Columbia University Admissions

Get Into Columbia

Applying to Columbia University

Columbia University, a private Ivy League research university, was founded in 1754. Located in New York City, it has a total undergraduate enrollment of roughly 6,000 (4,500 in Columbia College and 1,500 in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science). In the 2021 edition of US News & World Report Best Colleges, Columbia ranked #3, behind Princeton and Harvard. 

Within Columbia University, applicants may apply to one of the two full-time undergraduate divisions: Columbia College or Columbia Engineering.

Columbia College: This liberal arts curriculum is distinguished by its intensive Core Curriculum (established in 1919), a series of small, discussion-based seminars that explore foundational texts and documents. As part of the “Literature Humanities” (Lit Hum) requirement, for instance, students can take “Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy.” The required reading list for this course includes Homer, The Iliad; Aeschylus, Oresteia; and Dante, The Inferno

In addition to majors and/or concentrations in over 80 areas of study, students within Columbia College may also pursue pre-professional advising for future careers in law, medicine and other health professions or pursue an accelerated graduate program.

Undergraduates may also apply for the 3-2 combined plan, which allows students to receive a B.A. degree in a liberal arts field as well as a B.S. in an engineering discipline. Columbia’s location in New York City offers limitless possibilities for internships and research and has also led to productive relationships with universities and institutes nearby. Students in the Columbia-Juilliard Program, for example, have the opportunity for weekly instruction with Juilliard faculty.  


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Columbia Engineering: In Columbia’s engineering program, students can choose from 16 majors in a wide range of sub-fields, in addition to optional minors in both engineering-related subjects and the liberal arts. While students still complete Columbia’s core curriculum, they also gain professional training and take advantage of hands-on design projects, research and internships before graduation. 

Applying to Columbia University 

Applicants to Columbia can apply Early Decision (applications due November 1) or Regular Decision (applications due January 1) using either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Students applying under the ED plan may apply to other institutions, but may have only one Early Decision application pending at any time.

Application Requirements and Supplementary Materials: In addition to the Columbia-Specific Application Questions, applicants must submit an official high school transcript, a high school counselor’s recommendation, a school profile, the completed Mid-Year Report, Teacher Recommendations (engineering applicants must submit one recommendation from a math or science teacher), and standardized tests.

If you have completed research with a faculty member or mentor in an academic discipline (STEM, humanities, social sciences or languages), you may provide a one- or two-page abstract as a supplement to your application. This is a great opportunity for students who have pursued high-level research or published an academic article during high school, in any field. Some students may also choose to submit an Artistic Portfolio if they have major achievements at the state, national or international level in a particular art form. This can be submitted through Columbia’s SlideRoom portal. Note: This portfolio is only meant for significant artistic accomplishments and should be used with discretion. A thicker application file is not necessarily a stronger application file. 

Testing: Like many schools, Columbia has revised their standardized testing policy for the 2020-2021 application cycle by adopting a test-optional policy for first-year applicants. For those who wish to submit SAT or ACT scores, however, tests may be taken as late as November for Early Decision and February for Regular Decision. Scores can be self-reported and Columbia does not require the optional writing section. Although not required, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and SAT Subject Tests will only strengthen your application (this year, more than ever). 

Interviews: Applicants may be contacted by a Columbia alumni or current student for a virtual interview, but only after all application materials have been submitted. If you are contacted for an interview, we suggest outlining your top two academic areas of interest and your top two extracurricular areas of interest ahead of time. You won’t have time to touch on everything you’ve ever done in a thirty-minute interview, but you should be able to give examples of your principal interests and strengths. Spend time researching the school’s academic departments and course offerings and prepare a list of questions about the school that have not been answered in the college literature.  Something specific to your interests is great: “I notice you have a Center for Sustainable Investment.  Is there an opportunity for undergraduates to take part in this research?”

Before applying to Columbia, we encourage you to take advantage to the virtual tour offerings via YouVisit or watching “A Walk Through Campus.” 

Admissions Wrap Up for Columbia University:

Class of 2025 (ED): 
This year, 6,435 students applied under the Early Decision plan to join the class of 2025. 

Class of 2024:
For the Class of 2024, Columbia accepted 2,465 from 40,084 applications. The acceptance rate of 6.15 percent was slightly higher than the previous 5.14 percent when Columbia admitted 2,190 from 42,569 applications to the Class of 2023.  For this admission cycle, we estimate that Columbia received 4,461 early decision applications and accepted 650 students for an admission rate just below 15 percent. 

