Instructions for new applicants

Advisory Regarding Coronavirus COVID-19

In order to deliver the best and safest program for our students, Columbia University has moved all high school programs to online learning for Summer 2020. Please visit the Online Immersion website for more information.

Admission to the Programs for High School Students is selective. The admissions committee looks for academically exceptional, highly motivated students who are interested in attending the program because they have a passion for learning and wish to enrich their knowledge of the particular field for which they are applying.

Students who have attended the program during a previous summer should follow the application procedures for past participants.

Application Deadline

Application deadlines for summer 2021 will be posted in the fall.

Application Requirements

Though there are no set minimum requirements such as a particular GPA, the application materials should establish that the student has the necessary academic background and level of ability, motivation, and maturity necessary for the curricular option for which he or she is applying. Students must present evidence of the completion of any particular prerequisites identified in the individual program descriptions.

We do not accept applications submitted on the applicant's behalf by parents, guardians, or third parties; the application should be submitted directly by the student. Communications from our Office of Admissions will be sent primarily to the student.  

Personal Interviews

In certain cases, applicants may be required to interview with a member of the admissions committee to determine admission to the program.

International Students

International students who are proficient in English are welcome to apply to the program. While applicants are not required to submit TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores, students' English proficiency should be equivalent to 90 or above on the Internet-based TOEFL or at least 6.5 on the IELTS.

International students should be aware that participation in the Program for High School Students does not constitute the basis for securing a student visa. Past participants have had success in obtaining Visitor (B) visas to participate in our program because the program comprises a short recreational course of study and is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate. Information on the U.S. Department of State’s policy on short periods of recreational study is available here

Application Materials

Applications and supporting materials (application fees, the personal essay, unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, and writing samples) can be submitted through the online application. Official transcripts must be submitted in sealed envelopes.

All materials submitted by mail should clearly bear the program name, applicant's name, applicant's date of birth and, if available, Columbia University ID number.

Applications are not considered complete until all required materials have been received. Only complete applications are reviewed.

  • Completed online application form.

  • Nonrefundable application fee. For applications submitted online by January 23, no application fee is required. After Jan. 23, the application fee is $80. Applicants must include credit card information through the online application.

  • Transcript of applicant's secondary school academic record. We require grades for all secondary school work completed, including the most recent report card of current coursework. We strongly recommend submitting unofficial documents through the online application system at the time of application as this will expedite the admissions process. All documents must be provided by the school and cannot be a document downloaded from a student’s grading portal. All institutions attended must be listed in the Academic History section of the online application.

    If you are unable to obtain an unofficial copy of your transcript, please request to have an official copy sent from your school. It should be e-mailed by a school official’s professional email to It can also be mailed to our office at the address listed at the bottom of this page. Note that mailed documents can take several weeks to be processed.

    Transcripts must be in English or come with an official translation. International students not graded according to the U.S. grading system should provide a grading key with the transcript. Applicants are recommended to use NACES for such services.

    Falsification, forgery, and misrepresentation of any type will risk forfeiture of admissions and/or enrollment.

    Candidates offered admission will later be requested to supply official documents prior to enrollment.

  • Personal Essay submitted through the online application.

    Personal Essay instructions

    Program participants come from over 70 countries and 40 U.S. states, from as far away as China and the Middle East and as near as down the street here in Manhattan. In 600 words or less, tell us about where you're from--country, state, city, town, neighborhood, or community--and how it has shaped you into who you are.

  • Two letters of recommendation. Recommendations must be submitted through the online application. During the application process you will add your recommender's information (name, title and email). Once you add and save their information an email is sent to your recommender with a link to our recommendation form. Please note, the email address you provide for your recommender must be a school affiliated email. Applicants may submit their online applications in advance of the recommendations

    Letter #1

    Applicants must submit a letter written by an academic advisor, guidance counselor, principal, or headmaster commenting on the student's intellectual ability, level of maturity, and motivation for participating in the Columbia University Program for High School Students.

    Letter #2

    Rising juniors and seniors must submit a letter written by an instructor who teaches in a field closely related to the applicant’s chosen curricular option. The letter must describe the student’s knowledge of that field and assess the student’s qualification to engage in concentrated study. The recommendation must come from a teacher who works at the school the applicant is currently attending.

    Rising freshmen and sophomores must submit a letter written by a teacher familiar with the student’s work. The letter must describe the student’s academic talents and potential to benefit from the experience at Columbia. The recommendation must come from a teacher who works at the school the applicant is currently attending.

  • Writing sample (creative writing applicants only).

    Required for creative writing applicants only. For specifications, see the course page of each individual creative writing class.

  • Community Standards Consent Form. Community standards are strictly enforced. Failure to abide by the Community Standards Consent Form will result in dismissal from the program.

Mailing Address

Programs for High School Students
Office of Admissions
School of Professional Studies
203 Lewisohn Hall
2970 Broadway, Mail Code 4119
New York, NY 10027-6902

Contact Information

Office hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Submitting Official Transcripts

Official transcripts being submitted via email should be sent to

Checking Application Status

The processing of application materials can take one to two weeks, and upon completion of your application file it will take approximately three to five weeks for a decision to be made. Please allow sufficient time after submitting your application before contacting the Office of Admissions about your application status. We encourage you, however, to check your application status online as often as you like.