Why should I go to Columbia University

BY ANDRÉ ZWIERS-POLIDORI | 04/03/2014 14:52

Semester abroad at Columbia University

Columbia University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the USA. No wonder it is a popular destination for a semester abroad. In the middle of New York City you will find a stimulating, international learning environment. One thing is clear: there is no free stay at Columbia, but investing in a semester abroad is certainly particularly worthwhile here.

At Columbia you study with some of the best in their field, improve your English skills sustainably, make valuable contacts for the future - and you are sure to impress many employers with a CV that shows a semester abroad at Columbia University.


Columbia University is older than the USA, it was founded in 1754. It belongs to the so-called Ivy League, the amalgamation of the traditional and best universities in the USA. In international rankings it is regularly among the TOP 10 worldwide. Its journalism faculty is the only one in the Ivy League and awards the Pulitzer Prize. 80 Nobel Prize winners have emerged from the ranks of Columbia University. Alumni who have attracted (world) political attention include President Barack Obama and his predecessors Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as Dwight D. Eisenhower. One of the founding fathers of the USA, Alexander Hamilton, studied here, as did Madeleine Albright, who was the first woman to become US Secretary of State. Well-known names are the investor Warren Buffett and the actor Jake Gyllenhaal.


Columbia University is at home in the middle of New York City, in Manhattan. It has over 28,000 students, around 6,000 of them from abroad. The faculties are usually referred to as schools: Architecture, Planning & Preservation, Arts, Arts & Sciences, Business, Medicine, Engineering, General Studies, International & Public Affairs, Journalism, Law, Nursing, Public Health, Social Work, Education , Theology.

International students

For international students studying abroad, the path to Columbia leads through the School of Continuing Education. It looks after the students and enables them to enroll in courses in the desired subject area. However, there are limitations in engineering, journalism, law, and MBA. As is customary at American universities, Columbia University encourages its students to think outside the box and also to take courses outside of their own degree program.

Other programs

In addition to the semester abroad, other programs are open to international students. The Business Certificates offer practically oriented courses from the core areas of corporate management. There are summer schools during the holiday periods, which of course are cheaper than a whole semester. A new offer is the Graduate Foundation Certificate, which is aimed at people who want to change the subject for a Master's or PhD after completing their first academic degree. English courses are also offered.

entry requirements

Columbia expects an academic grade point average of better than 2.3. In addition, candidates must explain in 500 words why they want to study at Columbia University. Non-university engagement is rewarded.

Anyone who does not have English as their mother tongue or has a school leaving certificate from an English-speaking country must prove their language skills. There are various international providers of tests. For the TOEFL 100 points (iBT) are expected, for the IELTS a value of 7.5. Columbia University accepts an alternative language certificate under certain conditions.


Foreign BAföG

Financial support from Father State for a whole course, part-study internship or a student exchange abroad! [...] »

A semester abroad in 2014 costs USD 18,744 (approx. EUR 13,700), the application fee is USD 80. This means that a maximum of around one third of the fees can be covered by BAföG abroad. To do this, you take four courses, which are assessed with twelve credits.

The Housing Office supports all students in finding accommodation. Undergraduate students can bet on Columbia University dormitory spaces. These are also available to summer school participants during the summer holidays. Expect prices between USD 1,370 and USD 3,485 during the summer sessions. The high variance results from the different duration and type of occupancy in single or double rooms.

There are various student housing providers outside the campus. Here the prices start at around 400 USD per week.

In addition, there are costs for the compulsory health insurance, which costs 845 USD in the winter semester, while in the summer semester it costs 1,312 USD. On request, it is possible to study at Columbia University with a private German health insurance company, if it offers the same scope of benefits.


Columbia University only processes fully completed application forms. You should therefore really read the entire questionnaire. This means that documents can only be submitted later if the administration requests them, but not if they already belong to the requested documents.

Students can find support in the application process at specialized agencies, whose services should be free of charge for them. Columbia University currently only works with one German provider: IEC - International Education Center in Berlin.

Students apply to the
Columbia University School of Continuing Education
203 Lewisohn Hall
2970 Broadway, MC 4119
New York, NY 10027

IEC Online GmbH
Marienstrasse 19/20
10117 Berlin
030/20 45 86 87

Figures as of 12/2013
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