Here are some Common Application main essay first few lines from accepted Columbia applications:

“You are long. Be longer,” advised Suki Schorer, “Hold the air with your fingertips.” Feigning a smile, I saut de chated across the floor.

“Chickens are pets with benefits. They fertilize gardens, manage pests, and lay fresh eggs.” The county commissioner responded with an amused smile, but I was unsure if I had her vote after my description.

Top Tier Admissions Can Help You Get Into Columbia University:

“I am excited to inform you that I will be attending Northeastern University this fall! I am hoping that they fully reopen the campus as they plan to. Until then, I’m greatly anticipating being a Husky. I could not have done it with you and your team. Thank you very much for helping me with my application. I greatly appreciate it.”–C.K., Application Boot Camp student, Northeastern
"Thank you so much for all your time and work with N over these last few months. N found his experience at Boot Camp to be incredibly helpful and he very much enjoyed meeting you and working with all the Top Tier counselors as well as the other students. The process was educational for N in so many ways- thank you, thank you, thank you!"
–M.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I want to thank you, again, for a fantastic Top Tier Boot Camp experience. As a second time Top Tier family, we drank your Kool Aid fully and completely, and it paid off! You know your stuff; you manage to thread the needle with a mix of tough love and compassion (for both the students and their parents - no small feat) and you run a super-efficient 4-day program."
–R.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I got my acceptance letter over the weekend from Middlebury!! I’m officially a Panther!!! 🙂 Thank you for all of your help; I could not have made it through 1st quarter without ABC!!!"
-S.F., Application Boot Camp student
"Dear Michele, I just wanted to let you know that I just got accepted into Dartmouth for ED! I’m overjoyed and incredibly excited to continue my academic journey in New Hampshire. Thank you so much! You were always there to answer so many of my questions and were incredibly supportive of me; I couldn’t have done it without you and the Top Tier team!"
–B.S., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you! He could not have done it without you."
–P.W., Application Boot Camp parent
"Thank you so much!! He couldn’t have done it without your amazing team!"
–H.O., Application Boot Camp parent
"We just got the news! Northwestern Class of 2024! She’s over the moon. This would not have happened without the advice and guidance along the way from all of the folks at Top Tier Admissions! From the advice on how to structure her supplemental info, including how to position her interests and activities relative to her major, the advice to take a college course this summer, and the amazing work that was done during Boot Camp, Top Tier is the absolute best and I know we have you to thank for her acceptance!!! Happy Holidays and thank you from the bottom of my heart!"
–P.S., Application Boot Camp parent
"Michele and team - Just wanted to pass along the great news that J got admitted today to Pitzer, her first choice ED school. Thanks for all the amazing support you've provided H and J over the past few years. They both learned a lot from the process and, of course, benefited greatly. We now get to celebrate the holidays with a sigh of relief!"
–V.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"J is so thrilled about attending Middlebury College next fall (and we are thrilled for her) and we appreciate all your assistance. It was so exciting for her to get the official acceptance last week. She loved her time at ABC and still keeps in touch with the group of friends she made. Boot Camp was tough, but she thoroughly loved it. She’s a grinder so the intensity and complete immersion didn’t bother her at all. She loved working with all of you and cherishes having another little group of friends that she bonded with in Boston. Don’t fire your caterer - she’s a big fan of the food at Boot Camp." –W.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"B, you helped me with my application during Boot Camp this past summer and I wanted to let you know that I committed to UPenn last night! Thank you so much for helping to transform my supplements into something readable. Boot Camp DEFINITELY helped me get in and made the process a lot less stressful. Thank you so much for all of your help!"
–B.A., Application Boot Camp student
"We wanted to thank you for your guidance, counsel and support through T’s application process. Your advice has been instrumental to his success and, more importantly, you gave him the confidence boost he needed to apply early at Princeton. We will continue to recommend Top Tier services to our friends and will always be grateful for what you did. We hope we can stay in touch and wish you a wonderful holiday season."
–K.L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"We are excited to report that B was accepted ED to Duke University and has committed to attend next fall. We’ll forward a picture once our first Duke swag order arrives. Duke was her clear first choice and we are all very happy! We are also very pleased with the assistance we received from all of you at Top Tier and are confident that the guidance we received over the last seventeen months helped B wind up with this great outcome. So, thank you!"
–E.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I am ecstatic to report that I got into my ED school: University of Chicago! Thank you so much for all your help and willingness to work through draft after draft until I got it right."
–W.D., Application Boot Camp student
"I am happy to report that we found out this evening that L has been accepted to Boston College! We are SO excited! And for your records, he was also accepted at Villanova and invited to the honors program. Thank you all so much for your help and support! We would have been lost without you!"
–M.J., Application Boot Camp student
"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for all your help with my son's application process and essays. Your Bootcamp proved to be well worth the investment and per your advice I stayed away from the temptation of even reading my son's essays until he was accepted. The bottom line is that he was accepted into his top choice of UChicago and in his acceptance letter his essay was specifically mentioned. Furthermore, this was a reach school for him which made the acceptance even more sweet. Your methods and advice were instrumental in his success and I cannot thank you enough for making my son's aspirations real!!"
–L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I'm not sure if my daughter told you yet, but she was accepted ED to Dartmouth in December. So, two for two with the W sisters-- thanks Top Tier Admissions!"
–G.W., Application Boot Camp parent x2
"I wanted to let you know that I got into my first choice, Boston College, early decision. I'm so excited. Thank you all so much for everything, I'm so grateful!"
–L.K., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you to Mimi who wrote my personalized report back in junior year, to the entire team, and definitely to E! My quick acceptance into Cornell owes much to your insights and guidance. Although I have been accepted to Cornell, the process with Top Tier has made me want to stay competitive in college — whether for internships, or for graduate schools later in life. I thank you for that!"
–P.O., Application Boot Camp student
–L.J., Application Boot Camp student
“Once again, I am so impressed with your program. I am amazed at the sheer 
amount B. accomplished in four days! Equally as important, she feels
 really great about her essays. She loved working with each of you as well as 
A. (a great pairing for her!).  

