How to Apply

Undergraduate applicants are admitted to the School of General Studies as matriculated degree candidates. Students may enroll either full or part time and may change their status from semester to semester. 

Undergraduate applicants are only eligible for admission if they have taken a break of a year or more in their educational paths or have a compelling reason for which they can only attend Columbia as a part-time student.

Application Overview

The School of General Studies (GS) is the undergraduate college at Columbia University created specifically for students pursuing a nontraditional path to complete the Bachelor of Arts degree. Nontraditional students include persons who have interrupted their educations since high school for at least one academic year and individuals who have compelling personal or professional reasons to attend college on a part-time basis. GS is also the college at Columbia for students seeking to complete a second BA degree. GS students take the same courses, are taught by the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other Columbia undergraduates.

Applicants may not simultaneously apply to the School of General Studies and to any other undergraduate division of Columbia University—Columbia College (CC) or Columbia Engineering (SEAS)—nor are candidates eligible to apply to the School of General Studies if in the last three years they applied to any of these divisions and were not accepted.

How to Apply

Undergraduate degree applicants must submit the following:

  1. A submitted online application.
     
  2. High school transcripts, secondary school records, or GED/TASC test results. Applicants with a GED or TASC and two or more years of high school will need to submit their high school transcripts. Documents not in English must be accompanied by certified translations.*
     
  3. Transcripts from all colleges or universities attended. Documents not in English must be accompanied by certified translations.*
     
  4. Test Score*
     

    If your native and predominant spoken language is English, or if the primary language of instruction in your high school or secondary education was English, you must submit an official score report from a Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or American College Testing Program (ACT) score or the Online General Studies Admissions Exam (College Board). On your application for admissions, you must indicate which exam you intend to submit. Unofficial scores can be reported directly on the application form and can be used to make admissions decisions. Official score reports can be sent at any time but are required to be sent directly to the GS Office of Admissions from the testing service before you enroll at Columbia University. The SAT code number for General Studies is 2095 and the ACT code number is 2716. Students who have no test scores may take the Online General Studies Admissions Examination at a cost of $50.

    OR

    If your native or predominant spoken language is not English and the primary language of instruction in your high school or secondary education was not English you must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting official scores from TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo. On your application for admission, you must indicate which exam you intend to submit. The TOEFL or IELTS must be taken within two years of application to the School of General Studies. To be eligible to apply for admission, GS requires a score of 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL, or a 600 or better on the paper version, a score of 7.0 on the IELTS or a score of 120 on Duolingo. Applicants should arrange to have recent test scores sent to the GS Office of Admissions directly from the testing service. The Educational Testing Service (or ETS, the organization that administers the TOEFL) code for GS is 2095. For students enrolled in Columbia’s American Language Program (ALP), and who have achieved a minimum level of 8 in the program, please have your placement information forwarded to the GS Office of Admissions as it can be used to satisfy the test score requirement. As an ALP student, if admitted to GS, you will still be required to continue coursework with ALP until you achieve level 10. Applicants who have earned one or more of the following subsection scores may submit their test results to fulfill the standardized test requirement:

    • 650 or higher on either the Critical Reasoning or Writing sections of the SAT before March 2016

    • 700 or higher on the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section of the redesigned SAT (beginning in March 2016)

    • 29 or higher on the English or Reading sections of the ACT

5. One typed, double-spaced essay of approximately 1,500-2,000 words. See the admissions application for essay question.

6. Two letters of recommendation from academic and/or professional sources. Please note that letters should be requested and submitted via the application portal.

*7. A nonrefundable application fee of $80 should be submitted using the secure online application system.

8. New Student Scholarship Application**

* Official documents are those that arrive directly from the institution, testing service, or recommender electronically. If electronic documents are not available from your high school, we will accept mailed copies of the transcripts sent directly to the GS Office of Admissions. Paper transcripts may not be delivered or forwarded by a student. If electronic documents are not available from your college or university, please contact the GS Office of Admissions for further instruction.

** Submitting the New Student Scholarship Application is optional, but highly recommended. Please consult the Office of Educational Financing page for additional information on applying for scholarships and financial aid at the School of General Studies.

Note that applicants must submit all materials directly, not through an agent or third-party vendor. In addition, the applicant will be required to attest to the accuracy and authenticity of all information and documents submitted to Columbia. If you have any questions about this requirement please contact the GS Office of Admission at gs-admit@columbia.edu.

Failure to submit complete, accurate, and authentic application documents consistent with these instructions may result in the denial or revocation of degree. Applicants may be required to assist admissions staff and faculty involved in admissions reviews in the verification of all documents and statements made in documents submitted by students as part of the application review process.

Important Contact Information

Office of Admissions and Educational Financing
Columbia University School of General Studies
408 Lewisohn Hall, MC 4101
2970 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
212-854-2772
gs-admit@columbia.edu

Tracking Your Application

If you have already applied to Columbia University School of General Studies, you may check the status of your application online.

Online GS Admissions Exam

Undergraduate applicants are required to take the Online GS Admissions Exam if their native and predominant spoken language is English or if their primary language of instruction in high school or secondary education was English. In lieu of taking the Online GS Admissions Exam, students may submit a score report for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Testing Program (ACT).

Students whose native or predominant spoken language is not English and whose primary language of instruction in high school or secondary education was not English must submit a score report from one of the following options: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or the Duolingo English Test.

