Columbia university acceptance rate

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How To Get Into Columbia &#; Your Guide To Ivy League Admissions

Columbia University was ranked the third best college in the United States by US News in and consistently ranks in the top 20 by others.  It is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State and the fifth oldest in the United States.  Apart from Harvard, it is also one of the only Ivy League schools located in a major city.

While many know Columbia for its Fu Foundation School of Engineering, one of their strongest departments for undergrads and graduate students, its Economic and Political Science departments are also consistently ranked as some of the best in the nation.

Columbia’s unique combination of across-the-board strong academic departments and connection to the city of New York places it and its students in a unique position where they can take full advantage of the benefits of a top university as well as the benefits of living in a metropolitan hub.

It is little wonder then that over 40, students apply to Columbia every year.  Though matched with that is the Columbia University acceptance rate which is around 6%, making Columbia one of the hardest Ivy League Schools to get into.  

This article will cover Columbia’s history as an institution, what types of students they have accepted in the past, and advice which will help students craft the best application they can.

Columbia University History & Identity

Columbia University was founded by a royal charter of King George II of England in   At that time and for the first thirty years of its history, it was called King’s College.  In July of , Samuel Johnson held Columbia’s first class with eight students at a new schoolhouse which adjoined Trinity Church near what is now lower Broadway in Manhattan.

In , the college was forced to close its doors with the onset of the American Revolution and the British occupation of New York. 

This closure continued through and shortly past the war for eight years until when the college reopened under the new name “Columbia”. 

While Columbia College was the clear successor to King’s College, the two had some key differences.

Columbia College was more thoroughly influenced by the Revolution and strove for greater economic, denominational, and geographic diversity amongst its students and leaders.

Furthermore, the cloistered campus life of King’s College gave way to the day students of Columbia College who frequently commuted to the college from their homes or lodgings in the city.

Over the subsequent years, Columbia became a bigger and more unified university.

The Columbia school of Law was founded in , followed by the country’s first mining school in (a precursor of today’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science).

Later, Seth Low, after becoming Columbia’s president in , set about uniting Columbia’s fractured and competing schools under a central administration that stressed cooperation and shared resources.  Also, under his influence, Columbia developed graduate facilities in political science, philosophy, and pure science, establishing Columbia as one of the nation’s earliest centers for graduate education. 

Low also oversaw Columbia’s move to its current Morningside Heights campus.  In , John Erskine taught a seminar which established the study of original masterworks as the foundation of undergraduate education and taught another course which originated the College’s influential Core Curriculum. 

By the late s, Columbia had emerged one of the nation’s preeminent centers for educational innovation and scholarly achievement.  

The Student Uprising at Columbia University

However, in the s, Columbia faced its most significant crisis: opposition to the Vietnam War, the growing civil rights movement, and the ongoing decline of America’s inner cities converged at Columbia and thrust the university into the national spotlight. 

More than protesting students occupied five buildings in the last week of April , effectively shutting down the university, until they were forcibly removed by police.  This and other events directly led to the cancellation of what activists described as a segregated gym in Morningside Park; the cessation of Columbia’s affiliation with the Institute for Defense Analyses and their joint classified, on-campus, research projects; and a downturn in the University’s finances and morale, as applications, endowments, and grants significantly declined over the following years.

These events also led to the creation of the of the University Senate, which granted faculty, students, and alumni a larger voice in University affairs.  However, many believe it still took the University over two decades to fully recover.

The Revival of Columbia University

Columbia’s spirit and energy have revived in recent decades.  Starting in the s, new facilities were built, and old ones were renovated.  With the development of the Audubon Biotechnology and Research Park, Columbia secured its place at the forefront of medical research.

Now, the university is lead by its new president, Lee C. Bollinger, and recently celebrated its th anniversary. Through its renowned Core Curriculum and the advanced work of its graduate and professional programs, Columbia sets one of the highest standards for the creation and dissemination of knowledge in the United States and around the world.

Columbia University Alumni

Some of Columbia’s notable alumni include Allen Ginsberg, Amelia Earhart, B. R. Ambedkar, Barack Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Isaac Asimov, J. D. Salinger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lou Gehrig, and Warren Buffett.

Trivia & Fun Facts

1.Columbia’s campus has changed three times over the course of its history. Its first campus was at Park Place, near the present site of New York City’s city hall. In , Columbia moved to Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue, where it stood for the next forty years.  Finally, in , Columbia moved to its present-day location in Morningside Heights. 

2.Columbia takes a lot of pride in this campus.It was built by architect Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White, a renowned turn-of-the-century architectural firm, and remains the single largest collection of McKim, Mead & White buildings in the world.

3.In , Columbia scientists assisted in research for the Manhattan Project at the university’s Pupin Hall and Schermerhorn Hall.  In , Pupin Hall was named as a national historic landmark in commemoration of the Columbia team’s contributions to atomic research.

