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.
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.
Please note that applicants are required to submit grades for all coursework completed at the time they complete their application. Applicants who are currently enrolled in coursework and who submit transcripts with in-progress coursework for admissions consideration (official WES for international and unofficial for domestic) must provide an updated unofficial transcript showing the grades for that completed semester’s coursework as soon as one becomes available.
For Domestic Institutions
Unofficial transcripts for each institution listed are sufficient for the admissions review process. Note: Unofficial transcripts must include both the name of the student and the institution to be used for application review.
For International Institutions
Official ICAP course-by-course evaluation by World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a third-party verification agency, for all post-secondary coursework completed outside of the United States is required for your application to be reviewed. 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.
Please note that applicants who have completed 18 credits or less abroad may submit an unofficial transcript for admissions consideration. If admitted, the applicant must submit an official transcript directly from the prior institution. WES is not required for a total of 18 credits or less completed outside the United States.
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) for the United States and request to have WES send your evaluation 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.
Requirements for Enrollment:
If offered admission, and before being permitted to enroll, you must submit official verified transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended for academic credit in the manner outlined under Policies in the Application Instructions section of this application.
If you are in the process of completing a degree at the time you apply, final official transcripts with degree conferral (for domestic institutions) or a final official WES evaluation showing degree conferral, including your degree certificate (for international institutions) will be required for enrollment. If you have completed your studies at the time of your application, we strongly recommend you 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.
Please upload your résumé or CV. Please be sure to include all relevant work experience, professional organizations, or activities that would be relevant to evaluating your candidacy for admission.
Letters of recommendation must be written by current or former supervisors or by faculty members with whom you have studied, who can comment on your ability to think critically, to analyze and organize complex information, and to write fluently. If you own your own business and are your own supervisor, you may select a client as your recommender. Personal references are not appropriate. 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. If you are unable to comply with the recommendation requirement, please contact apply [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu for assistance.
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.
- Letters of recommendation must 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. 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. If you are unable to comply with the recommendation requirement, please contact apply [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu for assistance.
- Please note that an academic reference must be from a professor or faculty member at your degree-granting institution and should provide examples of your academic or professional contributions. If you are submitting a second academic reference, the other recommendation may be from a professor or faculty member with whom you have studied at another post-secondary institution. References from instructors for the following are not acceptable: not-for-credit programs, education companies, workshops, or trainings. Academic advisors are not acceptable.
- Please note that a professional reference must be from a supervisor or manager who can speak to your performance as a full-time employee, part-time employee, or intern employed at their organization. If you own your own business or are your own supervisor, you may select a client or peer within your organization as your recommender. Recommendations from professional mentors, or project advisors, and references of a personal nature are not acceptable.
- 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 as well as in the recommendation request section of the application. Your second letter of recommendation must be from a non-family member. If the affiliation is not disclosed OR you lack a second non-familial letter of recommendation, you will be considered ineligible for admission. Please email apply [[at]] sps [[dot]] columbia [[dot]] edu 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.
Why are you pursuing the Columbia University Strategic Communication Program, and how does it relate to your career goals?
Describe the values that guided you through a personal or professional challenge you recently encountered.
After you have submitted your application and fee, you will be required to submit a 1-minute video essay. You will be given time to create test videos to ensure that your system is working properly. When you are ready, you will be given a randomly selected prompt for which you will have one minute to prepare and one minute to record a response. You will not be able to re-record your video. Please note that the video essay response should be your own thoughts and should not be rehearsed or prepared beforehand.
To be considered for admission, students must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If your first or native language is not English, you must provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS.
Applicant total scores must meet the Columbia SPS minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL iBT) or 7.0 (IELTS). 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 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 scores: Please include your TRF number on the English Language Requirements section of the application. Alternatively, you can also send us your official score through your testing center.
Applicants whose native language is not English may be required to complete an intensive course with the American Language Program (ALP) prior to beginning their studies in the degree program as a condition for admission.
Applicants may also be asked to complete an interview using a video conferencing tool.
This may be required.
We encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
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