Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet


Columbia University School of General Studies. The School is commonly referred to as GS.


The School of General Studies of Columbia University is dedicated to students with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university. Most students at GS have, for personal or professional reasons, interrupted their education, never attended college, or can only attend part time. GS students are fully integrated into the Columbia undergraduate curriculum and take the same courses, with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other undergraduates.

Adult/Nontraditional Students

Columbia University has long been a pioneer in education for nontraditional, adult, and returning undergraduates, and enrolls students who have had a break of one year or more in their educational paths since high school. GS students are professional dancers, models, Olympic athletes, musicians, bankers, military veterans, programmers, and small business owners, come from as far away as China, Israel, and Germany, and have completed some or no college coursework or are professionals who wish to complete a second bachelor’s degree in a discipline different from their first.

Admissions Criteria

Recognized as one of the most academically competitive four-year colleges in the United States, GS applicants are pre-qualified prior to admissions materials submission. Like traditional undergraduate degree programs, the admissions process takes into account measures of academic success such as standardized test scores and high school and college grade point averages. GS also recognizes, however, that traditional admissions metrics do not sufficiently convey a nontraditional student's ability to succeed.

Enrollment, Tuition, and Financial Aid

Please visit About GS for current enrollment, tuition, and financial aid statistics for our undergraduate, joint, and dual-degree programs.

Academic Degree Program

As one of three undergraduate colleges at Columbia University, GS offers a Bachelor of Arts degree. GS students take the same courses, are taught by the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other Columbia undergraduates. GS's academic program is composed of a major, core requirements, and electives. Students may choose from more than 80 majors and 1,500 courses taught by members of Columbia University's Faculty of Arts & Sciences. The Core provides a foundation for a solid liberal arts education, which assures students will develop critical skills in writing and quantitative reasoning.

Faculty and Administration

GS students take courses with professors who are members of the Columbia University Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The student-to-faculty ratio is six to one.

The Dean of the School of General Studies reports to the Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Special Scholarship Programs

The School of General Studies has several scholarship program partnerships with outside institutions. For a full list, please visit Special Scholarships.

Student Life

GS students have access to more than 500 student organizations, intramural sports, and volunteer opportunities, as well as countless cultural offerings on and off campus. Columbia University is a NCAA Division I member.

Joint Programs

GS supports several dual-, combined-, and joint-degree programs with Columbia’s graduate and professional schools as well as affiliates including The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia Business School, and List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

GS is also home to the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po, the Dual BA Program between Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University, and the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program between City University of Hong Kong and Columbia University.

After Graduation

  • Notable alumni
  • More than 70 percent of GS graduates seek higher degrees such as a doctorate of medicine, doctorate of philosophy, juris doctorate, or master's degree at top-tier institutions such as the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Duke, Georgetown, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, etc.
  • GS graduates work in many sectors including the arts, finance, law, and non-profit.
  • Graduates have worked for organizations such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Axiom Legal, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Linklaters LLP, Columbia University, the U.S. Air Force, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.