How competitive is admission to Columbia?
Admission to both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering is broad-based but highly selective, and the Committee is only able to offer admission to only a small fraction of all applicants.
A profile of the current first-year class is available on the Admissions Statistics webpage.
Admission for transfer students is also highly selective. Over the past decade, the Committee has admitted between 5% and 10% of transfer applicants each year.
Is there a minimum test score, class rank or GPA required for admission to Columbia?
No. Columbia does not have a "cut-off" GPA or test score for applicants. For detailed information on the statistics of the most recent entering class, go to the Admissions Statistics page.
If I am accepted, may I defer for a year?
Yes. A candidate who has been offered first-year admission may ask to defer enrollment for a year to work, travel, complete mandatory military service or pursue a special opportunity. A first-year student may not defer admission in order to enroll full-time at another college or university. A second year of deferral may be granted upon request. Students must request a deferral in writing by May 15 after submitting their first-year response form and deposit. Transfer students are not permitted to defer their admission. Visiting Students are permitted to defer their admission to a future term through the submission of the Visiting Student response form.
What is Columbia’s policy on admissions interviews?
Volunteer members of Columbia's Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) conduct interviews throughout the world from October through February every year on behalf of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. However, because we have a finite number of alumni and current student volunteers to interview the many thousands of candidates, we are unable to grant interviews to all of our applicants and can provide absolutely no guarantee that an interview will be available in any given area. Please note that interviews will be offered only in the area where your high school is located; if you have finished high school and no longer live in the vicinity, an interview will not be available to you.
After you submit the Common Application or Coalition Application, your name and contact information are provided to the interviewers in your area; if an interviewer is able to meet with you, you will be contacted directly by e-mail or by phone. Interviews are not offered on campus. Some applicants may be offered interviews via phone or video chat if an interviewer is not able to meet in person – please know that all types of interviews have equal weight in the interview process.
Candidates who are not offered an interview are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. Because the actual assignment of interviews is not conducted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we respectfully ask that you do not call or write to inquire about receiving an interview. You will be contacted directly if an interview is available in the same area as your high school.
Interviews are not available for transfer candidates.
Applicants from China
Columbia recommends that applicants attending high school in China schedule admissions interviews with InitialView or Vericant. Interviews must be scheduled, completed and submitted to Columbia by November 15 for Early Decision or January 15 for Regular Decision. Given the ratio of applicants to alumni interviewers in China, the interview with InitialView or Vericant will take the place of an alumni interview for most candidates. Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions directly should InitialView or Vericant fees present a hardship for you and your family. Both InitialView and Vericant also offer fee waivers.
How many Columbia students go on to professional or graduate schools?
Many Columbia students decide to go to graduate or professional school either directly after graduation or after several years of work. Columbia graduates are very successful in gaining admission to professional schools.
In 2008, Columbia undergraduates matriculated at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons (14), The Albert Einstein College of Medicine (8), Harvard Medical School (8), Yale Medical School (8), and Cornell's Weill Medical College (5). Columbia undergraduates also matriculated at law schools including Columbia Law School (50), Harvard Law School (48), New York University Law School (44) and Yale Law School (12). Students who choose to apply to medicine and law schools work with the Office of Pre-professional Advising throughout the application process.
If I speak a language other than English, may I be exempt from the Foreign Language requirement in the Core Curriculum?
Yes, if you are fluent in another language, and you pass the placement exam on campus, you may be exempt from the foreign language requirement.
What is Columbia looking for when evaluating students for admission? What are the criteria for admission?
The Columbia University first-year class College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. Columbia employs a holistic approach in assessing candidates in order to judge which students are the best matches for Columbia's unique educational experience.
In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions considers each applicant's academic potential, intellectual strength and ability to think independently. The Committee also considers the general attitudes and character of the applicant, special abilities and interests, maturity, motivation, curiosity and whether he or she is likely to make productive use of the four years at Columbia. In its final selection, Columbia seeks diversity of personalities, achievements and talents, and of economic, social, ethnic, cultural, religious, racial and geographic backgrounds. Each applicant's academic record is examined, together with reports on personal qualities that have been supplied by the principal, headmaster or counselor and by teachers. The student's record of participation in the life of his or her school and community is also important, as is his or her performance on standardized tests.
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 Center for Student Advising to review your academic performance and curriculum and determine if a change is appropriate.
Can I apply to the Combined Plan program if I have not fulfilled all of the requirements for guaranteed admission?
Yes. Your application materials will be reviewed by the Combined Plan Admissions Committee.
If I am a Combined Plan student, can I pursue an internship while I am at Columbia?
Yes! Combined Plan students have access to the Center for Career Education, which assists students with finding appropriate internship opportunities and preparing for postgraduate careers.
Can foreign/international Combined Plan applicants get financial aid?
Financial aid is available for foreign students, but it is limited. Columbia does not guarantee that it will meet 100% of a foreign student’s demonstrated financial need. A “foreign” student is one who has neither U.S. citizenship nor U.S. permanent resident status.
Do I have to take physical education classes?
No. Combined Plan students are exempt from the Columbia Physical Education requirement.
Do you offer a Combined Plan program for the M.S. in Engineering degree?
For all information about the graduate study of engineering at Columbia, please contact the Office of Graduate Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you offer fee waivers for the Combined Plan application?
Yes. Please obtain documents demonstrating eligibility from your Financial Aid office and contact the Combined Plan program by e-mail.
