Columbia College Chicago offers exceptional educational programs in the visual and performing arts, media, and communications disciplines. Students with creative ability in these areas, as well as students who have a strong, yet undeveloped interest in these areas, are invited to apply for admission. Columbia seeks to admit a culturally, economically, and educationally diverse student body. Prospective students are expected to demonstrate preparedness, through educational experiences and motivation, sufficient to meet the high academic standards and expectations of the College.
An Admissions Review Committee evaluates all completed applications for admission to the College. Students whose application materials suggest they are likely to be underprepared to meet the College’s standards will be required to participate in the College’s Summer Bridge Program. Students who are required to participate in the Bridge Program must successfully complete the program before they can be admitted to the College. Students whose application materials suggest that they would be inordinately challenged by the College’s curriculum and/or students who, in the College’s sole determination, do not demonstrate the maturity and commitment necessary to be successful in our rigorous programs, will be denied admission.
For more information, please see Undergraduate Admissions.
Requirements for Admission
To apply for admission to the undergraduate program, students are asked to submit the following materials:
Admission as a Freshman
- Application for undergraduate admission, including the essay;
- Official transcripts of high school academic record [or official copy of earned General Education Diploma (GED) that includes test scores], or official transcripts from a state recognized home school;
- One letter of recommendation;
- A non-refundable application fee.
In some cases, a personal interview may be required of freshman applicants. Although the ACT or SAT is not required for admission to Columbia College Chicago, these tests are valuable tools for advising new students. In many cases, official ACT scores submitted at the time of application for admission may be used in lieu of Columbia’s required assessment test (see “Assessment of New Students”). All students are strongly encouraged to complete one of these tests while in high school for inclusion in their college applications.
Admission as a Transfer Student
- Application for undergraduate admission, including the essay;
- Official transcripts from current and all previously attended colleges;
- One letter of recommendation;
- A non-refundable application fee.
Transfer applicants who have earned 15 credit hours or more of transferable college credit from an accredited college or university are typically not required to submit their high school transcript. However, Transfer applicants who wish to present a fuller picture of their academic abilities may supplement their admissions application by including their high school transcript or GED certificate for review. Please Note: At its sole discretion, Columbia’s Admissions Review Committee may request additional documentation, including official high school transcript, or GED certificate from applicants at any stage of the review process.
In some cases, a personal interview may be required of transfer applicants. Transfer students are strongly advised to submit all transcripts of previous college work at the time of application in order to facilitate evaluation of transfer credit to Columbia College Chicago. For further information regarding Columbia’s transfer policies, please see Advanced_Credit_and_Transfer_Credit.
Admission Application Deadlines
Columbia College Chicago has a rolling admissions policy; that is, complete applications are reviewed as the College receives them. Priority application deadlines for each entrance term (Fall, Spring or Summer) are published on the College’s admission website. Interested students who apply after the priority deadline must complete their admission file in sufficient time for a thorough evaluation by the college. Students who apply after the priority deadlines and are admitted to the college, may find they are unable to register for classes if those classes have already filled, or if they are unable to secure their plan in Paying for College. In such cases, students may defer their admission for up to one year, see Deferred_Admission.
Scholarships and Application Deadlines
Columbia College Chicago offers a variety of scholarship opportunities, such as the Presidential Scholarship, the Transfer Scholarship, the Open Doors Scholarship for new students, and the Scholarship Columbia for continuing students. Criteria for scholarship awards vary and may be based on one or more of the following: financial need, academic or artistic merit, field (area) of study, and accomplishment.
To be considered for most of the college’s scholarship programs for Fall enrollment, a student must be admitted to the college and have submitted a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid no later than February 1 of the intended year of enrollment. Some scholarships have additional submission requirements.
To learn more about all of Columbia College Chicago scholarship opportunities, criteria and relevant deadlines, please see www.colum.edu/scholarships.
Typically, decision letters are mailed to students two to four weeks after all admission materials have been received. Admission decisions may also be communicated by telephone or by e-mail in advance of the decision letter.
Summer Bridge Program
The Summer Bridge Program provides selected students with the opportunity to develop further their basic skills, to improve their study habits, and to gain a better understanding of the rigors and challenges of college life. Students whose application materials suggest that they may be underprepared to meet the College’s standards are required to participate in the Bridge Program. Students who complete the Bridge Program satisfactorily will be admitted to Columbia College Chicago. Students who do not successfully complete the program cannot be admitted to the College. The Bridge Program is offered only in the summer. Specific dates for the Bridge Program are available through the Undergraduate Admissions Office. Students who apply for spring admission and are required to complete the Summer Bridge program will not be considered for admission until the following fall semester.