4.Columbia has also produced or been affiliated with four United States Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Barack Obama.  Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt attended Columbia Law School; Barack Obama earned his BA from Columbia, and Dwight D. Eisenhower served as Columbia’s 13th president.

What Kind of Student is Columbia Looking For?

While there is no magic formula of qualities that Columbia is looking for in an ideal student, broadly speaking, Columbia is looking for students who are intellectually curious, fun, open-minded, respectful towards differing viewpoints, enthusiastic towards diversity and diverse viewpoints, dedicated to the community and community service, and understand and can fit into Columbia’s culture.

Columbia hopes for their graduates to go on to become top-level leaders in their future career or industry, and they choose students who they believe can go on to do just that.  

Academically speaking, Columbia looks for exceptional students with high grades and test scores, highly motivated individuals motivated towards a specific career, and the character and work ethic to bring future goals to fruition.  The latter two points are especially important for Columbia, as very few students who are admitted do not have an intended field of study. 

Other qualities Columbia looks for in their students include:

  • an ability to show leadership
  • play an active role in their community
  • sociability
  • time management skills
  • and hands-on life experience

They look for students who can demonstrate these qualities in their extra curriculars and community service.  If a student’s extra curriculars also tie into his or her future career interests, then that is even better.

Finally, Columbia is looking for students who are interested in the Core Curriculum.  Columbia as an institution takes a lot of pride in its Core Curriculum, calling it the heart of their academics.  So, Columbia will look favorably on students who want to take advantage of the Core and who are interested in being well-rounded intellectually even as they specialize in their intended future field. 

Is Columbia The Right Fit For Me?

A student will be a good fit for Columbia is he or she can thrive with academic rigor, are looking for a city environment, and will take advantage of the resources specifically available at Columbia.

Intense academics should not come as a surprise to anyone who wants to apply to any Ivy League school, let alone Columbia.  The Core Curriculum guarantees that at least some classes will be smaller in size, more discussion-based, and will offer students a chance to develop a close relationship with faculty members early into their college careers.

With Columbia being situated within New York City, students will never be at a loss for activities and opportunities, on or off campus.  However, some students may find city life and the plethora of available activities distracting.  Therefore, it is especially crucial for Columbia students to have good time management skills.

Columbia Applicant Demographics

The following information is pulled from Columbia’s admitted class of , unless otherwise stated.

Columbia University Acceptance Rate

The Columbia University acceptance rate is %overall, with a regular decision acceptance rate of % and an early decision acceptance rate of %. 

Those admitted to Columbia University through early decision made up % of the incoming class.

Of the class of , 51% are male and 49% are female.  Seventeen percent of the class are the first generation in their family to attend college. 

Columbia does not currently publicize an exact percentage of the incoming class made of legacy students. However, the data which can be found suggests that legacy students made up 5% of the Class of , and the percentage of legacy students making up any given class is somewhere between 5% and 7% (according to data from the class of and before).

The majority of Columbia’s incoming class if white, with the next largest proportion of the class being Asian/Pacific Islander, then Hispanic, then Black/African American.

International students make up 12% of Columbia University&#;s incoming class.

Most of those students come from China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Turkey, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India.

Get Into The Ivy League As An International Student

Getting into the Ivy League as an international student is like trying to run a marathon while wearing a backpack filled with bricks. It’s hard enough to run 26 miles but doing it while weighted down must seem impossible.

But here’s a secret:

The Ivy League universities need international students.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive review of all the requirements, tactics, and tests that international students will need to produce in order to secure their spots at one of the United States’ most prestigious schools: the Ivy League.


The chart below shows the makeup of the rest of the domestic incoming class. Most students come from the East Coast, as is typical of most Ivy League schools, but a good portion of students also come from states which are not a part of that group.

The top represented states in the incoming class are:

  1. New York
  2. Massachusetts
  3. California
  4. Illinois
  5. New Jersey
  1. Pennsylvania
  2. Texas
  3. Virginia
  4. Florida
  5. Maryland

Most students declare an area of academic interest when applying to Columbia, and most are interested a program in Mathematics and Natural Science.  A nearly equal proportion of students express an interest in the Social Sciences, Engineering, and the Humanities.

In comparison, the largest number of degrees conferred by Columbia are in:

  • Political Science
  • Computer Science
  • Neuroscience and Biology
  • Economics
  • History

These make up about 40% of the total degrees awarded.

Requirements For Columbia University Admissions

Columbia accepts applications through the Coalition Application, the Common Application, or the QuestBridge Application. 

This application should include:

  • a secondary school report (which includes an official high school transcript)
  • a high school counselor’s recommendation
  • a school profile
  • and a mid-year report

Average GPA for Columbia University Admissions

Theaverage GPA of students accepted to Columbia is .

