FAQs

If you have come to this page, it's because you have questions that haven't been answered on other parts of our website. Find the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions, whether you want to know more about how Columbia students take advantage of the arts in New York City, what campus dining is like or which application type is right for you. If you are interested in receiving more information about Columbia, we invite you to join our email list.

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What is Columbia’s policy on admissions interviews?

Volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee, in addition to select Student Interviewers, conduct interviews on behalf of Undergraduate Admissions. You will be contacted directly if an interview is available in the same area as your high school. Because we have a finite number of volunteers to interview many thousands of candidates, we are unable to grant interviews to all of our applicants and cannot guarantee that an interview will be available in any given area. Candidates who are not offered an interview are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. 

Interviews are not available for transfer candidates.

More information on interview policies and procedures can be found on our website. 

How does the admissions committee evaluate transcripts and applications from different countries?

Applications are reviewed by region and members of the admissions office have read and evaluated applications from all over the world and are familiar with a variety of school systems and transcripts. Included with the secondary school report is a "school profile," which includes a description of the school, grading system, curricular and extracurricular resources. If we need more information to make an informed decision or have any questions, we have the option to contact an applicant's school and to do our own research.

Any documents that are part of your application file and not in English, such as transcripts or recommendations, need to be officially translated into English and submitted along with the original documents.

For more information, please visit the International Student Admission page.

Are fee waivers available for first-year applicants?

Information regarding fee waivers can be found on our website. 

Application fee waivers can be requested through the Common Application or Coalition Application by selecting the indicator of financial need that most closely matches your circumstances. While supporting documentation from a school official or other third party is welcome, it is not required. Columbia will grant all fee waiver requests automatically.

How do I track the status of my application?

Admissions online document tracking is only available during certain times in the admissions process. 

If, at that time, you discover that any items are listed as "not received/processed," please have the school submit a duplicate copy of this missing information to us via email at ugrad-confirm@columbia.edu as soon as possible. Emailed materials will take up to one week for processing. You will have time to submit the missing credentials before decisions are released without being penalized.

According to our Application Instructions, we will consider a file complete with only one Teacher Evaluation on file.

We do not track Midyear Reports/senior grades or additional materials.

Can I provide updates or corrections to my application after I have submitted it?

Any additions or corrections to the application must be submitted in writing either through the application status page or via email to ugrad-confirm@columbia.edu. Please include the student's identifying information: name and high school/secondary school; Columbia ID number (C00...); and date of birth.

How can I get more information about Columbia?

We encourage you to browse our website for lots of helpful information on campus life, academic life, applying, the admission process, required standardized exams, financial aid, visiting Columbia, events, international students, diversity, parents and families, guidance counseling, alumni, frequently asked questions, requesting information and more!

Students interested in receiving additional information from Columbia may fill out our inquiry form.

Will my chances for admission be affected if I apply for financial aid?

All applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or students granted refugee visas by the United States are read in a need-blind manner, no matter where they attend school or where they reside. The term “need-blind” means financial need has no bearing on the admissions decision. All other applicants are evaluated in a need-aware manner, which means that the admissions committee takes into consideration how much financial aid a student requires when rendering an admissions decision. Columbia admits a large number of foreign students who receive a substantial amount of financial aid.

Columbia is committed to meeting the full need of all applicants admitted as first-year students for all four years of study, regardless of citizenship.

As a foreign student, you should determine what amount you feel you and your family could afford to pay each year for four years of study. If you conclude that you and your family will be unable to assume the estimated total cost of attendance, you should apply for financial aid at the same time you apply for admission. If you are traveling to Columbia from another country, you will also want to consider travel expenses. If you do not apply for financial aid at the time of applying, you cannot be considered for financial aid in the future unless there has been a drastic and unforeseeable change in your family's circumstances.

Financial Aid & Educational Financing website has information for foreign students interested in applying Early Decision and Regular Decision.

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 secondary school preparation:

  • Four years of English literature and composition
  • Four years of mathematics - unless you have already completed what is available at your school
  • Three to four years of history and/or social studies
  • Three to four years of laboratory science
  • Three to four years of one foreign language (ancient or modern) - taken during high school

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. However, the Engineering curriculum is heavily driven by physics and calculus, so the school strongly advises these courses within the following recommended academic preparation:

  • Four years of mathematics (through calculus) - unless you have already completed what is available at your school
  • Four years of laboratory science, including one year of chemistry and one year of physics (preferably in the last two years of secondary school)
  • Four years of English literature and composition
  • Three to four years of history and/or social studies
  • Two to three years of a foreign language (ancient or modern) - taken during high school

Does Columbia grant academic credit for international exams such as the British Advanced Examinations or other internationally standardized examinations?

Yes. Some placement, advanced standing or credit may be granted for nationally or internationally standardized examinations, including but not limited to 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. 

More information on international student admission can be found here. Specific questions about advanced standing should be directed to a student’s academic adviser once a student has matriculated.

Will you accept online English Proficiency exams?

We will accept online results from the TOEFL and IELTS examinations while they remain in place in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We also continue to accept the Duolingo English Test.  However, please note that there are a variety of ways to meet our English Language Proficiency requirement and you can find additional details here. 

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.

Are there advisers for specific departmental majors?

Yes. After students declare their major, they will be matched with a faculty adviser within their chosen department to help them explore their intellectual interests and develop their academic schedule.

