Columbia offers you the 

 intellectual environment 

 of an Ivy League University, 

 the sense of community you 

 associate with the best small 

 colleges and a home base 

 from which to explore the 

 most exciting city in the world.

 After the Revolutionary War,

 Columbia College retained the 

 royal crown as its emblem and 

 the royal lion as it's mascot. A 

 readiness to treat tradition as an 

 engine of change has characterized 

 a Columbia eduation ever since.

- Dean Austin Quigley, Columbia College


Is Columbia right for you?

That depends. If you're interested in being cloistered away someplace where you can isolate yourself in a study carrel and focus only on academics for several years, Columbia probably isn't a good choice for you. Columbia is a place where students get inv olved -- in campus affairs, in politics, in service projects, in research activities, in the arts, in clubs and organizations, in athletics and in the life of the city.

Unparalleled diversity. In contrast with many of our peer institutions, Columbia is known for breaking down the walls that separate the so-called ivory towers of academia from the rest of the world. As a vital, multicultural center of life, learni ng and diversity of every kind -- geographic, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic -- Columbia stands alone. Our students come from more than thirty countries and all fifty states, and our admissions process is "need-blind." Males and females are about e qually represented in the student population, and well over 30 percent of the students at the university are Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American. Each year we welcome and enormously varied, extraordinarily interesting group of students. Difference has a place here, and we feel at home with it. For you that means that wherever you hope to go, Columbia will encourage you to grow and mature as your own person.

A one-of-a-kind core curriculum. The cornerstone of the Columbia undergraduate experience is the core curriculum. The university introduced the nation's first core curriculum in 1919. With the core, Columbia sought to broaden students' appreciat ion of Western civilization -- its moral and political thought and its literature, art and music -- after World War I had almost torn Western civilization asunder. Since 1919, the core has remained substantially unchanged in spirit. And although other in stitutions have adopted similar core curricula, Columbia's core is unique in both substance and function.

The oldest four courses in the core are Literature Humanities, Contemporary Civilizations, Art Humanities (Masterpieces of Western Art) and Music Humanities (Masterpieces of Western Music). Core classses are taught as seminars and held to a maximum of twenty-four students.

Most first-year students embark upon the two-semester journey in western literature called Literature Humanities. In Literature Humanities, you'll begin by studying the ancient Greeks -- Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, Aristophanes and T hucydides -- and then progress through time to a twentieth-century author. Class sessions last for two hours, readings are provocative and discussions can become intense. Instead of lecturing, your professor will engage you and your fellow students in w hat we sometimes refer to as disputatious learning, using the Socratic method of teaching to encourage the lively exploration of issues, ideas and contradictions.

Most students take the next course in the core, Contemporary Civilization, during their sophmore year. Also a two semester course, Contemporary Civilization operates in the same academic setting as Literature Humanities; however, the subject matter is moral and political thought. Again, you'll begin with the ancient Greeks -- this time, Plato and Aristotle -- and progress to debating issues of current interest, relevance and controversy.

You'll find that Columbia College's status as the most diverse college in the Ivy League will have a significant impact on your experience in core courses. In fact, in courses throughout the curriculum you can look forward to learning and growing from yo ur conversations with students whose views are similar to yours as well as with many other students whose ideas and life experiences may be quite different from your own.

The seminar setting of core curriculum courses encourages active discussion and debate. We think of our core curriculum as more than just a body of knowledge, more than just a survey of Great Books, a canon or a set of common distribution requirements. At Columbia, the core represents a way of thinking -- a challenge to get engaged with texts and with each other, to agree or disagree. no idea or philosophy is taken for granted. One aim is to elevate you and your opinion to the level of the authors you read.

The other two of the four prinipal humaities courses in the core curriculum are Art Humanities and Music Humanities. Each of these semester-long courses takes wonderful advantage of the New York City learning environment. Art Humanities isn't a typical art history course in which students idly glance at endless prints of paintings in art books. In Art Humanities you'll visit museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art and the Frick to study original works of art. And in Music Humanities you'll have a one-of-a-kind musical experience of the city, attending, for example, a New York Philharmonic performance at Lincoln Center, an opera at the Metropolitan Opera Hous e, a jazz set in the West Village, a hip-hop show at the Apollo Theater, a rave in the East Village or a rock concert at Madison Square Garden.

The core's impact on your four academic years. The combination of the core curriculum, the living laboratory of New York City, Columbia's outstanding faculty, our diverse student population and a seven-to-one student-to-faculty ratio makes for a on e-of-a-kind college experience. Required of all Columbia College students, the core curriculum has united the Columbia Community since it was introduced in 1919. It will enable you to share a common academic and personal bond with your classmates - a bon d that begins in our classrooms and extends to our residence halls, dining halls, libraries and playing fields. At the same time, the core will allow you to enter your major field of study with a firm foundation in Western civilization, an understanding of the sciences, a deeper awareness of major cultures, a proficient grasp of a foreign language and enhanced writing skills.


