Each year, applicants from a wide variety of cultural, personal, and professional backgrounds apply to the Columbia MBA program.
And while every student who joins our community is unique, they share certain defining traits: they are driven by a strong work ethic, ready to build and foster professional and personal relationships, and are determined to make a real impact on the world through their chosen field.
Attend an information session or contact the Admissions Office to learn more about getting the right recommendations, taking the GMAT, and other details you’ll need before you apply. When all your materials are ready, submit your application securely, entirely online, including your transcripts and recommendations.
Columbia Business School uses a rolling admissions process, which means applications are reviewed — and decisions rendered — as they are received. It is always advantageous for you to submit your application as early as possible. For more detailed information on early decision and J-Term applications, see our Options and Deadlines page.
If you are reapplying to the School or want information on pre-enrollment requirements, visit our Admissions FAQ.
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.
Do not send paper transcripts via mail when first applying. If offered admission, you will be required to provide sealed hard copies or 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 or GRE Score
All applicants must submit a self-reported GMAT or GRE score. Your scores must be valid when you submit your application. (CBS considers scores to be valid for five years after your test date). Both the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) and Integrated Reasoning (IR) sections are required if you take the GMAT.
If admitted, you must submit an official GMAT or GRE score. Columbia Business School’s GMAT 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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International students who do not have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from an institution in which all instruction is conducted in English must take either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the PTE (Pearson Test of English), or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). You may be exempted only if you have earned a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction. We will not accept requests for exceptions to this policy.
The TOEFL, PTE, and IELTS scores are valid for two years. Your scores must be valid when you submit your application.
Be sure to self-report your TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS score when completing your application. If admitted, you must submit an official score report. For the TOEFL, Columbia’s ETS code is 2174, MBA department code 02 - Graduate Schools of Management. For the PTE and IELTS, select "Columbia Business School" from the list of schools provided. The Admissions Committee will consider only your highest score when reviewing your application.
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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 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)
Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)
a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.
b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?
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 Wiegers Fellowship application essay.
Wiegers Fellowship 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)
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All first-time applications require two recommendations. 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 are a college senior or 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.
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.
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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 complete.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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@example.com 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.
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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 2017 you will be considered a reapplicant for January 2018 or August 2018. If you are reapplying more than 12 months after your initial term of entry, you must submit a new, fully completeapplication.
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: U.S.$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.
GMAT scores are valid for five years. Your scores must be valid at the time of application submission.
TOEFL scores are valid for two years. Your scores must be valid at the time of application submission.
International students who have a degree from an institution in which all instruction is conducted in English are exempt from the TOEFL.
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. Admitted students for the January-entry and August-entry Early Decision must submit deposits within two weeks of admission. Students for the January-entry are required to submit a second deposit by November 10, 2017. If you are admitted for August-entry Regular Decision on or before January 31, 2018 you must submit your deposit by February 20, 2018. If you are admitted from February 1, 2018 through April 6, 2018 you must submit your deposit by April 20, 2018. Applicants admitted after April 6, 2018 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 by May 25, 2018 in order to secure their spaces in the class.
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