Choosing from over ninety courses in a dozen subject areas, students select one curricular option per session for an in-depth examination of a specific subject area.
Most curricular options meet for two hours every morning and afternoon, Monday through Friday. Students are normally given a ten-minute break halfway through each class meeting. See individual course pages for specific meeting times.
The hours between the morning and afternoon meetings are devoted to lunch, relaxation, and various co- and extracurricular activities.
Classes are experiential and collaborative. While course teachers do provide a significant amount of substantive instruction, students learn largely by engaging directly with the subject matter through activities such as simulations, workshops, meetings with guest speakers, assigned readings, and individual and group projects.
Students are expected to participate actively in class and to collaborate with their peers and with course instructors. Discussions, debates, group work, and student-led presentations are regular components of our courses. The virtual classroom functions as a dynamic community of learners and thinkers.
Students are encouraged to think logically, independently, critically, and creatively. Teachers guide them in learning how to do so. Even more important than the particular knowledge participants gain in any of these classes is the ability to think with both open-mindedness and precision about complex and challenging material. We believe that this skill will be essential to them not only in their academic careers but also in their lives as world citizens and future leaders.
Classes are taught by scholars and practitioners who are experts in their fields and have a passion and demonstrated aptitude for teaching. All program teachers have undergone background checks and University-mandated training.
Teacher biographies appear at the bottom of each course page. Please note that in most cases a student will work with just one of the listed instructors.
While some courses are team taught, more often than not classes are taught in small discrete sections led by individual instructors.
Grades, Evaluations, and Credit
The Immersion Programs are academically rigorous; courses do not carry college credit, however.
Grades are not assigned. Rather, upon successful completion of the program, students receive an official Columbia University Statement of Completion and written evaluations from their instructors.
Teachers comment candidly and constructively on students’ performance, as demonstrated by their in-class participation and submitted work. Students are evaluated on the basis of the effort they put in, their progress over the duration of the class, and their potential for future work in the pertinent field and in college.
Successful completion of the program is based on attendance, class participation, satisfactory completion of assignments, and adherence to the program's community standards. Successful completion is determined by the teachers and the Director for Faculty and Instruction.
Evaluations and Statements of Completion are typically issued by late October.
Because learning in our courses is so much based on what goes on in class and because the sessions are so short in duration, it is important that students attend all or virtually all class sessions. A student who misses multiple class sessions may not receive a Statement of Completion, even if those absences are excused. Unexcused absences can lead to dismissal from the program. Attendance is carefully monitored.
Community Standards & Academic Integrity
Program participants are expected to function, both intellectually and in terms of maturity, at the level of University students. Program community standards can be found here.
Columbia University takes matters of intellectual integrity very seriously. Plagiarism is not tolerated. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, submitting work done by another person or purchased from any source; failure to document ideas found in sources, whether print or electronic, with appropriate notes and bibliographical references; failure to enclose borrowed phrases or sentences within quotation marks; and turning in the same assignment for two courses without advance permission from both teachers.
Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, will result in dismissal from the program. Students who are unsure about the proper presentation of their work should consult their course instructor.