Columbia University School of General Studies is the undergraduate college created specifically for students like you – those with nontraditional backgrounds who, after a break of a year or more in their educational paths, are now seeking a rigorous, traditional, Ivy League education. Most students at GS have, for personal or professional reasons, interrupted their education, never attended college, or are only able to attend part time.
Whether you’ve taken time off for personal reasons, parenthood, travel, or your career, the School of General Studies (GS) – Columbia University’s college for returning and nontraditional students – makes it possible for you to complete your degree at one of the finest institutions in the country. In fact, Columbia is the only Ivy League university with a freestanding college in which nontraditional undergraduates are fully integrated into the undergraduate curriculum.
Because the average age of GS students is 28, they usually have 8 to 10 more years of experience in life than traditional college students. That means that diversity at Columbia is not only measured by ethnicity and gender, but also by experience and maturity – a maturity we find leads to great academic success. At GS, you'll join a community of students who after graduation go on to take advanced degrees and lead stimulating professional lives.
The fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College. After the Revolutionary War, the college was renamed Columbia in honor of the new American republic. The School of General Studies (GS) traces its beginnings to the nineteenth century when it served part-time students, active teachers, other professionals, and the general public. Eventually called University Extension, the school granted Bachelor of Science degrees beginning in 1921. Following World War II and aiming to meet the needs of returning G.I.s, University Extension was restructured and designated the School of General Studies in 1947. The college began awarding Bachelor of Arts degrees in 1968. Today, GS serves top-quality, degree-seeking undergraduates who have had a break of one year of more in their education.
Columbia is located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City’s Upper West Side. The main entrance to campus is at 116th Street and Broadway.
Note: The following statistics are based on 2013-2014 official reporting.
- More than 1700 undergraduate students
- 76% full-time; 24% part-time
- 42% female; 58% male
- 24% of American students are Asian American, African-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American
- 17% international students, representing 62 countries
- Average age: 28
Columbia students enjoy close, collegial interaction with faculty members who are widely recognized as leading scholars in their disciplines. Most courses meet in small seminar-style classes. Our student-to-faculty ratio is 6 to 1.
Bachelor of Arts