Columbia University is as hard to get into as Harvard, Stanford, or MIT directly out of high school. With a sub-4% acceptance rate for first-years, Columbia is an extremely selective institution. However, unlike those other schools, Columbia is a bit friendlier to transfer applicants. To quantify this, between 400 and 500 transfer applicants are typically accepted each year. This is a significantly greater number of individuals than you’ll see at the aforementioned schools. The following blog will reveal the Columbia transfer acceptance rate as well other essential facts like the Columbia transfer deadline, the Columbia transfer requirements, and much more.

Columbia Transfer Acceptance Rate

Below we present the most current available Columbia transfer acceptance rate.

In the fall of 2021, there were 3,039 transfer applicants and 448 individuals were accepted. This means that the Columbia transfer acceptance rate is 14.7%. If we break this down by gender, the acceptance rates are as follows:

  • Male transfer applicants: 17%
  • Female transfer applicants: 12%

Columbia Transfer Deadline

For all academic programs, the Columbia transfer deadline is March 1.

  • March 1 is also the deadline for financial aid.

Columbia Transfer Requirements

All students must submit to the following items as part of their Columbia University application:

  • Coalition App
  • Columbia supplement to the Coalition App
  • Official college transcript
  • Official high school transcript
  • ACT or SAT scores (they are test-optional through the 2023-24 cycle)
  • Coalition App Transfer Report
  • Coalition App Curriculum Report
  • Two letters of recommendation from college instructors

In addition to the Columbia transfer requirements, students who have the best chance to gain admission have done the following:

  • Earned exceptional grades in at least 24 credit hours’ worth of college coursework.
  • Complete a portion of the Core Curriculum in addition to discipline-specific courses.
  • Engineering applicants are expected to have completed two semesters of both Calculus and Physics and one semester of Chemistry.
  • Published academic research independently or with a faculty member at your current institution.
  • Exceled outside of the classroom in some manner. In addition to the aforementioned research, this could mean winning an intercollegiate academic competition, developing an app, earning a patent, achieving noteworthy accomplishments through some type of leadership role, etc.

Columbia Average Transfer GPA

The university states that successful students typically have at least a 3.5 overall GPA. However, in our experience working with Columbia applicants, you will need a 3.9 or better. This is not to say that your chances are nonexistent with a GPA below that mark, but a 3.9-4.0 GPA will give you the most favorable odds.

Columbia Transfer Application Essays

Main Transfer Essay

Please note: While the Coalition Essay in the Application Profile is not required for a complete transfer application, applicants will be asked to upload a 400-600 word essay on the Columbia Supplement to the Coalition Application responding to the following prompt in the Uploads section of the application:

Please explain why you are interested in transferring from your current institution. (The personal essay does not need to be specific to Columbia, but it should inform the committee why you wish to leave your current institution.)

List questions

  • List the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school. (75 words or fewer)
  • We’re interested in learning about some of the ways that you explore your interests. List some resources and outlets that you enjoy, including but not limited to websites, publications, journals, podcasts, social media accounts, lectures, museums, movies, music, or other content with which you regularly engage. (125 words or fewer)

Short answer questions

  • A hallmark of the Columbia experience is being able to learn and thrive in an equitable and inclusive community with a wide range of perspectives. Tell us about an aspect of your own perspective, viewpoint or lived experience that is important to you, and describe how it has shaped the way you would learn from and contribute to Columbia’s diverse and collaborative community. (200 words or fewer)
  • Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words or fewer)
  • Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)
  • In Columbia’s admissions process, we value who you are as a unique individual, distinct from your goals and achievements. In the last words of this writing supplement, we would like you to reflect on a source of happiness. Help us get to know you further by describing the first thing that comes to mind when you consider what simply brings you joy. (35 words or fewer)

When Do Columbia Transfer Decisions Come Out?

Decisions come out by June 1. There are cases where the school notifies applicants earlier than that, but June is the latest they will notify individuals.

Final Thoughts – Columbia Transfer Acceptance Rate

While the acceptance rate was 14.7% last cycle, that figure is under 10% in an average year. Still the odds of gaining acceptance to Columbia are superior to those at other schools of its ilk. This is due, in part, just to the sheer volume open transfer slots that the school has. Still, Columbia University will want to see a record of achievement (both inside and outside of the classroom) that knocks their socks off.

For more on what it’s like to be a transfer student at Columbia, check out this recent article from their student newspaper.

If you are looking for information on how to apply to Columbia as a first-year student, you may find the following blogs to be of interest:

Those searching for application info on other institutions may wish to visit our Dataverse pages:

Andrew Belasco

A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew’s experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans two decades. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.