That is nearly straight A’s in all of a student’s classes along with a large proportion of those classes being advanced courses such as AP or IB classes. 

ACT & SAT Scores for Columbia University Admissions

The middle 50% of students admitted to the Columbia University class of scored between and on the SAT, or between 34 and 35 on the ACT

These ACT and SAT scores range from incredibly high and competitive to nearly perfect. 

However, students whose GPA is exactly at or below the average of will need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. 

It should also be noted that most students who submitted an SAT scored higher in Mathematics than in Reading and Writing.  

High School Course Recommendations from Columbia University

In terms of what types of classes to take, Columbia recommends:

  • four years of English literature and composition
  • three to four years of mathematics (pre-calculus is strongly recommended)
  • three to four years of history and social studies
  • three to four years of one foreign language (either ancient or modern)
  • and three to four years of laboratory science

However, some students may also wish finish more courses in their particular area of study in exchange for fewer courses in another. 

For example, The School of Engineering and Applied Science strongly recommends:

  • four years of math (including calculus)
  • one year of physics (preferably in the last two years of secondary school)
  • one year of chemistry
  • four years of English
  • two to three years of a foreign language
  • and three to four years of history and social studies

Students should contact a representative from the specific Columbia program they are interested in to see what types of coursework are recommended for that program.

How to Get an Edge When Applying To Columbia University

Participate in Enrichment Programs

Columbia offers a few enrichment programs for exceptional high school students, and there is some evidence that participating in one may give students an edge during on their college application

Students who wish to display an interest in Columbia, forge connections with Columbia’s staff and community, and demonstrate their academic excellence should apply to these programs. 

Students who live near the university should look into the Academic Year Immersion Program and the College Edge Program.  

Some programs also cater to specific interests, such as the Columbia Climate School in The Green Mountains program and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. 

For students who do not live near New York, there are also summer and online programs.

However, there is no guarantee that a certain student will be able to participate in one of these programs, as the process of applying to one is competitive.  Students who are unable to participate in one of these programs (because of rejection or because of monetary or time constraints) should look into the enrichment programs offered by their local universities. 

Similarly, students can look into academic competitions, especially those in their area of interest. Placing highly in such a competition at a national level can similarly help students stand out in the application process.

Columbia Early Decision Acceptance Rate (Why & When To Apply Early Decision)

Columbia&#;s early decision acceptance rate is nearly three times as high as the regular acceptance rate, and a little less than half of each class is accepted through early decision. 

That said, Columbia’s early decision admissions are binding, so students should only consider applying early to Columbia if:

  • Columbia is their top choice
  • they can commit to attending Columbia regardless of what financial aid package is offered to them
  • and they have strong grades and test scores by the end of their junior year

Write Excellent Personal Essays and Supplements.

Students need to give themselves enough time to fully consider each prompt and write out multiple drafts of each essay. 

For every essay, students should consider what they are conveying about their future goals, personality, and interests. However, we will also go over some tips and notes for specific supplemental questions.

1. Reading and Cultural Experience Supplemental Essay

One of the essays will ask students to list the books that they enjoyed which they were required to read for school and read for pleasure, as well as any publications they regularly read and any films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures, and other entertainments they enjoyed in the past year. 

Reading a large volume and wide variety of material throughout is the best method for creating an interesting list of books and media that is unique to the student crafting it.  

If a student is not fond of reading, then he or she should try to plan ahead so he or she can read enough material throughout their junior year to create a list that shows off their interests and personality.

However, students should not think that they need to only read or list academically minded materials.  A healthy dose of novels, fiction, and even magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, can help a student’s essay by making it more well-rounded and preventing it from seeming one-note. 

The key is demonstrating a variety of interests.

2.“What You Value Most About Columbia”

Remember how much Columbia values their Core Curriculum.  Students should consider what they value about the Core when crafting their response. 

Students should also write about what they can contribute to Columbia’s community, not just what they are hoping to get out of their experience there. 

Finally, remember that New York culture is not necessarily Columbia’s culture.  Students should focus on Columbia and limit their discussions of New York to how they will use the city’s resources to better their college experience.

3. “What Attracts You to Your Field of Study”

This question asks students to relate a past or current experience to why they are passionate about their field/fields of study. 

This particular essay will be far more personal to the student, so not all pieces of advice here will work for every student’s essay.  However, it is generally a good idea for students to show that they are curious and passionate. 

Though they need not mention it specifically in the essay, students should research about what the departments and programs at Columbia offer within their field of interest. 

Above all, the most important thing is that admissions offers have zero doubts in a student’s dedication to his or her field.

Get Started on Applications Early

Tied into everything above is having enough time to submit the best application possible.  This is especially important for the letters of recommendation that Columbia requires.  Students should try to develop a good relationship with their school counselor and with certain teachers (those who teach in the subject a student wants to go into in the future and/or in classes where the student has performed exceptionally well). 

