Graduate Admissions

Columbia University School of the Arts is an innovative graduate professional school with a tradition of risk-taking, grounded in a deeply intellectual Ivy League university and energized by our location in New York City—one of the great cultural capitals of the world. The study and practice of art-making at the School is an immersive, constantly evolving process. Aspiring, emerging or established, our filmmakers, writers, theatre practitioners and visual artists grow individually through intensive engagement with their craft and lively, often profound exchanges of ideas and work.

The school welcomes applications for the fall semester of each year (no students are admitted for the spring semester). Please note, only complete applications are evaluated by each program's Faculty Admissions Committee. Except in rare circumstances, students are accepted for full-time study only.

General Admissions Requirements

Please follow the instructions below to assemble and submit the online application.

Note that the applicant must submit all materials directly, not through an agent or third-party vendor, with the sole exception of submissions by the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies IIE, LASPAU and AMIDEAST, and by the Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF), Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and Vietnam Education Fund (VEF). In addition, the applicant will be required to attest to the accuracy and authenticity of all information and documents submitted to Columbia. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact the admissions office at [email protected].

Failure to submit complete, accurate, and authentic application documents consistent with these instructions may result in denial or revocation of admission, cancellation of academic credit, suspension, expulsion, or eventual revocation of degree. Applicants may be required to assist admissions staff and faculty involved in admission reviews in the verification of all documents and statements made in documents submitted by students as part of the application review process.

  1. Completed Application: Must be submitted online.
  2. Transcripts:

    Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited undergraduate institution at the time they matriculate into the School of the Arts. You must upload a scanned copy of your transcript from the institution from which you received your bachelor's degree. Do not mail paper transcripts prior to an offer of admission.

    Official transcripts are only required after an applicant has been admitted to the School of the Arts, and must be received by June 30th. Once a student has accepted an offer of admission, he or she must submit an official electronic transcript from each university attended for at least one term, regardless of the number of credits received. Moreover, graduate students must provide an official transcript indicating bachelor’s degree conferral prior to entering graduate studies.

    All students who have attended schools in the U.S. must have electronic transcripts submitted directly from their school, or from the vendor that provides that service for their school, to [email protected]. If the school does not offer electronic delivery, applicants must write to [email protected] and provide the link to their institution’s webpage concerning transcript orders. After verification, the School of the Arts Office of Admissions will respond with further instructions.

    All students attending Chinese institutions will be required to contact CHESICC to arrange submission of a “Verification Report of China Higher Education Student’s Academic Transcript” and a “Verification Report of China Higher Education Qualification Certificate” (for those earning a degree in China) to the School of the Arts at [email protected].

    All other students who have attended an international university must submit an electronic transcript, if their school offers secure online delivery. If the school cannot send transcripts electronically via a secure, password-protected system, students must contact World Education Services (WES) and order a Course-by-Course Evaluation and International Credential Advantage Package to be sent to [email protected].

    Transcripts in any language other than English must be translated.
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation: Online submission of letters of recommendation is required. Recommenders should be academic or professional contacts who can speak to your creative ability and potential; personal/friend references are not permitted. If you received a degree in the past 5 years, you must provide at least 1 academic reference from faculty at that institution. Once you save their contact information, they will be sent an email with instructions on how to upload your letter of recommendation.

    Letters of recommendation must be submitted online by one week after the application deadline. Letters submitted after this date may not be reviewed.
  4. Creative Materials Required for Application: Please click below for a list of creative materials that are required for each program. All submitted creative materials must clearly bear the applicant's name, date of birth, name of program to which the applicant is applying, and title of the material (dramatic writing sample, autobiographical essay, etc). The School of the Arts does not provide portfolio or application material reviews.

    Film MFA
    Deadline: Tuesday, December 19, 2023

    Film and Media Studies MA
    Deadline: Thursday, February 1, 2024

    Theatre Directing MFA
    Deadline: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

    Theatre (All other concentrations)
    Deadline: Wednesday, January 3, 2024

    Visual Arts MFA
    Deadline: Wednesday, January 17, 2024

    Writing MFA
    Deadline: Wednesday, January 3, 2024

    Interdepartmental Program: Sound Art
    Deadline: Wednesday, January 17, 2024
  5. Application Fee: The $110 application fee is required upon submission of your application. Only one application fee is due per application cycle. Application fee waivers are potentially granted to the following categories of applicants:

    - Veterans of the U.S. armed forces

    - foreign nationals who are either externally or internally displaced persons with refugee status or who have received US asylum or submitted a US asylum application

    - Alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

    - Undergraduate Pell Grant Recipients

To request an application fee waiver, you may email proof of participation/service/status to the Office of Admissions [email protected]. Please note that application fees that have already been paid will not be refunded.

Except where explicitly allowed (please see the instructions for submission of Creative Materials), Columbia University School of the Arts forbids the use of any generative artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, including but not limited to ChatGPT and Google Bard, in the creation of application materials. Before submission of your application, you will be required to attest that all submitted materials are accurate and that you have not used generative artificial intelligence platforms to assist in the preparation of your application materials.

The faculty admissions committee will be reviewing your application and creative materials to get a sense of who you are as a unique individual. By reading the words you have written on your own, the committee hopes to understand how your unique past experiences have informed the person and artist you are today, and have led you to decide to apply to Columbia at this time.

Please keep copies of all materials submitted. Do not send your only copy.

All materials included in a School of the Arts application become the property of Columbia University. The School of the Arts will not return any submitted creative materials. Applicants should note that the School is not responsible for the transportation and safekeeping of materials submitted for review; applicants send all materials at their own risk.


All MFA degree programs at the School of the Arts require completion of at least two consecutive years of full-time study. Certain programs and/or concentrations may allow further semesters of study.  All students must complete all work within three years of commencing coursework (two years for Visual Arts and Sound Art). Exceptions are granted only in medical emergencies on the joint authority of the divisional chair and dean. Other exceptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but approval is rare and appeals are actively discouraged.

Any applicants wishing to be considered for financial aid must complete all necessary financial aid applications by the application deadline. Please see Financing Your Degree for more information.

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

Please note that applicants in the fields of Music, Art History, Arts Administration and applicants to all undergraduate programs and non-degree programs should not apply to the School of the Arts, but should consult the websites of the schools in which these programs are located:

The online application can be accessed here.