Columbia University Requirements for Admission

What are Columbia University's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
  • Application requirements

In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into Columbia University and build a strong application.

School location: New York, NY


Admissions Rate: 6%

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at Columbia University is 6%. For every 100 applicants, only 6 are admitted.

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This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don't meet their expectations, your chance of getting is nearly zero.

After crossing this hurdle, you'll need to impress Columbia University application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We'll cover more below.


Columbia University GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA: 4.16

The average GPA at Columbia University is 4.16.

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(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. This school did not officially report its average GPA, but we've estimated it here using data from over 1,000 schools.)

With a GPA of 4.16, Columbia University requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 4.16, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.


SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Columbia University. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Columbia University SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 2240 (New: 1530)

The average SAT score composite at Columbia University is a 2240 on the old 2400 SAT scale.

On the new 1600 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1530.

This score makes Columbia University Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.

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Columbia University SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1470, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1590. In other words, a 1470 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1590 will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math770730800
Reading383740
Writing383740
Composite153014701590

Columbia University SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 2100, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2380. In other words, a 2100 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2380 puts you well above average.

Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math750700800
Reading745700790
Writing745700790
Composite224021002380

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Columbia University has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."

This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.

Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.

How does superscoring change your test strategy? (Click to Learn)

For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:

Section Reading Math Writing Composite
Test 1 700 300 300 1300
Test 2 300 700 300 1300
Test 3 300 300 700 1300
Superscore 700 700 700 2100

Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1300, Columbia University will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1300 to 2100 in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Columbia University forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 2380, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.


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Columbia University ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Columbia University likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 34

The average ACT score at Columbia University is 34. This score makes Columbia University Extremely Competitive for ACT scores.

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The 25th percentile ACT score is 32, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35.

Even though Columbia University likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 32 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 34 and above that a 32 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 35 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Columbia University, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 35.


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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

Columbia University requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.


SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

Columbia University requires SAT Subject Tests if you're submitting an SAT score, not an ACT score. If you submit an ACT score with Writing, you do not need SAT subject tests.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.


Our Expert's Notes

We did more detailed research into this school and found the following information.

If submitting SAT scores, applicants to the engineering program need to take the following SAT Subject Tests: Math 1 or 2 and Biology, Physics, or Chemistry. (Applicants submitting the ACT do not have to submit SAT Subject Tests.)

Source


Final Admissions Verdict

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Because this school is extremely selective, getting a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is vital to having a chance at getting in. If you don't pass their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, they'll likely reject you without much consideration.

To have the best shot of getting in, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 2380 SAT or a 35 ACT. You should also have a 4.16 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.

For a school as selective as Columbia University, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

But if you apply with a score below a 2380 SAT or a 35 ACT, you unfortunately start out with the odds against you and have a tiny chance of getting in. There are just too many students with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.



Admissions Calculator

What are your chances of admission at Columbia University?
Chances of admission with these scores:

Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.

Pick your test: Old SAT New SAT ACT

SAT Score
Your GPA
Note: This is only an estimate for the average student, based on data collected from thousands of students. Other factors in your application may come into play, such as extracurriculars and recommendation letters.

How would your chances improve with a better score?

Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

At PrepScholar, we've created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.

Here's a summary of why we're so much more effective than other prep programs:

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Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of Columbia University here.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common Application Accepted, supplemental forms required
  • Universal Application Not accepted
  • Electronic Application Available
  • Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation 3
  • Interview Not required
  • Application Fee $85
  • Fee Waiver Available? Available
  • Other Notes SAT and 2 SAT Subject Tests or ACT required for freshmen

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACT Required
  • SAT or ACT Writing Required
  • SAT Subject Tests Replace ACT
  • Scores Due in Office February 1

Coursework Requirements

  • Subject Required Years
  • English 4
  • Math 3
  • Science 3
  • Foreign Language 3
  • Social Studies
  • History 3
  • Electives 3

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  •  
    • Offered? Deadline Notification
  • Regular Admission
    • Yes January 1 April 1
  • Early Action
    • No
  • Early Decision
    • Yes November 1 December 15

Admissions Office Information

Our Expert's Notes

We did more detailed research into this school's admissions process and found the following information:

You may also -- but are not required to -- submit supplementary materials in the sciences, art, music, or architecture. Columbia has very strict guidelines as to the format of these: see their page on supplementary materials.

Source


Other Schools For You

If you're interested in Columbia University, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to Columbia University.


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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are more selective and have higher scores than Columbia University. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 1560 2310 35
Yale University New Haven, CT 1540 2265 33
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 1540 2260 34
Harvard College Cambridge, MA 1540 2250 34
Duke University Durham, NC 1540 2250 34
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 1530 2240 34
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 1520 2221 34

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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

If you're competitive for Columbia University, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 1520 2220 33
Stanford University Stanford, CA 1520 2220 33
Rice University Houston, TX 1510 2200 33
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 1510 2186 33
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 1510 2181 32
Brown University Providence, RI 1500 2178 32
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 1500 2160 32

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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for Columbia University, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If Columbia University is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 1490 2150 32
Tufts University Medford, MA 1490 2149 32
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 1480 1430 32
Northeastern University Boston, MA 1470 2110 33
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 1450 2080 31
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 1420 1376 30
Emory University Atlanta, GA 1430 2046 31

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