Columbia College Chicago offers a small number of exceptional graduate programs in the arts, media, education, the business of the arts, and the application of the arts to healing. Admission to these programs is highly selective and competitive. Prospective students who demonstrate a high level of preparedness in their medium and potential for continued excellence both at the College and in their field of study are invited to apply for admission.
A Graduate Admissions Review Committee for each program evaluates all completed admission files and determines admission decisions. Students whose application materials, in the College’s sole determination, do not demonstrate both an approach to their discipline that is compatible with the distinct mission and purpose of our graduate programs, and experiences that prepare them for the intense nature of graduate study, are denied admission.
For more information about Columbia College Chicago Admissions, please see Graduate Admissions.
Requirements for Admission
To apply for admission to one of our graduate programs, all applicants must submit the following:
- Online application for admission, including the self-assessment essay and resume upload;
- Official transcripts from every college or university attended;
- Two letters of recommendation;
- A non-refundable application fee;
- Specific additional materials and/or work samples as required by each program. See: www.colum.edu/graduate.
The college welcomes the submission of scores from standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT, though neither is required for admission. Applicants who believe their scores will strengthen their applications are encouraged to submit them.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have earned, or will have earned, a bachelor’s degree before they enroll. In addition, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is strongly recommended. However, the Graduate Admissions Review Committee considers all parts of all application packages as a whole, and will take into consideration both cumulative and major GPAs.
A small number of graduate level courses are available for non-degree-seeking students (i.e., students-at-large). Typically, these courses are available only in our Educational Studies, Journalism, and Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling departments. Contact the Graduate Admissions & Services Office for more information.
Students-at-large may apply for admission as a degree-seeking graduate student in accordance with published admission deadlines. Students may not change their enrollment status mid-semester; that is, a student-at-large must complete his or her current semester of enrollment as a non-degree-seeking student and enroll as a degree candidate in the next fall semester following admission to the College. Credit earned as a student-at-large may be applied toward a Columbia College Chicago graduate degree only at the discretion of the academic department to which the student is granted admission. Students-at-large are not eligible for financial aid through federal, state, or institutional programs or for veterans’ benefits.
Application and Scholarship Deadlines
Columbia College Chicago’s graduate programs admit students for the fall semester only. Application deadlines vary from program to program, but typically fall between the end of December and mid-January for admission to the following fall semester (see colum.edu/deadlines for this year’s specific dates). Students must submit the online admission application by their program’s application deadline; all supplemental materials and documentation must be postmarked by that date. Only complete application files that meet these criteria will be considered for admission by the Graduate Admissions Review Committee. In addition, only complete applications will be considered for the College’s merit-based scholarship program for incoming graduate students.
Retention of Application Materials
Only the application form and transcript(s) are retained in a student’s permanent educational record at Columbia College Chicago. Letters of recommendation and/or any additional supporting materials are not retained, nor are they available for student perusal prior to or after admission to the College.
Applying to Multiple Graduate Programs
Students may apply to only one graduate program in an application cycle; they may re-apply in any subsequent year.
Columbia College Chicago considers international students to be those applicants who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of the United States.
Proof of English Language Proficiency
Proof of English language proficiency is required for admission into the College’s graduate if English is not the applicant’s primary language. This can be demonstrated by submitting at least one of the following:
- An official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 250 CBT (computer-based test) or 100 composite IBT (internet-based test);
- Transcript demonstrating that a degree has been earned from a U.S. college or university
- Evidence that English is the primary language of instruction at the international college or university where a degree has been earned
Note: Waivers will not be granted to international applicants/non-native speakers on the basis of U.S. employment or U.S. residency alone, nor solely on completion of an English as a Second Language (ESL) program.
Official educational records (transcripts) of college/university work completed at institutions outside the United States require a credential evaluation, which converts foreign educational documents to U.S. equivalents. To arrange for credential evaluation, applicants must contact World Education Services (WES). Please Note: Columbia requires the “WES Basic Course by Course Report.” Please contact WES directly for current costs and instruction.
