Columbia Undergraduate Requirements

October 9, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Columbia Undergraduate Requirements

A royal charter issued by King George II in 1754 led to the establishment of Columbia. It is one of the eight colleges that comprise the Ivy League and is considered to be one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States. Every year, Columbia University receives applications from thousands of prospective students. However, admission to Columbia is only granted to those students whose applications are exceptionally well-written and who excel in all of the Columbia undergraduate requirements.

It is absolutely necessary for you to be familiar with the Columbia undergraduate requirements if you are the type of person who has aspirations of attending the university.

Columbia Overview

US News ranked Columbia University as the third-best college in the United States in 2021, and other publications regularly place it among the top 20 universities in the country. It is the fifth oldest educational establishment in the whole of the United States and the oldest in the state of New York where it is located. It is also one of the only Ivy League schools, other than Harvard, that is situated in a major metropolitan area.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that more than 40,000 students apply to Columbia University each year. Although this is true, it is important to note that the acceptance rate at Columbia University is only around 6 percent, making it one of the Ivy League schools with the most competitive admissions process.

Although many people are familiar with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering at Columbia University, which is considered to be one of the university’s most robust departments for both undergraduate and graduate students, the university’s Departments of Economics and Political Science are also consistently ranked as some of the best in the nation.

Because of Columbia University’s strong academic departments across the board and its close proximity to New York City, both the university and its students are in the enviable position of being able to fully capitalize on the advantages of attending a top-20 school and the advantages of residing in a major metropolitan area.

Over 40,000 prospective students send in their applications to Columbia University each year. According to the published acceptance rate for Columbia University, approximately 5–6 percent of those who apply are extended an offer of admission.

Class Total Applications Total Accepted Applications Overall Columbia University acceptance rate Columbia University transfer acceptance rate
2023 42,569 2,190 5% 6.08%
2022 40,203 2,214 6% 6.08%

What are the requirements to get into Columbia University?

What are the requirements to get into Columbia University? What are the prerequisites? Applications for first-year study at Columbia College and Columbia Engineering are accepted by prospective students who wish to enroll full-time in either of these programs.

Their admissions staff examines each application in its entirety and with great care in order to gain an understanding of what each applicant may bring to our undergraduate community. The purpose of Columbia’s application process is to select candidates who the university believes will benefit the most from the opportunity, both during their time at Columbia and for the rest of their lives.

Options for Applications

Either the Coalition Application or the Common Application may be submitted to Columbia University. Finalists in the QuestBridge competition will also have their QuestBridge applications considered. These applications consist of the following:

  • Information based on one’s own autobiography
  • Detailed lists and explanations of the student’s accomplishments, activities, and jobs, as well as his or her summer plans
  • Personal essay

Columbia-Specific Application Questions

In addition to the Coalition Application and the Common Application, you will also be required to respond to questions that are specific to Columbia. The purpose of these questions is to give the Admissions Committee a more complete picture of who you are as an individual, including your academic, extracurricular, and intellectual pursuits.

Group of students talking in a table.

These questions give us the opportunity to gain a deeper comprehension of your intellectual curiosities, mental routines, passion for education, and sense of identity. These questions give the Admissions Committee the opportunity to learn more about you as a member of the community in which you currently reside as well as the reasons why you believe the distinctive experiences offered by Columbia University both inside and outside of the classroom would be a good fit for your undergraduate education.

Report from the Secondary School

  • An official transcript from each and every high school that was attended during high school.
  • The endorsement of one guidance counselor from a high school and a profile of the school
  • The finished report for the half-year mark

Exams That Are Standardized

For first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering in the fall of 2022, 2023, and 2024, Columbia will continue to follow their policy of not requiring standardized testing. On the other hand, you have the option of taking either the ACT or the SAT, and you are free to self-report your scores when you submit your application. In a typical year, we require applicants to submit the following information:

  • The writing portion of the SAT or ACT is not required.
  • Applicants are allowed to report their own scores on the application.
  • Your score on the English Proficient Examination (if necessary)

Recommendations from Teachers

  • These recommendations need to come from instructors who have instructed you in relevant academic subjects.
  • Applicants to engineering programs are required to provide a recommendation from an educator in either mathematics or science.

Application Fee or Waiver of Application Fees

In order to submit an application to Columbia University, a non-refundable application fee in the amount of $85 must be paid. Under no circumstances will we be able to reimburse the application fee that was paid. When you submit your application, payment (or a fee waiver) is required, unless otherwise specified.

If it will be a significant financial burden for your family to pay the application fee, Columbia strongly encourages you to request an automatic fee waiver through your admission application.

What is the minimum GPA you need to get into Columbia?

What is the minimum GPA you need to get into Columbia? The minimum grade point average required by Columbia is nothing more than a number that prevents your application from being immediately rejected after it has been submitted. Therefore, if you are serious about enrolling in college, you need to ensure that your grade point average is above the minimum requirement set by Columbia University.

Students are required to have a minimum score of 4.1 in order to meet the current requirements for the average GPA at Columbia. This indicates that you need to be one of the top students in your high school in order to be accepted to the university. In addition, you need to enroll in the most challenging Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes that your high school has to offer.

Young man staring the his laptop while thinking about something.

Because they do not have enough time to improve their grades, it is difficult for all of the junior students who have a low GPA to meet the requirements for the average GPA required by Columbia. In this particular scenario, they need to prioritize raising their ACT and SAT scores in order to fulfill the prerequisites for admission to Columbia University.

Is SAT required for Columbia?

