Frequently Asked Questions

Find below answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to admissions.

For all other questions, please write to [email protected].

Application Policies and Procedures

The GSAS Office of Admissions does not provide information regarding a program’s prerequisite requirements. Please consult the departmental websites for that information. All program-related questions not covered on this website should be addressed directly to the department.

No. Third-party submissions are not permitted.

Applicants must submit all materials directly, not through an agent or third-party vendor, with the sole exception of submissions by the US Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies IIE, LASPAU and AMIDEAST, and by the Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF), and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

Please also note: Under no circumstances should you upload a letter on behalf of a recommender. All letters must be submitted by the letter-writers themselves. If you upload a recommendation letter, disciplinary action may be taken; consequences may include the immediate rejection of an application or revocation of an offer of admission.

In addition, you 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 GSAS Office of Admissions at [email protected].

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

You may not submit more than one application per term to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). However, you may elect to have your application reviewed by a second program or department within GSAS if you are not offered admission by your first-choice program. Please see the application instructions for a more detailed explanation of this policy and the various restrictions that apply to a second choice.

You may apply concurrently to a program housed at GSAS and to programs housed at other divisions of the university. However, GSAS does not share application materials with other divisions; you must complete the application requirements for each school. For example, to be considered for the PhD program in Biological Sciences, you must apply through the GSAS online application. You may also apply to a Biomedical PhD program, offered at Columbia University Medical Center, but you must submit the Biomedical PhD programs application.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences refers to these programs as dual-degree programs. Applicants must complete the application requirements for both schools. Application materials are not shared between schools. Students can only apply to an established dual-degree program and may not create their own.

With the sole exception of approved dual-degree programs, students may not pursue a degree in more than one Columbia program concurrently, and may not be registered in more than one degree program at any institution in the same semester. Enrollment in another degree program at Columbia or elsewhere while enrolled in a GSAS master's or doctoral program is strictly prohibited by the Graduate School. Violation of this policy will lead to the rescission of an offer of admission, or termination for a current student.

GSAS is now accepting applications from students earning three-year bachelor's degrees in Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, India, Israel, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and any country which is a participant in the Bologna Process.

All students admitted to a GSAS program leading to the doctoral degree receive full University fellowships that include tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend. This also applies to international students. No additional application is necessary for this award. See Fellowship Information for Doctoral Students.

Students admitted to some master’s programs may be considered for a very limited number of existing merit-based awards. In most cases, a separate application is not required. However, applicants should be aware that not all MA programs offer these awards, and that awards may cover only a small portion of tuition costs.

Some programs that offer merit-based awards require students to apply by an early deadline in order to be considered eligible for those awards and may ask applicants to provide additional information for scholarship consideration. Please review the program’s webpage on the GSAS website for that information.

Teaching and Research apprenticeships are solely part of the multi-year PhD fellowship awards.

Given the variety of academic programs housed at GSAS, the GSAS Office of Admissions does not compile a general entering class profile or maintain aggregate admissions statistics. For more information about admission to a specific program, including such details as acceptance rates and GPA or GRE ranges, prospective students should contact the program directly.

GSAS does not admit applicants as transfer students; therefore, there is no special application. Instead, you must apply for admission using the normal procedures, by completing the GSAS application and submitting all required supporting materials.

Students who are admitted to and enroll in GSAS may request that coursework completed at Columbia or elsewhere be used in partial fulfillment of their GSAS degree requirements, subject to the Transfer Credit policies. Decisions to grant Transfer Credit are made solely by the department and GSAS.

Application Fee

We do not accept payment by check. Payment must be made by credit card. The following credit cards are accepted: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

If multiple charges have been posted to your account, please write to [email protected]. In the email, please provide your first and last name, date of birth, department to which you applied, date and time you submitted the application, and the last four digits of your credit card number. 

Note: An authorization for a charge is different from a charge that has been posted to your account and settled. In order to verify that your credit card has in fact been charged more than once, please wait until the charge has been posted to your account and settled before contacting the GSAS Office of Admissions.

All requests for fee waivers must be submitted through the online application. See the Application Fee Waivers page for specific instructions.

