columbia university admissions

Columbia University Admissions – Expert Guide

As one of the eight Ivy League colleges in the United States, Columbia University is a highly-ranked private institution founded in 1754. Obviously, the Columbia University admissions process is very competitive. So, to increase your Columbia admissions odds, you’ll need a clear strategy. 

For students looking for a bustling urban campus, Columbia is a great fit, as it sits on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Columbia University boasts an intimate campus environment with a metropolitan setting. This dynamic mix of academic prestige and an exciting campus environment places Columbia University at the top of many students’ college lists.  

Are you still wondering how to get into Columbia University? Completing an Ivy League application can be intimidating, and Columbia is no different. While the Columbia University admissions process is competitive, there are many things you can do to put your best foot forward. The Columbia University admissions process is highly selective, so keep reading to learn more about the Columbia University admissions requirements. 

Our Columbia admissions guide covers:

  • Columbia admissions requirements
  • Competitiveness of Columbia admissions
  • Columbia University admissions deadlines 
  • Contact information for the Columbia University admissions office
  • Key Columbia University admissions takeaways 

What are the admissions requirements for Columbia University?

Students may submit applications to Columbia University admissions through the Coalition Application, the Common Application, or the Questbridge Application. 

Columbia admissions requires

  • A completed Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Columbia-specific list questions
  • Short answer questions
  • Secondary school report
  • Two teacher recommendation letters 
  • $85 application fee or a fee waiver

You should visit the Columbia University admissions site and Columbia University admissions blog regularly. Additionally, keep in mind that the Columbia University admissions requirements can change from year to year. This particularly applies to certain Columbia University requirements: namely, the Columbia University admissions test-optional policy and the Columbia-specific questions. 

Test-optional admissions

The Columbia admissions site states that “Based on an internal study encompassing multiple years of performance data, we found that test-optional admissions—which we provisionally introduced in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic—did not lead to a diminishment of the academic performance of our admitted classes or the academic success of our enrolled students.” Therefore, Columbia is now a test-optional school. 

The Columbia admissions testing policy is not the only aspect of the Columbia requirements that is subject to change. Each year, the Columbia admissions team makes updates to the Columbia-specific essay questions. These questions are designed to give the Columbia admissions team a better picture of who you are inside and outside of the classroom. While this year’s questions will likely change, they can still help you understand the type of information that Columbia admissions cares about. 

Columbia University alumni interview

Due to the sheer number of applications Columbia receives, the Columbia University admissions requirements do not include a mandatory alumni interview. However, some students are chosen to complete an interview. Interviews are conducted by student and alumni volunteers. If a student is granted an interview, they will receive additional communication about the next steps from the Columbia admissions team. 

Students applying to Columbia also have the option to submit supplementary materials. Although not required, these materials can add valuable context to your application and showcase any key skills. The most popular supplementary materials are research projects and creative portfolios. 

What Is the Columbia admissions rate?

According to US News, the Columbia University acceptance rate is just 6%. This makes Columbia one of the most selective institutions in the nation. 

Total undergraduate Columbia enrollment is 6,700. With a high number of applications and few spots available, the Columbia University acceptance rate has remained low over the years. 

Since 2021, Columbia has used a test-optional policy. This led to a significant increase in Columbia application numbers. However, despite the increased interest, the number of seats in the first-year class remained the same. Not only has Columbia University admissions gotten more competitive over the years, but it is likely to become increasingly competitive. 

Is Columbia University hard to get into?

Columbia University Admissions

Yes—Columbia is hard to get into. As an Ivy League institution with centuries of prestige, Columbia continues to attract more and more interest. So, as discussed, the Columbia application process is competitive. 

In recent years, with over 60,000 applications, fewer than 2500 admits, and less than 1600 seats in the first-year class, there is no doubt that Columbia is hard to get into. Despite the increased volume of applicants, Columbia enrollment numbers have remained consistent over the years. With no growth in the Columbia enrollment, it is fair to say that Columbia is becoming even harder to get into. 

This makes the Columbia University admissions process challenging. Since Columbia University admissions are so competitive, you should learn all you can about the Columbia admissions requirements. Each of the Columbia University requirements gives you an additional chance to stand out. For more insight on how to get into Columbia, check out this guide

What GPA do you need to get into Columbia?

Columbia admissions does not provide a minimum GPA to gain acceptance. However, to maximize your chances in the Columbia admissions process, you should aim for a 4.0. Additionally, the Columbia admissions site and Columbia University admissions blog each highlight ways that students can prepare academically. 