I know how hard each of you worked this week; I hope you get to enjoy some
 well-deserved R&R!” –N.G., Application Boot Camp parent
"G is excited to go to her first choice, the University of Miami! She continues to say that Application Boot Camp was the best investment we ever made for her education." –R.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"I liked the process of having multiple people read my essays before finalizing a draft. This made me confident that my essays were clear and concise while also captivating to a diverse audience. Everyone was also patient and encouraging. Boot Camp took away so much stress coming into Senior Fall, allowing me to focus on my academics and earning my highest term average ever." –S.A., Application Boot Camp student
"I know first hand how you run your business.  Off the charts ethical! We look forward to continuing our relationship with Top Tier's Application Boot Camp."
-Parent of Application Boot Camp (Dartmouth) students
"Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you and the Top Tier Admissions Team! I'm still in between UPenn and Georgetown, but I will make sure to visit both."
–S.I., Application Boot Camp student
"Clearly, Application Bootcamp and Top Tier took a lot of anxiety out of the whole situation. Our children know a number of kids who did not get into their top choice ED school, only to be devastated and stressed as they are without a plan for ED II and regular decision and have not worked on a range of essays for other schools. So while F & J’s EA-only strategy is not for everyone but made sense for them since they did not have a clear lead school when they were applying, being prepared made all the difference. The help Bootcamp provided in honing their voice and words into essays that reflect their intent was fantastic. In the end, it is all about having choices they are happy with, and I am happy to say they both have those now!"
–F.A., parent of Application Boot Camp students
"E., I just wanted to let you know that I got into Barnard Early Decision! Thank you for everything you have done!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you did for me! Thank You!!" - H.L., Personal Boot Camp student
Barnard, Class of 2023
"I wanted to say thank you again for all your help! I got into UPenn, Cornell, Barnard, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Tufts, University of Michigan, and Wake Forest, and am waiting to hear from Georgetown; I think I'm leaning towards UPenn. Thank  you so much for all your guidance; I don't think I could have done it without your help!" --I.R., Application Boot Camp student
"We are thrilled! Duke is absolutely fantastic and is the exact right fit for K. Application Boot Camp definitely helped her get into Duke during their most selective year in history, a year in which they turned away well over 2,000 Valedictorians. Thank you!" -Y.R., parent of ABC student accepted to 9 top-tier colleges
"Boot Camp was the most incredible experience. It made me push myself into thinking about my future and prepared me to send in all my applications. I am so thankful that I got the help I needed at Boot Camp because it made my application process effortless once I had completed my essays. I think that the colleges were able to clearly see my goals and ambitions through the writing of my essays. I believe this helped me have a very successful application process." –P.K., Application Boot Camp student
Barnard Class of 2022

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