Students should try to give their counselors and teachers as much time as possible to write excellent letters of recommendation.

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Class of Profile

Combined data for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering. Prospective students are encouraged to review our admissions instructions and our holistic review process. You can download the Class of  Profile as a PDF.

First Year Applicant Overview

42,Total applicants

2,Total admits

4,applicants applied through Columbia’s Early Decision program

Admitted Student Statistics

The middle 50% of admitted students scored between and on the SAT, which is equivalent to33 and 35on the ACT.

Over95%of accepted students were in the top 10% of their graduating class.

Demographic Information for the Class of

1,First-year students

50U.S. States represented
(by home address)

74Countries represented
(by home or school address)

Domestic ethnic diversity:(US Citizens and Permanent Residents, as self-identified on the application. Total exceeds % because students may indicate more than one race/ethnicity.)
Category of possible first choice major:

18%of students receive Pell Grants

18%of students are the first generation in their family to attend college

Gender breakdown% male
51% female

Note: Demographic information is as of July 1,

Geographic Information for the Class of

Domestic Diversity



New England9%



International Diversity

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Columbia University Requirements for Admission

What are Columbia University's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
  • Application requirements

In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into Columbia University and build a strong application.

School location: New York, NY

Admissions Rate: %

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at Columbia University is %. For every applicants, only 6 are admitted.

image description

This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don't meet their expectations, your chance of getting in is nearly zero.

After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress Columbia University application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.

image description
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Columbia University GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA:

The average GPA at Columbia University is .

image description

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of , though some report an unweighted GPA. This school did not officially report its average GPA, but we've estimated it here using data from over 1, schools.)

With a GPA of , Columbia University requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of , you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Columbia University. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Columbia University SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT:

The average SAT score composite at Columbia University is a on the SAT scale.

This score makes Columbia University Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.

image description

Columbia University SAT Score Analysis (New SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is , and the 75th percentile New SAT score is In other words, a on the New SAT places you below average, while a will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Reading + Writing

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Columbia University has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."

This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.

Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.

How does superscoring change your test strategy? (Click to Learn)

For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:

Test 1
Test 2
Test 3

Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was , Columbia University will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from to in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Columbia University forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a , we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will give you the highest Superscore possible.

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Columbia University ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Columbia University likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 34

The average ACT score at Columbia University is This score makes Columbia University Extremely Competitive for ACT scores.

image description

The 25th percentile ACT score is 33, and the 75th percentile ACT score is

Even though Columbia University likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 33 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 34 and above that a 33 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 35 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Columbia University, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of

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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.

Columbia University requires you to take the SAT Essay/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.

SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

Columbia University requires SAT Subject Tests if you're submitting an SAT score, not an ACT score. If you submit an ACT score with Writing, you do not need SAT subject tests.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.

Our Expert's Notes

We did more detailed research into this school and found the following information.

If submitting SAT scores, applicants to the engineering program need to take the following SAT Subject Tests: Math 1 or 2 and Biology, Physics, or Chemistry. (Applicants submitting the ACT do not have to submit SAT Subject Tests.)


Final Admissions Verdict

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Because this school is extremely selective, getting a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is vital to having a chance at getting in. If you don't pass their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, they'll likely reject you without much consideration.

To have the best shot of getting in, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a SAT or a 35 ACT. You should also have a GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.

For a school as selective as Columbia University, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

But if you apply with a score below a SAT or a 35 ACT, you unfortunately start out with the odds against you and have a tiny chance of getting in. There are just too many students with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.

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Admissions Calculator

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Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of Columbia University here.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common ApplicationAccepted, supplemental forms required
  • Universal ApplicationNot accepted
  • Electronic ApplicationAvailable
  • Essay or Personal StatementRequired for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation3
  • InterviewNot required
  • Application Fee$85
  • Fee Waiver Available?Available
  • Other NotesSAT and 2 SAT Subject Tests or ACT required for freshmen

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACTRequired
  • SAT Essay or ACT WritingRequired
  • SAT Subject TestsReplace ACT
  • Scores Due in OfficeFebruary 1

Coursework Requirements

  • SubjectRequired Years
  • English4
  • Math3
  • Science3
  • Foreign Language3
  • Social Studies
  • History3
  • Electives3

Deadlines and Early Admissions

    • Offered?DeadlineNotification
  • Regular Admission
  • Early Action
  • Early Decision
    • YesNovember 1December 15

Admissions Office Information

Our Expert's Notes

We did more detailed research into this school's admissions process and found the following information:

You may also -- but are not required to -- submit supplementary materials in the sciences, art, music, or architecture. Columbia has very strict guidelines as to the format of these: see their page on supplementary materials.


