Columbia Acceptance Rate

February 12, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Columbia Acceptance Rate: 3.9%

Shortcut to sections offered for Columbia prospective students and Columbia acceptance rate:

Successful Applicant Profile

  • Demographics
  • Majors
  • SAT/ACT scores

Entry Requirements

  • Tuition
  • Scholarships
  • Checklist of Application Requirements
  • Application Deadlines

What Should You Expect

  • Student life
  • Academics offered
  • Athletics offered
  • Notable Alumni

Columbia University is among the most prestigious and oldest schools in the United States. This is probably why the Columbia acceptance rate is among the lowest in the country and Columbia starting salaries for graduates are really high. The university has diverse and notable alumni, including famous directors, politicians, and Founding Fathers.

You need an experienced and responsible admission consultant to help you beat single-digit Columbia acceptance rate and come out the winner. AdmissionSight has the required resources and tools to help hopefuls make a successful application. We don’t allow statistics such as the Columbia acceptance rate to come in the way of our high achievers.

Columbia University, like any other Ivy League university, is not just a place for education but also networking. Going to this college will ensure that you attain a solid foundation for all your future endeavors.

But, before that, you need to know how to get into Columbia. There is no denying the fact that things are difficult with a college as selective as Columbia. However, the fruits of your toil and dedication will be all the sweeter when you do get in.

Columbia acceptance rate is just 3.9% which makes the college extremely competitive. However, based on our analysis, you could have a great chance of being selected if you are in the top 10% of your class. This means you should have a GPA of 4.13% and an ACT score of 34 or an SAT score of 1580.

The acceptance rate at Columbia University has decreased by 2 percent since the year 2020 admissions and by 1 percent since the year 2019 admissions. The reason for this is that higher bars have been set for academic qualifications, which has led to tougher competition that is evident in the high Columbia yield rate, which has, in turn, led to lower selection rates. Columbia University has the second-lowest acceptance rate of all Ivy League schools.

Statistics from 2021-22 show that Columbia University has accepted more than 18,000 students and intellectuals from other countries. These students come from 150 different nations. The fall semester of 2021 will see Columbia University welcoming 12,785 new students. Practice Sessions Available Upon Request (OPT). In the Fall of 2021, there were a total of 1,956 students from India attending Columbia University. Of these, 1,221 were enrolled in classes, and 735 were participating in optional practical training.

But before we go into that, here is what a successful applicant profile looks like.

Successful Applicant Profile

Columbia is a desirably diverse institution boasting of at least 100 academic programs and a world-class faculty. The single digit Columbia acceptance rate does very little to keep away applicants each year. There were more than 40,203 applications in 2019 from which 2,214 students were accepted.

The school is known for its holistic admissions process and for considering all aspects of a candidate’s application – qualitative and quantitative.

In 2019, Columbia University was ranked as the 5th most selective university in the country. You need to highlight your achievements and get the right scores to gain a foothold at this university. When you do, here’s what your class will look like:

Students walking toward the old white building.

Where are the applicants from?

You will be joining a culturally rich and diverse class if you decide to matriculate at Columbia. There are students from around the world here with the opportunity to study dozens of majors.

Students come from all over the United States to study at Columbia with the bulk from California, New York (even as the population of this state declines), Texas, New Jersey, and Florida.

You will get the opportunity to study with some of the brightest minds from all over the world. Generally, 16% of the student body is comprised of foreign students from over 74 countries, including China, Canada, India, Turkey, Japan, Greece, and Hong Kong (yes, the latter is a city – we know).

Columbia has about 51% of female students and 49%, male. Almost every class is diverse with several people of color. Admitted applicants are usually Caucasians at 57%.

There are about 16% African Americans and 28% Asian Americans. The Native American population is the lowest at 4% with Hispanics making up 17%.

What are the more common programs?

Students usually pick STEM programs as their majors, such as the Engineering or Computer Sciences (no one wants to major in topics that don’t lead to anything with AOC being the example on that).

Almost 52% declare one or the other STEM program as their major during the first year itself. Columbia excels in Humanities too but you have known this will lead to something meaningful.

It was ranked second among the best colleges for performing arts, English studies, and philosophy. Arts and Social Sciences departments are sought after as well. You shouldn’t feel that you are at a disadvantage by pursuing something other than STEM fields.

There are over 80 majors offered by Columbia with students pursuing a wide array of subjects. Some of the more popular majors include Jazz Studies, Urban Studies, Business Management, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Creative Writing, Jewish Studies, Earth Science, and Film Studies.

What is the average SAT/ACT score of admitted Columbia students?

There is no denying the fact that Columbia University is among the toughest colleges to get into in the United States. Over 95% of admitted students are from the top 10% of their high school class.

