COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
ADMISSION OVERVIEW FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

This information has been prepared to help prospective students from other countries make their educational plans and decide whether they wish to make a formal application for admission to Columbia University. Please read this information carefully. The University comprises undergraduate (first) degree schools, graduate (postgraduate) degree schools, non-degree programs, and the American Language Program, Columbia's internationally recognized program for the study of English as a second language. Each Columbia school or program has a separate admissions office, admissions application, and bulletin. It is important to determine the degree to be studied and the school in which the program is offered. Some subjects (mainly liberal arts and sciences) are offered in more than one school. The degree received or the emphasis of the major focus of studies differs depending on the school in which the student is registered. The information that follows briefly describes Columbia's program offerings and degree structure. Detailed information on the application process for international students, including links to the testing services offering required admission examinations, is available in Application Overview for International Students. Specific school application information and useful references or bulletins are linked to the school or program names.

Overview of Undergraduate Studies:

A bachelor's degree earned in the United States usually takes a minimum of four years. Degrees are earned by taking a combination of required courses which meet liberal arts distribution requirements (humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences), a required number of courses in the major field of study (called a "major"in the United States), and the balance of courses as electives. Each course taken is assigned a value called "points" (also called "credits" or "units"). To earn a bachelor's degree, one must earn a minimum of 124 points (usually more) and, at the same time, meet the distribution and major requirements. Advisement on course selection is available in each school at the time of registration.

Undergraduate studies are offered in three divisions of the University. Each division offers a distinct program of studies. The divisions that offer the undergraduate (B.A. or B.S.) degree are:

1. Columbia College (CC) - Study of the liberal arts and sciences leading to the B.A. degree traditionally, but not exclusively, for students just out of secondary school, usually between the ages of 17 and 22. With an enrollment of approximately 4,000, Columbia College is the smallest college in the Ivy League.

2. Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) - Offers the B.S. degree in engineering and applied science fields.

3. School of General Studies (GS) - Offers the B.A. or B.S. degree to students who have had a break of a year or more in their education since high school.

 

Overview of Graduate Studies:

All other divisions of the University are graduate schools and, as such, offer degrees beyond the bachelor's degree, usually master's or doctoral degrees.

Master's degrees take from one to three years to earn depending on the course work and research/writing requirements.

Ph.D. requirements may vary but usually require one to two years of course work beyond the master's degree, comprehensive examinations, a major original contribution to research in the field of study, and oral defense of one's research. The research and writing requirement can take from two to five years beyond the course work. A Ph.D. candidate should plan on a minimum of four and an average of six years of study to complete the degree requirements. It is not unusual for a student to be at Columbia seven or eight years to complete a doctorate.

To be admitted to these schools, the applicant must have completed a degree considered in the United States to be equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree with a strong academic record. There are also other admissions requirements. The Columbia schools and programs that offer graduate degrees are:

 College of Physicians and Surgeons  Program in Physical Therapy
 Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science  School of Continuing Education
 Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation  College of Dental Medicine
 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences  School of International and Public Affairs
 Graduate School of Business  School of Law
 Graduate School of Journalism  School of Nursing
 Institute of Human Nutrition  School of Social Work
 Mailman School of Public Health  School of the Arts
 Program in Occupational Therapy

Overview of Non-Degree Programs:

The School of Continuing Education offers, in addition to its masters' degree program, opportunities for non-degree study at Columbia to qualified applicants. Both undergraduate and graduate level courses from the University's arts and sciences course offerings may be taken for credit. This option is particularly appropriate for international students who wish to visit at Columbia for a semester or two.

To qualify for an I-20 to be in F-1 student status in the U.S., students must register for at least 12 points of credit-bearing coursework each semester. This is usually equivalent to four courses each semester.

Of particular interest to international students is the School of Continuing Education's American Language Program. The ALP is one of the oldest English as a Second Language programs in the United States and offers a carefully integrated sequence of courses to students, business and professional people, and international visitors who wish to improve their command of English.

Affiliated Institutions:

There are two institutions which are affiliated with, located adjacent to, and bear the name of Columbia University. They are administered separately and applications for admission must be made directly to these institutions.

Barnard College, Columbia University An undergraduate liberal arts college for women affiliated with Columbia University. For more information, write to Barnard College Admissions, 111 Milbank,3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, U.S.A.

Teachers College, Columbia University A graduate school for students interested in education, offering only the master's and doctoral degrees. For more information, write to Teachers College Admissions, 146 Horace Mann, 551 West 120 Street, New York, NY 10027, U.S.A.