Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

The Application Process

Financial Aid


Campus Resources

  • Do students have access to campus facilities?
  • Will I have access to a computer? Should I bring a laptop? Is the campus wireless?
  • Are there accommodations for students with disabilities?
  • Is there an ATM on campus?
  • Are there practice rooms for musicians and dancers?
  • What is the program cost?

    Program costs can be found on the Program Cost pages; 3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses.

    Do you offer financial aid?

    For Summer 2021, a limited number of need-based scholarships are available to residents of New York City. Awards equal to 50% of the program cost will be offered to students participating in the Summer Immersion New York City 3-Week program. Scholarships are not available to students joining our 1-Week program.

    Upon meeting the minimum program and residence qualifications, applicants will have the ability to submit a formal financial aid application via the online application portal. Students who do not meet the minimum qualifications will not have access to the financial aid application. For additional information, including required financial documentation, visit the financial aid section of this page.

    Can I participate in the Summer Immersion and College Edge programs this summer?

    Qualified applicants are welcome to apply to both our Summer Immersion and College Edge Programs. However, students are only allowed to participate in one of the two programs.

    Will participating in this program help me get into Columbia College?

    Like any extracurricular activity, participation in this program can help you to present yourself as a strong candidate but does not guarantee admission into Columbia College.

    Upon successful participation in the program, students can submit their instructor-written evaluations as supplements to their college applications.

    Is there a dress code?

    The Summer Program for High School Student has no formal dress code. We recommend that students wear cool, comfortable clothing.

    Wearing a face covering to cover the mouth and nose is required, consistent with CDC, New York State, and New York City guidelines, while on University property, including outdoor spaces, at all times. For more information, please visit this page.

    How much do books and course materials cost?

    For most curricular options, students should budget approximately $50 for expenses such as textbooks and field trip related costs. Some courses also require laptops or equipment that should be purchased before the start of class; these requirements are listed toward the bottom of the pertinent courses pages; 3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses.

    Do I need spending money?

    Students who should bring some money for lunch ($7–$15) if they do not bring lunch with them.

    How much homework do instructors assign?

    The amount of homework varies from one class to another. In most cases, students should expect no more than two hours of homework per night.

    Are there places to dine on campus?

    Yes, students can dine on campus at our dining center. Meals range from $10 to $20 and students are expected to pay per meal upon entrance. There are also many affordable dining options around campus.

    Do I need to add money to my student Flex/Dining Dollars account?

    No. Students should not add money to Flex or Dining accounts. Please note that money added to Flex and Dining accounts cannot be refunded.

    Can I be a commuter student if I don't live in New York City?

    Yes. All admitted students must provide documentation as part of the enrollment process that they will live at a residence that includes direct adult supervision in the form of family members or family friends who will live in the same residence. Students must attest that they will not take unsupervised housing in the form of hotel rooms, Airbnb rentals, hostels or other such accommodation. The required information will be requested via email in the weeks before the student's arrival.

    Do you offer on-campus housing?

    Housing will not be available for Summer 2021. Students who are unable to commute to campus may wish to consider one of our online summer programs.

    What are you looking for in an applicant?

    The admissions committee looks for academically exceptional 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.

    Admission to the program is competitive, but there are no minimum achievement requirements (such as a particular GPA) for admission. 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 provide sufficient evidence to satisfy prerequisites that may be listed in the program description.

    May I still be in the program if I am already a senior in high school?

    Yes, you do still qualify for our Junior-Senior Division.

    For recommendation letter #1, may I submit a letter from a teacher who knows me well instead of from my principal, headmaster, or guidance counselor?

    No. No substitutions are accepted for letter #1. Most principals, headmasters, and guidance counselors check with the student’s teachers before writing recommendations. The perspective of an administrator is valuable in making admissions decisions.

    What if my PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores are low?

    We do not ask for these scores as part of the application. If they are available, we will consider them, particularly in the case of students applying to study science or math.

    I took the program last year. Must I reapply?

    Application instructions for Returning Students can be found here.

    May I apply to Session I and Session II?

    Yes, you may apply to take courses in both sessions. Make certain that you indicate clearly your interest in both sessions on your application form.

    May I take more than one curricular option?

    You may take only one curricular option per session. Please note that some curricular options include more than one course.

    When will I be notified of an admissions decision?

    It normally takes three to five weeks to receive a decision after all application materials have been received.

    Should I expect additional mailings after receiving my admissions letter?

    You will receive instructional emails after submitting your enrollment form and committing to attend the program.

    I am homeschooled, who is eligible to submit recommendation letters on my behalf?

    In place of the guidance counselor recommendation, applicants can request a recommendation from a supervisor, coach, teacher, etc. The individual can be from a workplace, volunteering center, or extracurricular activity.

    The academic recommendation can come from the student's primary teacher. If the instructor is a parent or legal guardian, their email address must match the email address provided in the parent information section of the application.

    Who is eligible to apply for financial aid?

    Students must have permanent residency in New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, or Queens) and attend the program as a student in the 3-Week program. If an applicant meets the minimum program and residency qualifications, they are eligible to submit a formal financial aid application via the online application portal. Students who do not meet the minimum qualifications will not have access to the financial aid application.

    Applicants that receive this need-based award may not combine it with additional financial aid granted through the School of Professional Studies (SPS) or a partner organization. Dependents of a Columbia University employee who are eligible for the Columbia University officer cost reduction do not qualify for this need-based scholarship.

    How much financial aid can an applicant receive?