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.

How does Columbia help students engage with New York City?

From the Columbia Arts Initiative (think free museum access and tickets to Broadway shows) to the Center for Career Education (careers fairs, thousands of internship listings and more), Columbia provides countless ways for you to connect with the incredible city that we call home.

How accessible is the subway?

Columbia is located directly on the #1 subway line and various bus routes. On the #1 train, students can get to Times Square in approximately 20 minutes, go uptown to Columbia's Medical Center in 15 minutes, and get to Columbia's Baker Field Athletic Complex at the northern tip of Manhattan in 25 minutes.

Does Columbia have programs to help me make the most of my time in NYC?

From the Columbia Arts Initiative (think free museum access and tickets to Broadway shows) to the Center for Career Education (careers fairs, thousands of internship listings and more), Columbia provides countless ways for you to connect with the incredible city that we call home.

What's Morningside Heights like?

Morningside Heights is a dynamic residential neighborhood filled with restaurants, cafes, shops and hang-outs. It is steps from the Hudson River and bordered by Central Park, Morningside Park and Riverside Park; all the resources of New York City are a short bike, bus or subway ride away.

Will I have housing on campus for all four years?

Columbia undergraduate students are guaranteed housing for all four years. In fact, nearly all undergraduates live on campus, and first-year students are required to live on campus.

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 ugrad-ask@columbia.edu if their application will be arriving late.

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 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. 

Does Columbia grant credit for college courses and credits earned during high school?

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 advisor from the CSA after a student is enrolled.

Do I need to hold DACA status to apply to Columbia?

No, students do not need to hold DACA status to apply to Columbia. Columbia admits students without regard to citizenship status and meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all first-year and transfer students pursuing their first degrees. For admissions purposes, undocumented students are evaluated in a need-blind manner, which means we evaluate admissions applications without regard to financial need.

As an undocumented student, am I eligible for financial aid?

Yes, Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students admitted as first-years or transfer students pursuing their first degree, regardless of citizenship status.

For admissions purposes, undocumented students are evaluated in a need-blind manner, which means we evaluate admissions applications without regard to financial need. Undocumented students are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so we meet their need entirely from Columbia funding

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 in a competitive review process.

Are there quotas for the number of Combined Plan students admitted?

No. The Combined Plan Admissions Committee will review applications individually.

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.).

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.

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 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.

Are fee waivers available for first-year applicants?

Information regarding fee waivers can be found on our website.

How do I track the status of my application?

Admissions online document tracking is only available during certain times in the admissions process.

How can I get more information about Columbia?

Students interested in receiving additional information from Columbia may fill out our inquiry form.

Will my chances for admission be affected if I apply for financial aid?

All applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or students granted refugee visas by the United States are read in a need-blind manner, no matter where they attend school or where they reside. Read more about financial aid.

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

See our information for Colubmia College and Columbia Engineering applicants

Will you accept online English Proficiency exams?

We will accept online results from the TOEFL and IELTS examinations while they remain in place in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also continue to accept the Duolingo English Test. However, please note that there are a variety of ways to meet our English Language Proficiency requirement and you can find additional details here.

What is Columbia’s policy on admissions interviews?

Volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee, in addition to select Student Interviewers, conduct interviews on behalf of Undergraduate Admissions. More information on interview policies and procedures can be found on our website.

Academics and Student Life

Are transfers required to live on campus?

No, transfers are not required to live on campus.

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.

Where do transfer students live?

All transfer students are housed with their class in upperclass residence halls. Assignment is based on seniority and building preference with applications processed on a rolling basis. Students are notified by email when rooms are assigned.

What is the difference between a major and a concentration?

The purpose of the major or concentration requirement is to give each student the experience of doing sustained and advanced work, including individual research, in a field of special interest. A major consists of intensive study in one department involving the satisfaction of a variety of requirements; a concentration demands fewer departmental course points or requirements than a major.

 

How often do professors teach courses?

Professors lead every departmental level course at Columbia. In the Core Curriculum, full-time professors teach the vast majority of the courses with select advanced graduate students leading some sections.

Does Columbia provide support for students who have unpaid internships?

Columbia strongly believes that students should be able to follow their passions and experience jobs and opportunities that will lead them toward their professional goals. Columbia supports students with unpaid internships in two distinct ways. First, The Work Exemption Program (WEP) is part of the financial aid program for undergraduate students in Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program is designed to enable financial aid recipients to take advantage of such unpaid opportunities as internships, research projects, and community outreach, locally, nationally, and internationally. Students have the option of applying for exemption from the summer savings portion of their financial aid package or exemptions from Federal Work Study during the academic year. Secondly, all students at Columbia are encouraged to apply for the Alumni Internship Fund administered by the Center for Career Education (CCE). CCE also offers an array of alternative funding sources for students that may help fund a summer internship or fellowship.

Does Columbia have fraternities and sororities?

Yes. Approximately 10-15% of undergraduate students are affiliated with fraternities or sororities. Over 25 chapters exist on campus, and many are housed in the brownstones and row houses that line 113th and 114th Streets.

How many courses do Columbia students take per semester?

Columbia students usually take an average of 16 points (generally five classes) per semester. Students must be registered full-time and therefore must take at least 12 points per semester.

 

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.

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.