Columbia University
  • EduScore 95 /100

Columbia University: Quick Overview

Quick Stats
  • Year founded1754
  • Number of students enrolled32,429
  • Average cost (in total)$74,123
Application Info
  • Acceptance rate5.5%
  • SAT/ACT935/20
  • Application dateJanuary 1 st

History and Mission

There were talks about opening a university in the city of New York as far back as 1704. However, the city of New York did not seriously take that into consideration until after until the College of New Jersey, just across the Hudson River in what is now Princeton university was founded. There was an act passed by the general assembly of New York in 1746, which set out to raise the funds for founding a new university in the city of New York. 10 residents of New York, seven of which were members of the Church of England, were appointed a commission by the assembly to oversee the funding of the college with money coming from the New York state lottery.

In the beginning Columbia was called King’s College and Dr. Samuel Johnson was not only the first president of the school, but also the only teacher and in the one class there were only eight students. The official date of founding the University was on October 31, 1754, which makes it the 5th oldest college in the United States and the oldest in the state of New York. In 1776 when the Revolutionary War started, King’s College ceased operation for eight years when the British troops occupied New York City. The library of the university was looted by the British when they left the city in 1783 and the only building the school had was used by both American and British troops during the war. The State of New York took over the college to restore it and show support for the new American Republic. A later registration changed the name from King’s College to Columbia College, as Columbia was another name for the United States.

In the 1790’s New York City was the capital of both the state of New York and the country and the university flourished. In the commencement of the university in 1789, President George Washington and Vice President John Adams both were in attendance in order to honor the alumni of the new Columbia College for their services in the Revolutionary War.

The mission of the Columbia University states that the college is one of the most important centers for research the world over. Also, it is both a distinctive and distinguished institution for learning for students, both undergraduates and graduate, in the many academic as well as professional fields. Columbia recognizes how important it is that the college is located in New York City and aims to bring together the research and teaching to the many resources available in the city. Columbia has the goal to have a diverse, international student body and faculty in order to deal with global problems through research and learning, as well as to foster scholarly ties with other countries and regions. Columbia is under the expectation that in order to advance the highest level of both learning and knowledge in order to share those ideas with the rest of the world.

Areas of Study

At Columbia University, there are 90 undergraduate degrees concentrated into 70 majors within 21 fields of study. They offer a wide array of academic programs with three undergraduate schools, 13 graduate and professional schools, four colleges and seminaries that are affiliated, 25 libraries, and in excess of 100 research centers and institutes. There are bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees at Columbia in a wide range of fields. The graduate and professional schools at Columbia and the year they were founded are:

  • College of Physicians and Surgeons (Medical School) 1767
  • College of Dental Medicine 1852
  • Columbia Law School 1858
  • Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science 1864
  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 1880
  • Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation 1881
  • Teachers College, Columbia University 1889
  • Columbia University School of Nursing 1892
  • Columbia University School of Social Work 1898
  • Graduate School of Journalism 1912
  • Columbia Business School 1916
  • Mailman School of Public Health 1922
  • School of International and Public Affairs 1946
  • School of the Arts 1948
  • School of Professional Studies 1995

College of Physicians and Surgeons (Medical School)

This medical school is one of the best in the nation and simply referred to as P&S. it is the oldest medical school in the United States and is also one of the most selective in terms of acceptance rate.

Columbia Law School

This school was founded in 1858 and according to U.S. News and World Report it is always ranked in the top five law schools in the United States. It is a law school known for expertise in corporate law and it has solid placement power to some of the most elite law firms In the U.S.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

This school offers students degrees in the arts and sciences, such as M.A.s and Ph.D.s., in fields that are not covered by Columbia’s professional or other types of schools. The list of academic departments at this graduate school is significant with many subjects covered in the program.

Online Program

Columbia University has an online program in the Columbia Online, which is a resource not only for students, but for faculty and alumni as well. They all can have access through the program to be able to access online courses as well as various programs and initiatives and tools. Columbia Online is also a solid tool in order for the sharing online of various technologies for the current digital age in order to foster learning as well as teaching.

Through the online program at University of Columbia students can earn certifications and there are both non-degree and degree programs available. The aim of the college is to bring about development at the professional level and other opportunities for higher learning. Students have the chance to enroll in the many online programs that are available through the university with a wide range of online courses in subjects from social work and health technologies to environmental sustainability and leadership, to just name a few, as well as many other professional development programs. You can check out the Columbia Online website to see the wide array of online degree programs, hybrid master’s degree programs, and non-degree certification professional development programs.

How do I apply to Columbia University?

Applications to Columbia University for undergraduate students will be accepted in a form of Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application, but only from QuestBridge Finalists. In the application, the prospective student will give their list of achievements, activities, employment and summer activities, as well as a personal essay and application questions that are specific to Columbia University. In terms of reports to send with the application students will need to provide their official high school transcript, school profile and recommendation of high school counselor, SAT or ACT scores, if necessary an English proficiency examination score, and teacher recommendations. In the admissions process the university does not require supplements, but if there are supplement materials that can help the college know the prospective student better than they can be sent with the application. The Columbia website has a FAQ section that answers many questions in regards to undergraduate application information.

For further information on the undergraduate admission process prospective students can e-mail [email protected] or call 212-854-2522. Anything that needs to be mailed to the university in terms of the application process can be sent to:

Columbia University in the City of New York, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, 212 Hamilton Hall, Mail Code 2807, 1130 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027.

