You must submit all materials directly, not through an agent or third-party vendor, with the sole exception of submissions by the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies IIE, LASPAU and AMIDEAST, and by the Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF), Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and Vietnam Education Fund (VEF). If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact the admissions office at apply [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu.
Fee payment must accompany the online application.
Documents required at the time of application:
In the Academic History section of the online application, applicants must list and upload unofficial transcripts for all post-secondary institutions you have attended full-time for at least one term. This includes any summer program(s), study abroad program(s), or transfer coursework including any additional mark sheets, official translations, or degree certificates for international transcripts as needed with the exception of:
- Coursework where no credits are earned,
- Institutions where you completed a total of 11 credits or less (on a traditional U.S. credit system) outside of your degree granting institution and those credits appear on your degree granting institution transcript.
If requested, applicants may be required to provide transcripts from any and all post-secondary institutions.
Note: Unofficial transcripts must include both the name of the student and the institution to be used for application review.
Documents required for review:
For Domestic Institutions:
Unofficial transcripts for each institution listed are sufficient for the admissions review process.
For International Institutions:
The Office of Admissions also requires you to submit official electronic transcripts, including any additional mark sheets, official translations, or degree certificates, for all international post-secondary coursework (undergraduate and graduate) for your application to be reviewed. Paper transcripts will not be considered official. For each institution attended, you must provide an electronic transcript directly from the institution to transcripts [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu. If the Office of Admissions is unable to verify your transcript was sent from the office or party designated to provide official academic records from the institution, you will be required to provide an official course-by-course WES evaluation (see additional instructions below).
If your prior institution does not offer electronic transcript transmission, you must write to transcripts [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu with the link to your prior institution’s webpage concerning transcript orders to confirm that electronic transcript transmission is not available. If you are unable to provide an official electronic transcript, the Office of Admissions requires you to submit the international post-secondary coursework (undergraduate and graduate) to World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a third-party verification agency for a course-by-course evaluation. The official WES evaluation will be required for your application to be reviewed for admission consideration.
When you submit a completed WES course-by-course evaluation for an international institution, we will review and verify its contents. If the WES evaluation meets our requirements, we will not require a separate official transcript from that school. If your academic study is in progress, you will be required to provide an updated WES evaluation prior to enrollment if you are admitted to the program.
Instructions for using WES:
WES must complete a course-by-course evaluation of all international post-secondary coursework and credentials. Please select the WES ICAP course-by-course evaluation (with GPA and course-levels) and request to have WES send your evaluation electronically to Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. The school can be found by searching Columbia University and then selecting the School of Professional Studies.
WES evaluations will be reviewed, and the determination of degree equivalency to U.S. degrees is at the discretion of the School of Professional Studies.
Falsification, forgery, and misrepresentation of any type will risk forfeiture of admissions and/or enrollment. Forfeiture may occur whenever an integrity lapse is discovered, and may include admissions revocation, expulsion, or another sanction outlined within the Student Conduct and Community Standards. Applicants would not be entitled to request any refund of the application fee, enrollment deposit or tuition in the case that the official transcript deviates from the unofficial.
Documents required if admitted:
For Domestic Institutions
If offered admission, before being permitted to enroll, you must provide official verified transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended for academic credit, among these must include a transcript showing the conferral of your bachelor’s degree and the completion of any in-progress study reflected on transcripts provided for admissions consideration. Submission of these documents is required in the manner outlined here.
For each institution attended, you must provide an electronic transcript directly from the institution to transcripts [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu. If your prior institution does not offer electronic transcript transmission, you must write to transcripts [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu with the link to your prior U.S. institution’s webpage concerning transcript orders to confirm that paper is the only option and obtain permission to submit a paper transcript.
If a paper transcript is the only option, it must be sent directly from the institution to Columbia, and not delivered or forwarded by you. Please have the institution send the approved paper transcript to:
Office of Admissions
School of Professional Studies
203 Lewisohn Hall
2970 Broadway, Mail Code 4119
New York, NY 10027-6902
If you are in the process of completing a degree at the time you apply, final official transcripts with degree conferral will be required for enrollment. If you have completed your studies at the time of your application, we strongly recommend you to submit your final official transcripts as soon as possible. Failure to submit an official transcript within 30 days following the start of your first semester will result in a hold on your account and, if not remedied, can result in dismissal from the program.
For International Institutions:
You will have provided official transcripts or a WES for use in review of your application. No other transcripts are required at this time unless you are in the process of completing a degree or any in-progress study at the time you apply.
If you are in the process of completing a degree or in-progress study at the time you apply, final official transcripts with degree conferral (when applicable) must be sent electronically directly from the institution or, if required, a final official WES evaluation showing degree conferral, including your degree certificate will be required for enrollment. If you have completed your studies at the time of your application, we strongly recommend you to submit your final official transcripts as soon as possible. Failure to submit an official transcript or WES within 30 days following the start of your first semester will result in a hold on your account and, if not remedied, can result in dismissal from the program.
Letters of recommendation should be written by current or former supervisors or by faculty members with whom you have studied, who can assess your academic work, intellectual ability, academic potential for graduate work, address your suitability for the program and your ability to commit to the rigorous curriculum. If you own your own business and are your own supervisor, you may select a client as your recommender. Personal references are not appropriate. You are required to submit at least one academic reference, unless you received a bachelor’s degree more than 5 years prior to the date of the application.