Admission to Columbia College Chicago is offered for a specified term of entry. Students who are offered admission to Columbia but are unable to enroll in the specified term of entry may request to defer their admission for one year by contacting the Undergraduate Admissions Office in writing. Application materials for students who are granted deferred admission are retained for one year.
A full complement of courses is offered in major and Liberal Arts and Sciences departments. Flexible summer class schedules include five-, eight-, ten-, and twelve-week sessions. Students-at-large may register for any summer course if prerequisites are met. Registration begins typically in March for current degree-seeking students, and registration is available at a later date for both students-at-large and new students wishing to attend. For information contact Undergraduate Admissions.
January Session (J-Session)
The J-Session is designed to offer concentrated learning experiences not usually available in the regular semester. Such courses are designed for both the matriculating and non-matriculating undergraduate student and may include but are not limited to immersion, intensive research, travel, certification, internships, master classes, community service, and workshops. A student may earn a maximum of four credits per J-Session. For information contact the College Advising Center.
High School Summer Institute
Columbia’s High School Summer Institute introduces motivated high school juniors and seniors to the college experience. Courses are reflective of the College’s curriculum, but tailored to the unique needs of high school students. Some courses offer college credit upon successful completion. Credit earned in the High School Summer Institute may be applied as elective credit at Columbia, but is not applied toward core or concentration requirements in the student’s major. For more information contact Undergraduate Admissions.
Second Bachelor’s Degree
If a student has already earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia or another accredited institution, he or she may earn a second bachelor’s degree at Columbia by completing required courses specified by one of the major-granting departments or programs of the College. All other academic requirements will be considered fulfilled within the curriculum of the previously granted bachelor’s degree. Credits applied to the original degree and transfer credits cannot count toward this degree; however, specific courses may be waived based on work experiences or courses from the original degree. Not all departments offer second bachelor’s degrees. Please call Undergraduate Admissions for updated offerings.
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. Columbia College Chicago does not retain application materials for students who do not enroll unless deferred admission—for one year only—is requested and granted.
Columbia College Chicago students who interrupt their studies at Columbia for one full academic year or longer must complete a re-enrollment form in the office of Undergraduate Admissions to return to the College. Upon re-enrollment the student must meet the academic program and degree completion requirements that are in place at the time of re-enrollment and must meet with a college advisor in the College Advising Center prior to registration to have his or her transcripts and requirements assessed.
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 undergraduate degree program if English is not your 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 200 CBT (computer-based test) or 72 composite IBT (internet-based test);
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of at least 5.5;
- TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) score of at least 725;
- ACT (American College Testing) score of at least 20 in the English section;
- SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) score of at least 500 average in the Critical Reading and Writing section;
- Transcript from a U.S. high school or a high school in which English is the language of instruction along with an ACT or SAT score;
- Evidence of completion of at least one semester of university-level coursework in English Composition at an accredited college/university in the United States with a grade of “C” or better;
- Successful completion of a GED (General Education Diploma
Note: The TOEFL cannot be waived for any applicant educated in a country where the native language is not officially recognized as English. 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.
In addition, to apply for admission to the undergraduate program, international applicants are asked to submit the following materials:
- The international undergraduate application form, including the essay;
- An international student application;
- One letter of recommendation from an instructor or other individual who is qualified to comment on the applicant’s potential to complete college-level work in an arts and communications curriculum;
- Official transcripts or certified true copies of educational records (secondary and/or university);
- All foreign application documents not originally in English must include an English translation.
- For F-1 and J01 Visa issuing purposes, applicants are asked to submit the following documents:
A photocopy of the passport page(s) showing the applicant’s full name and passport expiration date. Applicants currently in the United States must also submit a photocopy of the I-94 card (front and back). Additionally, applicants currently holding F-1 student visa status must submit: photocopy of the current I-20; photocopy of the F-1 student visa stamp in the passport (if applicable); and Immigration Pre-Transfer Verification Form, completed by the Designated School Official or International Student Advisor at the applicant’s current U.S. institution.
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 is transferring from another school in the U.S. (high school, community college, university, language institute, etc.) and currently 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 12 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. See Columbia’s Tuition and Fees brochure for international student health insurance fees.
For further information regarding international undergraduate admissions and immigration-related issues, contact Undergraduate Admissions.