The application process for graduate and professional schools at Columbia will differ and all the information pertaining to the certain school can be found on the main university website.

Acceptance rate

The acceptance rate for Columbia University is 5.6%, which makes it the 3rd hardest college to get into after Harvard and Stanford. The University sees over 22,000 applications a year and they are very selective in the students they allow to enter their institution. While the acceptance rate is very low and the costs of the university are high Columbia is seen as one of the elite schools not only in the United States, but the world over and the salaries for graduates reflects this. This is especially the case for a graduate or professional degree.

Student life at Columbia University

Being a diverse learning institution with over 30,000 students Columbia University has no lack of student life. There are hundreds of organizations on campus and for undergraduates on campus housing is guaranteed for four years. There are many traditional events such as the Orgo Night, Tree-Lighting and Yule Log ceremonies, and The Varsity Show, which is an annual musical show. There are many dining halls all around campus and there has been a Greek presence at the university since the establishment of the Delta Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi in 1836. There are 15 fraternities and six sororities at the school.

In terms of athletics, Columbia University has 29 varsity sports, both men and women, and they compete in Division 1 and are part of the Ivy League. The nickname of the sports teams is the Lions and the baseball game between Columbia and Princeton in 1939 was the first ever televised regular athletic event. There is a football team at the school and they play at the Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium which has a capacity of 17,000 and one of the biggest games of the year is between Columbia and Fordham where the winner between the two New York City schools is awarded the Liberty Cup. There are also many club sports at the college and hundreds of intramural teams. Legendary Hall of Fame baseball players Lou Gehrig and Eddie Collins were members of the Columbia baseball team.

While Columbia is not widely known as a party school there are many parties around the universities. There are many frat parties as well as dorm parties and those thrown by the many organizations at the school. The residential areas within the campus as well as the fraternities are in buildings where there is not a lot of space, so the parties are on the smaller scale. However, the party scene in the surrounding areas of the campus in Manhattan and New York City offer tons of places to let loose and hang out with an abundance of restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, bars, and pubs.

Columbia University Campus

The Columbia University campus is located in in Morningside Heights and sits on six city blocks or 32 acres. The Butler Library is the biggest library on campus and in the Morningside Heights are the university owns over 7,800 apartments, which are mostly used for staff and graduate students. The building and architecture are taken from the Beaux-Arts style, which features French neoclassicism, but also has Gothic, Renaissance styles built with modern materials. A few of the buildings on campus, in Morningside Heights, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The campus is easy to get around in an urban environment with many trails and sidewalks and there is no lack of public transportation considering the college is in Manhattan.

Costs of Studying at Columbia University

The costs are relatively high for attendance at Columbia University, but that is not surprising since it is one of the premier schools in the United States. The average cost for a year’s tuition for undergrads at the college is $74,123 per year and that price will differ in the graduate and professional schools. Travel expenses have to be taken into consideration as well and on top of that Columbia is located in New York City, which is a rather expensive city to live in. Here is a breakdown of the costs for undergrads to attend Columbia for one year:

  • Tuition and Fees $57,208
  • Room and Board $13,618
  • Books and Supplies $1,246
  • Other Expenses $2,101

Columbia University offers an installment plan and much financial aid to both undergraduate and graduate and professional students.


Columbia University is located in the New York City area of Morningside Heights, which is a neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City and sits on the border of Harlem and the Upper West Side. New York City is in the New England region of the United States and on the coast to the Atlantic Ocean.

Q: How much money will I make with a Columbia University degree? A: When graduation with a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University the median average of an early career salary is $71,000. The return on investment at the university is significant, as while the costs of attending the college are high so are the salaries that graduates can expect to make. The early career salary for those who have higher increases significantly and this is especially the case for PhD graduates. Q: How does the accreditation process work?A: In order to be eligible to transfer to Columbia University as an undergrad student have to have completed or be registered 24 course credits, which is one year of college work. Just like other incoming students a transfer student will have to fill out the application for the university and give not only all the other information detailed in the admissions section above, but also have their transcripts, and recommendations are helpful, from the institute of higher learning they attended before wishing to transfer to Columbia. The college also has a Visiting Student Program where students can take courses at the college for two semesters. The transfer process for graduate and professional school will differ depending on the school.Q: Does Columbia prefer the ACT or the SAT in terms of the application process? A: The university does not prefer one of the testing methods. If a prospective student makes the decision to take both of the tests Columbia will view the higher score of the two. Q: Where do Columbia University transfer students live? A: Transfer students at the university are housed with other students that are in their same class in the upper-class residence halls. The transfer student’s preference as well as their seniority will be factored in where the student resides and when rooms are assigned, they are notified by e-mail.

Similar schools

Dartmouth University logo

Dartmouth University

  • Hanover, NH
  • 84.25

Dartmouth is the 9th oldest university in the United States founded in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, who was a Congregational minister from Connecticut.

NYU Stern

New York University

  • New York

New York University is one of the largest higher learning institutions in the world. With satellite universities in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, NYU has taken its reach global, placing high importance on the representation of their international student body an

University Of Chicago

University of Chicago

  • Chicago, Illinois

The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 as a coed college by the American Baptist Education Society, who donated $400,000 to go with a donation of $600,000 buy oil magnate John D. Rockefeller.

Berkeley University

University of California – Berkeley

  • Berkeley, California

The University of California – Berkeley, which is simply referred to as Cal as well as UC Berkeley, Berkeley, or California, was founded in 1868 and located in northern California.