Please note:

  • Submission of a fee waiver request form does not guarantee that your application fee will be waived. You will be notified via email when your request has been reviewed.
  • If you have previously requested and received two fee waivers for prior applications to GSAS, you may be ineligible to request an additional fee waiver for a new application. Each applicant may have only two approved application fee waiver requests. 

First check that you have correctly entered the following information on the payment page:

  • Billing address (discrepancies can cause a card to be declined)
  • Credit card number
  • Credit card expiration date
  • Credit card verification code

If the above items do not resolve the issue:

  • Try logging in to the application using a different browser.
  • Try using a different credit card.

Standardized Tests

Our institution code is 2162. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not use department codes, as all test scores are reported to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Scores are then forwarded to the appropriate department. Because ETS requires designation of a department code, you may either select any department of your choosing or enter the default code 99 for the TOEFL and 0000 for the GRE.

Yes, you may substitute the IELTS or Columbia’s English Certification Test (ECT). Click here for details.

You must contact the IELTS test center where the test was taken to request that your official electronic test results be sent to GSAS.

E-Delivery account name:

"Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences"
New York, NY 10027

An institution code is NOT required.

The Graduate School requires the following minimum scores:

  • 600 on the TOEFL paper-and-pencil test
  • 100 on the TOEFL internet-based test
  • 7.5 on IELTS

You may use the results of tests taken on various dates to achieve the minimum score requirement.  TOEFL(iBT) now offers a “MyBest” scores reporting option.

There is no minimum GRE score requirement. Academic excellence is expected of all applicants to GSAS.

The GRE is mandatory for all those programs which require it.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not waive the GRE requirement. Some programs, however, do not require that applicants submit GRE scores. To find out whether a program requires the submission of GRE scores, please visit the program’s web page and view the Special Admissions Requirements at the bottom of the page.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not waive the English proficiency requirement. For information on how applicants may fulfill the requirement, please click here.

If English is the official language of instruction at the institution(s) where all of your undergraduate academic work was or is being undertaken, submission of TOEFL/IELTS results may not be required. If you believe this to be the case, please complete the English Proficiency Waiver Request form. The completed form and required supporting documentation must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the application deadline for the program to which you are applying. Your request will be reviewed, and you will receive notification when a decision has been made. Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and submission of the waiver form does not guarantee approval.

If you took the TOEFL or IELTS exam when applying to a graduate program at another institution and scored above the Columbia GSAS minimum requirement of 100 (IBT), 600 (PBT), or 7.5 (IELTS), you may be eligible to fulfill the English proficiency requirement by submitting the official TOEFL/IELTS Waiver Request Form and uploading a scanned copy of the score report to the online application. The form may be accessed on the Test Scores page of the application, and may only be submitted after you have entered the relevant graduate institution information on the Educational History section of the application.

If you did not score above the Columbia GSAS required minimum or do not have a copy of your old results, you must retake the exam.

All tests should be taken at least six weeks before the application deadline to ensure timely receipt by the admissions office.

TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years after the test date.

GRE scores are valid for five years after the test date. Applicants who took the GRE more than five years ago and have subsequently enrolled in a graduate-level program at a US institution may petition the GSAS department or program to which they are applying to accept their old scores. If the department agrees to accept the scores, 1) the applicant must upload a personal copy of the official score report to the online application system, or 2) if GSAS already has the official score report on file, GSAS will append the scores to the application after it has been submitted.

When the GRE has been taken multiple times, the highest score achieved on each section is used in evaluating your application.

Yes, but only for applicants to the Mathematics of Finance and Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences MA programs.

There is no GSAS GMAT numerical code. To send GMAT scores to your program, search for "Columbia University" from the list of schools on the GMAT website, and then select the name of the program to which your scores should be sent.

There is no minimum GMAT score requirement.

GSAS programs do not require the submission of MCAT or LSAT scores, and MCAT and LSAT scores are not accepted in place of GRE scores. However, students who wish to submit MCAT or LSAT scores as a supplement to their GRE scores may upload a copy of the score report.

Supporting Materials

Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the GSAS online application system. Letters of recommendation may not be sent via email, nor may paper letters be sent via postal mail. All letters must be uploaded by the recommender directly to the application system.

