A world-renowned and top-ranked university, Columbia is no doubt an excellent choice for graduate school, no matter what field you plan to study. But to get in, you’ll need to have a great GRE score. What are the average Columbia GRE scores? Is there a minimum GRE score for Columbia University?
Read on to learn what Columbia is known for, how competitive the school is in terms of GRE scores, and what kinds of GRE scores and GPAs its various grad programs look for in applicants.
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What Kind of School Is Columbia University?
Founded in 1754 in New York City, Columbia is one of the oldest and most renowned institutions of higher education in the United States. The private research university and Ivy League member is currently home to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Columbia houses several highly ranked colleges and professional schools, including the Columbia Business School, the Teachers College, and the Columbia Law School.
Columbia GRE Scores: How Competitive Is Columbia?
Columbia University is an extremely competitive school for graduate applicants.
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The average GRE scores of admitted applicants at Columbia range from 154 to 167 for Verbal Reasoning and 156 to 170 for Quantitative Reasoning. Many graduate programs prefer to see Verbal and Quant scores in at least the 160s, or the top 5-20%. (Note that average Verbal scores are typically higher for humanities and social sciences programs, whereas average Quant scores are usually higher for math and science programs.)
As for Analytical Writing (AW), which is often considered the least important section of the GRE, the average AW score for Columbia is around 4.0-5.0.
Because there’s such a variety of programs at Columbia, the GRE scores you’ll need to get into your program can differ significantly from the scores expected of other programs. For example, you can’t expect to need the same Verbal score for an engineering program as you’d need for an art history PhD program.
This is just the general range of average GRE scores at Columbia. But what GRE scores should you be aiming for exactly? We go over how you can find this information next.
What’s a Good GRE Score for Columbia?
In this section, we provide you with an overview of the Columbia University average GRE scores for various grad programs.
For each program, we also give you its US News ranking, note whether it requires the GRE or not, and give you its average undergrad GPA and acceptance rate (if available).
Generally speaking, for most grad programs, GRE score information will be presented in one of three ways:
- Required GRE scores: These are the minimum GRE scores you must get to be eligible for admission to a particular program. Getting lower than this score will most likely result in an automatic rejection.
- Recommended GRE scores: These are “guideline” scores a certain program prefers applicants to have. Getting these scores (or even higher) will make you a competitive candidate for admission and raise your chances of getting in.
- Average GRE scores: These are the average (mean) scores of previously admitted applicants to a program. Getting these scores means you’re on part with other applicants. If you can get higher than the GRE average, though, your application will stand out even more!
All the Columbia grad programs and schools below are listed alphabetically (by program name, not degree type). Programs refer to both master’s and doctoral programs unless otherwise noted.
Most Columbia programs that offer any GRE score info seem to report the average scores of admitted students; however, some programs might instead report recommended or minimum required GRE scores. This is the same with GPAs, with most programs at Columbia offering average GPAs and some offering recommended GPAs.
|Program||US News Ranking||GRE Required?||Avg. GRE Scores||Avg. GPA||Acceptance Rate|
|Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics programs||15 (Best Applied Math Programs)||Yes||V: 64th %ile
Q: 82nd %ile
AW: 64th %ile
|Art History PhD||—||Yes||Recommended
|Master of Business Administration (MBA)||9 (Best Business Schools)||GRE or GMAT||GRE Unavailable
|Business School PhD programs||9 (Best Business Schools)||GRE or GMAT||V: 90th %ile
Q: 90th %ile
AW: 90th %ile
|Computer Science MS||13 (Best Computer Science Schools)||Yes||Q: 750
(Old scoring scale)
|Computer Science PhD||13 (Best Computer Science Schools)||Yes||V: 159
|Data Science MS||—||Yes||V: 157
|Engineering||12 (Best Engineering Schools)||Yes||Q: 91st %ile||Unavailable||Unavailable|
|English and Comparative Literature||3 (Best English Programs)||Yes||V: 95th %ile||Recommended
|History PhD||6 (Best History Programs)||Yes||Unavailable||3.60/4.00||Unavailable|
|Juris Doctor (JD) — Law||5 (Best Law Schools)||GRE or LSAT||GRE
|Mathematics of Finance MA||4 (Best Finance Programs)||GRE or GMAT||V: 161
|Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies||—||Yes||Unavailable||Unavailable||Unavailable|
|Modern Art MA||—||Yes||Recommended
|School of Nursing||11 (Best Nursing Schools: Master’s); 19 (Best Nursing Schools: Doctor of Nursing Practice)||Yes, unless you get a GRE waiver||V: 50th %ile
Q: 50th %ile
AW: 50th %ile
|Doctor of Physical Therapy||36 (Best Physical Therapy Schools)||Yes||V: 156
|Public Health||5 (Best Public Health Schools)||Yes||V: 159
|Social-Organizational Psychology MA||17 (Best Psychology Schools)||GRE or GMAT||V: 162
|Masters in Sociology||11 (Best Sociology Programs)||Yes||Unavailable||Unavailable||Unavailable|
What Are Your Chances of Admission to Columbia?
