Columbia University School of General Studies Welcomes Largest Incoming Spring Class Since its Founding in 1947

For the spring 2021 semester, the Columbia University School of General Studies—dedicated to serving nontraditional students and one of three undergraduate colleges at the University—has again broken its own records in both applications received and students who ultimately enrolled.

January 04, 2021

The School has seen year-over-year (YOY) application increases of more than 20% for the past three semesters, including a 25% YOY increase for Spring 2021. This will be the largest spring incoming class ever, despite three straight semesters of reduction in admit rate, thanks in part to the increased numbers of applications and also to a yield rate currently at 70%, a 15% increase from Spring 2020.

The School of General Studies (GS) has a long history of educating and supporting individuals seeking a new direction during a critical moment in their lives. As many look to change paths during these times, whether by choice or by necessity, GS is uniquely positioned to assist those who want to earn their Bachelor of Arts degree in one of more than 80 available majors.

At GS, students are offered the opportunity to pursue a traditional, undergraduate Ivy League education while receiving dedicated and unparalleled support from a college that has been educating nontraditional students for nearly 75 years.

While institutions across the country worked to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University quickly mobilized to accommodate online learning. Last year, Columbia also extended a unique opportunity for new students to get a head start on their coursework by registering for summer classes in advance of the fall semester, an option that will again be made available for students enrolling in Fall 2021.

In addition, with the necessary cancellation of all in-person events during the spring of 2020, the GS Office of Admissions quickly expanded its online offerings and scaled up the availability of telecounseling, allowing thousands of prospective students worldwide to learn about the School at a pivotal moment, regardless of their location.

As the School continues innovating and adapting to provide the best educational experience possible despite the necessity of operating largely remotely, its long tradition of developing exceptional approaches to higher education is as strong as it has ever been.

Spring 2021 Incoming Class Statistics

  • 280 new students
    • 228 undergraduate students
    • 52 Postbac Premed students
  • Students range in age from 18-59
    • One student had a 30-year break in their education before enrolling at GS
  • 80 first-generation college students
  • 46 Pell Grant recipients
  • 52 have served in the armed forces of the United States or their home country
    • 35 U.S. military veterans
    • 17 veterans of foreign armed forces
  • 10% are married
  • 4% are parents
  • Students hail from 21 countries and 30 U.S. states
    • 58 international students


About Columbia University School of General Studies
The Columbia University School of General Studies (GS), founded in 1947, is the premier liberal arts college in the United States for nontraditional students seeking a traditional undergraduate Ivy League education. GS students take the same courses, study with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all undergraduates at Columbia University.

Christina Gray
Associate Director of Communications
(212) 851-4386