FAQs

AdmissionsFAQs

Yes. One of the top reasons many students choose GS is because of their interest in becoming competitive applicants for top graduate schools and employers. Attending GS and becoming a successful undergraduate student at an institution like Columbia University, known for its rigorous curriculum, is exactly the type of academic profiles many graduate schools and employers seek out.

Students at the School of General Studies may be eligible to receive scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. Financial aid may come from GS, federal and state governments, or private sources. Approximately 70 percent of all GS students receive some form of financial aid. Prospective students are encouraged to apply for financial aid when completing an admissions application and can find out more information by visiting the Educational Financing section of the website.

Please note: Financial aid packages outlining the exact costs and availability of aid and scholarships are only generated for students who have been accepted to GS. As such, for prospective students concerned about financial aid, it is important to go through of process of applying for admission and upon potential acceptance, to ensure all the correct financial aid forms are on file so that a complete financial aid package can be generated for you. Unfortunately until a student gains admission to GS, financial aid eligibility is indeterminable.

GS identifies nontraditional students as those who have had at least a one year break in their educational history since high school or students who are taking a nontraditional academic path through one of GS’s joint/dual degree programs. It is important to note that whether a student has a one year break or ten year break, most students who choose GS usually see themselves as being more mature and independent than a traditional student.

A limited number of courses in Columbia’s professional schools are open to undergraduates. Students may take a maximum of two courses (6 credits) for elective credit in professional courses toward the 124 credits necessary for their degree.  More information is available here.

Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) students are those with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university. What defines our students as nontraditional is that GS students have taken breaks of one year or more in their educational paths. GS students are returning and adult students who seek to complete a rigorous undergraduate degree. Despite these differences, GS students take the same courses as all other Columbia undergraduates, are taught by the same professors in the same classes, and are fully integrated into Columbia's undergraduate curriculum.

Yes. Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) is as competitive as Columbia's traditional undergraduate colleges, which include Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and affiliate Barnard College. Though admission requirements differ slightly from the aforementioned schools because of our nontraditional student applicant pool, GS admits only the best and the brightest prospective students. For more information on admissions requirements and procedures, please visit the How to Apply page.

Yes. GS students take the same courses with the same faculty, are held to the same high standards, and earn the same degree as all other Columbia undergraduates.

Students from Columbia's two other undergraduate colleges and Barnard College students will be in the classroom.

GS does not offer a general studies major. The School of General Studies is an undergraduate liberal arts college offering more than 70 majors. For a full list, visit the Majors and Concentrations page.

Along with 13 other Schools of Columbia University, GS uses the English-language diploma design approved by the University Senate in 2005.

For more information, including a picture of the diploma template, please see this message from Dean Awn:
http://www.gs.columbia.edu/news-article-find-out-more?ntitle=4164

GS students take the same classes with the same professors as students in Columbia's other undergraduate colleges. Undergraduate courses are taught by members of the Columbia University Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University consists of twenty-nine departments in the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. The Arts and Sciences also includes six schools: Columbia College, the School of General Studies, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts, and the School of Continuing Education, as well as numerous institutes and centers.

No. Students attend full time or part time, and it is important to note that they may change their full- or part-time status on a semester by semester basis. International students on an F-1 student entry visa must attend full time (12 or more credits).

If courses are offered at night, they are offered to all undergraduate students, not specifically to GS students. GS students take the same classes as all other Columbia undergraduate students. If a course is not offered at night, students must make arrangements to take the required or desired course at the time it is offered.

No.

Students who are enrolled full-time at GS (12 or more credits per semester) are eligible for University Apartment Housing. For more information, please visit the Housing page.

GS students live in university-owned apartments, usually shares, as opposed to dormitory housing. These spaces are assigned in order of priority, with top priority going to those students who currently live furthest away and cannot commute.

There are no parking lots on campus. While it may be possible to find metered street spots, it is difficult to find parking on any kind of predictable basis. Most students use public transportation. There are private garages in the neighborhood that offer parking as well.

Prospective students may submit contact details through the Request Information form. In the meantime, prospective students may view our online application.

Yes. Each month the Admissions Office offers Information Sessions that cover the application process, credit transfers, financial planning, and student life. Visit the Information Sessions page for locations and registration details.

Prospective students may apply any time of the year, since applications are processed on a rolling basis. Students are admitted for both the fall and spring semesters. Please see the Important Dates section of the website for all application deadlines.

In general, the Admissions Committee is looking for at least a 3.00 GPA. It is important to note, however, that the Admissions Committee also takes into account standardized test scores, the autobiographical essay, recommendations, and high school performance. Some applicants may also be asked to interview.

Interviews are required in some instances. Applicants will be contacted should we wish to interview them.

Official scores from the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Testing Program (ACT) taken within the last eight years are required. Standardized scores should be reported directly to Columbia by the testing service. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) code number for GS is 2095. The ACT code number for GS is 2716. Students who have no test scores or test scores older than eight years will be contacted by the Office of Admissions to take the General Studies Admissions Examination (GSAE) at a cost of $40. For more information, please visit the Admissions Exams page.

All B.A./B.S. candidates are eligible to receive in transfer up to 60 of the 124 credits required for graduation. Admitted students are eligible for transfer credit only from the institutions listed on the application for admission at the time the application is submitted to the GS Office of Admissions. Coursework from institutions not listed on the application for admission will not be considered for transfer credit. For more information on specific coursework, please visit the Transfer Students page.

GS students have varied backgrounds, some of which include earning a GED. Students who have earned a GED typically have had a professional career or additional college coursework that demonstrates success inside and outside of the classroom. For examples of current GS students, please visit the Student Profiles page.

Yes, but the bachelor's degree sought must be different from the first one earned. Please visit the Majors and Concentrations page for a list of degree offerings.

All academic transcripts are required to verify educational background.

Yes. For more details regarding resources available to military veterans who are enrolled at GS, please visit the Military section of the website.

Yes. The School of General Studies reflects Columbia's status as an international university in an international city. Students from more than 30 countries are currently enrolled at GS. To learn more about admissions procedures for students with foreign educations, please visit the International Students information page.

International students need to take the TOEFL or the English Certification Test (ECT) offered by Columbia's American Language Program (ALP), if English is not the student's first language; he or she must demonstrate proficiency in English. For more information on testing and scores, visit the International Students information page.

If you took the ECT within the past two years, you do not need to take the ALP Essay Exam. However, if you took the ECT more than two years ago, you will be required to take the ALP Essay Exam, which replaced the ECT in the summer of 2010.

For more information on the ALP Essay Exam, visit the International Students information page.

Students at GS finance their education through grants, scholarships, federal aid, loans, work, and Columbia's tuition payment plan. For more details about financial aid, visit the Financial Aid section of the website.

The average entering student tuition scholarship is approximately $6,200. Scholarship amounts usually increase over time, based on merit. GS does not offer any full scholarships. Most students use a combination of scholarships, grants, and federal and state loans to attend. For more details about scholarships, visit the Financial Aid section of the website.

Visit the Transfer Students section of the website for information and FAQs for transfer students.