Find below answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to admissions.
For all other questions, please write to gsas-admissions [at] columbia.edu.
A complete guide to GSAS programs and admissions
Find below answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to admissions.
For all other questions, please write to gsas-admissions [at] columbia.edu.
Where can I find answers to my questions about prerequisite requirement courses or a program’s content?
The GSAS Office of Admissions does not provide information regarding a program’s prerequisite requirements. Please consult the departmental websites for that information. All program-related questions not covered on this website should be addressed directly to the department.
May another person or entity submit my application materials on my behalf?
The applicant must submit all materials directly, not through an agent or third-party vendor, with the sole exception of submissions by the US Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies IIE, LASPAU and AMIDEAST, and by the Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF), and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). In addition, the applicant will be required to attest to the accuracy and authenticity of all information and documents submitted to Columbia. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact the GSAS Office of Admissions at gsas-admissions [at] columbia.edu.
Failure to submit complete, accurate, and authentic application documents consistent with these instructions may result in denial or revocation of admission, cancellation of academic credit, suspension, expulsion, or eventual revocation of degree. Applicants may be required to assist admissions staff and faculty involved in admission reviews in the verification of all documents and statements made in documents submitted by students as part of the application review process.
May I apply to more than one program?
You may not submit more than one application to a PhD program or department within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), including the PhD programs offered at GSAS at Columbia University Medical Center. However, you may elect to have your application reviewed by a second program or department within GSAS if you are not offered admission by your first-choice program. Please see the application instructions for a more detailed explanation of this policy and the various restrictions that apply to a second choice.
You may apply concurrently to a program housed at GSAS and to programs housed at other divisions of the university (except GSAS programs at the College of Physicians and Surgeons). However, since GSAS does not share application materials with other divisions, you must complete the application requirements for each school.
How do I apply to a dual- or joint-degree program?
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences refers to these programs as dual-degree programs. Applicants must complete the application requirements for both schools. Application materials are not shared between schools. Students can only apply to an established dual-degree program and may not create their own.
With the sole exception of approved dual-degree programs, students may not pursue a degree in more than one Columbia program concurrently, and may not be registered in more than one degree program at any institution in the same semester. Enrollment in another degree program at Columbia or elsewhere while enrolled in a GSAS master's or doctoral program is strictly prohibited by the Graduate School. Violation of this policy will lead to the rescission of an offer of admission, or termination for a current student.
My undergraduate degree is a three-year bachelor's degree. Am I eligible to apply to your programs?
GSAS is now accepting applications from students earning three-year bachelor's degrees in Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, India, Israel, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and any country which is a participant in the Bologna Process.
How do I become eligible for fellowship awards in a PhD/DMA program?
All students admitted to a GSAS program leading to the doctoral degree receive full University fellowships that include tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend. This also applies to international students. No additional application is necessary for this award. See Fellowship Information for Doctoral Students.
What kinds of fellowships are available if I am applying to an MA program?
Students admitted to some master’s programs may be considered for a very limited number of existing merit-based awards. No separate application is required. However, applicants should be aware that not all MA programs offer these awards, and that awards may cover only a small portion of tuition costs. Some programs that offer merit-based awards require students to apply by an early deadline in order to be considered eligible for those awards. Please consult the program’s webpage on the GSAS website for that information.
How can I obtain a Teaching or a Research apprenticeship?
Teaching and Research apprenticeships are solely part of the multi-year PhD fellowship awards.
Is there a profile of the GSAS entering class?
Given the variety of academic programs housed at GSAS, the GSAS Office of Admissions does not compile a general entering class profile or maintain aggregate admissions statistics. For more information about admission to a specific program, including such details as acceptance rates and GPA or GRE ranges, prospective students should contact the program directly.
I want to transfer into Columbia GSAS. Is there a special application I need to submit?
GSAS does not admit applicants as transfer students; therefore, there is no special application. Instead, you must apply for admission using the normal procedures, by completing the GSAS application and submitting all required supporting materials.
Students who are admitted to and enroll in GSAS may request that coursework completed at Columbia or elsewhere be used in partial fulfillment of their GSAS degree requirements, subject to the Transfer Credit policies. Decisions to grant Transfer Credit are made solely by the department and GSAS.
Can I pay the application fee with a check instead of using a credit card?
We do not accept payment by check. Payment must be made by credit card. The following credit cards are accepted: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
Whom should I contact if the application fee has been charged to my credit card more than once?
If multiple charges have been posted to your account, please write to gsas-admissions [at] columbia.edu. In the email, please provide your first and last name, date of birth, department to which you applied, date and time you submitted the application, and the last four digits of your credit card number.
