Visiting Students: Applying

Visiting Students

Application Requirements

Unless you are applying to a customized program, to take a course or classes as a visiting student, within the online application you should select, “Visiting -- Undergraduate  or “Visiting -- Graduate” as your program of study.

Application Requirements

Completed online application form

Please select “Non-Degree & Other Certificate Programs” within the application system to access the application.

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@sps.columbia.edu.

$80.00 nonrefundable application fee (U.S. currency)
Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended

For Applicants to the Undergraduate Visiting Student Program

In the Academic History section of your online application, you must list and upload unofficial transcripts for all colleges and universities you have attended for at least one term, regardless of the number of credits received. This includes any summer program(s), study abroad program(s), or transfer coursework (regardless of the number of credits received or whether these credits were transferred to your home institution).Your unofficial transcript must include your full name, the institution name, all courses and grades earned at that institution. 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.

International coursework

Before your application can be considered complete and ready for evaluation you must submit official transcripts from your current undergraduate institution. For Indian universities, this includes all semester mark sheets. If your university provides transcripts in a language other than English, both the original language document and English translation are required. 

Admissions staff will carefully review these official translations for accuracy and authenticity, and investigate any credentials that seem suspect if a student is being considered for admission. 

All applicants must submit certified and secure electronic transcripts directly from their current undergraduate institution or via the vendor that provides that service for their institution to transcripts@sps.columbia.edu.

If a school does not offer electronic delivery, you must write to transcripts@sps.columbia.edu to provide us with the link to your institution’s webpage regarding transcript orders. After verification, we will respond with further instructions.

Instructions for Submitting Official Transcripts (Admitted Students Only)

Domestic coursework

All students who have attended a college or university in the United States must submit certified and secure electronic transcripts directly from their current undergraduate institution or via the vendor that provides that service for their institution to transcripts@sps.columbia.edu.

If a school does not offer electronic delivery, you must write to transcripts@sps.columbia.edu to provide us with the link to your institution’s webpage regarding transcript orders. After verification, we will respond with further instructions.

International coursework

Applicants must submit an official transcript from their current undergraduate institution for use in review of their application.

Please note: The School of Professional Studies will not accept as official any transcript submitted directly by an applicant, either in person, via email or by mail.

For All Other Visiting Undergraduate and Graduate Student Applicants

In the Academic History section of your online application, you must list and upload unofficial transcripts for all colleges and universities you have attended for at least one term, regardless of the number of credits received. This includes any summer program(s), study abroad program(s), or transfer coursework (regardless of the number of credits received or whether these credits were transferred to your home institution) including any additional mark sheets, official translations, or degree certificates for international transcripts as needed. You will be asked to upload unofficial transcripts before submitting your application. Students with international transcripts will also be required to provide official transcripts for your application to be considered complete. 

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 fall coursework for admissions consideration (official WES for international and unofficial for domestic) must provide an updated unofficial transcript showing the grades for that completed fall coursework by early February or as soon as one becomes available. Applications completed by February 15 should include transcripts with the final fall grades to be eligible for review.

International Coursework

For international coursework, before your application can be considered complete and ready for evaluation, applicants must submit official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. If admitted, you must provide an official course-by-course evaluation by World Education Services, Inc. (WES) for all post-secondary coursework completed outside of the United States from institutions where you completed more than two semesters of study. 

Domestic Coursework (Admitted Students Only)

For each institution attended, you must provide an electronic transcript directly from the institution to transcripts@sps.columbia.edu. If your prior institution does not offer electronic transcript transmission, you must write to transcripts@sps.columbia.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

Please note: The School of Professional Studies will not accept as official any transcript submitted directly by an applicant, either in person, via email or by mail.

Statement of academic purpose (in one or two paragraphs)

The statement of academic purpose should address the following:

  • The subjects and course topics you intend to study
  • Why do you think you are prepared for rigorous academic study at Columbia – for this, you may highlight prior coursework completed, work projects, and/ or your employment history
  • How the program fits into your overall academic and/or professional goals
  • An explanation for any weaknesses that may appear on your academic transcript or a highlight of any strengths that may not be evident elsewhere (as appropriate)
Your Résumé (optional for Undergraduate Visiting applicants only)

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.

