Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Core differ for Columbia Engineering students?

Engineering students will take half of the humanities Core: they can elect to take either Literature Humanities or Contemporary Civilization or a Global Core course and either Art Humanities or Music Humanities. They must also complete University Writing and the Physical Education requirement. In this regard, all students at Columbia are fully integrated into the philosophy beyond the Core-critical thinking, debate, respect for ideas-and the unifying educational experience which is a hallmark of Columbia.

Columbia engineers will also take courses specifically designed to better prepare them for their lives as innovators and entrepreneurs. These technical courses will prepare students in the five major areas of technical inquiry: engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science. The level of inquiry will depend on an individual student's prospective major choices.

The technical Core courses consist of the following:

  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Design Fundamentals Using the Advanced Computer Technologies
  • Physics

Related FAQs

Are Halal dining options available for students?

Yes, John Jay Dining Hall offers a Halal meal plan option. A delicious variety of traditionally prepared meats, such as Mediterranean fish, roasted lemon chicken and curried beef, is offered and the vegetables served are all vegan and gluten-free products. Columbia Dining receives most of the food on the Halal menu from Midamar.

When do students take Core courses?

Students will primarily take Core courses in their first two years, but only in the first year will students be pre-registered for specific Core courses.

Columbia College: students will be pre-registered for Literature Humanities and University Writing. Most students will elect to take Contemporary Civilization in their sophomore year and then have the choice of when to complete the remaining Core courses. In general the Core will make up roughly one third of the courses a student will take in the College.

Columbia Engineering: students will be pre-registered for The Art of Engineering, University Writing and Principles of Economics. Most students will complete most of their technical Core courses in their first two years to better prepare them for specific majors. Students will complete the remaining humanities requirements throughout their tenure at Columbia. In general the Core will make up roughly one fourth of the courses a student will take in the Engineering School.

How large are Core classes?

Though celebrated for their content, these courses are equally important for their small class format. The hallmark courses in the Core (Literature HumanitiesContemporary CivilizationArt Humanities and Music Humanities) are taught in seminars of approximately 22 students; these courses ensure that education at Columbia begins with an emphasis on every student's active intellectual engagement.

Does Columbia provide funding for research?

Yes; in many instances, professors can offer undergraduates slots as paid research assistants. Columbia's SURF program provides funding for students over the summer if they wish to pursue research in biological and biomedical sciences.

Moreover, Undergraduate Research and Fellowships works with students to attain various fellowships and grants that can be used for research on- and off-campus.  Visit our Research page to learn more about opportunities for undergraduate research.

Does Columbia offer pre-professional majors?

Columbia College does not offer any specific pre-professional majors, such as "pre-med" or "pre-law." However, many students at Columbia aspire to professional fields and take courses, perform research and intern in order to better understand their anticipated careers. For undergraduates who hope to apply to medical school, law school or other professional schools, Preprofessional Advising will assist students in applying and work with them throughout the application process.

Can Dining Dollars be used off campus?

No, but Columbia students can have a Flex Account, which allows them to make dollar-for-dollar food purchases at a number of off-campus eateries, including Chipotle, the Heights Grill, and Whole Foods Market. Students can also use their Flex Account at all on-campus locations, including the campus bookstore, as well as off-campus drugstores and shops. Please visit the Accepted Flex Locations for a full list of participating businesses.

Will college courses I took while in high school count toward the transfer credits you will accept?

First-year students are not granted credit for courses taken at other colleges before their graduation from secondary school (i.e. dual enrollment courses or summer courses). However, some placement, advanced standing or credit may be granted for nationally or internationally standardized examinations (including but not limited to Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and British Advanced Level and Pre-U Examinations). Credit is determined and approved by a student’s academic adviser from the Berick Center for Student Advising after a student is enrolled at Columbia. 

Specific questions about advanced standing should be directed to a student’s academic adviser once a student has matriculated.

What housing options are available for first-years?

First-year students have four distinct housing options, all located on the main quad of Columbia within minutes of every academic building and with easy access to Butler Library, Columbia's main library, and Alfred Lerner Hall, the student center. John Jay Hall and Carman Hall are the only first-year exclusive living options. Hartley and Wallach Halls, collectively the Living and Learning Center, house students from all four classes. Furnald Hall houses first-year students and sophomores. New students are placed in one of the four options based on the preferences they submit in their housing applications.

How can I take advantage of everything I want to do in New York City on a student budget?

New York City has something for everyone, which is why it is so often rated as one of the best college towns in the nation. It is full of hidden treasures that offer an inexpensive and yet unique array of food, shopping and entertainment. Some of the most creative culinary experiences are intimate restaurants within a few blocks from campus. Websites such as NYC Visit's Go Local operates as a service for New Yorkers to get the most out of their city. There are also a variety of e-mail lists that help students gain free access to opportunities such as going to a major motion picture premiere. There are yearly bargains such as New York Restaurant Week, which gives students an inexpensive taste at some of the finest establishments in the city. Columbia helps students by providing discounted and free tickets to many events around the city through the Columbia Arts Initiative.

Is housing guaranteed for transfer students?

As a transfer, you will be guaranteed housing during your time at Columbia, unless you choose to move off-campus at any time, at which point the housing guarantee is forfeited.

How does Columbia accommodate students with food allergies?

Columbia Dining is committed to making dining halls safe places to eat. As such, Columba Dining has taken the following measures for some common allergies:

Nuts: John Jay Dining Hall and Ferris Booth Commons have removed nuts from all recipes, but they have also created special "nut zones" for peanut butter, nut-containing muffins and nuts to be used as toppings. A special set of utensils and dishes are used as these stations.

Identification System: Both printed menus and those that appear online are coded with certain allergen identification tags. For instance, a "GF" symbol next to an item means the item is gluten-free. Vegetarian and Vegan options are also labeled.

Special Staff Training: Columbia Dining culinary staff have been trained to prevent cross-contamination and are educated on various food allergies and food sensitivities. A Registered Dietitian offers individualized assistance for students with food allergies, food sensitivities or any other food concerns, and on-site managers can answer questions. 

Are international students eligible to work in the United States after graduation?

If you are in the United States on an F-1 Student visa you could be eligible to work in the US pending employment status. Please visit the US Citizen and Immigration website to become more familiar with your legal options.

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