Note: An authorization for a charge is different from a charge that has been posted to your account and settled. In order to verify that your credit card has in fact been charged more than once, please wait until the charge has been posted to your account and settled before contacting the GSAS Office of Admissions.
How do I apply for an application fee waiver?
All requests for fee waivers must be submitted through the online application. See the Application Fee Waivers page for specific instructions.
What should I do if I have technical difficulties when paying the application fee?
First check that you have correctly entered the following information on the payment page:
- Billing address (discrepancies can cause a card to be declined)
- Credit card number
- Credit card expiration date
- Credit card verification code
If the above items do not resolve the issue:
- Try logging in to the application using a different browser.
- Try using a different credit card.
What is the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ETS code for GRE and TOEFL?
Our institution code is 2162. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not use department codes, as all test scores are reported to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Scores are then forwarded to the appropriate department. Because ETS requires designation of a department code, you may either select any department of your choosing or enter the default code 99 for the TOEFL and 0000 for the GRE.
What is the minimum GRE score needed to apply?
No department other than Psychology sets a minimum score requirement. For those applying to Psychology, although the department bases its decisions on an overall recommendation of applicants' scores, grades, recommendation letters, and potential for scholarship in the program, it encourages applicants to have a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of 310.
Is there a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score requirement?
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires a minimum score of 600 on the paper-based test, 100 on the internet-based test, or a 7.5 for the IELTS.
If I took the TOEFL OR IELTS more than once, can I submit the results of more than one test to achieve the minimum score?
You may use the results of tests taken on various dates to achieve the minimum score requirement. TOEFL(iBT) now offers a “MyBest” scores reporting option.
Under what circumstances will the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences waive the GRE requirement?
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not waive the GRE requirement. Some programs, however, do not require that applicants submit GRE scores. To find out whether a program requires the submission of GRE scores, please visit the program’s web page and view the Special Admissions Requirements at the bottom of the page.
Under what circumstances will the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences waive the English proficiency requirement?
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not waive the English proficiency requirement. For information on how applicants may fulfill the requirement, please click here.
Can I substitute any other test for the GRE?
Unless you are applying to the free-standing MA program in Mathematics of Finance, which accepts the GMAT, you may not substitute any other test for the GRE. The GRE is mandatory for all those programs which require it.
Can I substitute any other test for the TOEFL?
Yes, you may substitute the IELTS or Columbia’s English Certification Test (ECT) for details. Click here for details.
I earned my undergraduate degree in a country where the official language is not English, but from an institution there where the official language of instruction is English. Am I required to submit TOEFL or IELTS results?
If English is the official language of instruction at the institution(s) where all of your undergraduate academic work was or is being undertaken, submission of TOEFL/IELTS results may not be required. If you believe this to be the case, please complete the English Proficiency Waiver Request form. The completed form and required supporting documentation must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the application deadline for the program to which you are applying. Your request will be reviewed, and you will receive notification when a decision has been made. Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and submission of the waiver form does not guarantee approval.
If I earned a master’s degree in the US or from another English-speaking country, but received my undergraduate degree in an international school, am I still required to submit the TOEFL?
If you took the TOEFL or IELTS exam when applying to a graduate program at another institution and scored above the Columbia GSAS minimum requirement of 100 (IBT), 600 (PBT), or 7.5 (IELTS), you may be eligible to fulfill the English proficiency requirement by submitting the official TOEFL/IELTS Waiver Request Form and uploading a scanned copy of the score report to the online application. The form may be accessed on the Test Scores page of the application. Please note that the form may not be submitted until after you have entered the name of the relevant graduate institution on the Educational History section of the application. If you did not score above the Columbia GSAS required minimum or do not have a copy of your old results, you must retake the exam.
When should I take the GRE or TOEFL?
All tests should be taken at least six weeks before the application deadline to ensure timely receipt by the admissions office.
For how long are GRE and TOEFL scores valid?
TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date.
GRE scores are valid for five years after the test date. Applicants who took the GRE more than five years ago and have subsequently enrolled in a graduate-level program at a US institution may petition the GSAS department or program to which they are applying to accept their old scores. If the department agrees to accept the scores, 1) the applicant must upload a personal copy of the official score report to the online application system, or 2) if GSAS already has the official score report on file, GSAS will append the scores to the application after it has been submitted.
If I took the GRE more than once, how are the test scores considered in the evaluation process?
When the GRE has been taken multiple times, the highest score achieved on each section is used in evaluating your application.
