International Students

All newly-admitted international students must complete additional steps prior to matriculating, which include completing the Certificate of Eligibility, and in some cases sitting for the American Language Program Essay Exam.

Postbac Premed Program international students are also required to be enrolled full-time throughout their tenure in the Postbac Premed Program.

Consult the website for Columbia’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for information about making the transition to Columbia. ISSO offers many services for international students including pre-admission counseling, immigration-related and document services, International Orientation, social and cultural activities, and a program for the spouses of students.

The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) offers many services for the international community of students, interns, and scholars at Columbia University.

Applying for a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20)

International students at Columbia enter the United States on an F-1 student visa. You will need an I-20 form issued by Columbia’s International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) before making your visa appointment at a U.S. consulate to apply for your F-1 visa. Watch ISSO’s video on how to get a visa and visit the ISSO website for important information about applying for the I-20.

You will need to:

  1. Prepare your documents (bank statements, passport, and other supporting documents).
  2. Log in to Compass to apply for your I-20.
  3. Receive your I-20 by mail (you will choose where to have it shipped).
  4. Apply for Your Visa at a U.S. Consulate (the visa cannot be issued more than 120 days in advance of your program start date).

If you have any questions regarding the visa application process, please contact the ISSO at newintlstudent@columbia.edu.

Who Should Take the Exam
Columbia University students must be fully proficient with written and spoken English. Upon review of your application and as a condition of your admission, you are required to take the Columbia University Online American Language Program (ALP) Essay Exam prior to finalizing your course registration. The need to take the Online ALP Essay Exam is a determination made by the Admissions Committee at the time of acceptance and your enrollment at Columbia University is contingent on taking the exam.

No exceptions will be granted to the requirement; this includes but is not limited to the fact that you may have taken the TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, GSAE, Online GS Admissions Exam, or ACT exams prior to admission. Coursework completed at any other university or college also cannot be considered as an exception from the need to take the exam.

Exam Description
The Online ALP Essay Exam will be administered online and is designed to measure a test-taker's ability in writing; no speaking portion is included. Students will have 105 minutes to write an essay in response to a short reading prompt.

Exam Results
The Online ALP Essay Exam results will be emailed to students and to their respective department ten business days after the exam date. Results will be used by a student’s academic advisor to determine the appropriate academic plan for the first semester. Students will be required to take additional English language courses if their score on the examination is below level 10. A score below level 8 will require a deferral of the offer of admission to facilitate further, full-time, English language study. All students who earn a level 8 or 9 on the Online ALP Essay Exam are required to take additional coursework through ALP.

More information about scores and score appeals may be found on the American Language Program website which may be accessed at http://sps.columbia.edu/alp/levels-and-testing#placements.

Certification
If you are currently enrolled in the American Language Program, you will be excluded from taking the online test, please do not register to take the online exam. If you have already taken or will take the ALP Essay Exam as a student in the American Language Program, please contact ALP at (212) 854-3584 and have them forward your results to the School of General Studies Office of Admissions.

Registration

Monday, November 16, 6 p.m. 

Wednesday, December 2, 9 a.m.

Contact

Columbia University School of General Studies
Office of Admissions and Educational Financing
gs-admit@columbia.edu

What should I do before arriving?
Before arriving, students should review the Getting Started section of the International Student and Scholars Office website (ISSO). It provides information regarding entry to the U.S. and initial weeks at Columbia. Questions regarding student status and visas should be directed to the ISSO.

I arrive several days before the semester commences. Where can I stay?
If you are interested in obtaining University Housing, you are advised to complete the online housing application as soon as possible (login information is included in your acceptance packet). Please ensure that your selected housing date corresponds to your anticipated arrival date. Students arriving before the specified arrival dates will be required to find temporary accommodation in the area.

For more information on housing, consult the GS Housing page and the University Apartment Housing website.

Contact

Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office
524 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027
Telephone: (212) 854-3587
Fax: (212) 854-3966
isso@columbia.edu
isso.columbia.edu

The Guide for International Students has been created to assist international students in navigating Columbia University. Please continue to review this resource as you move through your academic career here at Columbia. The guide will answer many common questions posed by international students while also providing information about the purpose and scope of a wide range of on-campus resources.

Guide for International Students