International Students at Columbia

December 6, 2022
By AdmissionSight

International Students at Columbia

How Does An International Student Get Into Columbia?

Regardless of citizenship or country of residence, the admissions procedure at Columbia is virtually the same for everyone. The admissions staff are experts in reviewing applicants from different countries, educational backgrounds, and educational systems. International students at Columbia are one of the most diversified student bodies in the nation.

To choose the applicants who will benefit the most from and contribute to the Columbia experience, Columbia is committed to carefully analyzing each application. The admissions office team is experienced with a range of educational systems and transcripts, and the officers have read and evaluated applications from all around the world.

How does an international student get into Columbia? Every application is examined by region. Your secondary school report comes with a “school profile” that details the institution’s curriculum, grading policy, and extracurricular offerings. The admissions office gets in touch with your school and conducts its own investigation if more information is needed to make an admissions decision or if there are any queries.

All secondary school curricula, including the International Baccalaureate, Cambridge A Levels, National School curricula, etc., are accepted by Columbia. Applications are evaluated considering your curriculum. Internal and external exam results and other final national exam results must be submitted if they are prerequisites to completing secondary school. You don’t need to submit results if they are not necessary for secondary school completion and graduation.

Three students running in the hallway.

Please be aware that for recruitment activities, Columbia Undergraduate Admissions does not collaborate or work with any independent agencies anywhere in the world.

Application Options

The Coalition Application or the Common Application can be used by international students at Columbia. QuestBridge Finalists may also submit their QuestBridge Application.

Included in these applications are the following:

  • Autobiographical information
  • Student’s accomplishments, activities, jobs, and summertime activities list with descriptions
  • Personal essay

Columbia-Specific Application Questions

You must answer questions particular to Columbia in addition to the Coalition Application and the Common Application to give the Admissions Committee a more complete picture of who you are as a person—including your academic, extracurricular, and intellectual interests.

Columbia can discover more about your intellectual curiosity, thought patterns, passion for learning, and sense of self by asking you these questions. The Admissions Committee can gain greater insight into your existing environment and your reasons for choosing Columbia University for your undergraduate studies by asking you about these things.

Secondary School Report

  • A copy of each high school transcript from which you attended
  • Recommendation from a high school counselor and school profile
  • Completed Mid-Year Report

Standardized Tests

The test-optional policy for first-year candidates to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering is extended until the fall of 2023 and 2024. Applicants are invited to send the following in a typical year:

  • SAT or ACT but the writing section is not required
  • Candidates can self-report their results
  • English proficiency test scores (if necessary)

2 Teacher Recommendations

  • These references need to come from professors who instructed you in academic disciplines.
  • Candidates for engineering programs must have a math or science teacher as a recommender.

Application Fee or Fee Waiver

An application to Columbia University requires a nonrefundable $85 application fee (non-refundable). You may use a credit card, electronic check, or a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express to make a payment online. You must pay (or request a fee waiver) when you submit your application.

We strongly advise you to ask for an automatic fee waiver through your admission application if paying the application fee will put a significant financial strain on your family. Using this form, you can check your eligibility for a fee waiver right now.

English Proficiency Requirements

You must be at ease speaking English quickly and idiomatically to be taken into consideration for admission to Columbia. There are various ways to show on your application that you are an English language expert:

  • You speak English at home.
  • Throughout your time in secondary school, English has been the main language of instruction.

You obtained a score in at least one of the subsections below:

  • A score of 700 or better on the SAT’s Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section
  • A score of 29 or higher on the ACT’s English or Reading tests

You have satisfied Columbia’s English language requirement if you satisfy one or more of the requirements. If not, one of the following English language proficiency tests will need to be taken.

Please note that English Language Proficiency examinations should be taken in addition to the mandatory standardized testing which is currently waived for applicants in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 admissions cycles.

1. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Admission to Columbia requires a score of at least 105 (Internet-based test) for TOEFL. The testing service must submit your results directly to Columbia using report code 2116.

Only TOEFL iBT® scores by test administration date (e.g., complete test administration results for a single sitting) are accepted by Columbia; MyBestTM scores are not accepted. Multiple results may be sent.

2. IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

Admission to Columbia requires a minimum score of 7.5 for IELTS. Direct notification of your score to Columbia Undergraduate Admissions is required.

3. DET (Duolingo English Test)

Admission to Columbia requires a minimum DET score of 135 points. Direct notification of your score to Columbia Undergraduate Admissions is required.

4. Interview

Select student interviewers and volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee conduct interviews on behalf of Columbia Undergraduate Admissions from October to March every year all around the world. Unfortunately, Columbia is unable to grant interviews to all applications, and there is no assurance that an interview will be available because of the limited number of alumni and current student volunteers to interview the many thousands of applicants.

View of a female student talking in front of two people.


Please be aware that neither on-campus nor admissions committee member interviews are available. Reports of external interviews done by private or independent organizations are not requested from or accepted by Columbia.

There is no advantage or disadvantage for those who are not offered an interview. Kindly refrain from calling or writing to enquire about receiving an interview because Columbia Undergraduate Admissions does not perform the actual assignment of interviews. If there is an opening for an interview, you will be contacted directly.

What Percentage Of Columbia Students Are International?

One of the largest international student and scholar communities in the United States attends Columbia. So, what percentage of Columbia students are international? In the 2021-2022 academic year, there were a total of 16,956 international students at Columbia. This comprised 12,785 students enrolled in different Columbia schools and programs and 4,171 students taking part in Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. The table below shows the countries that reflect the largest population of international students.

