Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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Columbia Business School
Columbia’s MBA Program curriculum prepares students to lead, build, and manage enterprises while instilling an awareness of the societal effects of business decisions.
In the first year, the intensive core curriculum provides the foundation of broad management skills necessary to succeed in any industry. In the second year, students select courses relevant to their specific career goals from a wide range of Business School electives and optional graduate-level classes taught at one of the University’s 12 graduate and professional schools.
Information on specific courses, by term or by area of focus, can be found in this directory; students seeking further suggestions for courses relevant to a specific area of study should consult the appropriate division, center, or program.
Columbia Business School students may enroll in either August or January. The two paths, each comprised of four terms, merge in the fall of the second year to complete electives as a single class.
The paths are identical in terms of competitiveness of admissions, academic rigor, and student resources; but only students who enter in August will be able to complete a summer internship. January (J-Term) students, having completed their first-term courses in the spring, will instead complete their second-term course work over the summer.
Columbia Mba Deadline
August 2021 Entry Application Deadlines
Early Decision October 2, 2020
Merit Fellowship January 6, 2021
Regular Decision June 1, 2021
January 2021 Entry Application Deadline
Regular Decision October 2, 2020
About 70 percent of our full-time MBA students begin their studies in the fall term. After mandatory orientation in the second half of August, regular classes begin in September. Most August-entry students complete a summer internship between their second and third terms.
The August entry has two application review periods — Early Decision and Regular Decision. Because we use a rolling admissions process, it is always to your advantage to apply well before the deadline.
Available for August entry applicants only.
Application deadline in early October.
Early Decision applications are reviewed, and decisions rendered, before Regular Decision applications.
Admitted students for Early Decision are considered for merit-based awards.
Candidates have decided that Columbia is their first choice and must sign the following Statement of Commitment within their applications: I am committed to attending Columbia Business School and will withdraw all applications and decline all offers from other schools upon admission to Columbia Business School.
Applicants must submit a nonrefundable US $6,000 tuition deposit within two weeks of admission.
Candidates may submit Regular Decision applications as soon as the application becomes available in the summer.
Regular Decision applications are reviewed after Early Decision applications, which typically begins in late November.
No Statement of Commitment is required.
For priority consideration of merit-based fellowships, applications should be submitted by the specified merit-based fellowship deadline in early January.
Final application deadline is typically in April.
Students who do not want or need a summer internship may consider beginning their MBA studies in January and completing their second semester of classes during the summer. A January start may be ideal for students who wish to remain in the same industry after graduation or pursue entrepreneurial interests. About 30 percent of our students enter in January.
The #1 reason to attend Columbia is to take advantage of its NYC location. Although you might briefly question whether the neighborhood of Morningside Heights is truly the “very center of business,” Columbia makes excellent use of its location.
First, Columbia brings in NYC-area executives as adjunct faculty and as Entrepreneurs in Residence. This gives you a chance to interact with senior industry professionals who could otherwise be very hard to reach, and when you approach these relationships in a patient, long-term way, they can make a huge difference to your career advancement.
Second, Columbia facilitates contact with local companies through their Master Classes, in which a company will bring a live problem to campus for student teams to work on, and their Immersion Seminars, in which students visit top executives in their NYC offices for candid discussions.
Finally, many Columbia students pursue in-semester internships with NYC-area companies. The low commitment of an internship like this makes it easy for a company to say “yes” even if you don’t fit the traditional criteria for the role. Thus, it’s a chance for you to gain broader experiences than what you might get during a full summer internship or a full-time job search.
Columbia also has a great brand in China, and its Greater China Society is one of the most active clubs on campus. So, whether you simply want to learn about doing business in China, or expect to actually move to China for your post-MBA career, Columbia can help.
This profile lays out the basic facts about Columbia and the resources you’ll need to further research the full-time MBA program.
(Looking for information on the EMBA program? Check out our Guide to the Columbia EMBA.)