Under no circumstances should you upload a letter on behalf of a recommender. All letters must be submitted by the letter-writers themselves. If you upload a recommendation yourself, disciplinary action may be taken; consequences may include the immediate rejection of your application or the revocation of an offer of admission.

Columbia GSAS accepts up to four letters of recommendation. Three letters of recommendation are required by most programs, but some MA programs may only require two letters. For application requirements for the program to which you are applying, please visit that program’s webpage on the GSAS website.  

Regardless of the number of letters required, at least TWO must be submitted by recommenders with direct knowledge of the applicant’s academic background and abilities, i.e. an instructor or academic tutor or advisor. No more than one letter should be from a professional supervisor or colleague (including internship supervisors).

You may submit your online application even if your letters of recommendation have not yet been submitted. Once the letters are received, we will append them to your application.

Applicants should inform their recommenders of the deadline date for their program of study. Ideally, reference letters should be submitted before this date. If early submission is not possible, they should be submitted within two weeks of the deadline.

If a recommender submits a letter after this deadline, it will be added to the application. However, if a letter arrives more than two weeks after the application deadline, there is no guarantee that it will be seen by the admissions committee when they begin their review.

If the application deadline for the program to which you are applying is before May 1: Supporting documents may be received up to two weeks after the deadline date for the specific department.

If the application deadline for the program to which you are applying is after May 1: Supporting documents will not be accepted after the deadline date.

Materials may be sent to the GSAS Office of Admissions:

GSAS Office of Admissions
Columbia University
107 Low Library, MC 4303
535 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

Only materials that an applicant is having difficulty uploading to the "Supplementary Materials" section of the online application, such as musical scores or portfolios, may be sent via mail to the GSAS Office of Admissions. Applicants should not send any materials to the department. 

Any materials not required for the application that are sent to the GSAS Office of Admissions will not be attached to an applicant’s file, nor will they be returned.

We accept letters from dossier services, such as Interfolio, or university career services offices. Letters must be submitted electronically.

If you are using Interfolio, please see the Interfolio Help Center for instructions on how to use the Interfolio service to deliver the letters to your Columbia application.

If a career services office will be submitting the letters on your behalf, you will have to contact that office to ascertain whether they have a system in place which permits electronic submission of individual letters to our online application.

Note: In order to make use of electronic submission, the letters must be submitted as individual documents directly to our application system, using the unique link created by the application system for each recommender you list. We do not accept letters emailed from letter services to a Columbia GSAS email address.

Yes, we accept up to four letters.

Please note, however, that to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.

If you have selected the wrong decision regarding waiving your rights and the recommender has not yet submitted his or her letter, you should “exclude” the recommender and reenter his or her information, being sure to select the correct decision. Please advise your recommender to disregard the first email request and to submit the recommendation according to the instructions in the most recent email.  

If the letter has been submitted, you cannot change your decision to waive your right to view the letter within the application system. If you wish to alter your waiver selection, you must send an email message to the recommender stating that you are waiving your right to view the letter. The message should include your full name and date of birth or Slate Application ID number. Please add a copy of this message to your application account to make the faculty admissions committee aware of this change. If you are changing your selection for more than one letter, you must email each recommender and upload a copy of each message to your application account. Your document will serve as an official request to change your waiver selection.

To add a copy of each message to your file after you have emailed the recommender, please log back into your application.  If you have not yet submitted your application, please upload your document via the Supplementary Media section. If you have already submitted your file, then you may upload your document by clicking on the words UPLOAD MATERIALS and selecting APPLICATION CORRECTIONS/ADDITIONS from the drop-down list.

Note: Once the recommendation has been submitted, you will only be able to waive your right to read the letter; you will not be able to rescind a previous waiver of that right.

Under the guidelines of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), all letters of recommendation are confidential during the admissions process, even if you have not waived your right to view them. This policy applies to both domestic and international applicants.

If you did not waive your right to see one or more of the letters, you may view them only after you are enrolled in Columbia GSAS. Students who do not receive an offer of admission, or those admitted who do not enroll, are not permitted access to the letters at any time.

A complete explanation of the FERPA policy can be found here.