Other Schools For You

If you're interested in Columbia University, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to Columbia University.

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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are have higher average SAT scores than Columbia University. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.

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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

If you're competitive for Columbia University, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for Columbia University, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If Columbia University is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

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Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

Get Into Your Top Choice School

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Stats that Got Me into the iVy LeAgUe (Columbia, UPenn, USC...) - How to beat a 5% acceptance rate

Columbia University


Columbia University is a University institution located in New York, NY, in an urban setting.

Location & Contact

Address th Street and Broadway
New York, NY  
United States

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Majors & Degrees

Architecture And Related ServicesAssociateBachelors
Area, Ethnic, Cultural, And Gender StudiesAssociateBachelors
African StudiesCheckmark
African-american/black StudiesCheckmark
American/united States Studies/civilizationCheckmark
East Asian StudiesCheckmark
Ethnic StudiesCheckmark
French StudiesCheckmark
German StudiesCheckmark
Hispanic-american, Puerto Rican, And Mexican-american/chicano StudiesCheckmark
Latin American StudiesCheckmark
Near And Middle Eastern StudiesCheckmark
Regional Studies (us, Canadian, Foreign)Checkmark
Russian StudiesCheckmark
Slavic StudiesCheckmark
Spanish And Iberian StudiesCheckmark
Women's StudiesCheckmark
Biological And Biomedical SciencesAssociateBachelors
Biological And Biomedical Sciences, OtherCheckmark
Biology/biological Sciences, GeneralCheckmark
Environmental BiologyCheckmark
Evolutionary BiologyCheckmark
Business, Management, Marketing, And Related Support ServicesAssociateBachelors
Business Administration And Management, GeneralCheckmark
Computer And Information Sciences And Support ServicesAssociateBachelors
Computer ScienceCheckmark
Information Science/studiesCheckmark
Education, GeneralCheckmark
Bioengineering And Biomedical EngineeringCheckmark
Chemical EngineeringCheckmark
Civil Engineering, GeneralCheckmark
Computer Engineering, GeneralCheckmark
Electrical And Electronics EngineeringCheckmark
Engineering MechanicsCheckmark
Engineering Physics/applied PhysicsCheckmark
Engineering, OtherCheckmark
Environmental/environmental Health EngineeringCheckmark
Industrial EngineeringCheckmark
Materials EngineeringCheckmark
Mechanical EngineeringCheckmark
Metallurgical EngineeringCheckmark
Mining And Mineral EngineeringCheckmark
Operations ResearchCheckmark
English Language And Literature/LettersAssociateBachelors
Creative WritingCheckmark
English Language And Literature, GeneralCheckmark
English Literature (british And Commonwealth)Checkmark
Foreign Languages, Literatures, And LinguisticsAssociateBachelors
Ancient/classical Greek Language And LiteratureCheckmark
Classics And Classical Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics, GeneralCheckmark
Comparative LiteratureCheckmark
Foreign Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics, OtherCheckmark
Germanic Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics, GeneralCheckmark
Italian Language And LiteratureCheckmark
Latin Language And LiteratureCheckmark
Middle/near Eastern And Semitic Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics, OtherCheckmark
Portuguese Language And LiteratureCheckmark
Russian Language And LiteratureCheckmark
Slavic Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics, GeneralCheckmark
Spanish Language And LiteratureCheckmark
Health Professions And Related Clinical SciencesAssociateBachelors
Public Health, GeneralCheckmark
Registered Nursing/registered NurseCheckmark
History, GeneralCheckmark
Liberal Arts And Sciences, General Studies And HumanitiesAssociateBachelors
General StudiesCheckmark
Humanities/humanistic StudiesCheckmark
Liberal Arts And Sciences/liberal StudiesCheckmark
Mathematics And StatisticsAssociateBachelors
Applied Mathematics, GeneralCheckmark
Mathematics And Statistics, OtherCheckmark
Mathematics, GeneralCheckmark
Statistics, GeneralCheckmark
Multi/Interdisciplinary StudiesAssociateBachelors
Ancient Studies/civilizationCheckmark
Mathematics And Computer ScienceCheckmark
Medieval And Renaissance StudiesCheckmark
Nutrition SciencesCheckmark
Sustainability StudiesCheckmark
Natural Resources And ConservationAssociateBachelors
Environmental ScienceCheckmark
Philosophy And Religious StudiesAssociateBachelors
Jewish/judaic StudiesCheckmark
Philosophy And Religious Studies, OtherCheckmark
Religion/religious StudiesCheckmark
Physical SciencesAssociateBachelors
Chemical PhysicsCheckmark
Chemistry, GeneralCheckmark
Geology/earth Science, GeneralCheckmark
Materials ScienceCheckmark
Physical Sciences, OtherCheckmark
Physics, GeneralCheckmark
Psychology, GeneralCheckmark
Research And Experimental Psychology, OtherCheckmark
Science Technologies/TechniciansAssociateBachelors
Science Technologies/technicians, OtherCheckmark
Social SciencesAssociateBachelors
Anthropology, GeneralCheckmark
Development Economics And International DevelopmentCheckmark
Econometrics And Quantitative EconomicsCheckmark
Economics, GeneralCheckmark
Political Science And Government, GeneralCheckmark
Social Sciences, OtherCheckmark
Sociology, GeneralCheckmark
Urban Studies/affairsCheckmark
Visual And Performing ArtsAssociateBachelors
Art History, Criticism And ConservationCheckmark
Dance, GeneralCheckmark
Drama And Dramatics/theatre Arts, GeneralCheckmark
Film/cinema/media StudiesCheckmark
Jazz/jazz StudiesCheckmark
Music, GeneralCheckmark
Visual And Performing Arts, GeneralCheckmark
Visual And Performing Arts, OtherCheckmark


