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:
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
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.
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 Professional Studies|
|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|
The School of Professional Studies 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.
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.