Columbia's alumni include World Series heroes (Lou Gehrig, Gene Larkin), legendary business leaders (Armand Hammer, John Kluge), publishers (Alfred Knopf, Bennet Cerf, George Delacorte), authors and poets (Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, John Berryman, Lang ston Hughes, Herman Wouk, Thomas Merton, Robert Silverberg, Terrence McNally, Tony Kushner), Broadway legends (Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart), and recipients of nobel prizes for chemistry , peace, physics, physiology or medicine and e conomics. (As you might expect -- given that Columbia's history spans almost two and one-half centuries -- this is only a partial listing. The long   list begins with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.

  Often, something marvelous

  happens in the classroom.

  Students seize a topic and 

  refuse to let go of it 

  until they've examined it 

  from every possible 

  perspective. On those

  days, I become something of

  a student again myself.

  - Professor Hamid Dabashi, 
  Department of Middle East and
  Asian Languages and Cultures

The core and student life. The balance between academic work and life outside the classroom comes naturally at Columbia. For example, if you have to read The Iliad by Thursday for your Literature Humanities course, your friends (who probably are a lso enrolled in Literature Humanities) will understand your need to study. And when your work is done, you'll find any number of students who are ready to explore New York City with you or hang out on campus. Columbia students live on an around-the-clock campus in an around-the-clock city. Restaurants, clubs and pubs are open twenty-four hours a day, as is the college library. Many fascinating evenings result from students holding symposia on religion, science or philosophy. Other enjoyable evenings invol ve concerts, performances or club meetings on campus or late nights in the Village. The opportunities are virtually endless, and the choice is yours.

A running start on globalism and international perspective. For generations, Columbia has taken full advantage of its enviable location in a city that's a world capital and a busy center of international commerce. As evidenced by our early emphasi s on the teaching of languages (we currently offer instruction in forty-eight), our early development of regional studies programs and our early movement to introduce an international dimension to courses throughout the curriculum, Columbia has long champ ioned the wisdom and value of enlightened globalism and vigorous multicultural scholarship.

One example: as early as the 1930s, leading scholars in Columbia College were working to develop courses in Asian humanities and Asian civilizations that would complement and exactly parallel in scope the college's well-known core curriculum courses that focus on Western civilization. Shortly after World War II, those new courses were in place, and they continue to offer undergraduate students core-quality immersion in classic works, from early to modern times, of Asian history, politics, art, music, lit erature and religion. In addition, a great many other courses enable students to explore virtually every facet of Asian civilization and humanities as a major program of study or, through elective courses, in conjunction with their work in other fields.

Columbia's reputation for out-standing achievement in the sciences. Columbia has a long tradition of distinguished teaching, research and discovery in the natural sciences and mathematics. Virtually all of the scientists who are members of the arts and sciences faculty at Columbia teach undergraduate courses, and from early in your college career you'll work with teachers and researchers who are nationally and internationally respected as leaders in their fields. Seven faculty members and alumni of Columbia have received the Nobel prize in chemistry; nineteen have received the Nobel prize in physics; thirteen have received the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine. On twelve occasions, Columbia professors have been awarded the National Medal of Sci ence.

If you have a strong interest in research, you'll be able to involve yourself directly in ongoing projects as soon as you decide to make it happen. In addition, New York City offers exceptional possibilities for complementing your classroom and laborator y work in a staggering range of scientific settings.

Every year about ten entering first-year Columbia College students who have demonstrated exceptional promise in the sciences are selected to be Rabi Scholars for their four years at the university. The program honors 1944 Nobel laureate and Columbia phys ics professor I. I. Rabi. Among the program's benefits are special research options, greater access to facilities, guaranteed summer research jobs and free on-campus summer housing.

Our manageable size. Many colleges characterize themselves as small schools in big universities. At Columbia--where you may come to feel that you always seem to be sitting in a front row--that claim has special credibility. With about thirty-six h undred students, Columbia College is the smallest liberal arts college in the Ivy League. And for its part, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with about one thousand undergraduate students, is the smallest of the nation's leading engineering schools.

The perfect home base in New York City. All things considered, our campus residence halls--besides affording convenient access to everything at Columbia--offer one of the most economical and practical ways to live in Manhattan. Whenever you like, you can venture out in the city at your own pace: see a few sights, visit a museum or theatre or concert hall, take in a movie, explore a new neighborhood, attend a sporting event or do a little serious shopping. Then, when you're ready, head back to camp us. Wherever you go in the city, you'll never be far from home. (More good news: as a student at Columbia, you'll be guaranteed campus housing for four years.)


Thirty-six members of our faculty are members of the National Academy of Sciences. Ten are members of the National Academy of Engineering. Ninety-two are fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Twelve received the National Medal of Science. Since 1980 three Columbia scholars have won the prestigious Waterman Award in chemistry, and fifteen have received MacArthur Foundation awards. During the past six years, twenty-three Columbia faculty members have received Guggenheim fellowships. And fifty-five Nobel laureates are currently faculty members, former faculty members or alumni of Columbia University.

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last modified: January 15, 1997
Chris Gwiazda, College Web Manager, [email protected]