Now that we’ve gone over what typical Columbia GRE scores and GPAs look like, how can you know your own chances of getting into the grad program you’re applying to at Columbia?
In order to answer this question, we’ll need to consider three key factors. But before we take a look at those, let’s quickly go over some important estimates.
The following GRE scores and GPA should make you a competitive applicant for most grad programs at Columbia University:
- If Verbal is your more important score, around 165 on Verbal, 160 on Quant, and 4.5+ on AW: Reading-heavy programs at Columbia usually prefer Verbal scores in at least the mid-160s and AW scores around 4.5 (preferably 5.0+). Quant isn’t that important, but you should still aim fairly high—around 160.
- If Quant is your more important score, around 166-167 on Quant, 160 on Verbal, and 4.5 on AW: Math- and science-based programs at Columbia strongly value high Quant scores, so it’s critical you get in the mid- to high 160s on Quant. Verbal and AW are less important, so try to aim for around 160 on the former and 4.5 on the latter.
- A 3.6/4.0 GPA or higher: Most Columbia programs want applicants to have between a B+ and A- average, though some prefer GPAs closer to 3.7 or 3.8. Don’t forget that the rigor of your undergraduate coursework will be taken into consideration, too, so even if your GPA isn’t super high, if you took mostly difficult classes, this should reflect positively on your application.
These are the (very general) GRE scores and GPA that you should aim for to make you a strong candidate for admission to most Columbia programs. That said, there are a couple of caveats to be aware of.
For one, GRE score and GPA expectations can vary a lot at Columbia depending on the program you’re applying to. Therefore, it’s certainly possible that you could get into a program at this institution with GRE scores or a GPA lower than what we recommend above.
Secondly, Columbia is still a super selective school, so even if you have an impressive GPA or extremely high GRE scores, these factors alone won’t necessarily guarantee you’ll be admitted to your program of choice.
Now that we’ve covered all the general requirements you must meet to raise your odds of getting into Columbia as a grad student, let’s look at the three most important factors that will affect your chances of getting in.
#1: Is There a Minimum Required GRE Score or GPA?
One big factor you’ll need to consider is whether your program has a minimum GRE score requirement and/or GPA requirement. As the chart above indicates, most programs at Columbia do not have a minimum GRE score cutoff.
That said, if your particular program does have a minimum required GRE score, you absolutely must meet this threshold just to even be considered for admission. (Some programs might make exceptions to this, but you’ll need to check with the program directly to see whether this is the case or not.)
If your program recommends a certain GRE score but does not require it, you’ll still want to aim for this score or higher. Doing this will prove that you’re able to meet the minimum expectations of the program. While getting a score lower than what your Columbia graduate program recommends doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be rejected, it doesn’t say anything impressive about you and raises your odds of getting weeded out early on.
In terms of GPA expectations, most Columbia grad programs don’t maintain a minimum GPA requirement. Nevertheless, the average GPA of admitted students is still pretty high—around 3.6-3.7 out of 4.0. If you have a lower GPA, you can try to raise your odds of getting into Columbia by improving other areas on your application.
#2: How Does Your GRE Score Compare to the Average?
The easiest way to determine what GRE scores you should shoot for when applying to Columbia is to find the average GRE scores for your program.
Normally, you’ll want to aim for at least your program’s average GRE score, if not higher; doing this should give you a great shot at getting admitted, as it proves you’re just as qualified as the current students are.
For instance, say you’re applying to Columbia’s Master of Public Health program. For this program, to get on par with its GRE averages, you would need to score at least 159 on Verbal, 158 on Quant, and 4.5 on AW. If you got scores higher than these—such as 163 on Verbal, 160 on Quant, and 5.0 on AW—you’d be an even more competitive applicant.
Unfortunately, not all Columbia programs have made their GRE score information available online. If you can’t find any average scores, minimum score requirements, or recommended scores for your specific program, use our detailed guide to what a good GRE score is to help you estimate what score you should be targeting.
#3: How Strong Is the Rest of Your Application?
The final factor that can affect your chance of admission to Columbia grad school is the rest of your application, besides your GRE scores and GPA.
Here are some of the most important components you’ll be evaluated on:
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- How interesting, unique, and authentic your statement of purpose is
- How strong your letters of recommendation are
- Whether you’ve engaged in any research, work, and/or volunteer experience in your field
- How closely your research interests align with those of professors in the program
Although GRE scores and GPA are undoubtedly important for making yourself look like an ideal candidate to the admissions committee, they’re certainly not the only parts of your application you should worry about! Be sure to spend lots of time making your grad school application as strong as possible.
In the end, even something as “small” as a cliched statement of purpose or confusing CV could make Columbia reject you, so give it your all!
You now have a sense of what kinds of GRE scores you’ll need for Columbia. But what about other top schools? Check out our expert guides to see what GRE scores you’ll need for Harvard, Yale (coming soon), and Princeton (coming soon).