What You Need to Know About Columbia University

What is Columbia University Known for? An Ivy League School

With a history that goes back to before the United States existed, it was founded in 1754 as Kings College, and being the only Ivy League college that is located in the centre of a major city Columbia University is one of America’s great universities. In this blog post, we will dive into some key data about Columbia University to help you get a better sense of what makes it such a special place.



Columbia University is a member of the prestigious Ivy League schools in the United States. Columbia is renowned for its excellent academic programs, distinguished faculty, and world-class research facilities. It counts many famous alumni in its history including former President Obama, who transferred to Columbia after spending one year at Occidental College, Alexandra Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and the subject of the stage production was a student, although he failed to graduate. Other famous alumni include the writers, JD Salinger and Hunter S Thompson and the financier Warren Buffett.

  • Location

    Columbia University is located in the Morningside Heights neighbourhood occupying six city blocks towards the north end of Manhattan in New York City. It’s this location, in what is often described being a ‘world city’, that is most often cited as being the reason why people want to apply here. The city is a vast melting pot of different cultures from around the world, with a range of cultural opportunities that most other cities struggle to come close to. It is also a great commercial centre, which is great for shopping for whatever you are looking for, but it also means that you have access to some of the major companies in the world which can be great for gaining experience during your studies but also can open up opportunities for employment at the end of them.

  • Student Cohort

    Columbia University has one of the larger student populations among the Ivy’s, although it is relatively small compared to other top universities. As of fall 2021, the total enrolment was approximately 33,700 students, however, only 8,300 of these were undergraduates, with the rest being made up of graduate and professional students. Approximately 16% are international students with China, India and South Korea having the highest numbers of undergraduate students. The students are described as being smart, individualistic and driven, who contemplate the organization of society and the meaning of life frequently. This individualistic nature of students means that Columbia is not the place to go if you are looking for the all in US college experience. Columbia students are not much bothered about sports or cheering on their team.


  • Acceptance Rate

    Columbia is known for its highly selective admissions process for the Class of 2025, Columbia received a record-high 60,551 applications and admitted 2,214 students for an acceptance rate of 3.6% making it one of the most competitive universities in the world.

  • Acceptance GPA

    The average GPA of admitted students is typically in the 3.8-4.0 range. The college is Test Optional, meaning you don’t have to provide an SAT or ACT score when you apply, however, approximately 70% did include a score, 75% of reported SAT scores were 1480 and above while the ACT score was between 33 and 36.

  • Types of Admission

    Columbia offers several types of admission, including a binding Early Decision, meaning that you are committed to attending if accepted, and Regular Decision. If applying Early Decision, your application needs to be received by November 1st, while for Regular Decision it is January 1st.

  • Additional Admissions Requirements

    In addition to a strong academic profile, Columbia also looks for evidence of intellectual curiosity and leadership potential by placing an emphasis on the school recommendations and the essays. In addition to the personal application essay Columbia require applicants to submit answers to six questions, three are short essays of 200 words, one asks you to write about what brings you joy, in less than 35 words, while the final two asks you to list books you have read and recourses you use to pursue your interests.


Students will apply to one of two undergraduate schools: Columbia College or Columbia Engineering, also known as the Fu School of Engineering and Applied Science. Between them, these schools offer undergraduates a choice of over 100 majors. Irrespective of which school is applied to, all students will have to complete the Core Curriculum to graduate. Introduced in 1919 the Core is a significant element of the undergraduate experience, spanning all four years of a student’s time at Columbia and accounting for a substantial portion of the time. Two courses are central to the Core Curriculum. One is Contemporary Civilisation, and the other is Literary Humanities or Lit Hum. Contemporary Civilisation looks at the communities that humans construct for themselves by studying the works of great philosophers from ancient times up to the modern day. Lit Hum is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the main lines of literary and philosophical development that have shaped western thought for nearly three millennia. Much more than a survey of great books, Lit Hum encourages students to become critical readers of our literary past. Other elements that make up the Core Curriculum include Frontiers of Science, Arts and Humanities and University Writing.

  • Standout Majors

    Columbia University is renowned for the quality of its undergraduate education across all of the academic fields that it offers. Some of Columbia’s most popular majors include Economics, Political Science, Computer Science, Psychology, and English. Double majors are common and the university also offers several dual major options including a five year BA/MM with the Juilliard School of Music, a dual BA with the elite French Sciences Po University and another with Trinity College Dublin.

  • Faculty/Student Ratio

    Columbia has a low faculty/student ratio compared to other top universities, with a ratio of about 5 students to every member of faculty. All classes are taught by members of the faculty providing ample opportunity for students to work closely with their professors and receive personalized attention.

  • Four-Year Completion Rate

    Columbia has a four-year completion rate of approximately 87%, meaning that the majority of students graduate within four years of matriculating. This is well above the average graduation rate for universities across the US.

  • Net Cost of Attending

    Columbia is a private university, so the cost of attendance is going to be high compared to state universities. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the total cost of attendance (including tuition, fees, room, and board) is approximately $83,000. The university is need blind for US students however international students are required to declare their intent to apply for need based aid, however, the university states that many international students receive some financial aid.

In conclusion, Columbia University is an exceptional institution with a rich history, outstanding academic programs, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you are considering applying to Columbia, we hope this blog post has provided you with some useful information to help you decide if it will be a good fit for you.

Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants or as more commonly known, college counsellors can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high-schooling years. Start today!

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