If accepted for admission, international students must also submit the following, as applicable, as soon as possible after receiving their decision letter:
- $450 CONFIRMATION DEPOSIT: The confirmation deposit secures the student’s spot in the incoming class and initiates a review of the student’s file by our International Office of Student Affairs, so that they may issue a SEVIS I-20 Certificate of Eligibility (one of the items required in order to obtain a visa). Note that an I-20 cannot be issued until all the required documents (below) have been received. The confirmation deposit can be paid at: colum.edu/gradpayment
- OFFICIAL FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS: Students must submit an official bank letter/statement dated within six months of the start of classes.
- Financial documentation should verify that the student has financial support available to them that is equivalent to Columbia College Chicago’s published “Attendance Budget” for the year they intend to enroll. The current Attendance Budget is posted on Columbia’s Student Financial Services website.
- Financial documents should either be in the student’s name or the name of the student’s sponsor, if appropriate.
- If the sponsor is providing the student with free room and board, then the student is exempt from having to provide documentation of the “Room and Board” portion of the Cost of Attendance.
- CERTIFICATE OF SPONSORSHIP FORM: The Certificate of Sponsorship form should be completed only if someone else is providing funding for the student’s graduate education; the person completing the form must also have it notarized.
- AFFIDAVIT OF SPONSOR PROVIDING FREE ROOM & BOARD: The Affidavit of Sponsor Providing Free Room & Board form should be completed only if the student has a sponsor providing free housing for him or her while he or she is studying here. A photocopy of the lease or deed of the property should accompany the form.
- IMMIGRATION PRE-TRANSFER VERIFICATION FORM: The Immigration Pre-Transfer Verification Form should only be completed if the student is currently in the U.S. on a F-1 visa.
SEVIS and I-20 Issuance
A SEVIS Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility will be issued only after admission requirements have been fulfilled and the student has been granted written acceptance to Columbia College Chicago. If a student holds valid F-1 status, a SEVIS I-20 will be issued once the current school has released the student’s SEVIS record to Columbia College Chicago. To remain in compliance with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service regulations, students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits (full-time) during each semester of an academic year, abide by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) requirements, and be in compliance with the College’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy each term.
Columbia College Chicago is a SEVIS-approved institution and complies with any and all data collection and reporting requirements as mandated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. The College is obligated to report the following items on each international student who is admitted to and enrolled at Columbia College Chicago: enrollment status (full-time/part-time); change of address; change of major, program of study, and educational level; employment; finances; school transfers; withdrawal from classes; and completion of studies. International students must promptly report any changes in these items to the Office of International Student Affairs. Failure to do so will result in a violation of immigration status.
The College has implemented a mandatory health insurance plan for international students that meets immigration criteria.
For further information regarding international graduate admissions and immigration-related issues, contact the Graduate Admissions & Services office.
Admission decisions are communicated via official letter from the Graduate Admissions & Services Office, and are typically mailed six to eight weeks after each program’s application deadline.
Accepting an Offer of Admission
To accept an offer of admission, students must pay a non-refundable $450 Graduate Confirmation Deposit. This deposit may be paid via credit/debit card or check via colum.edu/gradpayment, and will be credited towards the student’s first semester’s tuition.
Admitted students may request permission to defer their admission for one year. However, deferrals are granted at the discretion of the department and are not guaranteed. If a student is granted a deferral, he or she will be required to submit a $300 Graduate Deferral Deposit in addition to a $450 Graduate Confirmation Deposit. After receiving permission and submitting these two payments, the student’s seat in the next year’s entering class will be guaranteed. If a student is considering deferral, he or she should contact the Graduate Admissions & Services office.