New Student Assessment, Orientation, and Registration
Assessment of New Students
First-time students entering Columbia College Chicago with no transfer credit, and those who graduated from high school within one year prior to their date of enrollment at Columbia, are required to take the new student assessment prior to enrolling in classes at the College. In many cases, official ACT scores submitted at the time of application for admission may be used in lieu of Columbia’s assessment. Transfer students with no credit in college-level English composition or in college-level mathematics are required to take the new student assessment in writing only and/or in math only prior to enrolling in classes. Results of these assessment instruments are used to identify students’ skill levels, to aid in advisement for course selection, and to assist in developing a successful academic program for each student. Students should contact the Learning Studio for the dates and times that the assessments are scheduled during the weeks prior to the start of each semester.
Orientation and Registration for New Students
New freshmen and new transfer students register for classes as part of their orientation to the College. Orientation activities are scheduled on campus during the months of July and August, in anticipation of the start of the fall semester, typically during January, in anticipation of the start of the spring semester, and during May, for students starting in the summer semester. Participation in orientation activities is mandatory for all new students. The schedule for orientation is published online each year and is available through the Office of New Student Programs, Undergraduate Admissions, and the College Advising Center, after students have registered for orientation.
Students, age 18 and older, who are not seeking a college degree and wish to enroll in courses at Columbia College Chicago should complete the student-at-large application. 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. Credit earned as a student-at-large may be counted toward a Columbia College Chicago degree if the student later applies for admission to the College and is admitted to the undergraduate program of study. Students-at-large may apply for admission to the undergraduate degree program of the College at any time, but they 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 semester following admission to the College. Students-at-large are not eligible for financial aid through federal, state, or institutional programs or for veterans’ benefits.
Advanced Credit and Transfer Credit
Office of Degree Evaluation
The Office of Degree Evaluation evaluates transfer and academic requirements to provide students with Transfer Evaluation Reports and Initial and Final Graduation Audits. This office also maintains course articulations with other institutions, reviews course selections for study abroad and domestic consortium students, and advises prospective transfer students. Students apply for graduation through this office, which monitors applications and distributes diplomas.
Columbia College Chicago accepts transfer credit from other regionally accredited colleges and universities and will consider transfer credit from select institutions with discipline-specific accreditation, located in Illinois or out of state. Transfer courses must be completed with a C grade or better and must be similar or equivalent in content to those offered by Columbia. The acceptance of transfer credit is at the sole discretion of the college. To be accepted, official college transcripts, military records, or advanced placement test scores must be received by the Undergraduate Admissions Office before the end of the student’s first semester of attendance at Columbia College Chicago. Grades and grade point averages do not transfer. All transfer students will receive an official transcript evaluation from the Office of Degree Evaluation as part of the admissions process.
- No minimum number of transfer credits is required to transfer to Columbia College Chicago.
- The maximum number of credit hours accepted from four-year colleges and universities is 88 credit hours.
- The maximum number of credit hours accepted from a two-year college is 62. The maximum number of credits accepted from a combination of two-year college and CLEP, AP, military, and/or life experience is 62 credit hours.
- If a student attended both a four-year and a two-year college, the maximum number of credit hours accepted in transfer is 88, with no more than 62 credit hours accepted from a two-year college.
- The final 12 credit hours needed for graduation must be taken at Columbia College Chicago.
- A maximum of four credit hours in physical education is accepted.
- A maximum of nine credit hours in foreign language is accepted.
- Topics, independent study, internships, ESL, adult education, continuing education, workshops, seminars, and developmental courses (those courses usually numbered below 100) are not transferable.
Students desiring advanced standing (transfer credit) based on CLEP results must have official score, reports sent to the Office of Degree Evaluation.
Columbia follows the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendation for the award of CLEP credit. To see the list of subjects and accepted scores please review the information at “What Your CLEP Score Means” at http://collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/scores.html.
Scores of 3, 4, or 5 on Advanced Placement tests may also be accepted as transfer credit, and official records must be sent to the Office of Degree Evaluation for consideration. Credit for CLEP and Advanced Placement tests is applicable only to students with freshman or sophomore standing and is considered inappropriate for more advanced students. For more information about AP credit, please see http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html. Refer to the Transfer Credit section, on this page, for maximum acceptable hours.
Life Experience Credit
Under special circumstances, a student may be granted up to 16 credit hours in their major for life and work experience. Applications are available in the Records Office for evaluation of non-college learning experiences.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Credit is accepted for test scores of 4 or higher.
Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
Credit is accepted for A and AS Level exams with grades of A to E in subjects similar to those offered at Columbia College Chicago. For more information about CIE’s, see www.cie.org.uk.