When completing your application, you will be asked to enter a complete set of scores from only one exam date, and to scan and upload a copy of the score report. However, you will also be able to scan and upload the results of any other exam date, so that all scores will be available to the admissions committee. Additionally, the official ETS score report will reflect scores from all the test dates you have elected to report to GSAS.
Does GSAS accept the GMAT?
Yes, but only for applicants to the Mathematics of Finance program.
What is the GSAS GMAT code?
There is no GSAS GMAT numerical code; you should select Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the scores will be reported to us.
What is the minimum score requirement for the GMAT?
There is no minimum GMAT score requirement.
Does GSAS accept the LSAT or the MCAT?
GSAS programs do not require the submission of MCAT or LSAT scores, and MCAT and LSAT scores are not accepted in place of GRE scores. However, students who wish to submit MCAT or LSAT scores as a supplement to their GRE scores may upload a copy of the score report.
How should I submit my official IELTS score report?
To submit IELTS scores you must provide them with the name and address of the GSAS E-Delivery account:
"Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences"
IELTS results are released 13 days after the test for paper-delivered tests, and 5 to 7 days for computer-delivered tests. Some test centers may take up to 2-weeks to process requests for results to be sent to GSAS. Once the test center sends the scores to GSAS, it typically takes between 24 to 48 hours for you to receive them in your E-Delivery account. However, it may take another 7-10 business days before GSAS Admissions has processed and appended them to your application account.
How are letters of recommendation submitted?
Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the GSAS online application system. Letters of recommendation may not be sent via email, nor may paper letters be sent via postal mail. All letters must be uploaded by the recommender directly to the application system.
You may submit your online application even if your letters of recommendation have not yet been submitted. Once the letters are received, we will append them to your application.
Columbia GSAS accepts up to four letters of recommendation.
Three letters of recommendation are required by most programs, but some MA programs may only require two letters. For application requirements for the program to which you are applying, please visit that program’s webpage on the GSAS website.
Letter of recommendation to which an applicant has had access are not acceptable and are not considered official.
May my supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation and official exam scores, arrive after the application deadline date?
If you are applying for fall admission and the application deadline is mid-May or earlier: Supporting documents may be received up to two weeks after the deadline date for the specific department, with the exception of the Psychology Department, which will only accept materials up to one week after the deadline date.
If you are applying for fall admission and the application deadline is in late May or early June: Supporting documents will not be accepted after the deadline date.
If you are applying for spring admission: Supporting documents will not be accepted after the deadline date.
Where should I send materials that cannot be submitted through the online application?
Materials may be sent to the GSAS Office of Admissions:
GSAS Office of Admissions
107 Low Library, MC 4303
535 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
Only materials that an applicant is having difficulty uploading to the "Supplementary Materials" section of the online application, such as musical scores or portfolios, may be sent via mail to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Applicants should not send any materials to the department.
Any materials not required for the application that are sent to the GSAS Office of Admissions will not be attached to an applicant’s file, nor will they be returned.
Does the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences accept letters from career or letter services?
We accept letters from dossier services, such as Interfolio, or university career services offices. Letters must be submitted electronically.
If you are using Interfolio, please see the Interfolio Help Center for instructions on how to use the Interfolio service to deliver the letters to your Columbia application.
If a career services office will be submitting the letters on your behalf, you will have to contact that office to ascertain whether they have a system in place which permits electronic submission of individual letters to our online application.
Note: In order to make use of electronic submission, the letters must be submitted as individual documents directly to our application system, using the unique link created by the application system for each recommender you list. We do not accept letters emailed from letter services to a Columbia GSAS email address.
May I submit more than the required three letters of recommendation?
Yes, we accept up to four letters.
How can I change my decision to waive or not waive my letter of recommendation?
If you have selected the wrong decision regarding waiving your rights and the recommender has not yet submitted his or her letter, you should “exclude” the recommender and reenter his or her information, being sure to select the correct decision. Please advise your recommender to disregard the first email request and to submit the recommendation according to the instructions in the most recent email.
If the letter has been submitted, you cannot change your decision to waive your right to view the letter within the application system. If you wish to alter your waiver selection, you must send an email message to the recommender stating that you are waiving your right to view the letter. The message should include your full name and date of birth or Slate Application ID number. Please add a copy of this message to your application account to make the faculty admissions committee aware of this change. If you are changing your selection for more than one letter, you must email each recommender and upload a copy of each message to your application account. Your document will serve as an official request to change your waiver selection.
To add a copy of each message to your file after you have emailed the recommender, please log back into your application. If you have not yet submitted your application, please upload your document via the Supplementary Media section. If you have already submitted your file, then you may upload your document by clicking on the words UPLOAD MATERIALS and selecting APPLICATION CORRECTIONS/ADDITIONS from the drop-down list.