How many classes will I take in a typical Columbia Engineering semester?
Depending on the course of study, Combined Plan students will take five or six classes per semester (including laboratory supplements to classes).
How many Combined Plan students are at Columbia?
We have a total of approximately 150 students in the two years of the Combined Plan.
I’m planning to visit Columbia. Are there any Combined Plan specific things I can do?
In addition to a general information session and campus tour, you may be interested in our Engineering tour. Spaces are limited, so we encourage you to RSVP.
If you have any specific questions regarding the Combined Plan program, you may speak to an admissions officer available during your visit, or you may e-mail us at email@example.com.
May I reapply to the Combined Plan program?
Yes. You will need to resubmit a new application along with an updated transcript and materials. Please note that students who entered the affiliate school in Fall 2011 or later may only qualify for guaranteed admission in their first application cycle; any subsequent applications will be reviewed in the competitive review process.
Can I apply if I do not attend an affiliate school?
Yes. You are permitted to apply, and your materials will be reviewed by the Combined Plan Admissions Committee. Please note that the requirements for guaranteed admission are used as guidelines in this review process, as the process is most competitive. Since your school does not have an articulation agreement with Columbia, you are not eligible to apply under the guaranteed admissions program.
Are there quotas for the number of Combined Plan students admitted?
No. The Combined Plan Admissions Committee will review applications individually.
What student clubs and organizations exist on campus?
Columbia features over 500 religious, service, ethnic, artistic, political, activist, publication or hobby student organizations and clubs, as well as various forms of student government. We have developed a complete list of clubs and organizations.
Is there a different application for international students?
Columbia’s admissions application process is largely the same for all students regardless of their citizenship or country of residence. Please see our Application Instructions for more information on procedures and requirements, and What Does Columbia Look For for more information about how our office reviews applications and distinguishes candidates.
Please visit the International Student Admissions webpage for more information.
Should I ever “rush” my test scores to Columbia?
No! Please do not utilize the "rush" service in sending your test scores to Columbia. Doing so does not speed up the processing of your test scores. We encourage you to self-report your scores directly on testing section of your Common Application or Coalition Applicaton.
Should I send my AP/IB test results to Columbia?
AP and IB test results are not necessary for the application to Columbia, although the information when available may be helpful in assessing a student's academic achievements. You may report your results on your Common Application or Coalition Application, or send us a copy of your score report(s).
Students who seek to gain credit for AP or IB results should know that credit is granted only after a student is enrolled at Columbia and at the discretion of individual departments.
My native language is not English. Do I have to take an English proficiency exam?
To be considered for admission to Columbia, you must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. There are several different ways to demonstrate that you are proficient in English on your application.
- Your home language is English.
- Your primary language of instruction at school has been English for the duration of your secondary school career.
- You earned one or more of the following subsection scores:
- 650 or higher on either the Critical Reasoning or Writing sections of the SAT before March 2016
- 700 or higher on the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section of the redesigned SAT (beginning in March 2016)
- 29 or higher on the English or Reading sections of the ACT
If you meet one or more of the above criteria, you have fulfilled Columbia’s English Language Proficiency requirement. If you do not, you will need to take one of the following English Language Proficiency exams.
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Please visit www.toefl.org for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 600 (paper-based test) or 100 (Internet-based test) is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia by the testing service, using report code 2116.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Please visit www.ielts.org for more information on this examination. A minimum score of 7.0 is necessary for admission to Columbia. Your score must be reported directly to Columbia Undergraduate Admissions.
Columbia does not accept other English Language Proficiency exams at this time.
Please note that our Required Standardized Testing policies are in addition to any testing required for English language proficiency.
What is the Visiting Student Program?
Columbia welcomes college students who wish to spend all or part of an academic year taking classes at Columbia. This program has been designed as an opportunity for students to broaden their college experience and is intended as a supplement to the undergraduate program at their home institution. Students in the Visiting Student Program are not permitted to apply for transfer admission.
While we will try our best to accommodate students who wish to live on campus, we are not able to guarantee Visiting Student Program students campus housing. Admitted students will be notified at the time of admission if we are able to offer campus housing.
Students may enter in either January or September and may spend one or two consecutive semesters at Columbia. All Visiting Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at their home colleges. Application deadlines are March 15 for September entrance and October 15 for January entrance. No financial aid is available to visiting students, but they are welcome to use financial aid from their home institutions.
What majors are offered in Columbia College?
There are 59 Departments of Instruction offering more than 80 different Areas of Study for students in Columbia College. A complete listing of majors and concentrations offered by Columbia College is available under Columbia College Programs of Study.
Does Columbia have ROTC?
Columbia has an agreement with the Navy to offer a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program. As part of the NYC NROTC program, Columbia students complete their training at the SUNY Maritime campus, participating in Naval Science classes, military training and physical training. Graduates serve in the Navy or Marine Corps as officers and receive tuition and fees from the Navy during their time at Columbia.
Candidates interested in this program should apply both for the NROTC National Scholarship and for admission to Columbia simultaneously, taking note of NROTC entrance requirements. More information on the NROTC program can be found on Columbia's website or the official NROTC website (www.nrotc.navy.mil) and questions may directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 409-7242.
Columbia also offers students the opportunity to participate in Army and Air Force ROTC programs through cross-town affiliations with other programs. More information can be found on the Columbia ROTC website.