Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

The Application Process

Financial Aid


Campus Resources

The Residential Program

What is the program cost?

Program costs can be found on the Program Cost section of the website.

Do you offer financial aid?

For summer 2023, a limited number of need-based scholarships are available to residents of New York City who participate as commuters in the Summer Immersion (3-Week) Program. Additional information, including eligibility requirements, can be found on the 3-Week Commuter cost page.

Individual applications for financial aid are not accepted for students participating in a residential program. Students should speak with their school's guidance counselor for information on how to search for financial aid and scholarship opportunities from outside sources and organizations.

What protocols are in place regarding COVID-19?

All high school student participants must follow University Public Health Protocols in place at the time of participation. This includes mandatory COVID vaccination for all in-person participants. Requirements will be communicated in advance and are subject to change.

Where can I find information regarding New York City's COVID-19 policies?

Information regarding New York City's COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Can I participate in a Summer Immersion and College Edge program 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 program per summer.

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

Columbia University's Programs for High School Students are distinct from Columbia University's undergraduate school, Columbia College. Before applying to one of the high school programs, students should understand that their participation will have no influence on any ongoing or future application and admissions processes at Columbia College.

Is there a dress code?

The Immersion Program has no formal dress code. We recommend that students wear cool, comfortable clothing.

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.

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?

Dining is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Friday for students with a meal plan. The dining hall provides food options for a variety of diets. Students with medically related special dietary needs can work with a campus dietician to ensure their meal needs are met.

There are also many affordable dining options around campus.

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 I need a student visa to participate in the program as an international student?

Participation in the Summer 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 certification. Information on the U.S. Department of State’s policy on short periods of recreational study is available here

What are you looking for in an applicant?

Admission to the program is selective. The admissions committee seeks out academically exceptional students who are eager to contribute original ideas and a spirit of intellectual curiosity to a community of highly motivated learners.

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 program. Students must present evidence of the completion of any particular prerequisites identified in the individual program descriptions to be eligible to take courses with prerequisites.

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

Yes, you still qualify for participation in the program.

For the recommendation letter, may I submit a letter from a school administrator such as my principal, headmaster, or guidance counselor?

No. No substitutions are accepted for the letter of recommendation. The perspective of a teacher 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?

Returning applicants will receive an email with an invitation to re-enroll for a new term.

Students should not create a new application as it will cause an error message in your application portal. Additionally, please do not create a new application account with a new email address.

The email invitation will contain detailed instructions on how to update your application for the new term and provides an expedited re-enrollment process specifically for returning students. You will be considered a priority registration applicant as long as your application is submitted before the listed deadline.

Detailed instructions are available on the apply page for past participants.

May I apply to more than one session?

Students may participate in multiple sessions. Students wishing to attend multiple sessions within one modality (e.g. commuter) may do so with one application. Students wishing to attend a combination of residential, commuter, or online sessions must submit an additional application.

Please submit your initial application and email for an application fee waiver code to be applied to your second application. We will clone your application materials so all you will need to do for the second application is select your second program of interest and submit.

Please review the possible session combinations to determine your desired program options.


Residential Program

  • (R1) 3 Weeks - Session 1: June 26 - July 14, 2023 (June 25 move-in)
  • (R2) 3 Weeks - Session 2: July 18 - August 4, 2023 (July 17 move-in)
  • (R3) 6 Weeks - Sessions 1 & 2: June 26 - August 4, 2023

Commuter Program

  • (C1) 3 Weeks - Session 1: June 26 - July 14, 2023
  • (C2) 3 Weeks - Session 2: July 18 - August 4, 2023
  • (C3) 1 Week - Session 3: August 7 - August 11, 2023
  • (C4) 6 Weeks - Sessions 1 & 2: June 26 - August 4, 2023
  • (C5) 4 Weeks - Sessions 1 & 3: June 26 - July 14 and August 7 - August 11, 2023
  • (C6) 4 Weeks - Sessions 2 & 3: July 18 - August 4 and August 7 - August 11, 2023
  • (C7) 7 Weeks - Sessions 1, 2, & 3: June 26 - August 11, 2023

May I take more than one curricular option?

You may take only one curricular option per session.

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, but no mailings will be sent via postal mail.

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

The academic recommendation can come from the student's primary instructor. 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 participate as commuters in the Summer Immersion (3-Week) Program.

If an applicant meets the 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 collaborating organization. Dependents of a Columbia University employee who are eligible for the Columbia University officer reduced price 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 as commuters 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 to confirm their enrollment in the program and secure their awarded aid.

For additional details regarding program costs, please refer to the Program Costs section of the website.

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.

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.

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, debates, simulations, case studies, meetings with guest speakers, 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?

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.

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 official Columbia University Certifications of Participation and evaluation letters from their instructors. Instructors comment candidly and constructively on students’ performance, as demonstrated by their in-class participation and submitted work. Students are evaluated on the basis of 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.

Do students have access to campus facilities?

Students in the program have access to Columbia University’s classrooms, laboratories, on-campus cafés, libraries, computer labs, fitness center, and student activities center, to name a few. Additional details can be found on the Campus Resource pages for Commuter Students & Residential Students.

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 program.

If I am under 16, may I live in the dormitories?

Students who are 16 years old by the move-in date of the program qualify automatically for residential status. You can find the move-in dates here.

If you will be under 16 by the move-in date, you are not permitted to live on campus. You may apply as a commuter student or apply to the Online Summer Immersion Program.


If I live in New York or the surrounding area, may I live in the dormitory?


May I check into the dormitory before the check-in dates or check-out after the check-out dates?

It is not possible to check in early or check out late. It is possible for a student to leave the night before check-out; the student would follow the standard overnight sign-out procedure. Please note that residential students leaving early would be missing end of program events.

Are the dormitories air conditioned?

Some of the dormitories are not centrally air conditioned. Where there is no central air conditioning, bedrooms have window air conditioner units, included in the housing fee.

Is there a curfew in the dormitories?

Yes. During the week students must be in their suites, or on their designated floors, by 11 p.m. and on the weekend by 12 midnight, unless they are participating in a supervised activity. Curfew is strictly observed and students who do not abide by the curfew will be dismissed from the program.

Is there security in the dormitories?

Yes, there is a guard on duty 24 hours per day. No one is allowed entry to the dormitory without a proper Columbia ID card or clearance. In dorms with suite housing, suite doors are kept locked at all times. In the corridor-style dorms, bedroom doors are kept locked. Students are issued suite keys and room keys upon checking in.

Non-residential Summer Program students are not allowed into the dorms. Parents/guardians are allowed into the dorms only during check-in and check-out, when they are helping the students move.

What is the schedule for the dining hall?

Meals for students are served three times a day according to the following schedule:
Breakfast: 7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Dinner: 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Are there vegetarian and vegan meal options?

The meal plan consists of a wide variety of food served cafeteria-style and includes vegetarian and vegan options.

Are there halal and kosher meal plans?

Kosher and halal meal plans are available. Upon acceptance to the program, residential students are given the opportunity to select a kosher or halal meal plan.

Are there telephones in the rooms?

Though dorm rooms do not come equipped with phones, each floor has a hall phone that can make outgoing calls in the New York City area; the hall phone cannot receive calls.

Will there be sheets, towels, pillows, and toilet paper supplied?

Yes, all of these items will be supplied.

Will there be someone to meet us at the airport?

No, transportation to and from airports is up to the student. Taxis from any of the three local airports cost between forty and sixty dollars.