All applicants must submit a statement of academic purpose and a personal statement. Both statements are mandatory.

Some programs also require submission of a writing sample. Please check the program’s page on the GSAS website to determine whether a writing sample is  required for the program/s to which you are applying.

For most programs, the statement of academic purpose should be no more than 1,000 words. (There is no other required formatting.) Applicants to the Japanese Pedagogy Program should refer to the application instructions. 

Some GSAS programs require that applicants answer specific questions or provide specific information in the statement of academic purpose. Please check the program’s page on the GSAS website for details. This information also appears on the STATEMENT OF ACADEMIC PURPOSE page of the online application.

For programs that do not have special requirements, we offer the following guidelines: please describe your background and past work in your intended field of study, your plans for graduate study at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and your future professional goals.

The personal statement should be no more than 1,000 words. (There is no other required formatting.) The personal statement should explain how your personal experiences and history will allow you to contribute to the wealth of perspectives in the entering class of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and in the Columbia community at large.

Materials sent to GSAS cannot be returned.

No. If you are admitted, you may be asked to provide certain financial documents.

Please note, however, that if you choose to submit a request for an application fee waiver, you may be asked to submit some financial documents in support of your request.

Yes, they can be uploaded in the Supplementary Media section of the online application.


No. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded as part of your application. However, they should be copies of official transcripts. Unofficial course lists or registration records printed from your student account are not acceptable. If you have a copy of a World Education Services (WES) evaluation, we encourage you to upload it with your unofficial transcript.

Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission has been made and accepted.

GSAS retains official documents for admitted applicants only. If an official document is sent to us by an applicant who does not enroll, the document will not remain accessible, even if an offer of admission is made at a later time.

Instructions for submitting final official transcripts are available here.

Yes. A transcript showing all courses and grades of any academic work must be submitted. However, if the courses and grades are listed on your main transcript, a separate transcript need not be submitted.

Yes, we accept them for review and decision purposes. However, we consider them unofficial. If an offer of admission is made, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia by the Registrar’s Office of the applicant’s prior institution(s). Offers will not be considered official until we have received the official transcripts. Please see above for more information.

  • Scan at the lowest DPI that results in a legible document. (we recommend to use under 300 DPI whenever possible.)
  • Ensure that the institution name and other identifying marks are not missed during the scanning process and that your scanned copy is clearly legible and can print on letter size paper (8 ½" x 11").
  • Include the transcript legend (back page in most cases)
  • Save your document as a PDF file.
  • Make certain that its size is less than 2,000 KB (2.0 MB). Scanning in grayscale or black and white may produce the best results.
  • If the scanned file is too large, then make a photocopy first (experimenting with different settings until you find one that results in the smallest file size), and then scan the photocopy.
  • You may upload an institutional web-based transcript/academic record only if there is no other option available. Copies of official transcripts are preferred.

On the Educational History page of the online application.

No. Each transcript must be uploaded separately.

Once an applicant has been admitted and has indicated acceptance of our offer of admission, certified and secure online official transcripts must be submitted directly to Columbia by the Registrar’s Office of the applicant’s prior institution(s). Please see above for more information.

Yes. Transcripts that are in a language other than English should be translated into English. The translation must be certified to be an accurate translation of the original and be notarized or otherwise authenticated.

If you are applying to the MA program in Statistics and will be earning your undergraduate degree after December 1, you must submit the Fall Term Grade Report and upload an updated transcript.

Applicants to all other programs may submit the Fall Term Grade Report and a revised transcript if they wish to update their applications.

If you do not immediately find the name of your institution, please attempt to search using alternative spellings or variations of your school's name (e.g., “Oxford University” vs. “University of Oxford”). If you attended a particular college within a larger institution, or a satellite campus of a larger school, please enter the name of the larger institution (e.g., if you attended Balliol College, please enter “University of Oxford”). The details of your study will be visible to the faculty when they review your transcript.

If, after carefully searching, you are certain that your school does not appear on our list, please type in the name of your institution and enter its country, city, and state or region (if applicable). Once you have entered your school information, you must also complete the Missing School Code form so that we may add your institution to our records.

The submission of WES evaluations is not required for applications to GSAS. However, WES evaluations may be submitted in place of the required certified English translations of international transcripts. 

