Envisioned by Colonel Lewis Morris, Columbia University was opened in July 1754 with funding from the Church of England to serve an inaugural class of eight in Trinity Church. Chartered as King’s College in October, New York’s oldest colonial collegiate school was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Initially located on Madison Avenue, Columbia was moved to its current, 299-acre Morningside Heights campus in Upper Manhattan in 1857. Endowed for $9.04 billion, Columbia now belongs to the Ivy League as a prestigious private, nonsectarian AAU research institution with 27,942 degree-seeking Lions. As the Pulitzer Prize administrator, Columbia University has distinguished alums like Barack Obama, Ursula Burns, and China Kai-Fu Lee.

According to the U.S. News, Columbia is the fifth best national university and sixth top value with the 15th best computer science programs. On Niche, Columbia is ranked America’s 10th best Common Application school and 13th best computer science college. Forbes picked Columbia for the 52nd most grateful grads and 11th most research productivity nationwide. Times Higher Education placed Columbia 14th globally. The CWUR applauded Columbia University for the world’s 13th highest quality education and ninth best faculty. Columbia was crowned the third best doctoral university for foreigners by the Institute of International Education. The New York Times also named Columbia University the 21st top school for low-income families.

Columbia University Accreditation Details

Reaffirmed in 2016 under President Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University has the maximum 10-year accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA). This regional approval means that all programs, including computer science majors, are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science also has programmatic accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Columbia University Application Requirements

Classified as “most selective,” Columbia University had a Fall 2016 acceptance rate of 6 percent from 37,389 received applications. Hopeful B.A./B.S. in Computer Science majors undergo holistic review after completing a high school diploma. Academics, extracurricular activities, intellectual ambitions, and personal circumstances are considered. Curricula rigor is weighed, so passing AP Computer Science could help. On average, admitted freshmen present a GPA of 4.16, SAT score of 1530, and ACT score of 34. Transfers are exempt from testing after 24 college credits are finished at regionally accredited colleges with a 3.0 GPA or better. The Fu Foundation School strongly prefers a 3.5 GPA in math and science courses.

Pursuing the M.S. in Computer Science at Columbia involves finishing a baccalaureate in any STEM-related technical major like physics or statistics. Having basic programming skills from at least four computer science courses is mandatory. Discrete mathematics and data algorithms are other prerequisites. Columbia master’s applicants need a minimum 3.3 GPA. Most admitted post-grads score 750 or greater on the GRE quantitative section. Although the Computer Science Ph.D. has similar requirements, the GPA cutoff raises to 3.5 for academic rigor. Non-native English speakers must have also scored at least 700 on the SAT Reading and Writing or 600 on the TOEFL in the last two years.

Columbia University sets the Early Decision deadline on November 1st and Regular Decision deadline on January 1st for undergrads. The M.S. in Computer Science accepts applicants until February 15th and October 1st yearly. Students could file the Common Application, Coalition Application, or Columbia Engineering Application online. Excess materials may also be sent to 212 Hamilton Hall in New York, NY 10027 with mail code 2807. Don’t forget the following:

• $85 application fee or waiver request

• Columbia-specific essay questions

• Official high school or college transcripts

• Required standardized testing reports

• Two teacher recommendations (one math/science)

• English proficiency exam if applicable

• Resume or CV of achievements/activities

Tuition and Financial Aid

Full-time undergrads in Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science are billed $27,252 per semester. Added costs include the $811 student life fee, $450 orientation fee, and $541 health services fee each term. Room and board in Morningside Heights is estimated to charge $13,244 annually. Computer science texts and supplies add $1,223. Total yearly cost of attendance at Columbia is $71,690 for bachelor’s students. Graduate engineering programs are priced $1,936 per credit taken. The Dual M.S. in Journalism and Computer Science is the exception, costing $2,060 per credit.

The NCES reports that 57 percent of beginning, full-time Columbia Lions share $34.5 million in annual aid for financial packages worth $46,127 on average. Computer science majors could receive the need-based Columbia Grant. Based on EFC, undergrads claim the Federal Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, and New York Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) Grant. Empire State residents may earn the Enhanced Tuition Award, NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence, or STEM Incentive Program. Institutional funds like the Hollingsworth Fellowship, Nichoplas Scholarship, Upton Scholarship, Poder Scholarship, and Ellis Fellowship are beneficial. The Federal Work-Study program pays at least $10.50/hour for campus employment. Educational loans could also be borrowed from the Perkins, PLUS, and William D. Ford Direct programs.

Studying Computer Science at Columbia

Columbia University currently offers a B.A./B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Computer Engineering, B.A. in Data Science, and B.A. in Information Science via the Fu Foundation School. Undergrads tackle an integrated curriculum of eight foundational and seven advanced courses for 75 major credits. Computer science tracks exist for Software Systems, Digital Systems, Intelligence Systems, Applications, or Vision Graphics and Robotics. Chaired by Dr. Julia Hirschberg, the program develops programming tools in state-of-the-art labs, including the Computational Biology Center. Undergrads might also gain ACM membership, join the Application Development Initiative, declare Honors, intern at Bloomberg, attend the Distinguished Lecturers Series, and review Columbia Magazine.

Located in the Schapiro Center on West 120th Street, the M.S. in Computer Science is the first option for Columbia post-grads to further their technological prowess. Available on the Columbia Video Network, the 30-credit major is a thesis track with hands-on research in facilities like the Automated Vision Lab. Graduates select tailored concentrations for Computational Biology, Computer Security, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Network Systems, Software Systems, or Vision Graphics and Robotics. More advanced milestones are met in the Ph.D. in Computer Science or Doctor of Engineering Science programs. Taking four to six years full-time, the doctoral programs at Columbia University blend seminars like algorithmic systems with candidacy exams, teaching practica, and dissertation research defenses.

Related resource:

Top 30 Best Online Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs