Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions

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

Columbia College

The 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, the College strongly recommends the following preparation:

  • Four years of English literature and composition
  • Three to four years of mathematics
  • Three to four years of history and social studies
  • Three to four years of one foreign language (ancient or modern)
  • Three to four years of laboratory science

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 the 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. The School does, however, strongly recommend the following academic preparation:

  • Four years of mathematics (preferably through calculus)
  • One year of physics
  • One year of chemistry
  • Four years of English
  • Two to three years of a foreign language
  • Three to four years of history and social studies

What criteria are used for admissions decisions?

The Columbia University first-year class of College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions asks questions about 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, 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.

Are my chances for admission greater if I apply Early Decision?

Although a larger percentage of the Early Decision applicant pool is admitted than of the Regular Decision pool, that higher acceptance rate reflects the remarkable strength of a self-selected group of applicants. A candidate to whom we otherwise would not offer admission is not going to be accepted simply because he or she applied under the Early Decision program.

We strongly urge you to apply under the Early Decision program if and only if Columbia is your first choice.

Are my chances for admission greater if I attend a summer program or program for high school students on the Columbia campus?

Not necessarily. Although we recommend that all applicants whenever possible spend some time on campus before applying, applicants who have attended a program on the Columbia campus are not given automatic preference in the admissions process.

For more information on summer programs at Columbia, please visit the High School Programs website.

Does Columbia allow early admission for high school juniors?

Early admission is occasionally granted to students of special promise who are completing the junior year of secondary/high school and who meet the following requirements:

  1. an outstanding academic record
  2. the physical, intellectual and emotional maturity to handle the rigorous program at Columbia
  3. the graduation requirements of their secondary/high schools.

Applicants for early admission should follow the normal procedure in applying, but should indicate they are applying for early admission under the "Additional Information" section of the Common Application or Coalition Application.

Pages