The low Columbia acceptance rate does not make matters any easier. You would need a great SAT/ACT score and GPA to get your foot in the door. Test preparation and positive study habits are equally important.

However, grades are not everything (even if they are important) to secure a place in this college. You can cover up for slightly low grades by demonstrating growth and other achievements in extracurricular activities.

For admitted students in 2019 who took ACT score:

  • 25th percentile score: 33
  • 75th percentile score: 35

For admitted students in 2019 who took SAT score:

  • 25th percentile score: 1460
  • 75th percentile score: 1550

Columbia University is highly competitive and even with a perfect GPA of 4.0 and SAT of 1600, your chances of admission are just 11%. Your odds are better at 17% with a GPA of 4.0 and a perfect ACT score of 36.

The average GPA of accepted applicants in 2019 was 4.13. You need to take weighted courses, like honors or AP to have a fighting chance. You need to reach as high as possible to improve your chances.

SAT and ACT books for review.

Entry Requirements

Columbia University is an elite Ivy League university with its campus in Manhattan, New York. This mid-size college has 7,592 undergraduate students with admissions being extremely competitive. But, the stress is worth it since the average graduate student has a starting salary of about $66,500.

Whether you get admitted or not doesn’t just depend on your scores and grades. It also depends on your extracurricular activities, coursework difficulty, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. However, before you jump to completing your application, take a look at the cost of attendance and the type of financial aid available.

How much will it cost to attend?

Columbia University has multiple schools and each of them has a unique cost of attendance that involves tuition, fees, and living expenses. Financial aid is also calculated separately for individual schools.

Cost of Attendance for Columbia College/School of Engineering and Applied Science

  • Total Cost of Attendance: $79,814
  • Tuition and Fees: $61,850
  • Room and Board: $14,490
  • Books and Personal: $3,474

Cost of Attendance for the School of General Studies

  • Tuition per point: $1,896
  • Tuition for a 30-point program: $56,880
  • Fees: based on enrollment status.
  • Room and board, books, local commuting costs, and other miscellaneous expenses: $24,575

Don’t worry if you believe that the cost of attendance is beyond your family’s financial capabilities. The university offers multiple grants and student aids to ensure that college education is affordable to all.

What financial aid opportunities are available?

Students from all types of family and financial backgrounds can apply at Columbia. The university makes education a reality for students from all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds.

The university guarantees financial aid packages that include on-campus housing, personal expenses, books, tuition, and other miscellaneous expenses for four years.

50% of students receive need-based financial aid at Columbia University. The average grant or scholarship awarded is $55,661. The university has a simple and straightforward approach to affordability.

Students shall receive financial aid on the basis of demonstrated need and the complete need shall be satisfied. There is no need to grant students to apply for a loan.

The school is committed to making education and opportunities available to all. It is important to note that there are no athletic, academic, or talent-based institutional scholarships.

What are the application requirements for Columbia?

Columbia University accepts the Coalition Application and Common Application. They also accept the QuestBridge Application from QuestBridge Finalists. All applications must include:

  • Personal essay
  • Autobiographical information
  • Description of activities, achievements, summer employment, and activities

Checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything

  • Coalition, Common or QuestBridge Application
  • Official high school transcript
  • School profile
  • High school counselor’s recommendation
  • Completed Mid-Year Report
  • Self-reported SAT or ACT test scores
  • Two teacher recommendations from teachers who taught you. The recommendations must come from a science or math teacher for engineering applicants.
  • Application fee of $85 or the fee waiver application

It is important that you double-check everything once you have filled out your application before hitting the submit/send button.

Row of students taking the exam.

What are the timelines for the Columbia application?

Columbia University offers Early Decision choice which is different from Early Action. Early Decision applicants are bound by the university’s decision of acceptance. They are required to withdraw their applications from all other universities.

Your choice for an Early Decision application should be driven by a certainty that Columbia is the school of your dreams and that you would accept the decision should you be admitted.

Students that are admitted under the college’s Early Decision plan are expected to maintain their rigorous course load. They are also expected to maintain their strong academic performance until the completion of senior year.

All non-elective course changes require approval from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in advance. You would need to submit your completed Mid-Year School Report and the final transcript on the basis of which your academic performance shall be evaluated.

Deadlines for freshmen starting fall 2021

Early Decision Candidates

  • Application deadline – November 1st, 2020
  • SAT/ACT test – October
  • Financial aid – November 15th, 2020

Regular Decision Candidates

  • Application deadline – January 1st, 2021
  • SAT/ACT test – December
  • Financial aid –February 1st, 2021

Decision notification

For Early Decision candidates, admission decisions and financial aid grants are released online by mid-December. All students are required to send in their replies the latest by early January. This is when the selected candidates are required to send in their decision deposits as well.

