or equivalent (by the application deadline).
- If you left high school without receiving a diploma in order to attend an early college program, you are not eligible for transfer admission and must apply as a first-year student by the appropriate Early Decision or Regular Decision deadline. You will not be eligible to receive credit for such accelerated programs except for credit earned through standardized examinations (e.g., AP and IB exams); such credit will be limited to 16 points, the equivalent of one full semester at Columbia.
If you’re an International student, you should read our International Transfer Students section for additional eligibility requirements.
Candidates who have completed more than four semesters of college coursework elsewhere are not encouraged to apply. Columbia’s academic requirements and institutional policies make completion of all graduation requirements in a reasonable and timely fashion unlikely.
Columbia College transfer applicants who have taken a break in their education of more than a full year (for any reason other than required completion of national military service), or who wish to attend school part time, should consider applying instead to Columbia University’s School of General Studies.
Columbia Engineering transfer applicants should proceed with this transfer application, regardless of any break in schooling.
Please note that all transfer admittance is for fall semester only.
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.)
You must have completed or be registered for 24 points of credit (the equivalent of one year of full-time study) at another institution. No more than 64 points in Columbia College or 68 points in Columbia Engineering will be awarded as transfer credit, including points earned through AP or IB examinations. We do not grant credit for college courses taken before a student's graduation from high school. Credit for standardized exams (e.g., AP, IB, A level exams) will be limited to 16 points, which is equivalent to one full semester at Columbia. For more detailed information, students should refer to the Academic Credit for Transfer Students section of the Berick Center for Student Advising website.
Please note that transfer credit evaluation occurs only at the time of acceptance. We cannot review transcripts and/or courses for transfer before a candidate submits an application.
Columbia does not award transfer credit for courses that are not analogous to those available at Columbia College or Columbia Engineering. We encourage you to review our College Bulletin and Engineering Bulletin to become familiar with the types of courses that are offered here and therefore the courses that are more likely to be awarded credit.
The Core is the cornerstone of undergraduate academic life at Columbia. Even those transferring in with advanced credit should expect to take elements of the Core, if not all of it. Students are very rarely exempt from Core classes like Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilization, Art Humanities and Music Humanities.
Students are expected to graduate within eight semesters, including time spent at another college or university. Students are typically not permitted to extend their undergraduate studies unless they are enrolled in one of our Joint Degree programs (e.g. the Combined Plan).
Dates & Deadlines
- March 1: Application deadline for transfer candidates
- March 1: Financial aid application deadline
- By June 1: Admissions and financial aid decisions released online
- Mid June: Deposit deadline for admitted transfer students
- Late June: Deadline for final transcripts for admitted students.
What We Look For in Transfer Students
Admission to Columbia is not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores. Instead, we consider a variety of factors. Each year, we admit a small group of transfer students to Columbia College and Columbia Engineering. Because space in the sophomore and junior classes is limited, admission is highly competitive. We typically admit fewer than 10 percent of the applicants for transfer admission each year. Potential transfers are expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 overall; Columbia Engineering candidates are strongly encouraged to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in their mathematics and science courses.
The majority of successful applicants to Columbia Engineering have completed an engineering track curriculum. For applicants with first-year standing at time of application this includes:
- Two semesters of Calculus
- Two semesters of Physics
- One semester of Chemistry
Enrolling transfer students will need to complete Core Curriculum requirements in addition to graduation requirements within their primary field of study. Our review takes into account a candidate's ability to complete their course of study in a standard timeline of eight total semesters. To allow more flexibility with course selection at Columbia, we recommend applying with first-year standing at your current institution when possible.
Due to the timing of the transfer process, we are generally unable to consider grades earned in the second semester of the year of application; thus, high school grades, rigor of program and standardized test scores are all important in the evaluation of transfer credentials, especially for students applying for sophomore standing. If you have applied to Columbia previously, the documents you provided at that time will not roll over (with the exception of SAT or ACT scores); you must resubmit any information requested by this transfer application.
At Columbia, we are committed to fully supporting our transfer community. All transfer applicants who are citizens, permanent residents or other eligible non-citizens are evaluated without regard to their financial need. Foreign students applying for aid must understand that such aid is awarded on an extremely limited basis. Columbia meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted transfer students and does not give any scholarships for academic, athletic or artistic merit.
Please visit the Financial Aid website for more information on financial aid for transfer students, including all required forms.
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 FAQs. If you still can't find your answer, please contact us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.