Application & Admissions Policies

Application Policies

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

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

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 [email protected]. 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. If an extension is granted, a $35 late materials processing fee may be assessed for creative materials, and a $35 late materials processing fee may be assessed for transcripts/letters of recommendation. Please note that the sooner you ask for an extension, the more likely it is that we will be able to arrange one.

Applicants who apply to two or more programs and/or concentrations must submit separate applications for each program/concentration, and the written and creative materials required. Only one application fee is due per application cycle.

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 the 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.

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.

Admissions Policies

In most cases, official notification that a decision has been made will be delivered by email. For security, such e-mail does not contain the decision itself; decision information will be posted in the online application. Decisions are made and communicated during the months of March and April. Official decision notifications are made by the School of the Arts Admissions Office and not by individual departments or programs. Only letters or e-mails 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 email address and mailing address current by e-mailing us at [email protected] with "Applicant Address Update" in the subject line. Any changes necessary can be made from within your online application.

Due to the large volume of applications, the School of the Arts cannot provide individual explanations to those who are not admitted.

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 credit card. Deposits must be made out to Columbia University, denominated in U.S. dollars only, and drawn on a U.S. bank. The student's program, concentration, and CUID should be written on the check. 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.

Normally, admitted students may not defer offers of admission to the School of the Arts, but are instead encouraged to reapply. If, due to special circumstances, a deferral is granted, the admitted student must submit an $800 deposit to hold a spot in the class. Any scholarships do not automatically carry forward with the student but will be determined during the next admissions cycle. Deferred students have until February 1st of the following year to make a decision on matriculation, at which time an additional $400 non-refundable tuition deposit will be required.

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.

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:

Columbia University School of the Arts
Office of Admissions
305 Dodge Hall, MC 1808
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Except for the Writing MFA program, no other SOA degree programs accept transfers of credit.

Students who have not been granted an approved Leave of Absence by the School of the Arts, 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 prior 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 [email protected].

  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 their thesis, if known.
  4. Two letters of recommendation must be submitted from recommenders who have worked with the applicant professionally since leaving 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 November 1.

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

To receive a paper application, please e-mail [email protected].