Acceptance Rate

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Female Admissions

Male icon

Male Admissions


Admission Requirements
Required Transcript of high school record
3 recommendations

Application Deadlines

TypeApplication ClosingNotification DateRolling Admissions
Fall freshmen January 1st April 1st
Early decision plan November 1st December 15th
Other early decision plan Not reported Not reported
Transfer March 1st May 15th

Test Scores Accepted

TestAvg. Score25th % Info icon75th % Info icon
SAT Critical Reading
SAT Math
ACT Composite3335

Tuition & Fees

Money icon


Fees icon



Full-time student fees
Calculator icon

Other Payment Considerations

Guaranteed tuition plan offeredNo
Tuition pre-payment planYes
Tuition payment plans offeredYes
Student groups that qualify for full or partial waiver of tuition Employees

Financial Aid

Avg. Financial Aid Package
Avg. Freshman Financial Aid Package
Avg. International Student Financial Aid Package
Avg. Scholarship and/or Grant Aid awarded


Avg. Percentage of Financial Need Met


Percentage of Students Who Had Their Need Fully Met

Student Body


Total Undergrad students


International Students


Out-of-state students


Hispanic/Latino %
Black or African American %
White or Caucasian %
American Indian or Alaska Native %
Asian %
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander %
Two or more races %
Other %


Male (%)

Female (%)

Campus Life


College-owned housing Yes
Housing requirements Yes
Housing options Cooperative housing
Co-ed housing
Disabled housing
% of undergrad students who live in college housing Not Reported

Student Activities

Student-run campus newspaper Checkmark
Drama/theatre group Checkmark
Student-run radio station Checkmark
Student-run television station Checkmark
Marching band Checkmark
Choral groups Checkmark

Campus events:
Homecoming, Tree Lighting/Yule Log Ceremony and Varsity Show

Student Services

Legal services Checkmark
Health clinic Checkmark
Personal/psychological counseling Checkmark
Women's center Checkmark
International students advisor Checkmark

Student Organizations

Greek fraternities Checkmark
Greek sororities Checkmark

Most popular organizations:
Community service, cultural organizations, performing arts, athletics and publications

Campus Security & Safety

hour emergency telephone/alarm services Checkmark
hour patrols by trained officers Checkmark
Student patrols Checkmark
Late-night transport/escort services Checkmark
Electronically-operated dormitory entrances Checkmark


Male icon

Men's Sports

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Women's Sports


Student-Faculty Ratio

Full-time - 1,

Part-time -

Male - 1,

Female -


Rate columbia university acceptance


Columbia University is a prestigious school, not just because of its low acceptance rate or high starting salary for graduates. It's one of the oldest colleges in the US, and has had huge numbers of well-known graduates, including Founding Fathers, famous directors, and politicians.

Like any Ivy League, Columbia is a place for both education and networking, creating a solid foundation and social circle for your future career. But first, you have to know how to get into Columbia. And with a school and selective as Columbia, that's going to be difficult—but not impossible.

Follow this guide to get your college application in shape for a Columbia acceptance!


What Should I Know About Columbia?

If you're reading this, you probably already know that people want to go to Columbia because it's a prestigious college with a long and important history. It's an Ivy League school, granting it a reputation of academic excellence; with a degree for Columbia on your resume and the connections you make there, you'll have an edge in the job market.

Columbia is also one of the most selective colleges in the United States. In fact, Columbia was tied with Stanford as the most selective university in the United States in ! Both had acceptance rates of only %!

Columbia students tend to major in STEM programs like Engineering or Computer Sciences, with around 54% of incoming students declaring a STEM program as their first choice major. But that doesn't mean that Columbia isn't a great humanities school! Columbia is also the alma mater of many prominent artistic figures—Kerouac, Ginsberg, Katherine Bigelow, Langston Hughes, and Art Garfunkel, to name a few.