Top 10 Countries by Enrollment in 2021-2022 Academic Year

Rank Country Total Enrolled Undergrad Graduate Non-degree Post-graduation OPT GRAND TOTAL
1 China 6234 382 5799 53 1947 8181
2 India 1221 70 1134 17 735 1956
3 Canada 552 440 351 13 138 690
4 South Korea 469 147 312 10 154 623
5 France 316 111 182 23 87 403
6 United Kingdom 229 72 148 9 61 290
7 Taiwan 209 20 182 7 98 307
8 Brazil 181 39 133 9 46 227
9 Japan 194 19 164 11 21 215
10 Singapore 163 53 105 5 37 200

In Columbia’s Class of 2026, admitted students hail from 82 countries and 50 states in the US. Based on the statistics for the admissions cycle, international students make up about 13% of the pool.

Do International Students Get Financial Aid At Columbia?

Do international students get financial aid at Columbia? Students from different socioeconomic levels, including international students, can attend Columbia. Regardless of citizenship, Columbia provides for all admitted first-year students’ demonstrated needs. Every year, international students at Columbia apply for financial aid. A substantial amount of financial help is awarded to international students and for the Class of 2025, this sum was over $17 million.

A teacher talking to a female student holding her book.

Regardless of citizenship or place of residence, the Columbia admissions procedure is basically the same for all applicants, but for those from other countries, the evaluation is need-aware. Students who are neither U.S. citizens nor legal permanent residents, do not hold refugee visas or asylum status, and are not DACA or undocumented recipients are regarded as foreign for the purposes of financial aid. This means that while reviewing an application, the admissions committee takes a student’s need for financial help into account.

There are no academic, athletic, or other talent-based merit scholarships offered at Columbia; all financial aid is based solely on need.

Need-Based Financial Aid

Based on the facts in the financial aid application, Columbia will cover 100% of a family’s demonstrated need for admitted international students. The typical award for students from abroad is $66,350, which often includes a Columbia grant that does not have to be repaid and a work-study opportunity. Given that overseas students are not eligible for federal student aid, Columbia will cover all international financial aid with institutional resources and without any loans in financial aid packages.

When completing their entrance application, international applicants are required to state if they intend to seek financial aid. International students will not be able to change their status to “apply for aid” after being accepted, even if their financial situation changes. If it is not given at the time of admission, international financial help cannot be granted in the following years.

Resources for International Financial Aid

Numerous Columbia students, especially those from abroad, get financial aid from outside institutions, including merit-based scholarships and tuition reimbursements from companies, government agencies, and other sources. Search engines like Overseas Education Financial Aid and EduPass are frequently used to find international scholarships. The financial aid process differs for each family, but Columbia’s Financial Aid and Educational Financing is prepared to help.

You may get in touch with your neighborhood EducationUSA office, which is supported by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, for more detailed advice and general information about studying in the US.

Is Columbia Good For International Students?

You probably have expectations about what your foreign education would entail when you travel to study—whether it’s across the street or around the world. The thought of a fresh start in a new place and community as a new person seems thrilling, perhaps influenced by Hollywood films or by a wild imagination. However, it’s not always possible to foresee the reality that comes after these vivid aspirations.

In the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, one of the most significant research institutions in the world, Columbia University, offers undergraduate and graduate students a unique and prestigious learning environment. With a variety of academic and professional subjects, the university tries to connect its research and instruction to the abundant resources of a major metropolis because it understands the significance of its position in New York City.

a group of 3 male students studying intently inside the library

Is Columbia good for international students? Columbia aims to establish academic ties with numerous nations and regions, encourage research on global concerns, and draw a varied and multinational faculty, staff, and student body. All areas of the university are expected to advance knowledge and learning to the highest level and to share the results of their work with the rest of the world.

With fewer than 10,000 undergraduates, Columbia is both intimate and expansive enough to take advantage of a wide range of extracurricular activities. If you are looking for a school that values tradition, Columbia University is the place for you. Here, students celebrate everything from the first snowfall to the end of chemistry exams.

The list of Nobel Prize winners, American presidents, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Olympians make up the graduates of Columbia today. Columbia continues to pave the way for diversity, creativity, and teamwork in education in the present time.

Keeping up with its reputation as a premier global center of learning, Columbia International Students & Scholars Office serves as the go-to source for the foreign community’s immigration-related requirements, offering advice, assistance with documents, and knowledge on a variety of topics, such as visas, employment, travel, and tax obligations.

The office oversees institutional compliance and keeps an eye on the rules of governmental bodies that have authority over the stay of foreign students and scholars. Columbia ISSO supports both international students at Columbia and the university personnel that collaborates with the students across Columbia’s sixteen undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools at the Morningside Heights and the Medical Center (CUIMC) campuses.

Columbia University is an extremely selective institution. With one of the lowest admission rates in the nation, the acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 is only 3.73% out of the 60,551 applications received. It will take more than just meeting the typical SAT or GPA requirements to get into Columbia. Start preparing early in your high school career to improve your admissions chances.

AdmissionSight has assisted thousands of college aspirants to get into their first-choice colleges. We at AdmissionSight help students craft strong applications to boost their chances of getting into top universities in the US. Feel free to book an initial consultation to know more.


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