Is SAT required for Columbia admissions? The test-optional policy of Columbia University will be extended for the next two years, making it applicable to first-year and transfer applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for entrance in the fall of 2023 and fall of 2024 respectively. Students have reported having less access to standardized testing that is both safe and reliable as a direct result of the pandemic caused by COVID-19 virus.

This is one of the ways that the pandemic has profoundly altered the ways in which students navigate their path to college. This continued waiver of Colombia’s standardized testing requirement will allow the university to carefully evaluate the impact of test-optional admissions for a full cohort of enrolled Columbia students, reflect on our holistic and contextual review process, and to consider systemic shifts in access to educational opportunities.

Unidentified student writing in a desk.

In addition, the university will be able to evaluate the impact of test-optional admissions for a full cohort of enrolled Columbia students. Their testing policy is going to be re-evaluated after it goes through a period of review and synthesis in preparation for the 2024-2025 application cycle.

Students who are unable or choose not to submit their ACT or SAT test scores will not be penalized in any way during the first-year and transfer application cycles for the academic years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.

This ensures that students who do not submit their test scores will not be at a disadvantage. The holistic and contextual review process that takes into account the individual circumstances that have shaped each applicant’s journey will continue to be used by Colombia to evaluate all of the information that has been submitted.

The level of difficulty of a student’s coursework, their academic achievements, and the extent to which they have demonstrated an interest in intellectual pursuits will continue to be central to Columbia’s review.

The testing policies at Columbia continue to be enforced in the same manner for students who opt to submit test results. They will accept SAT and ACT scores for Early Decision applicants up until the test dates in November, and they will accept scores for Regular Decision applicants up until the test dates in January.

They will keep accepting scores that were self-reported and will only require official testing for students who chose to self-report testing on their application.

They will continue to accept self-reported scores. If you were given the opportunity to take an examination more than once, your performance on the examination will be judged based on the highest score you achieved on any particular section of the examination. Be aware that Colombia is well aware of the fact that many students, even if they are able to test, will only be able to take the exam once.

As was just mentioned up top, the aforementioned context will be taken into consideration in the event that scores are provided. The submission of ACT or SAT test results will not provide applicants with any sort of advantage in the admissions process. In the context of a highly contextualized and multi-layered holistic review, standardized testing is just one of many components.

What kind of student does Columbia look for?

What kind of student does Columbia look for? Although there is no secret formula for the qualities that Columbia seeks in an ideal student, the university does look for applicants who are intellectually curious, fun, open-minded, respectful toward differing points of view, enthusiastic towards diversity and diverse points of view, dedicated to the community and community service, understand Columbia’s culture and are able to fit into it.

Female student studying in a table.

Students who, in Columbia’s estimation, have the potential to go on to become top-level leaders in their chosen field or career are the ones who are admitted to the university. This is because Columbia has the hope that its graduates will go on to become top-level leaders in their chosen fields or career.

Academically speaking, Columbia University seeks out exceptional students who have Columbia undergraduate requirements, highly motivated individuals who are motivated towards a specific career, and individuals who possess the character and work ethic to bring future goals to fruition. The latter two points are particularly significant for admission to Columbia University due to the fact that almost no students who are granted admission to the university do not have a predetermined academic concentration.

Additional characteristics that Columbia University seeks to find in its students are the following:

  • The capacity to demonstrate leadership
  • Be involved and engaged with members of their community
  • Sociability
  • Time management skills
  •  Direct experience in real-world settings

They look for students who can demonstrate these qualities in activities outside of the classroom such as community service and extracurriculars. If the extracurricular activities of a student can also be tied to the student’s future professional goals, then that is even better.

And last but not least, Columbia University is looking for prospective students who have an interest in the Core Curriculum. The Core Curriculum at Columbia University, which is often referred to as the “heart” of the university’s academics, is a source of great institutional pride.

Students who are interested in becoming intellectually well-rounded while also specializing in the field in which they hope to work in the future will be viewed favorably by Columbia University. This is because the Core curriculum offers students the opportunity to do both.

Columbia application deadline for 2022

When will be Columbia application deadline for 2022 be? Early decision is an option for students at Columbia University, but early action is not. The early decision process is binding, which means that if you are admitted, you are required to attend, whereas the early action process allows you to apply early without committing to attending.

Crumpled paper on a wooden desk with a notebook and pen.

At Columbia, the acceptance rate for students who apply for early decision is 17 percent, while the overall acceptance rate is only 6 percent. The previous school year, Columbia University granted admission to 726 of the 4318 students who had submitted early decision applications.

Some high school students submit their Columbia undergraduate requirements early because they believe doing so will improve their chances of being accepted. Because submitting an application/ Columbia undergraduate requirements before the early deadline demonstrates that you have a strong interest in the institution, and because it allows your application to be reviewed before those of regular decision applicants, it can improve your chances of being accepted.

November 1

  • The end of the application period for Early Decision
  • The cutoff time for applications to the QuestBridge National College Match

November 15

  • The end of the application period for financial aid with Early Decision


  • Admissions and financial aid decisions for Early Decision candidates have been released via the internet.

1st of January

  • The cutoff time for applications using the Regular Decision process

Early January

  • The deadline for responses to the Early Decision

15th of February

  • The last day to submit an application for financial aid using the Regular Decision process

Early April

  • Candidates who submitted their applications through the Regular Decision process will be able to view admissions and financial aid decisions online.

May 2

  • Regular Decision response deadline

May 15

  • Enrollment deferral request deadline

Late June

  • Final transcript due for incoming students

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your early applications, or want some advice on whether or not applying Early Decision or an Early Action is a good option for you, at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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