In fact, it's ranked as the second best college for English studies, the sixth best for performing arts, and the sixth best college for philosophy—so despite enrolling slightly more STEM undergrads, Columbia is by no means exclusively a STEM-focused college. Its Arts and Social Sciences departments are highly regarded, so students shouldn't feel like pursuing something other than a STEM field puts them at a disadvantage.

Given all this, it's no surprise that enrollment will be competitive no matter what. So if you want to go to Columbia, you need to make sure you're a stand-out applicant!


body_pencil-4Don't let fear of rejection stop you from applying!


How Hard Is It to Get Into Columbia?

Columbia's low acceptance rate is part of why it's such a prestigious school. If it was easy to get in, it wouldn't carry so much academic and social clout!

Reported rates vary from year to year, but you can be that the acceptance rate in a given year will be 6 percent or lower. For the class of , Columbia reported an acceptance rate of percent, so just about four students for every applicants will receive a treasured acceptance letter.

Because Columbia considers applications holistically, every part of the application matters. Good standardized test scores and an excellent grade point average are essential, but don't make the mistake of assuming your chance of acceptance is based entirely on those two factors.


What GPA and SAT/ACT Scores Do I Need to Get Into Columbia?

Columbia is an Ivy League school, so you need an excellent GPA and SAT/ACT score. Positive study habits and test preparation are a must.

That said, don't despair if your grades don't quite match up with Columbia's expectations. Again, they consider applications holistically; if you can explain your grades, demonstrate growth, and impress with extracurriculars, you still have a chance.

Think of admissions to Columbia as a race. Some people may have worked on theoretical racing so much that they have little experience in actually running. Other racers have lots of experience in running, but lack the finesse of runners who've been coached by professionals. Any of those runners could conceivably win, but those with a mixture of both experience and theoretical knowledge will have an advantage.

Essentially, don't be afraid that poor grades in your sophomore year have ruined your chances forever. If you can prove that Columbia is truly the school for you, you still have a chanceyou'll just have some extra hurdles to jump!


What's the Average SAT Score for Columbia Students?

The average SAT score for Columbia students is between and , making the college extremely competitive. Remember, this is an average—it's not the only score you can have, as students who score about that will have a little extra boost, and students who score below that will have to demonstrate how well they'll succeed elsewhere in the application.

This is why it's important to get started on SAT prep early. If your first score misses the mark, you can always try again. Spending some time prepping for the SAT will help you get closer to your score goal, and therefore closer to holding that coveted acceptance letter in your hand.


body_read-1If you want good scores, you'll have to study hard.


What's the Average ACT Score for Columbia Students?

Columbia is similarly selective with ACT scores. Columbia reports their scores as between 34 and 35, so while you might have a little bit of wiggle room, a higher score is always better.

As with SAT scores, it's important to get started on preparing early. Don't wait until junior or senior year to start thinking about your scores if you plan to attend Columbia—you're up against some of the brightest minds in the world, so you need to lock in a good score through lots of studying and practice.

Your best bet is to study like a perfect score is the only one that'll get you in, but know that your test scores aren't the only factor in your acceptance.


What's the Average GPA for Columbia Students?

Columbia's average GPA is a whopping What this means is that you'll need to be taking heavier weighted courses, typically AP or honors courses, to be competitive with other prospective Columbia students.

Again, it's not impossible to get in if you don't have a GPA above —it also depends on if your school weights GPAs—but reaching for as high of scores as possibly certainly won't hurt your chances. Study hard in your first couple years of high school to ensure that you're prepared for the advanced courses you'll need to push your GPA to a Columbia-approved level.

Remember, your school may weight AP courses more, so a B in an AP course might mean more than an A in a standard course. Don't despair if your grades aren't perfect in AP courses, but do always strive for the best, and set yourself up for success. You simply can't earn a GPA if you're not in AP courses, so plan to take them.

Though Columbia doesn't offer average GPAs for its acceptance rates, it does state that over 95% of its accepted students were in the top 10 percent of their class. Don't take that to mean that being in the top 10 percent is enough—remember, 95 percent of the students you're competing with are also in that same demographic. You need to excel and stand out.

Because Columbia is holistic, everything counts. But one Ivy League college admissions officer has revealed a little secret—everything counts, but the most important thing to not do poorly on is your GPA. This is general advice for Ivy Leagues, not specifically Columbia, but don't discount your GPA as a vital factor in getting accepted to Columbia.


body_bicycleHaving a distinct skill—like doing VR while riding a bike—sets you apart from other applicants.


What Extracurriculars Should I Have to Get Into Columbia?

