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Columbia University

Founded in 1754, Columbia University is the oldest higher education institution in the state of New York. Though Columbia had a humble beginning, it expanded rapidly, and in 1767, became the first school in America to grant MD degrees. Today, Columbia is a large university that offers a variety of programs. There are three undergraduate schools — Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies — which grant bachelor’s degrees to students, as well as multiple areas of graduate study. U.S. News & World Report lists Columbia as ranking number four for national universities in the 2012 edition of Best Colleges. Columbia is also in charge of administering the Pulitzer Prize and has produced 79 Nobel Prize winners, a number that includes alumni, faculty, and staff.

Programs Offered

Undergraduates enrolled at Columbia University can pursue degrees in liberal arts, engineering, applied science, and general studies. Graduate students have a wider variety of options, and can earn either a master’s or doctorate degree in a variety of areas, like health and nursing, law, teaching, public affairs, and the arts. Columbia also has a medical school that grants MD degrees. According to U.S. News and Report, the most popular majors for 2010 graduates from Columbia were social sciences, engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, history, and English.


Since Columbia was first recognized in 1921, it has been consistently accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Many of Columbia’s programs are individually accredited as well. For instance, Columbia’s law school is accredited by the American Bar Association and its medicine programs are accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. To see a full list of accredited programs, visit College Navigator.


As Columbia is considered an Ivy League university, there is fierce competition for admission into the school. Application deadlines are dependent upon degree level, though first-time students are held to a January deadline. To narrow down prospective students, Columbia has a strict list of criteria for admissions. Specific department requirements vary based on the school of learning; however, there are basic requirements that are universal.

All undergraduate students must submit biographical information, an application fee, SAT or ACT scores, SAT subject test scores, and two teacher recommendations. Most majors have supplemental requirements, usually in the form of additional essays and/or short answers. Some programs require interviews after the initial assessment is completed. Columbia considers their admissions process to be “holistic,” taking all of these elements of the application into consideration prior to admitting or rejecting a student. Nevertheless, due to the competition for acceptance, the higher your high school GPA and test scores, the more likely you are to be admitted.

Graduate students must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and must submit an application fee, a resume or curriculum vitae, a writing sample, a statement of purpose, three recommendation letters, and GRE exam scores. Most graduate students have a bachelor GPA of at least 3.6. There is no minimum for GRE scores, though most enrolled students had scores in the upper percentiles. Graduate admissions have even fiercer competition, as spots are extremely limited.

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