Students whose native language is not English must include proof of English proficiency

For Applicants to the Undergraduate Visiting Student Program

To be considered for admission, students must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If the language of instruction of your undergraduate degree conferring institution is English and you completed two or more years at the institution, you need not take further steps to prove fluency. However, if your undergraduate education is not conducted in English, or you completed fewer than two years at your degree conferring institution where English was the language of instruction, you must provide official scores on the TOEFL, IELTS, or DET.

Applicant total scores must meet the Columbia SPS minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL iBT) 7.0 (IELTS) or 120 (DET Duolingo English Test). 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, IELTS, and DET 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. (Use school code 2594 to report TOEFL scores.)

For All Other Visiting Undergraduate and Graduate Student Applicants

To be considered for admission, students must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If the language of instruction of your undergraduate degree conferring institution is English and you completed two or more years at the institution, you need not take further steps to prove fluency. However, if your undergraduate education is not conducted in English, or you completed fewer than two years at your degree conferring institution where English was the language of instruction, 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. (Use school code 2594 to report TOEFL scores.)

If you are unable to provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS due to the closing of testing centers, please email apply@sps.columbia.edu with the specific details of your situation.

See additional application requirements for all Certificate/CPA programs

Please note that the Certifications in Critical Issues in International Relations, Human Rights, and United Nations Studies are open only to those who hold a bachelor's degree or undergraduate students who are rising juniors or seniors with strong academic records. Certificate programs are only open to those who hold a bachelor's degree.

The two additional application requirements for all Certificate/CPA program applicants are:

  1. Your résumé
  2. Statement of academic purpose 

Statement of academic purpose prompt for Critical Issues in International Relations and United Nations CPAs:

A statement of academic purpose. In one or two paragraphs, you should address:

  • The subjects and course topics you intend to study
  • Why do you think you are prepared for rigorous academic study at Columbia – for this you may highlight prior coursework completed, work projects, and/or your employment history
  • How the program fits into your overall academic and/or professional goals
  • An explanation for any weaknesses that may appear on your academic transcript or a highlight of any strengths that may not be evident elsewhere (as appropriate)

Statement of academic purpose prompt for Human Rights CPA:

A statement of academic purpose. In one or two paragraphs, you should address:

  • The subjects and course topics you intend to study
  • Why do you think you are prepared for rigorous academic study at Columbia – for this you may highlight prior coursework completed or other relevant academic or professional experience
  • Why do you wish to study human rights at Columbia and which aspects of this program are of particular interest to you?
  • How the program fits into your overall academic and/or professional goals
  • An explanation for any weaknesses that may appear on your academic transcript or a highlight of any strengths that may not be evident elsewhere (as appropriate)

Statement of academic purpose prompt for all other Certificates:

A statement of academic purpose. In 500 to 750 words:

  • 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).
Do I need visa sponsorship from Columbia University?

NOTE: The following visa information applies to full-time, in-person study. Students who participate in summer online non-degree programs are not eligible to apply for a visa. 

Unless one of the four situations below applies to you, you need to complete a new I-20 for visa sponsorship:

  1. You are a student in F-1 or J-1 status at another U.S. institution and you will be returning there to continue your studies in the fall.
  2. You are completing an academic program at another U.S. institution in F-1 status and the summer session will end before your 60-day grace period expires.
  3. You are on F-1 OPT (Optional Practical Training) and are interested in non-degree courses during the summer in your free time.
  4. You are in the U.S. in another legal immigration status that allows you to study incident to that status. This includes all non-immigrant statuses except B1/B2 or visitor status under the visa waiver program (ESTA) and F-2.

Note: Students who are not United States citizens or permanent residents must be a full-time student at Columbia – registered for at least 6 points of credit-bearing courses in a seven-week session or 12 points of credit-bearing courses in the entire 14-week summer period - in order to be eligible for a student (F-1) visa. Students apply for their I-20 through the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) upon admission and will receive instructions for doing so after you confirm your intent to enroll in the program.