Application & Admissions Policies

Application Policies
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Notification of Application Receipt
After beginning the process of preparing your online application you may log in at any time to check the status of the receipt of all materials. You will also be able to see whether or not a decision has been made on your application.  Please note that, due to the high volume of materials received, it may take up to three weeks for receipt of any mailed materials to be marked as received on the online application.

Applicants should note that due to the high volume of applications received, the School of the Arts cannot answer individual written or telephoned queries regarding the arrival of letters, application packets, recommendations, transcripts, or other materials.

Once an application has been submitted, no substitutions, alterations, or additions to portfolio materials can be accepted. Applicants should therefore make sure that all submissions made are correct and complete.

Application Deadlines
Application deadlines vary by Program and Concentration and can be found on the right side of this page.

Undergraduate Transcript
Please upload a scanned copy of your undergraduate transcript to the online application system. No other transcripts are required, though applicants may submit transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended if they wish. Do not mail official paper transcripts prior to an offer of admission. Official hardcopy transcripts are only required after an applicant has been admitted to the School of the Arts, and must be received by June 30, 2016. To be considered official, transcripts must include the institution’s seal or stamp and must be submitted in an unopened envelope, signed or stamped across the seal. If an applicant’s name has changed since the undergraduate degree was received, the Admissions Office must be notified of the change at, so that the transcript can be correctly added to the applicant’s file. Any offer of admission will be provisional until we receive your official undergraduate transcript showing conferral of your undergraduate degree. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree or the equivalent from an accredited undergraduate institution at the time they matriculate into the School of the Arts.

The GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) is not required for admission into the School of the Arts.

Application Extensions

The application deadline is firm unless you have arranged an extension prior to the deadline (granted only in special circumstances) by contacting the Admissions Office at The words "Extension Request - [insert program name]" must be in the subject line of the request, and a detailed reason for the request, as well as the length of the extension you hope to receive, must be described. Please do not assume an extension will automatically be granted; you must hear back from us. Please note that the sooner you ask for an extension, the more likely it is that we will be able to arrange one.

Application to Two or More Programs and/or Concentrations
Applicants who apply to two or more programs and/or concentrations must submit separate applications and application fees for each program/concentration, and the written and creative materials required. Applicants applying to multiple programs must request the appropriate number of transcripts from their undergraduate institution.

Previous Application Reuse of Materials

Applicants are welcome to reapply to the School of the Arts. Reapplications are treated as new applications for purposes of evaluation, and are considered without reference to the initial admissions decision. All application materials (application, application fee, International student TOEFL scores and creative materials) must be submitted anew for a reapplication by the published deadline. Transcripts and letters of recommendation will only be kept on file for one year and may only be reused within one year of original date of submission.

Applicants who have not been offered admission to the same concentration for three consecutive years are not eligible to apply to the School of the Arts during the next admissions season.
Admissions Policies
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Notification of Admission

In most cases, official notification that a decision has been made will be delivered by e-mail. For security, such e-mail does not contain the decision itself however, decision information will be posted in the on-line application. Decisions are made and communicated during the months of March and April. Official decision notifications are made by the School of the Arts and not individual departments or programs. Only letters or e-mail sent directly from the School of the Arts may be considered official notifications of admission and financial aid. The Office of Admissions cannot give decision results over the phone.
It is important that you keep both your e-mail address and mailing address current by e-mailing us at with "Applicant Address Update" in the subject line. Any changes necessary can be made from within your online application.
The School of the Arts regrets that due to the large volume of applications, we cannot provide individual explanations to those who are not admitted.

Normally, admitted students may not defer their offer(s) of admission to the School of the Arts, but are instead encouraged to reapply.

Acceptance Deposit
Applicants who are admitted into School of the Arts programs must send an acceptance deposit of $800 to the Admissions Office on or before the date specified in their notification letter, in order to hold their place in the entering class. The deposit is credited toward the student's tuition for the first semester and is nonrefundable. Acceptance deposits must be sent in the form of a check, money order or wire transfer; credit cards are not accepted. Deposits must be made out to Columbia University, denominated in United States dollars only, and drawn on a U.S. bank. The student's program, concentration, Social Security number (and/or date of birth) should be written on the check. For wiring instructions, please e-mail The deadline for acceptance deposits may be extended in special cases, if a student's circumstances do not permit an immediate decision; students wishing to obtain such an extension should contact the Admissions Office immediately after receiving their notification letter. However, the acceptance deposit cannot under any circumstances be waived.

Because of the competitive nature of our Programs, if an admitted student's acceptance deposit is not received on or before the deadline and an extension has not been secured in advance, the admitted student's offer of admission may be forfeited.

Waiting List
Each year, the School places a number of applicants on a waiting list for admission to each program and concentration. Students on the waiting list are notified if and when places become available in the entering class. Final notifications for waiting list applicants are sent as soon as places open, and the bulk of applicants are generally notified by late August. Rankings within the waiting list for each program and concentration are not disclosed, and there is no guarantee that candidates will be offered a place in the entering class. Waiting list candidacies are not held over for the following year, nor is special consideration given to those students if they choose to reapply in a future year.

