Feb 23, 2020  
2016-2017 Course Catalog 
2016-2017 Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Requirements for Undergraduate Admission

Undergraduate Admissions

Columbia College Chicago offers exceptional educational programs in the visual, performing, media, and communications arts. Students with training in these creative areas, as well as students who have a strong interest but no formal training, are invited to apply. Columbia seeks to enroll a culturally, economically, and educationally diverse student body. Prospective students are expected to demonstrate preparedness through educational experiences and motivation that are 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.

For more information, please visit colum.edu/admissions.


Requirements for Admission

Applying for Admission as a Freshman or Transfer Student

Submission of the following materials is required:

  • Application for undergraduate admission, including the essay;
  • Official transcripts of high school academic record [or official General Education Diploma (GED) transcript], or official transcripts from a state recognized home school; or by exception.
  • Official transcripts from current and all previously attended colleges (Transfer Students*):
  • At least one letter of recommendation;
  • A non-refundable application fee.

Submission of the following materials is optional:

  • ACT or SAT scores are not required for admission, but are used in placement for Writing and Mathematics courses. Students without ACT or SAT scores are required to complete alternate placement assessments, and may be blocked from registering for some courses.
  • A portfolio/audition of a student’s best creative/artistic work

In some cases, a personal interview may be required of applicants.

*Transfer students must 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.


Applying for Admission as an International Freshman or International Transfer Student

Submission of the following materials is required:

  • Application for undergraduate admission, including the essay;
  • Official or certified true copies of educational records from all high school/secondary schools and post-secondary schools. Official educational records not written in English should include an English translation.
  • Official or certified true copies of the educational records of all colleges and universities previously attended. Official educational records not written in English should include an English translation. (Transfer Students*)
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency (see types of “Proof” listed below)
  • At least one letter of recommendation;
  • A non-refundable application fee.

Submission of the following materials is optional:

  • ACT or SAT scores
  • A portfolio/audition of a student’s best creative/artistic work

In some cases, a personal interview may be required of applicants.

*Transfer students must 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.

Once admitted to the college, international students must submit additional documents to obtain a SEVIS I-20 Certificate of Eligibility or DS 2019 Form in order to apply for a F-1 or J-1 visa, respectively. (Please see the “International Students: Additional Documentation for SEVIS I-20 or DS 2019 Form” below)

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Proof of English language proficiency is required for admission into the College if English is not the student’s primary language in their home country. Please visit https://colum.edu/elp for comprehensive information regarding English language proficiency requirements at Columbia College Chicago.

International Conditional Admissions

International students who meet all admissions requirements except for Proof of English Language Proficiency may be offered an International Conditional Admissions offer pending Proof of English Proficiency. Students have up to one year to meet Proof of English Proficiency requirements.

Additional Required Documents for International Students for the SEVIS I-20 or DS 2019 Form

Students applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa will need to submit additional documents in order for the college to issue the SEVIS form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility or DS 2019. These documents are not due until after a student has received an admissions decision of “Admit” from the college.

Those documents include:

  • A photocopy of the passport page(s) showing the applicant’s full name, date of birth, and passport expiration date;
  • Proof of Sufficient Funds for the relevant school year, as determined by Columbia College Student Financial Services;
  • A Sponsorship Verification form if the funds are not from the applicant’s personal bank account.

Additionally, applicants currently holding F-1 student visa status in the U.S. with an active I-20 must submit:

  • A photocopy of the current I-20;
  • A photocopy of the F-1 student visa stamp in the passport;
  • An Immigration Pre-Transfer Verification Form, completed by the Designated School Official (DSO), this is usually the International Student Advisor at the applicant’s current U.S. institution.

Immigration forms (SEVIS I-20/DS-2019)

A SEVIS Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility or DS-2019 will be issued only after admission requirements have been fulfilled and the student has been granted written acceptance to Columbia College Chicago and all relevant immigration and financial documentation has been submitted and verified. If a student is transferring from another school in the U.S. (high school, community college, university, language institute, etc.) and currently holds a valid SEVIS I-20, the SEVIS ID can be transferred to Columbia and a new I-20 will be issued once all immigration and financial documents have been received and the current school has released the student’s SEVIS record to Columbia College Chicago.

**SEVIS DS-2019 (J-1 Visa) If a student is transferring from another school in the U.S. (high school, community college, university, language institute, etc.) and currently holds a valid SEVIS DS-2019, the student is asked to consult with their foreign student advisor to determine SEVIS transfer eligibility.**

To remain in compliance with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, 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 meet all immigration criteria. For further information regarding international undergraduate admissions and immigration-related issues, visit: http://www.colum.edu/admissions/additional-information/international.html 

Admission Application Deadlines

Priority application deadlines for each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) are published on Columbia’s Admissions website. Priority application deadlines are the dates by which the College has determined a student (if they have a completed application on file by that date) will have the greatest likelihood of success at preparing themselves to enter the College once admitted. Students, who apply or complete their applications after the priority deadlines and are admitted to the College, may experience challenges securing housing, registering for classes, and/or creating their plan to pay for college. As a result, the College reserves the right to delay the entry of any student who completes their application and is admitted after the priority deadline until the semester following the semester for which they applied (i.e. a student applying for and admitted to the Fall semester after the priority deadline may be required to delay enrolling in classes until the following Spring semester).

Columbia College Chicago has a rolling admissions policy; meaning, complete applications are reviewed as the College receives them. Typically, once a student has completed their application, they will be notified about their admissions decision within two to four weeks.


Columbia College Chicago offers scholarship opportunities. 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 learn more about all of Columbia College Chicago’s scholarship opportunities, 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.