Note: Students are not required to take the Online GS Admissions Exam, SAT, or ACT in addition to one of the options listed above.

When to Take the Exam

After submitting an application for admission, applicants will see a link to pay the online exam fee of $50. Upon receipt of payment, the Office of Admissions will process the fee and send the applicant an email with the subject of Remote Voucher Notification, which will include information about registering for an online exam at the time of the applicant’s choice. Please note that the Office of Admissions requires seven business days to process the exam payment and issue a voucher.

Note: Students may only take this exam once per application term.

Disability Accommodations

Applicants seeking exam-related accommodations for the Online GSAE must register with Disability Services

Disability Services reviews accommodation requests and determines an applicant's eligibility for accommodations on the exam. The review process taxes approximately three weeks, and does not begin until a student's completed registration form and disability documentation are received. If an applicant provides less than three weeks to complete the review process, the implementation of any approved accommodations cannot be guaranteed.

Exam Sections

The Online GS Admissions Exam (with sections derived from the College Board’s Next-Generation Accuplacer) is designed to test an applicant's skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing. Please note that there is no math section on this exam. 

Next-Generation Reading assesses the test taker's ability to derive meaning from a range of texts and to determine the meaning of words and phrases in short and extended contexts. Passages on the test cover a range of content areas, writing modes, and complexities. Both single and paired passages are included. Four broad knowledge and skills categories are assessed:

  • Information and Ideas
  • Rhetoric
  • Synthesis
  • Vocabulary

Next-Generation Writing evaluates a test taker's ability to revise and edit multi-paragraph text. Questions cover two broad knowledge and skills categories, each containing three subcategories:

Expression of Ideas

  • Development
  • Organization
  • Effective Language Use

Standard English Conventions

  • Sentence Structure
  • Usage
  • Punctuation

The final portion of the exam is a written essay; please note that unlike the previous sections, which do not have a time limit, the essay section is timed and limited to one hour.

Practice Questions

Practice questions for the Reading and Writing sections of the examination can be found on the Next-Generation Accuplacer website.

Scoring

Please note that test-takers will not receive a score report, as the exam is for internal use only.

Payment Policies for the Online GS Admissions Exam

There is a cost of $50 for applicants to take the Online GS Admissions Exam. Applicants should be aware of the following policies regarding online payment.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

No refunds will be given for cancellations.

Privacy Policy

The School of General Studies keeps all information in your registration and payment transactions confidential. This information will not be distributed to third-party entities.

Fall Admission

Application Open: December 1 
Early Action Deadline*: March 1
Regular Decision Deadline: June 1

*International Candidates in need of an F1 Student Visa are encouraged to apply for the Early Action Deadline.

Spring Admission

Application Open: August 1
Early Action Deadline*: October 1
Regular Decision Deadline: November 1

*International Candidates in need of an F1 Student Visa are encouraged to apply for the Early Action Deadline.

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis (typically six to eight weeks after receiving a complete application), therefore early submission is encouraged. All applications received after the final deadlines will be considered on a case by case basis.

Send application materials to:

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Columbia University School of General Studies
408 Lewisohn Hall, MC 4101
2970 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

A completed application includes:

  • Application for Admission
  • Autobiographical essay of 1,500-2,000 words
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • $80 USD application fee made payable to Columbia University
  • Photograph (recommended, but not required)
  • New Student Scholarship Application—Prospective students should apply for financial aid when applying for admission. Applying for scholarships and financial aid does not, in any way, affect our admission decision. The New Student Scholarship Application must be submitted online.

Note: Interviews, although not generally required, are sometimes necessary to complete the review of applications, and in such cases are requested by members of the Admissions Committee. Phone interviews may also be requested.

Applicants must arrange to have the following required documents sent:

  • Official* high school transcripts, secondary school records, or GED/TASC test results. Applicants with a GED or TASC and two or more years of high school must submit their high school transcripts.
  • Official* transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, or currently attending
  • Official* test scores from the SAT Reasoning Test (SAT), American College Testing Program (ACT), or the Online GS Admissions Examination. The ETS code number for the School of General Studies of Columbia University is 2095. The ACT code number for General Studies is 2716. 
  • If your native or predominant spoken language is not English and the primary language of instruction in your high school or secondary education was not English, you must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting official scores from the Duolingo English Test, TOEFL, or IELTS. The Duolingo online exam takes about 30 minutes to complete, and test results are available within 48 hours. If submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score report, the exam must have been taken within two years of applying.

*Official transcripts and test scores are those that arrive in a sealed envelope directly from the school or testing service.

Note: Documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.

Prospective Student Appointments

The Office of Admissions dedicates time for prospective students to speak directly with a representative of the Admissions Team. Topics that might be discussed during these appointments include:

  • Academic record
  • Eligibility to apply
  • Major and core curriculum
  • Transfer credits

Appointment Procedures

An appointment is recommended for students who cannot attend an information session, or have attended an information session and have specific questions, to more directly discuss the opportunities offered at the School of General Studies and the application process.

Appointments are 20-30 minutes in length and can be conducted in person or over the phone.

Appointment Location

408 Lewisohn Hall

Appointment Availability

Students who seek admissions advising appointments should note that appointments are only listed if they are available. If none are listed, please check back for additional availability.

Make an Appointment

Contact

Please note that prospective students who previously applied to the School of General Studies should not electronically schedule an appointment. Please contact the Office of Admissions at 212-854-2772 to schedule an appointment.