Columbia University

Established by King George II of Great Britain in 1754 as New York’s first higher learning institute, Columbia University is a private Ivy League research college with an illustrious history in the elite Association of American Universities (AAU). Sprawling over 299 acres, Columbia is strategically located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in the global epicenter of New York City. It’s also affiliated with the nearby all-women Barnard College and the Teachers College. Every year, Columbia University enrolls more than 8,300 undergraduates and 18,500 post-graduates in 20 academic divisions. Columbia caps classes at 22 students to facilitate close student-to-faculty interaction and hands-on practical learning.

Thanks to its centuries-long tradition for academic excellence, Columbia has been honored as America’s 4th best university and 6th top value school by the U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Columbia ranks within the top 20 nationwide for 23 different subject areas. The Times Higher Education has even placed Columbia University as the 14th best institution worldwide. According to the Mines ParisTech, Columbia is the 3rd top school for producing CEOs in the United States. As the birthplace of FM radio and lasers, Columbia University draws in more than $230 million in patent-related deals annually for its cutting-edge research. The university also received a B+ grade on the College Sustainability Report Card for its environmental initiatives.

Columbia University Accreditation Details

Every 10 years, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) formally re-accredits Columbia University for meeting the regional accrediting standards of the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, Columbia’s high-achieving academic departments have earned 15 discipline-specific, professional approvals. Some notable accreditations include the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Known for granting the nation’s first M.D. degree, Columbia is also accredited through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

Columbia University Application Requirements

With an acceptance rate of just 6.9 percent, admissions at Columbia University is insanely heated with strict enrollment criteria. First-year students must hold a diploma from an approved high school or college preparatory school. Having four years of English, four years of math, three years of natural science, three years of social studies, and two years of foreign language is a basic requirement. Accepted freshman at Columbia have an average high school GPA of 3.81. Most enrolled undergraduates have achieved a minimum SAT score of 1500 and a minimum ACT score of 29. Rather than simply weighing scores and grades, Columbia uses a holistic approach to analyze each applicant’s personal background.

Undergraduate students can qualify for transfer to Columbia by completing at least 24 credits from another regionally accredited institution. Yet, having more than four semesters of college coursework isn’t allowed. Potential transfers are expected to have a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.5 because space in upper-division courses is limited. At the graduate level, candidates must already have at least an accredited bachelor’s degree. Graduate students must show exceptional academic standing with an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher in the junior and senior years. Several programs require satisfactory scores on the GRE or GMAT too.

Prior to the January 1st deadline, interested students should submit the Common Application to Columbia University with the following:

  • Official transcripts from every school attended
  • Standardized testing or entrance exam scores
  • Three recommendation letters
  • A one to two-page personal statement
  • Resume or curriculum vitae (graduate students)
  • Payment for the $105 non-refundable fee

Tuition and Financial Aid

Even though Columbia was placed in the Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back,” the sticker price on tuition requires a hefty investment first. According to the NCES, full-time undergraduate students will pay an estimated $51,008 in tuition and fees each year. On-campus room and board will cost an additional $12,432 annually. Undergraduates must budget for spending an estimate $1,170 in textbooks and supplies. The grand total ends up at around $66,604 yearly for on-campus residents. Graduate students at Columbia University can expect an average price of $41,048 in tuition and $1,802 in fees every academic year.

53 percent of matriculated Columbia students receive some form of need-based financial aid for covering the school’s costly education. Students can borrow from the federal government through Perkins loans, Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans, or PLUS loans, but this money must be repaid. Certain financially needy learners may qualify for the Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, or TAP Grant. Institutional aid directly from Columbia University is available through programs like the Interschool Fellowships, Clifford and Siegfried Upton Scholarships, Paul Nichoplas Scholarship Fund, or George W. Ellis Scholarships. Military veterans will also receive education benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program.

Student Experience

Columbia University is a rich intellectual community providing nearly 100 academic majors for students at the bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels. Popular undergraduate majors include Visual Arts, Biochemistry, Computer Science, Economics, and History. Columbia students also have the unique opportunity to pursue a major in Yiddish Studies, Neuroscience, Russian Literature, Evolutionary Biology, and Jazz Studies. There’s an impressively low student-faculty ratio of 6:1, so Columbia’s award-winning faculty is highly accessible. Columbia University has achieved a high four-year graduation rate of 88 percent, which signifies a positive student experience. Graduates have become Supreme Court justices, Academy Award winners, Nobel Prize laureates, and U.S. Presidents.

Within the heart of the Big Apple, Columbia’s campus takes over six city blocks with an extensive underground tunnel perfect for winter commutes. Butler Library, open 24/7 during the academic year, has over 11.9 million volumes as America’s eighth largest library system. Columbia operates nearly 24 dormitory halls and over 7,800 brownstone apartments since 94 percent of students live in affiliated housing. News is spread across the campus by the Columbia Daily Spectator, which is the nation’s second-oldest student-run publication. Each year, the School of Arts also hosts the prestigious Columbia University Film Festival.

There’s no shortage of engaging activities for Columbia students to choose from with more than 500 student clubs. Founded in 1967, the Columbia Queer Alliance is renowned for being the country’s first organization for lesbian, gay, transgender, and questioning students. More than 10 percent of Columbia’s student body is involved in Greek life with 25 fraternity and sorority chapters based here. Athletically inclined students can try out for the Columbia Lions, who compete in the NCAA Division I-AA Ivy League conference in 31 varsity sports. Through the Urban New York program, Columbia University gives free tickets for students to explore sights like the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Guggenheim Museum.