Frequently Asked Questions for New Students

Pre-Arrival Requirements

Your UNI can be found in an email from the GSAS Office of Admissions that you receive within ten days of accepting the offer of admission and paying your tuition deposit. If you cannot find the email containing your UNI, please write to [email protected] to request that your UNI be sent to you again. Alternatively, you can look up your UNI through CUIT. For instructions on activating your UNI and your Columbia email address, please visit the CUIT website.

Before you arrive on campus, you must complete two pre-orientation tutorials, Welcome to Columbia and Sexual Assault Prevention. These tutorials must be completed before orientation opens on August 31st. Instructions on accessing the tutorials will be sent to you via email in June. Please note that information regarding the tutorials may come from the Office of University Life.

For a transcript to be considered official, it must be provided to the GSAS Office of Admissions directly from the Registrar’s Office of the sending institution. Any documents to which an applicant has had access, including transcripts uploaded as part of the application, are automatically considered unofficial. Please refer to the Final Transcript Instructions policy for submission requirements.

In order to have an immunization hold lifted, you must submit your immunization records to Columbia’s Immunization Office. You will not be permitted to register until the Immunization Office has received these records. Please note that you will not be contacted by the Immunization Office unless your records are incomplete. You may determine whether the immunization hold has been lifted by logging in to SSOL. Please contact the Immunization Office with any questions at [email protected] or (212) 854-7210.

International students should contact the International Students and Scholars Office with any questions or concerns regarding visas.


GSAS Orientation will take place on Friday, September 1st. Carlos J. Alonso, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will offer remarks to signal the start of the new academic year.

The GSAS Resource Fair will take place in the Low Library Rotunda from 11am-2pm on Friday, September 1st. No registration is required. All new GSAS students are welcome to attend and meet representatives from a variety of campus offices and resources. 

As a reminder, all new students are also required to complete the two University-wide Pre-Orientation Tutorials, Welcome to Columbia and Sexual Assault Prevention, before GSAS orientation on September 1st. Both will be accessible in Courseworks starting on July 26th.


Fall registration for incoming students opens in late August. To determine the specific dates and times when you can register, log in to SSOL and click on “Registration Appointments” in the menu. Registration appointments are published in SSOL in mid-August.

Registration primarily takes place online, through SSOL. For a complete overview of the registration process, please refer to the Registration section of the GSAS website.

Courses generally will have open seats when registration begins. If you find that no seats remain in the course(s) you wish to take, you may join the waitlist.

If a course is full when you register for it through SSOL, you will be placed automatically on that course’s waitlist. Most waitlists are managed automatically on a first-come, first-served basis, and you will be enrolled in the class should a seat become available. Please do not submit a Registration Adjustment Form to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs if you are on an SSOL-managed waitlist. Other waitlists are managed manually by the course instructor. If this is the case, please contact the instructor to request a spot on the course’s waitlist. For more information about course waitlists, please visit the Registrar’s website.

Students may take some courses in other graduate schools at Columbia through cross-registration. Use the Directory of Classes to confirm that courses are open to GSAS students before beginning the cross-registration process. Please also consult your program administrator before submitting a Registration Adjustment Form to the GSAS Office of Student Affairs to enroll in courses offered by other schools.


Once you have signed your rental agreement with Columbia Residential, you will be allowed to move into your housing. You will need to schedule an appointment to sign your agreement; this may be done through your Housing Portal account. Please visit the Columbia Residential website for details and contact Sophia Cheng, GSAS liaison to Columbia Residential, with any questions at [email protected].

Columbia’s Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) is an excellent resource for students who will be living off campus. OCHA provides information about renting apartments in New York, operates a database for University-managed sublets, and offers a “roommate board” where students may search for roommates and open rooms.

Billing and Financing

Columbia no longer sends paper tuition statements or accepts cash or check payments. All billing is done electronically through SSOL. There you may view your bill by semester or month and pay your balance.

Please visit the Financing Your Education section of the GSAS website to learn about financing options for MA students. You may also consult your program about discipline-specific opportunities. External resources, such as Candid, may also be helpful.