Choosing from over seventy courses in a dozen subject areas, students select one curricular option 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 (3-Week, 1-Week) for specific meeting times.

The hours between the morning and afternoon meetings are devoted to lunch, relaxation, use of the gym, and various co- and extracurricular activities.

Pedagogical Approach

Classes are experiential and collaborative. While course instructors do provide substantive instruction, students learn largely by engaging directly with the subject matter through activities such as class discussions, labs, debates, simulations, workshops, studios, assigned readings, and individual and group projects. Participants are expected to participate actively in class and may be required to prepare in-class presentations.

Whenever possible, we try to take advantage of the resources of New York City and Columbia University by means of field trips, guest speakers, and use of University facilities. See individual course pages (3-Week, 1-Week) for details.

Students are encouraged to think independently, critically, and creatively. Instructors 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, have a passion and demonstrated aptitude for teaching, and have undergone background checks and University Protection of Minors training.

Instructor biographies appear at the bottom of each course page, though please note that not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.

Grades, Evaluations, and Credit

The Immersion Programs are academically rigorous; however, courses do not carry college credit.

Grades are not assigned. Rather, upon successful participation of the program, students receive an official Columbia University Certification of Participation and written evaluations from their instructors.

Evaluation Letters

Instructors comment candidly and constructively on students’ performance, as demonstrated by their in-class participation and submitted work. Students are evaluated on their effort, participation, proficiency in their assignments, their progress over the duration of the class, and their potential for future work in the pertinent field and in college.

Certification of Participation

Successful participation is determined by the instructors in consultation with program administration. Successful participation is based on attendance, class participation, satisfactory completion of assignments, and adherence to the program's community standards.

Evaluations and Certifications of Participation are typically issued by mid-to-late October.


Because learning in our courses is so much based on what goes on in the classroom 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 Certification of Participation, even if those absences are excused. Unexcused absences can lead to dismissal from the program. Attendance is carefully monitored, and in most cases we will contact the parents when a student misses class.

Community Standards & Academic Integrity

Program participants are expected to function, both intellectually and in terms of maturity, at the level of University students. The Community Standards are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of the students and the integrity of the University.

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.