New Student Checklist

GSAS students at Orientation

After you have accepted the offer of admission, please complete the following checklist to begin your transition to Columbia:

Activate Your UNI and Columbia Email Address

Your UNI (University Network ID) grants you access to a number of important functions at Columbia, including registration, billing, and email. Your designated UNI (which consists of your initials and a four-digit number) will be sent to the email address with which you applied to GSAS. UNI creation typically requires three to five business days of processing time after accepting the offer of admission. Once you receive your UNI notification email, follow these instructions to activate it.

Next, activate your Columbia email account (known as LionMail). You should check it regularly; all official correspondence from the University will be sent to your Columbia account.

International Students: Apply for Your I-20/DS-2019

If you have not already done so, we strongly urge you to apply for your I-20 online as soon as possible to expedite the process of obtaining a student visa. Please contact the isso [at] (International Students and Scholars Office) with any questions. 

International students are required to view these videos from the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).

Apply for Housing

To apply for housing, complete the Columbia Residential application by the deadline indicated in your letter of admission. To apply, you will first need to successfully activate your UNI.

See the Housing page for links to apartment-hunting resources and special information for PhD students and MA students.

Fulfill Immunization Requirements

Students must fulfill two immunization requirements at least 30 days prior to registering for classes. Students will not be able to register until the requirements are met, and late submissions will not be expedited.

You must:

To provide documentation and for more information, see the Columbia Health website.

Submit a Photo for Your Columbia ID Card

You must submit a photo online to be used on your Columbia ID card. Instructions on picking up your ID card will be shared via email and on the GSAS website in the coming weeks.

Submit Final Transcripts

For a transcript to be considered official, it must be provided to the GSAS Office of Admissions directly from the Registrar’s Office of the sending institution. Any documents to which an applicant has had access, including transcripts uploaded as part of the application, are automatically considered unofficial. Please refer to the Final Transcript Instructions policy for submission requirements.

Complete the Verification of Your Credentials

Columbia University requires all incoming students to complete a credentials verification process for letters of reference and all post-secondary transcripts and degrees awarded. Instructions will be sent prior to your enrollment. For detailed information, please refer to our Credentials Verification page.

Columbia GSAS has contracted with Re Vera Services to assist with the verification of your letters of recommendation. We strongly suggest that you notify your recommenders that Re Vera will be contacting them to confirm that they have submitted letters for your application.

You may be contacted by a representative from Re Vera Services if they have any questions or need your assistance in reaching your recommender. Your timely replies to any such inquiries are required as part of the credentials-verification process.

Complete All Pre-Arrival Tutorials

GSAS students are expected to exhibit the highest level of personal and academic integrity as members of the Columbia University community. Accordingly, GSAS asks that you familiarize yourself with Columbia’s core community values and policies on Academic Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research and Sexual Respect.

Incoming master’s and doctoral students in Arts and Sciences programs must, prior to arrival on campus, participate in a live webinar on the subject of sexual violence and response and Title IX, and prior to the first day of classes, complete online tutorials on the subject of academic integrity. Over the course of the summer, incoming students will receive emails with instructions on how to satisfy these requirements.

If you have any questions, please contact the gsas-studentaffairs [at] (GSAS Office of Student Affairs)

Register for Classes AND a Full or Fractional Residence Unit

Students entering in the fall will be able to register online during the week of GSAS New Student Orientation, and will receive emails with detailed instructions over the course of the summer.

If you have any questions, please contact the gsas-studentaffairs [at] (GSAS Office of Student Affairs)

Understand Your Columbia Health and Student Medical Insurance Options

Columbia Health Program

By paying the Columbia Health Fee, students enroll in the Columbia Health Program and are granted access to the programs and services provided on campus through the five Columbia Health departments. The fee is mandatory and automatically billed to 1) all full-time students and 2) those who elect enrollment in the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan (see below). Other students may elect enrollment in the Columbia Health Program. Visit the Columbia Health website for full program details and benefits.

Columbia Student Medical Insurance

University policy requires all registered full-time students to have health insurance coverage that meets the standards set by Columbia Health. The Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan offers a single level plan. The Columbia Plan is administered by Aetna Student Health and is underwritten by Aetna.

To ensure that international students have access to the highest quality care on and off campus, the University requires that all international students enroll in the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan. Part-time domestic students may elect enrollment in the plan.

All incoming full-time students must make an insurance selection by September 30. They must either:

  • Confirm enrollment in the Columbia Plan(Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan)
  • Or request a waiver from mandatory enrollment in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan (domestic students only)

Full-time students will be enrolled in the single-level plan if they do not make an enrollment selection or if no waiver request has been submitted by the deadline.

Students who enroll in the plan may also choose to make use of the optional insurance for eligible dependents.

Visit the Student Health Insurance website for full plan details and benefits.


Understand Student Financial Services

Student Financial Services has provided this presentation, which highlights key topics to help you navigate your finances at Columbia.


  1. Understanding Your E-Bill
  2. Paying Your E-Bill
  3. SFS Holds on Your Account
  4. Set Up Online Payments & Direct Deposit
  5. Set Up Direct Deposit to Receive Refunds and Stipends
  6. Financial Aid Online Resources
  7. Veteran Benefit Assistance

For more information, please visit the Student Financial Services website.

Attend GSAS New Student Orientation

GSAS New Student Orientation will take place largely virtually. All new students will be directed to an online Orientation course, which will consist of a series of videos designed exclusively for incoming students with essential information about graduate school, student life in New York, and research at Columbia. Students will also be invited to participate in a live webinar on the subject of sexual violence and response and Title IX.

GSAS will host an in-person Resource Fair on campus, as well as one or more in-person welcome events. Information about GSAS New Student Orientation will be shared by email with incoming students in the coming weeks.

Read the New Student Guide

We encourage incoming students to get familar with campus resources and take an active role in the Columbia community. Read the New Student Guide for more tools and resources that may be useful as you establish yourself as a Columbia student and community member.