Note: Once the recommendation has been submitted, you will only be able to waive your right to read the letter; you will not be able to rescind a previous waiver of that right.
I did not waive my right to view the letters of recommendation submitted on my behalf. How can I access the letters?
Under the guidelines of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), all letters of recommendation are confidential during the admissions process, even if you have not waived your right to view them. This policy applies to both domestic and international applicants.
If you did not waive your right to see one or more of the letters, you may view them only after you are enrolled in Columbia GSAS. Students who do not receive an offer of admission, or those admitted who do not enroll, are not permitted access to the letters at any time.
A complete explanation of the FERPA policy can be found here.
How long should my statement of academic purpose be?
For most programs, the statement of academic purpose should be no more than 1,000 words. Applicants to the Japanese Pedagogy Program should refer to the application instructions.
How can I get supporting materials (e.g., books, writing samples, portfolios, or tapes) returned to me?
Materials sent to GSAS cannot be returned.
Am I required to provide any financial documents as part of the application process?
No. If you are admitted, you may be asked to provide certain financial documents.
Can I submit my musical scores electronically?
Yes, they can be uploaded in the Supplementary Media section of the online application.
Do I need to submit official transcripts when I submit my application?
No. Unofficial paper transcripts or documents downloaded from your school’s student services website may be uploaded for consideration for admission.
Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission has been made and accepted.
GSAS retains official documents for admitted applicants only. If an official document is sent to us by an applicant who does not enroll, the document will not remain accessible, even if an offer of admission is made at a later time.
If I have received an offer of admission, how should I submit my official transcripts?
Do I need to submit transcripts if I only took a few courses at another school?
Yes. A transcript showing all courses and grades of any academic work must be submitted. However, if the courses and grades are listed on your main transcript, a separate transcript need not be submitted.
Does GSAS accept scanned or web-based academic records?
Yes, we accept them for review and decision purposes. However, we consider them unofficial. If an offer of admission is made, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia by the Registrar’s Office of the applicant’s prior institution(s). Offers will not be considered official until we have received the official transcripts. Please see above for more information.
What suggestions do you have in uploading my transcripts?
Where do I upload my scanned transcript?
On the Educational History page of the online application.
Can I upload all my transcripts as one PDF?
No. Each transcript must be uploaded separately.
If I upload my transcripts, do I still need to submit the originals?
Once an applicant has been admitted and has indicated acceptance of our offer of admission, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia by the Registrar’s Office of the applicant’s prior institution(s). Please see above for more information.
Do I need to upload both the foreign language and English translations of my transcripts?
Yes. Transcripts that are in a language other than English should be translated into English. The translation must be certified to be an accurate translation of the original and be notarized or otherwise authenticated.
When should I use the Fall Term Grade Report?
If you are applying to the On-Campus or Online/On-Campus MA program in Statistics, and will be earning your undergraduate degree after December 1, you must submit the Fall Term Grade Report and upload an updated transcript.
Applicants to all other programs may submit the Fall Term Grade Report and a revised transcript if they wish to update their applications.
Whom do I contact if I cannot find my school code on the "Educational History" page of the online application?
When searching for your school, if you do not immediately find the name of your institution, please attempt to search using alternate spellings of the city name (Saint Petersburg vs. St. Petersburg) or under a possible variation of your school name (Oxford University vs. University of Oxford). If you attended a particular college within a larger institution, or a satellite campus of a larger school, please enter the name of the larger institution. (For example, if you attended Balliol College, please enter Oxford University.) The details of your study will be visible to the faculty when they review your transcript.
If, after carefully searching, you are certain that your school does not appear on our list, please choose the appropriate country (and city, if available; if not available, select “other”), and then select “other” for your school name. Space will be provided for you to enter the name of the institution. Please also confirm its city, state/region (if applicable), and country. Once you have entered your school information, you must also complete the Missing School Code form so that we may add your institution to our records.
I am an international applicant. Am I required to submit a WES evaluation of each of my transcripts?
GSAS does not require submission of WES evaluations. However, WES evaluations may be submitted in place of the required certified English translations of international transcripts. Additionally, please see the text above concerning the submission of WES Evaluations when accepting an offer of admission, which may be applicable to some admitted students .
Can I track my application online?
Yes, you may check the status of your application on the Application Status screen. You will be able to access this screen only after your application has been submitted.
What information will I need in order to view my application status?
You will need your email address and password.
What should I do if my supporting documents do not appear in online tracking?