Additionally, please see the text above concerning the submission of WES Evaluations when accepting an offer of admission, which may be applicable to some international students.

Tracking Your Application

Yes, you may check the status of your application on the Application Status screen. You will be able to access this screen only after your application has been submitted.

You will need your email address and password.

You may check the status of your supporting materials on the Application Status screen. You will be able to access this screen only after your application has been submitted.  

Please note that in some cases, it may take up to an hour after an item has been uploaded before its status appears as “received” on your materials checklist.

If you have a question not answered on our website or need to update any information, please notify the GSAS Admissions Office directly via email at [email protected] with "Question Not Answered on Website" or "Change Application Information" in the subject line. In the body of the email, you must include your name, date of birth, and your application ID number.

Decisions and Reapplying

Notification of decisions for all PhD applicants generally takes place by March. The notification of MA decisions varies by department and application deadlines. Although some MA decisions are sent out in early spring, decisions may be rendered as late as July. Notifications are sent by the Office of Admissions of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and not by the individual departments.

Your application will be sent to the second-choice department or program only after your first-choice program has completed its review and is unable to offer you admission. The timing of MA application review varies by department. Although some MA decisions are sent out in early spring, decisions may be rendered as late as July.

Please note: If you receive an offer of admission from your first-choice department or program, your application will not be reviewed by the second department or program.

Only the dean of the Graduate School has the authority to make an offer of admission. A letter or email from a faculty member is not an official offer of admission. Only when you receive the official offer signed by the dean of the Graduate School are you considered admitted.

However, the offer of admission is considered fully official only after a credentials verification process has been completed, including verification of your official transcript(s), degrees awarded, and letters of recommendation. Any discrepancies between the uploaded and official transcripts may result in the rescinding of the offer of admission.

PhD decisions are not made on a rolling basis. In some cases, admission to free-standing MA programs may be rolling.

See the Transfer Credit page for instructions.

Applicants who applied previously should log in to the application account created during the prior application season and use the same profile to create an application for the new term.

To reapply, you must create a new application and upload a statement of purpose, CV, and writing sample (if required). Any transcript already on file from last year's application need not be resubmitted, unless it does not reflect all currently completed academic work or the award of a degree. If test scores (GRE, TOEFL, etc.) are already on file, there is no need to resend those score reports. Through the online application, you have the option of reusing any or all of the letters of recommendation submitted in support of last season’s application.

Please note: If you previously applied to GSAS and received an offer of admission that was later rescinded, you may not reapply to another program in GSAS. A rescinded admission offer will invalidate any future application to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Upon accepting the offer of admission, MA students are required to submit a nonrefundable, nontransferable tuition deposit.

To review additional information, please visit the Tuition Deposits page on the GSAS website.

All notifications are made via email.

GSAS understands and appreciates the commitment of time and energy put into each application, which is mirrored by the care with which those applications are evaluated. We are unable to provide individual applicants feedback on why an offer of admission was not made or to make recommendations to strengthen the applicant’s dossier.

Admissions decisions are made solely at the discretion of each department or program's faculty committee on admissions. Admissions committees take a comprehensive view of each applicant; their review includes not only an applicant’s academic preparation, such as test scores and educational history, but also the personal contributions he or she might make to the Columbia academic community. GSAS receives many applications for its programs, and regrettably it is unable to offer admission to every qualified applicant.

The Graduate School offers admission with the expectation that students will matriculate in the semester specified during the application process. If extraordinary circumstances will prevent you from matriculating, you may submit a request to defer your enrollment for up to one calendar year.

Deferral requests are not automatically granted: They must be evaluated and approved by the department and by the GSAS Office of Admissions.

For more detailed information concerning GSAS Deferral policies, please visit GSAS Deferrals webpage.

Tours and Interviews

Please contact the Visitor’s Center at (212) 854-4900 to arrange a tour. Columbia GSAS does not offer open house meetings. You may visit the GSAS Admissions Office (107 Low Library) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday for assistance with any questions regarding the admissions process.

GSAS does not schedule applicant interviews. If faculty members wish to schedule an interview, they will contact you directly.