    If granted aid, an award equal to 50% of the cost of the program will be applied directly to your student account. Please note, financial aid is only available to students participating in the 3-Week program. The award cannot be transferred to any other program. If admitted, participants will be required to submit a nonrefundable deposit of $500 to confirm their enrollment in the program and secure their awarded aid. .

    For additional details regarding program costs, please refer to the Program Costs pages; 3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses.

    What documentation must be submitted with the financial aid application?

    All applications require formal documentation of their parent(s)/legal guardian(s) most recent tax return and W-2. Documentation for all parent(s)/legal guardian(s), regardless of marital status, is required. Both the custodial and non-custodial parent/legal guardian must submit the required materials. If either individual has remarried, the income from the new family unit must be reported in full. When reviewing for aid, information submitted from all parties will be considered. Applicants will also be required to answer additional supplementary questions related to income and household information.

    Applications will be considered incomplete if the required information is not received.

    Are financial aid awards subject to income tax?

    Scholarship awards may be subject to income tax. If awarded aid, please consult with the IRS or your tax advisor to determine the taxability of your scholarship and how such amounts may affect the amount for your education tax credit or deduction. Award recipients will receive Form 1098-T, which will include scholarships received from the University.

    When will I receive my financial aid decision?

    Upon admission to the program, applicants will receive a decision regarding their financial aid application. After reviewing the decision, applicants will have fifteen days to confirm their enrollment in the program and secure their awarded aid.

    Is the program offered to dependents of Columbia University employees at a reduced cost?

    Yes, dependents of eligible, full-time, active Columbia University officers (Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College professional staff, CUIMC, and Jewish Theological Seminary) are eligible to receive a program cost reduction. A 50% reduction will be applied to the cost of the commuter program. When completing their online application, applicants will have the opportunity to report their dependent status. Once an offer of admission is accepted and the student registers for class the cost-reduction credit will be applied directly to the student's account

    For additional information, please email

    How many classes can I take?

    Each student chooses just one curricular option in any given 3-week or 1-week session. Some curricular options consist of two or more related classes.

    Participants also have the option of attending, in addition to the classes within their curricular option, various special lectures and co-curricular programs during the midday break and after class (see the Activities page for details).

    Do I have to take all of the classes that make up my chosen curricular option?


    When do classes meet?

    Most curricular options meet for two hours each morning and two hours every afternoon, Monday through Friday, but there are exceptions; see individual course pages for specific meeting times; 3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses. Students are normally given a ten-minute break halfway through each class meeting.

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

    How demanding are the classes?

    Classes are taught essentially at the level of Columbia College courses. They are intended for bright, high-achieving high school students who are proficient in English and want to work hard, be challenged, and think independently.

    That said, students are not expected to master all the concepts to which they are exposed; they are evaluated on the basis of how much effort they put in and how much progress they make, not on whether they have understood all the material.

    Further, the Summer Immersion Programs, while academically rigorous, are also intended to be an opportunity for participants to enjoy the summer, make new friends, explore New York City, and get a taste of independence. The academic component, while key, is not meant to be so all-consuming as to prevent students from accomplishing these other valuable goals.

    What is the program’s approach to teaching and learning?

    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 the use of University facilities. See individual course descriptions for details; 3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses.

    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.

    What is the attendance policy?

    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.

    How much homework is assigned?

    While much of the required work is done in class with instructor guidance, students should expect, on average, an hour or two of homework per night.

    How much do books and course materials cost?

    Detailed information regarding course-specific materials can be found on the Program Costs pages; 3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses.

    Who teaches the classes?

    Classes are taught by scholars and practitioners who are experts in their fields, have a passion and demonstrated an 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 (a) not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course, (b) students cannot request particular instructors or sections, and (c) we occasionally have to make staffing changes because of availability issues.

    Are the classes for academic credit?

    Courses in the Summer Immersion Programs do not carry college credit. Upon successful participation, participants receive, in addition to evaluation letters, Columbia University Certifications of Participation

    Students seeking to earn college credit may be interested in our College Edge programs; Summer Term & Academic Year, in which they can take undergraduate classes alongside college students.

    How are students evaluated?

    Grades are not assigned. Rather, upon successful participation in the program, students receive an official Columbia University Certification of Participation and written evaluations from their instructors. Instructors comment candidly and constructively on student performance, as demonstrated by in-class participation and submitted work.

    Do students have access to campus facilities?

    Students in the Summer Program have access to Columbia University’s classrooms, laboratories, on-campus cafés, libraries, computer labs, fitness center, and student activities center. Students do not have library borrowing privileges.

    Will I have access to a computer? Should I bring a laptop? Is the campus wireless?

    Most of the campus is wireless. Students have access to computer clusters and laboratories throughout the campus. These facilities range from informational kiosks to high-end workstations to walk-in consulting centers.

    Some courses require students to bring laptops to class. Please see the individual course description pages for laptop requirements for your curricular option;3-Week Courses & 1-Week Courses.

    Are there accommodations for students with disabilities?

    The University provides a full range of services and accommodations to assist students with disabilities. Upon acceptance into the program, students seeking assistance should contact the Disability Services Office. Only students who identify their disabilities well in advance can be assured of accommodation upon their arrival on campus.

    Is there an ATM on campus?

    There are ATMs on campus in Lerner Student Center. They accept all major ATM cards. ATMs for many major American banks can be found along Broadway, within a few blocks of the campus.

    Are there practice rooms for musicians and dancers?

    There are a number of pianos on campus that can be used by students on an informal basis. Private practice rooms are not available to students in the Summer Program.