Established in 1754 as King’s College by the royal charter of King George II of England, Columbia University is located at Morningside Heights on the island of Manhattan. In 1897, the University moved from its former address, forty-ninth street, to the spacious Morningside Heights campus. It is the oldest learning institution that provides higher studies in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.
Today, Columbia is one of the top private universities, ranked at #22 in QS World University Rankings 2023. World Ranking by the Times Higher Education 2022 has put the University in 11th position.
Being a private Ivy League research University, thousands of students from across the world arrive at the city of dreams to study at the University.
In the fall 2020 admission cycle, almost 31,455 students enrolled at Columbia University. Out of which 8,842 are at the undergraduate level, 18,272 are studying at graduate and professional schools, and 4,341 are at medical graduate school. This includes all full-time, part-time, degree, and non-degree students. The student-to-faculty ratio at the University is 6:1.
The University is highly selective of who makes it through the final application round. The Columbia University acceptance rate is 6% making it a highly selective Ivy League school in the country. The acceptance rate may vary as per the course chosen.
Admission Eligibility Criteria
To successfully make it to the University, students must meet the Columbia University admission criteria. The admission criteria mentions important guidelines like who can apply, the degree required, the tests one has to sit for, and other factors.
Students must carefully review the application options and requirements before applying to the University.
The admission criteria are different for every course. So, check with the prospective department before applying.
Columbia University application requirements are:
- One of the primary criteria for graduate students is to submit a bachelor’s degree from a recognised institute.
- Applying for graduate courses requires applicants to major in the field they are applying for. However, an exception is made in certain programs, and studying related subjects is accepted.
- All the required documents must be submitted with the application.
- Students from countries other than Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the United States of America must submit an English Language Proficiency Test from either TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic test, or Duolingo English Test with their application.
To successfully complete the application process, students need to submit some essential documents with the application. The documents include:
- Copy of official transcript
- Three letters of recommendation
- Copy of all test scores
- A personal statement between 250 and 1,000 words
- Student’s resume
- Publications or related contributions (if any)
- Video Interview (Only for Masters)
The University does not have a cut-off GPA or test score for admission. Also, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for the 2023 admission cycle. Students who have taken the test and wish to submit the scores may do so, but it will not affect the evaluation process.
For the English Language Proficiency Test, there is no minimum score accepted for TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic, or Duolingo.
However, it is recommended that applicants keep their scores above the following:
Duolingo English Test
Being a popular University, Columbia offers wide options to students of different backgrounds. The University has more than 20 schools that offer more than 500 different graduate, master’s, non-degree, and doctoral courses.
Students from different parts of the world come to Columbia to study at Columbia College, Columbia Business School, Columbia Climate School, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Law School, and other prestigious schools and colleges.
There are more than 100 academic departments at the University. The most popular courses offered by these departments include:
- Applied Physics
- Applied Mathematics
- Materials Science & Engineering
- Medical Physics
- Computer Science
- Museum Anthropology
- Sociocultural Anthropology
- World Archaeology
- Drama and Theatre Arts
- Film and Media Studies
- Advanced Architectural Design
- Visual Arts
- Chemical Engineering
How University Evaluates Applicants
Students often wonder how to get admission in Columbia University and how the professors evaluate the applications. The admission officers adopt a holistic approach in selecting the best students.
While going through the applications, the officers look for qualities like intellect, curiosity, and dynamism. These are the prime qualities that make up the student body at Columbia.
Every stage of the application process is crucial and considered while assessing students’ applications. Not only the academic credentials but factors like students’ passions, interests, and how they will contribute to the University are carefully assessed. Students’ responses in the application process allow them to evaluate these factors.
- The University will try to understand the student’s perspective, beliefs, and engagement with their surroundings through the personal statement.
- Documents like transcripts, school reports, and recommendations give the professors an idea about academics, activities as a student, and how the student will get along with the University classmates.
- The responses to application questions reveal how the students express their curiosity, perceive their surroundings, and engage in the community.
- Columbia also has a contextual review process. Students’ extracurricular activities and responsibilities in and outside the family, school, and other institutions are also reviewed.
Overall, multiple officers review the application process and carefully go through each application.
Tips for Applying to University
The website of the University provides valuable resources for students seeking admission to Columbia. There are detailed guides on how to write SOPs, what to expect after admission and other helpful resources.
For those who are wondering about how to get admission in Columbia University, here are a few expert tips:
- Start the application process as soon as the admission cycle starts. This will give plenty of time to accurately fill out the application and collect all necessary transcripts and documents.
- Consider applying in the early admission process. Most Ivy League Schools offer this option which is helpful for students who are determined to make it to the top universities.
- For references, applicants should choose individuals who know them the best. The University suggests choosing references who are familiar with the applicant and the course they are applying for.
- Applicants should give their all in the personal statement. It should reflect how far they have come and their plans after they get into the University. Ace the personal statement with achievements, both in academics and extracurricular.
- Through interviews and answers to questions, applicants should be able to demonstrate their passion for the subject they are applying. There’s a high chance of the student making it to the University if they can convince themselves that they are not just knowledgeable about the subject but passionate about it.
- Lastly, applicants should aim to score well on tests and earn high grades because a lot of weight is placed on the scores. However, this should not be the only goal of the student.
First-year applicants have to meet all the deadlines to qualify for admission successfully. The important dates for this year’s admission cycle are discussed below.
Since the University is a partner of QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that supports deserving students from low-income backgrounds, the deadlines for these applicants are also mentioned on the official website.
Early Decision Applicants
- November 1: Deadline for applicants and QuestBridge National College Match applicants
- November 15: Deadline for Early Decision financial aid applications
- Mid-December: Admissions and financial aid decisions released online
- Early January: Response deadline
Regular Decision Applicants
- January 1: Applications deadlines
- February 15: Deadline for financial aid applications
- Early April: Admissions and financial aid decisions released online
- May 2: Response deadline
Applicants applying for enrollment deferral can enroll by May 15. The final transcripts for incoming students will be released by late June.
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