Columbia Mba Program Requirements
Columbia Business School MBA Class Profile
Acceptance rate 16.2%
Class size 782
GRE Does not disclose
Range:Does not disclose
Age/Experience Age:28 years
Work Experience:5 years
The data* above is from 2020 and represents the Columbia MBA class of 2022. (Note: Acceptance rate is an estimate.)
See the full report: Columbia MBA Class Profile
Columbia Business School MBA Employment Report & Careers
Offers & Compensation
Median Salary + Signing bonus:$
% Offers upon Graduation: Does not disclose
% Offers at 3 months:90%
Commercial/Consumer Banking/Credit Cards:<1%
Post-MBA Locations Does not disclose
McKinsey & Company:45
Boston Consulting Group, The:30
Bain & Company:24
Goldman Sachs & Co.:14
Ernst & Young LLP:11
Career Development Resources
Columbia Career Support
The data above is from 2020 and represents the career statistics for the Columbia MBA class of 2020.*
See the full report: Columbia MBA Employment Report
Columbia Business School MBA Academic Programs
Columbia’s MBA curriculum spans across four terms over two years. Applicants can either choose a fall entry date or a January, J-term, entry date for the program. Unlike the two-year MBA beginning in the fall, the J-term program does not include the possibility of a summer internship. Students take classes from the core curriculum during the first year of the program. During the first term of the MBA, students are required to complete eight half-term and two full-term courses including Managerial Statistics, Strategy Formulation, and Corporate Finance. Columbia offers over 325 courses as part of their elective curriculum. Some of the electives popular with MBA students are Applied Value Investing, Family Business Management, Global Immersion, and Managerial Negotiations. Students may also select from any of Columbia University’s graduate level classes.
See the full offering of courses: Columbia MBA Course Catalog
Columbia’s MBA program does not offer official majors or concentrations. However, students can choose to pursue an in-depth study of one of Columbia Business School’s 15 academic divisions. These academic fields include Accounting, Private Equity, Value Investing, and Social Enterprise, and others, with research centers, programs, and student clubs associated with each field.
Experiential Learning Programs
The experiential learning component at Columbia is closely tied to the program’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. Through the center, students can take part in initiatives such as the International Development Consulting Project Fund or the Nonprofit Board Leadership program.
Columbia has a wide variety of research centers, programs, and institutions that are part of the business school. The centers range from the Program for Financial Studies to the Initiative for Policy Dialogue.
MBA International Study Programs
The Chazen Institute for Global Business is the center for Columbia’s international study program. Students can experience a global business perspective through the Chazen Global Study Tours. Additionally, the Global Immersion Program allows students to engage in the business practices of a foreign country.
Video Resources on Columbia Academics
Columbia Business School MBA Application
Here are the prompts for Columbia’s 2020-2021 application:
Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
Essay 2: Why do you feel that Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)
Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)
Optional Essay: Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (500 words)
Improve your application with Menlo Coaching
Letters of Recommendation
The recommender questions in the 2020-2021 Columbia Application are as follows:
How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (500 words)
Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (500 words)
Video Resources on Columbia Admissions
Columbia Business School MBA Admissions Interviews
Columbia’s MBA admissions interviews are conducted by alumni ambassadors. Columbia’s admissions office aims to complete the evaluation process for each application within 10 weeks. Often, you can receive an admissions decision within a few days or a week of conducting your interview.
For more on this, see our Columbia MBA Interview Guide.
Columbia Business School Useful Links
Admissions Info MBA Program Home Page
Admissions Home Page
How to Apply Request Information
Start an Application
Meet Columbia Business School Visit Campus
Admissions Events – Upcoming
Admissions Events – Recorded
Connect with a Student
Do Your Research Ideas and Insights – Columbia
What Makes Columbia Business School Unique?
J- Term: January entry for the full-time MBA. You study through the summer and complete the degree in a shorter time period, making this a great fit for sponsored students, who want to return quickly to their firm, and for family business candidates who do not need an internship. Also, winning admission to this program is generally easier than the August entry program.