Veterans may be eligible for active duty and service school credit on the basis of information from official copies of military records. Contact the veterans’ affairs coordinator in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
The Office of Degree Evaluation evaluates transcripts of previous college work for students who transfer to Columbia. The office also maintains the articulation of courses with select community colleges.
Students planning to transfer to Columbia should consult with their community college transfer center or advisor and Columbia’s Office of Degree Evaluation early in their academic career to obtain specific information on transferring Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum (LASCC) and major course credits. Articulation agreements are frequently updated.
Course equivalency charts and transfer guides can be found at http://www.colum.edu/Students/Academics/Degree_Evaluation/index.php for the following institutions:
College of Lake County, Grayslake, Illinois
Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick, Rhode Island
Daley College, Chicago, Illinois
College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Elgin Community College, Elgin, Illinois
Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, Wisconsin
Harold Washington College, Chicago, Illinois
Hebrew Theological College, Skokie, Illinois
Illinois Central College, Peoria, Illinois
Institute of Audio Research, NY, NY
Jikei Group of Schools, Japan
Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois
Kennedy-King College, Chicago, Illinois
Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois
Lincoln College, Lincoln, Illinois
Malcolm X College, Chicago, Illinois
McHenry County College, Crystal Lake, Illinois
Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, Illinois
Morton College, Cicero, Illinois
Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, Illinois
Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois
Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois
Rock Valley College, Rockford, Illinois
Sauk Valley College, Dixon, Illinois
Second City, Chicago, Illinois
South Suburban College, South Holland, Illinois
Truman College, Chicago, Illinois
Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove, Illinois
William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, Illinois
Wright College, Chicago, Illinois
Transfer Articulation of Majors
Departmental transfer articulations are available in major areas such as:
Art and Design
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management
Audio Arts and Acoustics
Tuition and Fees
Tuition charges are based upon the number of credit hours for which a student enrolls each semester. A full-time student is one who enrolls for a minimum of 12 credit hours. Full-time students who enroll for 12 to 16 credit hours are charged the semester tuition rate. For any additional credit hours of enrollment beyond 16 credit hours, the student is charged a per-credit-hour rate. A part-time student is one who enrolls for fewer than 12 credit hours in a semester. For part-time students who enroll in 1 to 11 credit hours, tuition is based upon a per-credit-hour rate. Tuition rates, student fees, and refund schedule 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 Tuition and Fees brochure for the current academic year.
In addition, the College charges students additional fees to provide various student services such as orientation, 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 or consult the Tuition and Fees brochure for the current academic year.
Instructional Resources Fees
Instructional resources fees support a variety of educational expenses, assist in the maintenance of specialized facilities, and provide the instructional support required by Columbia’s curriculum.
Courses carrying one credit do not have a fee. Courses with 2-4 credits are assessed at the rates given below. Courses with 5-6 credits are double those rates.
||Art and Design; Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management; Journalism; Fiction Writing; Science/Mathematics; Theater
||Audio Arts and Acoustics; Early Childhood Education; Interactive Arts and Media; Radio; Television
||ASL/English Interpretation; Dance; Film/Video; Music*; Photography
*Excludes private lessons
Paying for College
Creating a financial plan begins with evaluating and understanding all of the costs involved with attaining your Columbia education. The cost of a Columbia education differs from individual to individual depending on many personal choices. These may include anything from where you decide to live while you attend school to your personal transportation. With this in mind Columbia’s Student Financial Services has designed tools to assist you in evaluating and determining your individual costs. For more information on the many payment options, plans and services Columbia offers please visit Create a Plan.
Outstanding Student Account Balances
Students who have not resolved their outstanding student account balance will not be able to register for future courses nor obtain copies of their official transcript and/or diploma. For assistance in resolving an outstanding student account balance contact the office of 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
||Full tuition charged
|Effective Date of Withdrawal
||Percent Tuition Reduction
||Percent Course Fee Reduction
|1st week of class
|2nd week of class
||Full tuition charged
Students who completely withdraw through the ninth week and were awarded Title IV aid (federal financial aid) will have their aid award prorated based on their last date of attendance. Award adjustments may result in an outstanding student account balance. Please see the Student Financial Services website for more information on how withdrawing impacts financial aid.
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 Undergraduate Academic Policies .
Federal/State Financial Aid
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 or if they need further assistance they should visit the Student Financial Services website. All students who revive federal/state financial aid must comply with all applicable regulations. Please see the Student Financial Services website to learn more about Maintaining Your Eligibility. Please visit the Student Financial Services website for a complete listing of funding sources available for application.