Typically, students placed on the waitlist during the admission process are informed whether or not a seat will become available 8-10 weeks from the date on their decision letter. However, it sometimes occurs that a space becomes available later into the summer or close to the beginning of the fall semester. The Graduate Office communicates waitlist decisions promptly as they are made.
New Student Orientation and Registration
Each year in August the Graduate Admissions and Services Office hosts a mandatory New Graduate Student Orientation for all incoming graduate students. The schedule for Orientation is published in the early summer and will be available through the Graduate Admissions and Services Office. Incoming students are required to register for Orientation.
Registration: Degree-seeking Students
All incoming graduate students will register for their first Fall’s classes at New Graduate Student Orientation. Students whose programs begin with a summer semester will receive registration instructions for their summer classes via email in May. These students are also required to attend Orientation and will register for their Fall classes at that time.
Students should be advised that enrolling in six to eight credits of enrollment constitutes “part-time” enrollment; students enrolled in either Thesis or nine credits or more constitutes “full-time.”
Graduate students-at-large may register for courses at Columbia during open registration each semester after all degree-seeking candidates of the College have registered. Students-at-large must meet all prerequisite requirements for the courses in which they enroll. Graduate students-at-large are not required to attend the New Graduate Student Orientation.
Tuition and Fees
Tuition charges are based upon the number of credits for which a student enrolls each semester, and are calculated using the per-credit-hour rate for that program. Tuition rates, student fees, and refund schedules are established each year. Please consult the Student Financial Services Web site at www.colum.edu/sfs for up-to-date information, or consult the Student Financial Services Graduate Student Handbook for the current academic year.
In addition, the College charges students additional fees to provide various student services such as graduation, registration, student activities, health services, and student health insurance. For current listings of tuition and fees, students should visit the Student Financial Services Web site at www.colum.edu/sfs for up-to-date information, or consult the Student Financial Services Graduate Student Handbook for the current academic year.
To register for classes, both new and continuing students must have a complete admissions file, must have been admitted to a graduate program of study, and must have made—or be prepared to make—provisions for their financial account. A student’s account may be addressed in any one of the following ways:
- Payment in full may be made at the time of registration (cash, personal checks, money orders, and major credit cards are accepted);
- The student may participate in the College’s payment plan;
- The student may provide evidence of a Columbia College Chicago financial aid award package that covers all costs;
- The student may provide evidence of a Columbia College Chicago financial aid award package that covers part of the total cost and participate in the College’s payment plan to cover the balance of the total costs not met by financial aid.
Students returning to the college with an unpaid balance from a previous semester will not be permitted to register or to attend classes until all accounts have been paid in full or until satisfactory arrangements for payment-in-full are recorded by Student Financial Services.
Fall and Spring Semesters
|Effective Date of Withdrawal
|Percent Tuition Reduction
||Percent Course Fee Reduction
|1st week of class
|2nd week of class
|3rd week of class
|Effective Date of Withdrawal
|Percent Tuition Reduction
||Percent Course Fee Reduction
|1st week of class
|2nd week of class
||Full tuition charged
Failing to attend class does not constitute an official withdrawal from the College. All accounts are considered active until the effective date of the official withdrawal. For more information about withdrawal from the College, please see Graduate Academic Policies, Procedures, and Regulations .
Columbia College Chicago makes significant efforts to help students seek out and obtain financial assistance in order to ensure that no student is deprived of educational opportunity for lack of funds. While Columbia makes significant efforts to help students meet educational expenses, financial responsibility ultimately rests with the student. The assistance of the Student Financial Services Office is available to all students.
All students wishing to be considered for any federal or state financial aid programs must first complete a Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). Students may complete this form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Students receiving financial aid must comply with all applicable regulations and be in compliance with the College’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy. The Student Guide to Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education is available to students from Student Financial Services.
Columbia College Chicago administers the following financial aid programs:
- Federal Programs
- Federal College Work-Study Program (FWS)
- Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Program
- Veterans’ Benefits (GI Bill)
- Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program