Your competition is not necessarily every single student who applies to Columbia. Your competition is every student like you—students who have your GPA, your SAT score, your diversity of extracurriculars. So find a way to stand out from the pack; what areas do you excel in? And if you don't excel now, what can you do to target your application to be less of a Renaissance applicant and more of a specialist?

Consider the "spike" approach to applying to college. A variety of skills is great, but most applicants will also have good grades, test scores, and multiple extracurriculars. To stand out, you want something memorable—a spike in your well-roundedness. If you have an interest spike, an area where you particularly excel or that emphasizes your dedication to a certain field, you can tie much of your application to that spike and make your application more memorable.


body_writing-7The essay section may be stressful, but it's also your best opportunity to shine.


How to Answer Columbia's Essays

Writing a good answer to the "Why Columbia" essay is essential. The admissions office already knows Columbia is a good school, so use this space to explain why it's the right school for you and how you'll contribute to the community there. Again, this is a great place to return to your spike to tie things together.

Be sure to emphasize your own personal experience in your essay. Reading successful Columbia application essays is a great way to get a feel for what Columbia likes to see, and to better understand how personal details can change the entire feel of an essay.


How to Answer Columbia's Supplemental Writing Questions

Columbia's further supplemental questions may seem unusual compared to other colleges; they ask about books you've read, concerts you've attended, and so on. Be honest—though your temptation might be to reach for the most sophisticated answers, this is an opportunity for the college to get to know you better.

If your favorite concert of the year was indeed the obscure bassoon recital you attended, by all means, list it. But don't write in the prestigious documentary du jour if you have no interest in watching it. That said, Hop on Pop is not a grade-appropriate choice, so do try to choose things that represent your interests and your age level.


Should You Include Supplementary Material?

Certain majors accept supplementary materials, such as some scientific fields, artistic disciplines, or performance-based majors. Students with research experience, you can include an abstract to flesh out your application. Students in the arts can include a portfolio but should be aware that there is an additional fee—this fee can be waived, but Coalition Application students will need to email the school directly for a fee waiver.



Good recommendation letters are a key part of how to get into Columbia.


What Recommendation Letters Should You Have?

Columbia requires three recommendation letters: one from a counselor, and two from teachers. Though Columbia does accept one supplemental letter of recommendation, students should only do so if the source is academic and if the letter will add something new to your application. More isn't always better.

Teachers, coaches, and other mentor figures are great options for letters of recommendation. Be sure that you're setting your teachers up to write you a great letter by asking early and providing them with any information they might need.

Take a look at letters that got students into Ivy League schools for the caliber of recommendations you should strive for. Take note of how these teachers write about personality as well as academics—select teachers who have the same knowledge of your personality and skills so they're equipped to write about you with the same depth.


body_moneyBefore you take out loans, apply for financial aid!


What Should You Know About Applying for Financial Aid?

Columbia takes a need-blind approach to processing applications from US citizens, undocumented students, and eligible non-US citizens. International students are processed as need-aware, meaning there may be some consideration of financial need while processing the application.

Columbia meets percent of student need and does so without loans. Students whose parents or guardians make under $60, annually are considered to have a $0 parental contribution, which will instead be made up with financial aid.

Columbia has a helpful tool for students to determine what documentation and forms they'll need based on when they're applying, their citizenship status, and what year they're applying for. Use this early to be sure that you can get all your paperwork done ahead of time!


Recap: How to Get Into Columbia University

Applying to Ivy League schools like Columbia University can be incredibly stressful. You know you're up against the best, and setting yourself apart can feel like an insurmountable task. But you can do it.

Start early. Think about what you want your application to look like before you start working on it, and take steps to prepare for the advanced courses, test scores, and extracurriculars you need. If you're already later in your academic career, change what you can now and start thinking about how you can address gaps in your personal statement.

Read a ton. Stay on top of changes to the application, new prompts, and what's most advisable for students like you. Assuming all your grades are in order and your test results are on track, start preparing for your essays. Of course, the prompts may not be available yet—consult past and current essays and start thinking about how you'll answer similar questions.

Create a spike. Remember, every other student applying to Columbia is also concerned about having great grades, AP courses, and test scores. If you're competing against the best of the best, you need to stand out. Instead of being well-rounded, develop a particular area of expertise, something that will set you apart from other students and really showcase what makes you unique.


What's Next?

Learn more about what makes Columbia one of the most selective colleges in the United States, and how it compares to other selective schools. If you're applying to multiple Ivy Leagues, it's a good idea to know your chances at each!

Columbia is one of the country's most selective schools. Even if you're only interested in Columbia, learning more about how to get into other selective schools, such as Harvard, can give you additional insight into how to polish up your application.

Knowing the essay requirements is just the beginning. More in-depth reading about the topics and how to answer them will give you an even stronger shot at impressing the admissions office.


Want to get into Columbia or your personal top choice college?

We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

Get Into Your Top Choice School



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