Regular Decision candidates can find their acceptance and financial aid decisions online by late March. They are required to send in their replies and the deposit amount by May 1st.

What to Expect

Columbia University is one of the oldest private institutions in the United States. It was founded in 1754 and today has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,592. The setting in this university is urban with a campus spanning 500 acres. The university utilizes a semester-based calendar.

Columbia may just be what you are looking for if you need an Ivy League College that is situated in the heart of New York.

It has a prime location in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan and offers exceptional academics. Columbia offers an ideal fusion of city and school life so you never have to miss one while taking advantage of the other.

Columbia, along with the NYU and Catholic Church, is the largest landowner in the city. The campus was designed by legendary architects McKim, Mead, and White in the Beaux-Arts style.

Students walk between classes on the university campus.

What do students think of life at Columbia?

All freshmen are housed in the South Lawn dormitories – Carman, Furnald, John Jay, and the Living Learning Center. Greek life is important but you won’t be treated any differently if you don’t end up joining any chapters.

Twelve months ago, a freshman student posted a testimony about Columbia University on a college-ranking site Niche expressing that:

“I enjoy the location in New York and the campus itself. It is very beautiful and comes alive when the sun comes out, especially. There are a lot of events always happening and the people attending are very diverse, but what can be improved is the diversity shown in academics and the Core.

The Core is the required classes all students must take—most of them are very West-centered with Western thinking prioritized.

However, with the diverse student body, the Core needs to become more diverse and reflect the diversity of the school. Right now, the academics prioritize Western, white men and that needs to be changed.

The systematic racism also needs to be addressed better, as is a common issue with almost every school, especially the Ivies.”

Columbia University has dedicated and robust student participation in everyday happenings. There are over 100 student-led organizations that cover a variety of interests from academics, sexuality affinity, creative and performing arts, gender inequality, cultural and racial initiatives, and various government and political groups.

Few of the more popular student groups at Columbia include Columbia UNICEF, Earth Coalition, Japan Karate Association, Opera Ensemble, Queers of Color, Musical Theater Society, and the Gospel Choir.

You can get more information about campus life and the admissions process at Columbia University by calling the undergraduate admission office at 212-854-2522 or sending them an email [email protected]

What academics are offered?

Columbia University has one of the best student-faculty ratios in the United States at 6:1. 82.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students in them and some majors have even less.

The freshman indicator rate is a highly regarded representation of student satisfaction. More than 99% of freshmen of Columbia University stay focused to get their graduation degrees.

There are 50 departments in the university with 80 majors. The more popular majors include Social Sciences, Engineering, Computer, and Information Sciences and Support Services, Human Rights, Regional Studies, Russian Literature, Yiddish Studies, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and Psychology.

You would need to take 40 classes to graduate including your core curriculum requirements and majors. Each academic year begins around September 6th and goes up until May 12th.

What athletic options are available?

Columbia competes in 38 intercollegiate sports and is part of the NCAA Division I Ivy League. There are multiple intramural and club sports if you are not up to the varsity level.

The more popular sports include Basketball, Baseball, Fencing, Cross Country, Football, Rowing—Heavyweight& Lightweight, Golf, Soccer, Swimming & Diving, Squash, Tennis, Wrestling, and Track & Field.

Students competing in a freestyle swimming race.

Who are some famous Columbia alumni?

Columbia University has produced some notable alumni including governors, US Senators, US Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Pulitzer Prize, and Nobel Prize winners, cabinet secretaries, media figures, military leaders, and business tycoons.

Few well-known alumni include:

  • Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsberg (famous poem Howl) and Jack Kerouac (On the Road)
  • Former President Barack Obama
  • Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and the face of the $10 bill
  • Academy Award-winning actor Casey Affleck
  • John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States and president of the Continental Congress
  • Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo
  • Robert Kraft, owner of the controversial New England Patriots
  • Lauryn Hill, member of the Fugees and Grammy Award-winning singer
  • Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, legendary composers of Carousel and The Sound of Music

Are you hopeful of getting your name on the list? You can with the right scores, achievements, and a well-written personal essay.

Columbia University may have a highly selective admissions process with tough acceptance rates and demands for high test scores. But, the university maintains a holistic approach to admission selections. The admissions committee considers other factors that go beyond test scores and grades.

A letter of recommendation and a strong essay can do wonders for your application. In addition, having a rigorous course schedule and participating in meaningful extracurricular activities can also improve your chances.

AdmissionSight can help you bring forth your achievements and compelling stories in the best possible light so that your application gets more than cursory consideration.


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