Value Investing Program: This program is selective and you must apply once you’re already a student.
Early Decision Program: This gives some advantage over Regular Decision, but you have to put down a $6,000 non-refundable deposit on short notice once offered admission.
The Tamer Centre for Social Enterprise
The NYC Location: Facilitates getting great adjunct faculty into the classroom and provides unique opportunities through programs such as:
Master Classes offer hands-on, project-based electives for second-year MBA students.
Immersion Seminars bring students to the offices of local companies for candid discussions with senior executives. Industries covered have included finance, consulting, luxury retail, technology, and more.
In-Semester Internships allow students to gain work experience with NYC-area companies during the semester and are offered to both full-time and J-Term students. These are especially useful to students who plan to enter fields in which they have no experience — it’s much easier for a company to say “yes” to a short internship placement than a months-long summer internship or a full-time role, and good performance in a short internship can lead to a larger role later.
Columbia Executive MBA: Program Overview
Your Chances at Columbia
The Complete Guide to MBA Admissions
A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution is required for admission to Columbia Business School. Applicants should scan and submit PDF versions of transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate institution from which they have received a degree.
If offered admission, you will be required to provide encrypted digital copies of your transcripts from each of the colleges or universities submitted on your application. Offers of admission are not binding until academic records have been verified.
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Applicants should report their grade point average as it appears on their transcript.
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GMAT, Executive Assessment, or GRE Score
All applicants must submit a self-reported GMAT, Executive Assessment, or GRE score. Columbia Business School considers scores to be valid for five years after your test date. Please be sure to send your score report and submit your application at least one day before the scores expire. Additionally, valid test scores must be received within three weeks of submission, or your application will be withdrawn from consideration.
If admitted, you must submit an official GMAT, Executive Assessment, or GRE score. Columbia Business School’s GMAT and Executive Assessment code is QF8-N6-52, and its GRE code is 6442. The Admissions Committee will consider only your highest score when reviewing your application and will not combine subscores from multiple exams into a single composite score.
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Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.
Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)
Examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data-management start-up.”
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)
Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)
Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)
Rather than answer Essay 1, current Knight-Bagehot Fellows applying to Columbia Business School should use the space allocated to the first essay (500 words) to complete the Knight-Bagehot Essay Question listed below.
Knight-Bagehot Essay Question
What are your career goals? How has the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship affected these goals? How will an MBA help you achieve these goals? (500 words maximum)
Deferred Enrollment Program
Deferred Enrollment candidates will answer three short essay questions instead of the essays listed above.
How is a Columbia MBA going to help you? (250 words maximum)
What has been your favorite class, and why? (250 words maximum)
Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words maximum)
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First-time applications require two recommendations unless applying for the Deferred Enrollment Program. Reapplicants are required to submit one new recommendation. If you have been working full-time for at least six months, one recommendation should be from your current supervisor. If you are unable to secure a recommendation from your direct supervisor, please submit a statement of explanation in the Employment section of your application. The second recommendation should be from either a former direct supervisor or from another professional associate, senior to you, who can share their insights on your candidacy.
If you have worked full-time for fewer than six months, at least one, but preferably both, of your recommendations should be from a person who can comment on your managerial abilities. You may ask a summer employer or another person whom you feel can objectively assess your professional promise. The second recommendation may be from a college professor. If you are a college senior, we encourage you to apply for the Deferred Enrollment Program, which requires only one recommendation.
Please note that Columbia Business School and several of our peer institutions use similar, if not identical, recommendation questions. This is an effort on our part to make the process easier for your recommenders. We expect that you, the applicant, will not participate in the drafting of these recommendations. Applications are not considered complete until all required information is submitted; this includes recommendations.
We ask recommenders to consider the following guidelines when writing their recommendations (recommended limit – 1000 words):
How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.
Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
Deferred Enrollment Program
Please share how you feel the applicant will contribute to the Columbia Business School classroom and community.
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Keep in mind applications cannot be reviewed until they are complete. Missing required materials, updated test scores, or additional materials must be received by the Admissions Office within three weeks of your application submission.