You may check the status of your supporting materials on the Application Status screen. You will be able to access this screen only after your application has been submitted.
Once your application has been submitted, the status of your application will appear as "Submitted". No further updates will be displayed until a decision on your application has been released.
If I still have a question or wish to amend any information concerning my application, whom do I contact?
If you have a question not answered on our website or need to update any information, please notify the GSAS Admissions Office directly via email at gsas-admissions [at] columbia.edu with "Question Not Answered on Website" or "Change Application Information" in the subject line. In the body of the email, you must include your name, date of birth, and your application ID number.
When will I receive a decision on my application?
Notification of decisions for all PhD applicants generally takes place by March. The notification of MA decisions varies by department and application deadlines. Although some MA decisions are sent out in early spring, decisions may be rendered as late as July. Notifications are sent by the Office of Admissions of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and not by the individual departments.
If I have selected review by a second department or program, when will I receive the second-choice decision?
If you receive an offer of admission from your first-choice department or program, your application will not be reviewed by the second department or program. Also, your application will be sent to the second-choice department or program only after a decision has been rendered by the first choice.
What constitutes an official offer of admission?
Only the dean of the Graduate School has the authority to make an offer of admission. A letter or email from a faculty member is not an official offer of admission. Only when you receive the official offer signed by the dean of the Graduate School are you considered admitted. However, the offer of admission is only considered fully official only after a credentials verification process has been completed, including receipt and verification of your official transcript(s). Any discrepancies between the uploaded and official transcripts may result in the rescinding of the offer of admission.
Are admissions decisions made on a rolling basis?
PhD decisions are not made on a rolling basis. In some cases, admission to free-standing MA programs may be rolling.
How can I apply for transfer credit?
See the Transfer Credit page for instructions.
How do I reapply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences?
In order to reapply, you must submit a new application and upload a statement of purpose, CV, and writing sample (if required). Any transcript already on file from last year's application need not be resubmitted, unless it does not reflect all currently completed academic work or the award of a degree. If test scores (GRE, TOEFL, etc.) are already on file, there is no need to resend those score reports. Through the online application, you have the option of reusing any or all of the letters of recommendation submitted in support of last year's application.
Does GSAS require a deposit if I'm accepting the offer of admission?
Upon accepting the offer of admission, MA students are required to submit a non-refundable tuition deposit.
The tuition deposit for the following programs is $2,000:
- MA in Climate and Society
- MA in Islamic Studies
- MA in Medieval Studies
- MA in QMSS
- MA in Sociology
The tuition deposit for the following programs is $3,500:
- MA in Biotechnology
- MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies
The tuition deposit for the following programs is $5,000:
- MA in Economics
- MA in Mathematics of Finance
- MA in Statistics
- MA in Statistics (Hybrid Online-On-Campus Program)
The tuition deposit for all other MA programs is $1,000. PhD students are not required to submit a tuition deposit.
How will GSAS notify me of my admissions decision?
All notifications are made via email.
I was not offered admission. How can I request feedback on the reasons for the decision?
GSAS understands and appreciates the commitment of time and energy put into each application. However, we are unable to provide individual feedback on why an offer of admission was not made.
Admissions decisions are made solely at the discretion of each department or program's Faculty Committee on Admissions. Admissions committees are encouraged to take a comprehensive view of each applicant; their review includes not only an applicant’s academic preparation, such as test scores and educational history, but also the personal contributions he or she could make to the Columbia academic community. GSAS receives many applications for its programs, and regrettably it is unable to offer admission to every qualified applicant.
May I defer my enrollment at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences?
The Graduate School offers admission with the expectation that students will matriculate in the semester specified during the application process. If extraordinary circumstances will prevent you from matriculating, you may submit a request to defer your enrollment for up to one calendar year. In this time of COVID-19, it is a given that we are in extraordinary circumstances. If you wish or need to defer for one year (until August 2021), you are welcome to do so. Most, but not all, departments are also able to accommodate a one-semester deferral (until January 2021) as well. Please consult with your Director of Graduate Studies or Program Director to confirm that this option is available.
For more detailed information concerning GSAS Deferrals policies for Fall 2020 admitted students, please visit the GSAS Deferrals webpage.
How can I arrange a campus tour and attend an open house?
Please contact the Visitor’s Center at (212) 854-4900 to arrange a tour. Columbia GSAS does not offer open house meetings. You may visit the GSAS Admissions Office (107 Low Library) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday for assistance with any questions regarding the admissions process.
How can I schedule an interview with the department?
As a rule, interviews are not part of the application process for GSAS departments. If faculty members wish to schedule an interview, they will contact you directly.