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 profile many graduate schools and employers seek out.

GS students may be eligible to receive scholarships, grants, loans, and/or work-study. Financial aid may come from institutional scholarships, federal and/or 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 page.

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. Prospective students concerned about financial aid must go through the process of applying for admission, and upon potential acceptance, must ensure all of the correct financial aid forms are on file, so that a complete financial aid package can be generated for them. 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, those who have a compelling reason to attend part time or those 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 a ten-year break, most students who choose GS usually see themselves as being more mature and independent than traditional students.

A limited number of courses in Columbia’s professional schools are open to undergraduates. Students may take a maximum of two courses (6 points) for elective credit in professional courses toward the 124 points necessary for their degree. For more information, visit the Additional Academic Opportunities page.

Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) students are those with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a, rigorous, 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. 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. 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 admissions requirements differ slightly from the aforementioned schools, GS admits only the best and the brightest prospective students and takes into consideration traditional measures of academic success. 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.

GS students attend classes with students from Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Barnard College.

GS does not offer a general studies major. The School of General Studies is an undergraduate liberal arts college offering more than 80 majors and concentrations. For a full list, visit the Majors and Concentrations page.

Along with 13 other colleges and 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.

No. Students may 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 points).

If courses are offered at night, they are offered to all undergraduate students, not specifically to GS students. GS students take the same classes, with the same professors, 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 points per semester) are eligible for University Apartment Housing. For more information, please visit the Housing page.

GS students who are interested in attaining housing through the University live in University-owned apartments as opposed to traditional dormitory housing. Student demand for housing regularly exceeds the allotment and both new and continuing students may apply for University Housing.  University Housing is available to students, couples, and students with dependent children on a limited basis and priority is given to those students moving from great distances. Students who live within 50 miles of campus will most likely be placed on the waiting list.For more information about the types of housing offered, visit the Columbia Housing website.

Parking garages on campus are reserved for faculty and staff. Students may use a variety of private garages in the neighborhood. While it may be possible to find metered street spots, it is difficult to find such parking on any kind of predictable basis, and most students use public transportation. 

Prospective students may apply for admission online. Prospective students may also submit contact details through the Request Information form and receive a paper-based application. 

Yes. Each month the Office of Admissions 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, and each term includes priority early action, early action, and regular decision deadlines. Please see the Important Dates page for details about application deadlines.

GS students take the same classes with the same professors as all Columbia undergraduates. 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 29 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.

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, at the request of the Admissions Committee. Applicants will be contacted directly should the Admissions Committee wish to interview them.

Official scores from the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Testing (ACT) assessment 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 are required to take the General Studies Admissions Examination (GSAE) at a cost of $50.

For more information, please visit the Admissions Exams page.

All B.A. candidates are eligible to receive in transfer up to 60 credits toward the 124 points 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 (all previous institutions attended MUST be listed on the application). For more information on specific coursework, please visit the Transfer Students page.

GS students have varied backgrounds, some of which include students who have previously earned their  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 and alumni, 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, including the GI Bill®, please visit the Military Veterans page.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the Veterans Affairs website.

Yes. The School of General Studies reflects Columbia's status as an international university in an international city. Students from more than 60 countries are currently enrolled at GS. To learn more about admissions procedures for students with foreign educations, please visit the Applying to GS 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.

If English is not the student’s first language, he or she will be required to take the ALP Essay Exam upon matriculation at Columbia, regardless of TOEFL or IELTS results submitted during the application process. This exam is used for placement.

For more information, visit the ALP Essay Exam 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 $8,000-10,000. Scholarship amounts typically increase overtime, based on merit. Most students use a combination of scholarships, grants, and federal and state loans to finance their education. For more details about scholarships, visit the Financial Aid page.

Visit the Transfer Students page for information about transferring.