Transfer of Credit
Film MFA: The School of the Arts Film MFA Program does not accept transfers of credit.
Film MA: The School of the Arts Film MA Program does not accept transfers of credit.
Theatre: The School of the Arts Theatre MFA Program does not accept transfers of credit.
Visual Arts: The School of the Arts Visual Arts MFA Program does not accept transfers of credit.
Writing: The School of the Arts Writing Program accepts a maximum of three semester credit hours that may be considered as transfer credits. Courses for which transfer credit is requested:
  • will, upon approval, be applied only toward meeting the Writing Program elective requirement. No transfer of credit will be accepted in lieu of Writing Program courses.
  • must have been taken prior to the student’s matriculation in the School of the Arts
  • must have been completed with a satisfactory grade
  • must not have been in pursuit of another earned degree
Any requests for transfer credit must be made in writing and must be accompanied by an official transcript showing successful completion of the course(s) for which transfer credit is being requested. An official course description may be required at the program's discretion. The deadline for request is the August 31 immediately prior to the student's first semester of matriculation.

Requests and their accompanying official transcripts and course descriptions should be sent to:
Office of Admissions
305 Dodge Hall, MC 1808
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Readmission of Former Students
Students who have not been granted an approved Leave of Absence by the School of the Arts or whose Leave of Absence has expired, or who have withdrawn must reapply within five years of their date of separation if they wish to reenroll in the Program. Note: Students who have officially withdrawn less than one year ago should review the section below entitled “Readmission of students who reapply within one year after the semester of withdrawal.”

To do so, former students must complete a paper application, which can be requested via e-mail by sending a request to 
1) Reapplicants for the fall semester must complete an application by the preceding March 1. Applicants for spring reentry must submit an application by the preceding September 1.

2) In place of transcripts from undergraduate institutions, applicants must submit a complete transcript of their record in the School of the Arts.  Transcripts may be obtained from the Registrar’s Office

3) The "autobiographical statement" should tell us why the applicant left the program, what they have done since then, and what their specific plans are for completing the degree—including the area of concentration and the nature of his/her thesis, if he/she knows it.

4) Two letters of recommendation must be submitted from recommenders who have worked with the applicant professionally since he/she left the Program.
Completed applications will be considered and voted on by faculty committee.


Students who have  officially withdrawn from the School of the Arts and wish to reapply for admission within one year of the last day of the last semester attended need only submit a paper application along with the “autobiographical statement.” Reapplicants for the fall semester must complete an application by the preceding March 1. Applicants for spring reentry must submit an application by the preceding September 1.

Readmission is subject to a number of factors and is therefore not guaranteed.

To receive a paper application, please e-mail

Application and Admissions for Special Students
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Special Student Admissions

On occasion, and at the discretion of the faculty, students who have demonstrable need to take School of the Arts courses but who do not wish to enroll in a degree program are permitted to register as non-degree special students. Typically, Special Students are allowed to apply by faculty invitation only. Spaces for special students are limited, if available at all. Special students are eligible to enroll in courses for a maximum of four semesters (two academic years). The 2016-17 tuition is approximately $1,912 per credit and is likely to rise each year.
Due to Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations, international students who are special students must take a minimum of 12 credits and be in possession of an F-1 student visa.
Although acceptance as a special student entitles the individual to enroll in School of the Arts courses, it does not guarantee that space in the desired class or classes will be available in any given semester, or that permission to take such classes will be granted by the instructor. During the registration period, the special student must visit the program(s) in which he or she wishes to take courses. The program's and, where necessary, the instructor's permission for any courses the special student wishes to take must be obtained at that time.
Special students are not eligible for independent study or advisement.
While in certain exceptional cases credits earned as a special student may later be applied to a full-time degree residency, special student status should not be viewed as a prelude or aid to the attainment of full-time status. Past or present status as a special student is not considered during evaluation of a candidate's application for full-time study; the latter is considered a separate application, and different admissions criteria are applied. In any case, no more than 12 points of course work earned as a special student can be applied to the MFA degree.
Special students are not eligible for financial aid in any form, or for University housing or health insurance. All special students must comply with New York State immunization regulations.
Admissions procedures for special students differ from those for degree candidates.
Special students apply and are admitted as students in the School of the Arts, not as candidates to any of the programs. To enroll in undergraduate classes (V, W, or F prefix), students must have taken a minimum of two years of course work toward their undergraduate degree at an accredited undergraduate institution. To enroll in MFA classes (R prefix), students must have a bachelor's degree.
To apply, special students must submit a Paper Application and write "Special Student" at the top (special students cannot apply online). To request a paper application, send an e-mail to with “Special Student Application Request” in the subject line. Special student applicants must also submit an application fee of $175 in the form of a check or money order, made out to Columbia University, drawn on a U.S. bank and denominated in U.S. dollars only; and an official undergraduate transcript (see Official Undergraduate Transcript under Materials Required for Application, for transcript guidelines). Neither letters of recommendation nor creative materials are required with the initial application, although the submission of portfolio materials may be requested later as an application is reviewed.
International special student applicants must meet TOEFL and English proficiency requirements.
Deadlines for application are September 3 for the fall semester, and January 14 for the spring semester.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Film MFA:
December 1, 2016

Film Studies MA:
February 1, 2017

Theatre MFA (Directing only):
December 1, 2016

Theatre MFA (all other concentrations):
January 5, 2017

Writing MFA:
January 5, 2017

Visual Arts MFA:
January 17, 2017

Arts Interdepartmental MFA (Sound Arts):
January 17, 2017
a Brochure

Office of Admissions
& Financial Aid

School of the Arts
Columbia University
305 Dodge Hall, MC 1808
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Phone: (212) 854-2134
Fax: (212) 854-1309

© 2017 Columbia University School of the Arts | 305 Dodge Hall, Mail Code 1808 | 2960 Broadway | New York, NY 10027 | (212) 854-2875 | EMAIL
Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.