Once we have received all required application components your application will begin the review process. During this stage, your application is reviewed by at least two admissions officers, after which you will be either invited to interview or denied admission. Please note that August-entry Regular Decision applications will not be reviewed until all January and Early Decision applications are completed, which is typically in late November.
For all terms of entry, our goal is either to invite applicants for an interview or deny admission within six weeks of a completed application being received. Our goal for interviewed applicants is to render a final decision within two weeks of the interview report being completed.
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Applicants may be invited to interview with one of our alumni. In most cases, interviews are offered in the applicant’s geographic area, and invitations to interview can be sent at any time after a completed application has been received by the Admissions Office. Interviews are by invitation only and cannot be requested.
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The nonrefundable application fee for the Columbia Business School MBA Program is US$250. Applicants are strongly encouraged to pay this fee via credit card (Visa or MasterCard only) within the online application system in order to expedite the processing of their application.
Applicants unable to pay by credit card should contact the Admissions Office at [email protected] for directions regarding alternative methods of payment.
Fee waivers are available to full-time students, active duty US military personnel, and members of the Peace Corps, or Teach For All network partners who are currently in service. Proof of current service is required. Applicants who qualify for a fee waiver should email a fee waiver request, as well as proof of service, to [email protected] and explain their need for a fee waiver in the optional essay. Please allow up to one week for an update to your online status confirming that your fee waiver has been approved.
The Application fee is automatically waived for our Deferred Enrollment Program.
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Please note that candidates may only apply once to a given term of entry. Candidates may not apply twice to the same term of entry.
To reapply to the MBA Program at Columbia Business School, please use the following checklist to ensure smooth processing. Please note, information and requirements are subject to change without notice.
The Admissions Office retains all applications for one year after a decision is rendered. If you are reapplying no more than 12 months from your initial term of entry to Columbia Business School, the checklist below will help ensure that you submit everything the Admissions Committee will need to reassess your candidacy. For example if you applied for August 2020 you will be considered a reapplicant for January 2021 or August 2021. If you are reapplying more than 12 months after the initial term of entry, you must submit a new, fully complete application.
Please submit the following to the Admissions Committee for your reapplication. If you have trouble starting a new application, please contact the Admissions Office for assistance.
Reapplication fee: US$250.
One new recommendation letter, preferably from your current employer. If you have already used your current employer for a recommendation, please choose someone else in a supervisory role or a client.
Please update the following sections “Application,” “Personal,” “Family,” “Employment,” “Education,” and “Extracurricular Activities.”
How will you finance your MBA?
Submit transcripts of any additional courses you have taken since your previous application.
Please remember to indicate the dates and self-reported scores of the standardized tests that you wish to be considered in your admissions decision.
Please note: GMAT scores are valid for five years. Your scores must be valid at the time of application submission. Reapplicants are not required to submit additional essays Only the reapplicant essay is required.
How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate how you plan to achieve your immediate and long term post-MBA professional goals. (Maximum 500 words).
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All admitted students are required to submit two nonrefundable tuition deposits to secure their place in the class after admission. Deposits will be applied directly toward your first semester’s tuition and fees. Please be aware that if you do not matriculate, your deposit will not be refunded.
Students admitted for the January-entry must submit the first deposit of US$2,000 within two weeks of admission. The second deposit of US$1,000 must be received by November 11, 2020.
August-entry Early Decision admits must submit the first deposit of US$6,000 within two weeks of admission. If admitted for August-entry Regular Decision your deposit will be US$2,000. If admitted before January 31, 2021 you must submit your deposit by February 17, 2021. If you are admitted from February 1, 2021 through April 7, 2021 your deposit deadline will be April 21, 2021. Applicants admitted after April 7, 2021 will have two weeks to submit their initial deposit.
All early August-entry Early Decision and Regular Decision admitted students are required to submit a second deposit of US$1,000 by May 26, 2021 in order to secure their spaces in the class.