columbia gsas application

columbia gsas application

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Introduction to GSAS Admissions

The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 presented institutions of higher education with challenges in teaching and learning, as well as in the assessment of academic performance. As a consequence of these challenges, Columbia University affirms the following principle:

The University’s graduate and professional schools, as well as their respective admissions committees, will take into account the important disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak when reviewing student transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their customary practice of performing holistic reviews of individual applications or dossiers. Specifically, we will respect decisions made by institutions or individuals regarding the adoption of Pass/Fail or similar grading options during the period in question.

The Provost and University Deans adopted this principle to ensure that no applicants are disadvantaged by policy decisions made by their colleges/universities as a result of this unprecedented public health event.

The Application Process

All prospective students must apply using the online application. Printed applications are not available.

You must specify in your application the department, doctoral program subcommittee, or free-standing master’s degree program in which you wish to study. A complete application includes: 

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 US Department of State’s Fulbright Program and its three partner agencies IIE, LASPAU and AMIDEAST, and by the Danish-American Fulbright Commission (DAF), and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). 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 GSAS Office of Admissions 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. 

Please note that all application materials become the property of Columbia University and are not returnable. Additionally, materials will not be shared with or forwarded to third-parties. Applicants who have not waived their right to view letters of recommendation may request to view the letters only after they enroll in the GSAS program to which they have been admitted. Under the guidelines of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students who do not receive an offer of admission, or who are admitted but do not enroll, are not permitted access to the letters at any time. A complete explanation of the FERPA policy may be found here.

Biological Sciences and Biomedical PhD Program Applicants 

  • If you are applying to the PhD program in Biological Sciences, you must apply through the GSAS online application.
  • If you are applying to any of the following Biomedical PhD programs, you must apply through the Biomedical PhD programs application.
    • Biomedical Informatics
    • Cell Biology
    • Cellular Physiology and Biophysics
    • Genetics and Development
    • Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular, and Biophysical Studies
    • Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection
    • Neurobiology and Behavior
    • Nutritional and Metabolic Biology
    • Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine
    • Pharmacology and Molecular Signaling
  • In any given term, an applicant may submit only one application to each school within the university. You may apply to the PhD program in Biological Sciences and to one of the Biomedical PhD programs, as they are offered by separate schools. Please note, however, that if you initiate an application to the PhD program in Biological Sciences or to one of the Biomedical PhD programs and later determine that you have applied to the program on the incorrect campus, it is not possible to transfer your application. GSAS and the College of Physicians and Surgeons use separate application platforms.

Applying to Multiple Programs

For any given entry term, applicants may elect to apply to up to two programs—either one PhD program and one MA program, or two MA programs—by submitting a single (combined) application to the Graduate School.  Applicants who attempt to submit more than one GSAS application for the same entry term will be required to withdraw one of the applications.

The Graduate School permits applicants to be reviewed by a second program if they do not receive an offer of admission from their first-choice program, with the following restrictions:

  • This option is only available for fall-term applicants.
  • Applicants may apply to only one PhD program. All secondary options are for MA programs only.
  • The second program must be selected before the application is submitted. Applicants may not request review by a second program after submitting the application.
  • Applicants will be able to view and opt for a second choice (if applicable) after selecting their first choice. Applicants should not submit a second application. (Note: Selecting a second choice will not affect the consideration of your application by your first choice.)
  • Applicants must upload a separate Statement of Purpose and submit any additional supporting materials required by the second program. Transcripts, letters, and test scores should only be submitted once.
  • An application will be forwarded to the second-choice program only after the first-choice program has completed its review and rendered its decision. An application file will not be reviewed concurrently by both programs.
  • Programs may stop considering second-choice applications at any time during the season; GSAS cannot guarantee that your application will receive a second review.
  • The option to select a second-choice program will not be available for applications submitted after May 1.
  • Applicants who receive an offer of admission from their first-choice program but who wish to be considered by their second-choice program instead must decline the offer of admission from the first-choice program. IMPORTANT: In this case, the offer of admission from the first-choice program will be rescinded, and you may enroll in GSAS only if you receive an offer of admission from the second-choice program.

Admissions Policies

To be eligible for admission, applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution by the date on which they enroll at the Graduate School.

Applicants who hold American doctorates or their international equivalents in the same or similar fields as those to which they propose to apply, or who have completed most of the work required to earn the PhD elsewhere (i.e., beyond the equivalent of the Columbia M.Phil and/or three years of doctoral coursework) are not eligible for admission to the Graduate School.

 Failure to disclose this information may result in the rescinding of an offer of admission, or to termination for a current student.

If you are uncertain whether your current or previous studies render you ineligible to apply, please consult the Office of the Dean of GSAS.

Applicants may submit the application up until 11:59 p.m. of the day on which their program’s application deadline falls.

All students must provide written consent to participate in a verification process of all academic, professional, and reference information provided during their application process. All students must sign and date an authorization and release form to conduct the verification process. The link to do so will be provided in the online application; submission of the release form is required before an application may be submitted.

In order to receive a degree from a particular program, applicants must be formally admitted to that program.

With the sole exception of approved dual-degree programs, students may not pursue a degree in more than one Columbia program concurrently, and may not be registered in more than one degree program at any institution in the same semester. Enrollment in another degree program at Columbia or elsewhere while enrolled in a GSAS master’s or doctoral program is strictly prohibited by the Graduate School. Violation of this policy will lead to the rescission of an offer of admission, or termination for a current student.

Only the Dean of the Graduate School has the authority to make an offer of admission.

GSAS abides by the Council of Graduate Studies’ April 15 Resolution regarding the acceptance of offers that include financial support.

Columbia University is committed to providing a learning, living, and working environment free from unlawful discrimination. Read the Notice of Non-Discrimination.

Application Deadlines

View a list of application deadlines. All deadlines are 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time for the published date.

Accommodations for Applicants Affected by Natural Disasters, Civil Unrest/War, or Regional Internet Outages

Columbia GSAS is aware that circumstances beyond an applicant’s control may affect their ability to submit an application or supporting materials in time to meet an application deadline.  If you are affected by a natural disaster, civil unrest/war, or by a regional internet outage, Columbia GSAS will do its best to accommodate the submission and consideration of your application. Information on completing and submitting your application is available here


Applicants denied admission may reapply in a subsequent year if further training or experience is presented to strengthen the application. However, applicants who have submitted three (3) applications to a single department or program without being offered admission may not reapply to the same program.

GSAS Office of Admissions Mailing Address

Please note: Materials should not be mailed to GSAS unless specifically requested by the Office of Admissions. Unofficial transcripts and other supplemental application materials should be uploaded through the online application system.

GSAS Office of Admissions
Columbia University 
107 Low Library, MC 4303
535 West 116th Street 
New York, NY 10027