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About GS

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About GS

About Columbia University School of General Studies

Dean AwnI invite you to discover a unique college at one of the world's leading centers for teaching and research, the School of General Studies (GS) of Columbia University. GS is the finest liberal arts college in the country created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university. What makes GS unique is that GS undergraduates are fully mainstreamed into the Columbia undergraduate program. They take the same courses, with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other Columbia undergraduates.

Most students at GS have, for personal or professional reasons, interrupted their education, never attended college, or can only attend part-time. They bring an average of 8 to 10 years of life experience to the classroom, and, as a result, contribute to the diversity and cultural richness of the University. In addition, GS is home to the Joint Program with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2014, the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po, and the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program between City University of Hong Kong and Columbia University. GS also houses the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program, the oldest and largest such program in the country, which boasts up to a 90 percent placement rate in U.S. medical schools.

I have been a member of the Columbia faculty for more than thirty-five years, and one phrase I hear repeated over and over again by GS alumni is, “GS changed my life!” From a student's first semester to years after graduation, the transforming impact of a Columbia education is evident. What sets GS alumni apart, in my estimation, is that the intellectual excitement engendered during their undergraduate years remains vibrant throughout their lives. We are very proud that GS alumni pursue successful careers in a wide array of fields, and the majority of them hold advanced degrees.

Frankly, GS students are our best advertisement; I urge you to meet them, a community of dynamic, creative, and dedicated women and men whose passions and interests inspire me and my fellow faculty members each and every day.

Peter J. Awn
Dean, School of General Studies