A high GPA won’t guarantee you a place at this prestigious school. With the low Columbia University acceptance rate, there are no guaranteed tips on how to get in. Instead, Columbia hopefuls should focus on the application components that they can control. 

Don’t worry about not knowing the exact GPA needed to win over the Columbia University admissions officers. Many selective colleges opt not to provide a minimum GPA. This is due to the vast diversity in high school curriculums. One of the most important Columbia University admissions requirements is your academic record, but the Columbia admissions office will look at your grades in the context of your course. 

High school transcript

The high school transcript informs Columbia admissions officers about your grades as well as the rigor of your courses. So, to increase your Columbia admissions odds, seek out the most challenging courses you can. Remember, 95.7% of the Columbia class of 2025 were in the top 10% of their graduating class in high school. 

Columbia University admissions officers also use standardized test scores to better understand your academic potential. So, while Columbia University is currently test-optional, the students who choose to submit a standardized test score tend to score well. The middle 50% of admitted students who chose to submit scores received between a 1490 and 1560 on the SAT and a 34 to a 35 on the ACT. 

Columbia University takes a holistic approach to reviewing your application. This means there is no minimum GPA or test score required for admission. Instead, focus on creating a compelling application narrative with strong extracurriculars and essays. 

Does Columbia University have rolling admissions?

Given all the Columbia University admissions requirements, you may wonder how long you have to complete the application.

Columbia does not have rolling admissions. 

In a rolling admissions process, applications are considered as they are submitted. This means, students then receive their decisions within 4-12 weeks depending on the school. Columbia does not use a rolling admissions process. Instead, students must apply under either the Early Decision plan or the Regular Decision plan. 

Columbia Early Decision

The Early Decision at Columbia is a binding plan that requires students to withdraw applications from all other colleges should they be admitted to Columbia University. The Regular Decision plan is a non-binding admissions plan that allows students to continue exploring their options. 

Each year, the application opens on August 1st. Early Decision and Questbridge applicants have a November 1st Columbia application deadline. Students applying Regular Decision have a January 1st Columbia application deadline. 

Columbia admissions decisions for Early Decision applicants are released in mid-December. For Regular Decision applicants, Columbia admissions decisions are released in early April. 

How do I contact Columbia University?

Columbia University Admissions

In addition to having an extremely thorough Columbia Admissions website, prospective students can always contact the Columbia Admissions officers if they have additional questions

You can send any Columbia admissions questions to [email protected]. You can also call the office at (212) 854-2522. Columbia staff has a very high volume of inquiries, so it may take a few days to receive your response. The office is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You can learn more on the Columbia admissions contact page.

Another great way to get some of your Columbia University admissions questions answered is by setting up a campus visit. Columbia University admissions offers daily guided tours. During a tour, you will meet a current Columbia University student and learn about their Columbia admissions journey.

Are you concerned about the time and/or money involved in traveling to campus? There are also several virtual visit opportunities such as information sessions, admission officer drop-in hours, student Q&A chats, and student panels. Virtual visits allow you to connect with Columbia admissions officers from the comfort of your own home. 

Columbia University Admissions Requirements – Five Takeaways

Here are five takeaways to help you prepare a compelling Columbia University admissions application.

Key Takeaways for Columbia Admissions

#1- Holistic Review Process

Using a holistic approach to reviewing your Columbia admissions application, each of the Columbia admissions requirements supply Columbia admissions officers with a fuller picture of you as an applicant. The Columbia admissions team considers all elements of your application. 

#2- Requirements can change

The Columbia admitted student profile and Columbia University admissions requirements can change from one year to the next. Make sure you are up-to-date with important Columbia University requirements and policies. 

#3- Pay attention to deadlines

College deadlines are important at every school. Be sure to mark your calendar with all the pertinent dates and deadlines for the Columbia University admissions process. There is no option for rolling admissions, so it is critical to understand the Early Decision and Regular Decision plans well in advance. 

#4- Use your resources

Take advantage of all the resources available to you. Refer to the Columbia University admissions blog often for the most current Columbia University requirements. If you get stuck on your application, don’t be afraid to reach out to the Columbia University admissions office. You can interact with Columbia University admissions officers through a campus visit or by using the Columbia admissions contact page.   

#5- Don’t lose hope

Columbia University admissions is highly selective. If you do receive an acceptance letter, it is indeed something to be proud of. However, due to the low Columbia acceptance rate, Columbia denies far more qualified students than it admits. So, stay encouraged no matter what the outcome is! 

Want to know more about how to get into Columbia University? We have you covered. Check out this webinar to learn more about Columbia. Or, read these resources to jump-start your college search.

Columbia University Admissions

This article was written by Admissions Officer, Chelsea Holley. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.