Important Policies Related to Recommendations:
- Under no circumstances should you upload a letter on behalf of a recommender. Any person who writes a letter of recommendation must submit that letter themselves through the application system.
- All letters must be uploaded by the recommender directly to the application system. Letters of recommendation may not be sent via email, nor may paper letters be sent via postal mail.
- All applicants are required to submit at least one academic reference, unless that applicant received a bachelor’s degree more than 5 years prior to the date of the application. Applicants who received a bachelor’s degree more than 5 years prior to the date of the application are strongly encouraged, but not required, to submit an academic reference.
- You must enter the institutional or professional email address of your recommender in the application system. If you are unable to provide a professional email address for your recommender, please email us at apply [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu with an explanation of why a professional email address cannot be provided. References submitted from personal or anonymous email accounts without prior approval (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, 123.com, 163.com, qq.com etc.) may result in your application being considered ineligible for admission.
- If the current supervisor, former supervisor, or faculty member writing a letter of recommendation for you is a family member, this MUST be disclosed in the letter of recommendation. You must also request two additional letters of recommendation from non-family members, for a total of three letters of recommendation with your application. If the affiliation is not disclosed OR you lack two additional non-familial letters of recommendation, you will be considered ineligible for admission. Please email to inquire about your specific situation
- 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 SPS. 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.
Share These Five Things With Your Recommenders
- Tell your recommender the name of the program you are applying to and the specific information they should address in their letter of recommendation (see Program of Study section).
- They will be asked to complete a brief evaluation form within the application system and upload a letter of recommendation on letterhead (whenever possible). Both components are necessary to fulfill the requirement and must be provided within the application system. We will not accept letters sent via email or post mail.
- Share our email address with them (apply [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu) so they can look out for the notification and add it to their address book or list of contacts to ensure that the message is routed to their inbox.
- They should expect and comply with outreach from Re Vera Services, a third party verification provider, who will reach out to them via email to confirm that they supplied the recommendation.
- Share the timeline for when you need the recommendation.
Important Tips About Recommendations
- You should request letters of recommendation from your recommenders as early as possible and be sure to provide your recommender with the information below.
- Track the status of your recommendation submissions within the application system on the Applicant Status page. To avoid any delay in the review of your materials, we urge you to verify that all your letters have been submitted by the time you submit your application, and re-notify your recommender through the application system if they are missing.
- Columbia will use an outside verification vendor to verify all submitted letters of recommendation. You will be asked to authorize the vendor to contact your recommenders and must do so before your admissions decision will be released. Specific instructions will be provided after submission of your application.
- You may submit your application even if all of your letters have not yet been received, but your application will not be considered complete until the letters have arrived. In addition, you will be notified via email when a recommendation has been submitted.
The statement of academic purpose should address your purpose and interest in pursuing the program, how the program fits into your overall academic and/or professional goals, focusing in particular on the connection between the program and your academic and/or professional experience.
Some applicants use their statements as an opportunity to amplify information contained on the application or academic transcripts. The statement provides an excellent forum for explaining any weaknesses that may appear on the transcript or to highlight any strengths that may not be evident elsewhere.
If your intentions include graduate school preparation, please indicate the graduate program(s) to which you intend to apply, cite the specific courses you plan to take, and discuss how that course plan will prepare you for admission to the program(s).
Include a copy of your most recent résumé.
English Language Proficiency
If your first and native language is not English, you must provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS Academic unless both of the following are true:
- the language of instruction of your undergraduate degree conferring institution is English, and
- you completed two or more years at the institution.
Applicant total scores must meet the Columbia SPS minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL iBT) or 7.0 (IELTS Academic) to be admissible. You will be required to enter your test scores or your anticipated testing date within the online application, and official test score reports will be required for your application to be considered complete and ready for admission review. TOEFL and IELTS Academic scores are valid for two years after your test date. Applicants receiving scores below the posted minimums may be advised to apply directly to the American Language Program.
- To submit TOEFL iBT scores: Visit www.ets.org and send your official score to our school code 2594. Please note: we do not accept TOEFL best scores.
- To submit IELTS Academic scores: After you have submitted your application, please upload your unofficial IELTS Academic score report. Alternatively, you can also send us your official score through your testing center.
International students are responsible for ensuring they have read and understand the University’s student visa application eligibility and requirements. Please note that it is not permissible to enroll while in B-1/B-2 status. International students enrolled in a full-time course load—registered for at least 12 points of credit-bearing courses a term—are eligible for a student visa.
Eligible international students who wish to apply for a student visa should do so immediately after they have received their letter of admission to Columbia University. This should be done by completing the Application for Visa Certificate (AVC). Applicants should be aware that after admission into a program it may take up to four weeks to receive the documents needed from Columbia to obtain a student visa, so please plan accordingly.
International students who require a student visa to study at Columbia are required to pay an International Services fee. See your program's Tuition and Fees for more information
You can find the online application for visa certificate by clicking here: http://isso.columbia.edu/. While you are not permitted to submit the application until you have gained admission, we strongly encourage you to read the instructional information provided.
For questions about individual cases, please contact:
International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO)
isso [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu