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General Admissions Requirements

General Admissions Requirements


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.


Residency Requirements


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 five years of commencing coursework. 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.

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:




Materials Required for Application


1. Completed Application: Must be submitted online.


2. 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 Transcripts are only required after an applicant has been admitted to the School of the Arts. 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.


3. Three Letters of Recommendation: Online submission of the letters of recommendation is strongly preferred. Recommenders can be undergraduate, graduate, or professional contacts; they should be people who can speak to your creative ability and potential.


If one of your recommenders is not utilizing the online submission method, the letter of recommendation form may be downloaded here. Fill out the applicant portion of the recommendation form, and provide the form along with an addressed and stamped envelope to the recommender. Request that they: (1) enclose the recommendation; (2) seal the envelope; (3) sign their name or place their stamp across the seal; and (4) mail the envelope directly to:


Columbia University School of the Arts

Admissions Office

2960 Broadway

305 Dodge Hall, MC 1808

New York, NY 10027


If you applied to the School of the Arts last year, you are welcome to reuse your letters of recommendation. Please note that you may only re-use letters that were submitted for your Fall 2017 application. Letters of recommendation that were submitted before September 2016 will not be reviewed.


Letters of recommendation must be submitted online by one week after the application deadline. Letters submitted after this date may not be reviewed. Hard-copy letters must be postmarked by the application deadline.


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

Film and Media Studies MA

Theatre MFA

Visual Arts MFA

Writing MFA

Interdepartmental Program: Sound Arts


5. $110 Online Application Fee: This may be paid by credit card when submitting an application online; or by check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and denominated in U.S. dollars. Checks and money orders must be made payable to Columbia University. We cannot accept postal money orders. Applicants should be sure to write the program and, if applicable, the concentration to which they are applying on the check or money order; if the check is that of an individual other than the applicant, the applicant's full name must be included as well. Application fees are nonrefundable and cannot be waived; no application can be processed without the application fee.



The online application can be accessed here.


Presentation of Materials

Our Admissions Committees take note, among other factors, of the professionalism of your presentation and the appropriateness of your materials to our specific requirements. Do not add or substitute items and do not exceed length limitations. Please do not use permanent bindings, notebooks, or oversize paper. Unless requested, please also staple together the pages of each requirement, but do not staple all requirements to each other.


Responsibility for Materials

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.


Applying for Financial Aid

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.