Deferred Admission

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 by contacting the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Deferrals will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Summer School

Over the summer, a variety of courses are offered in all academic 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 April 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. J-Session courses 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 4 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 rising sophomores, rising juniors and rising seniors to the college experience. Courses are reflective of the College’s curriculum, but tailored to the unique needs of high school students. All 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 visit colum.edu/hssi.

Second Bachelor’s Degree

If a student has already earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia or another accredited institution, they 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.

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.

Returning Students

Columbia College Chicago students who interrupt their studies at Columbia for one full academic year or longer must complete the Returning Student online application. In this case, an academic year is considered consecutively not enrolling for Fall, Spring, and Summer  semesters. Upon applying for re-enrollment, the student must meet the academic program and degree completion requirements that are in place at the time of re-enrollment. Transcripts are required for any colleges attended since enrolling at Columbia. Further, a returning student must meet with a college advisor in the College Advising Center prior to registration.


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 test 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 who place into Basic Mathematics and/or Writing and Rhetoric Stretch A are required to take these courses within the first year of their attendance at Columbia. Whenever possible, these students will take the required course(s) during their first semester of attendance. 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.


Liberal Arts and Sciences Course Selection Based on COMPASS, ACT, and SAT Results  


Orientation and Registration for New Students

New freshmen and new transfer students register for classes as part of their orientation to the College. Participation in orientation activities is mandatory for all new students. Students are eligible for Orientation once they have been admitted and confirmed their intent to enroll at the college.

Non-Degree Seeking Students

(formerly know as Students At-Large)

Students who are not seeking a college degree and wish to enroll in courses for credit at Columbia College Chicago must complete the non-degree seeking application. Non-degree students may register for courses at Columbia during open registration each semester after all degree-seeking candidates of the College have registered. Non-degree students must meet all prerequisite requirements for the courses in which they enroll. Credit earned as a non-degree student may be counted toward a Columbia College Chicago degree if the student later applies for admission to the College and is admitted to an undergraduate program of study. Non-degree seeking students may apply for admission to an undergraduate degree program of the College at any time, but may not change their enrollment status mid-semester. Non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid through federal, state, or institutional programs or for veterans’ benefits. Applicants who have been denied admission to Columbia through the regular admission process are not eligible to enroll as non-degree students. 

Advanced Credit and Transfer Credit

Transfer Credit

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. 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, at the latest, 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 as part of the admissions process.

  • No minimum number of transfer credits is required to transfer to Columbia College Chicago.
  • The maximum number of accepted credits earned outside of Columbia College Chicago is 75.
  • The final 12 credits required for graduation must be taken at Columbia College Chicago.
  • A minimum of 45 total credits must be taken at Columbia College Chicago.
  • A minimum of 15 credits required for the major must be taken at Columbia College Chicago.
  • ESL, adult education, continuing education, workshops, seminars, and developmental courses (those courses usually numbered below 100) are not transferable.
  • Topics, independent study, and internships are considered on a case by case basis and may not be transferable.

For additional information about the Transfer Student application or policies: www.colum.edu/transfers.

Click here for a list of regionally accredited institutions. In some cases, Columbia College Chicago may consider transfer credit from an institution with national accreditation.

Information for Illinois Transfer Students

Effective fall 2014, Columbia College Chicago participates in the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) as a receiving institution. The IAI is a statewide agreement that allows transfer students coming from participating Illinois institutions who meet certain criteria to complete the General Education Core Curriculum (GECC) in lieu of the Columbia College Chicago Liberal Arts and Sciences Core. Transfer students who are accepted to Columbia College Chicago and who meet at least one of the following criteria will be eligible for the IAI:

  1. Earned Associate’s degree from a participating Illinois institution
  2. Completion of the GECC package at a participating Illinois institution
  3. Completion of 30 transferable credits from one or more participating Illinois institutions

Students who meet 1 or 3 above who have not yet completed the GECC package will be permitted to do so while enrolled at Columbia College Chicago. In the event that the Columbia College Chicago Liberal Arts and Sciences Core leads to faster degree completion, the student may choose it instead of the GECC.

Transfer students who complete the GECC package in lieu of Columbia College Chicago’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Core must still complete the following college-wide degree requirements, which may or may not be fulfilled in transfer:

  1. 6 credits of 2000-level or higher Liberal Arts and Sciences Core courses
  2. 3 credits of Global Awareness
  3. 3 credits of United States Pluralism

In addition, all Columbia College Chicago students are required to complete one course coded as Writing Intensive. Courses coded as Writing Intensive are denoted with a “WI” in the course catalog and schedule. WI courses may also satisfy major, minor, GECC, or Liberal Arts and Sciences Core requirements.

Transfer students entering Columbia College Chicago from participating Illinois institutions with 29 or fewer transferable credits are required to complete the Liberal Arts and Sciences Core.

For more information on the Illinois Articulation Initiative, please visit https://www.itransfer.org/IAI/


Articulation Agreements

Articulation agreements are designed to build strong relationships between two-year institutions and Columbia College Chicago so that transfer students understand exactly what courses will and will not transfer when they enroll at Columbia. Not to be confused with course equivalencies which identify whether or not individual courses will apply towards a degree at Columbia, articulation agreements identify how an entire group of courses from an awarded Associates degree will apply toward a degree at Columbia. For a current list of articulation agreements and established transfer guides with partner institutions, please visit www.colum.edu/transfers.


CLEP/AP Credit

Students desiring advanced standing (transfer credit) based on CLEP results must have official score reports sent to the Office of Admissions.

Columbia follows the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendation for the award of CLEP credit. For a list of subjects, accepted scores and equivalencies, please see CLEP-ACE Guidelines .

Qualifying scores on Advanced Placement tests may also be accepted for credit. Official score reports must be sent to the Office of Admissions 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 Advanced Placement credit, please see http://students.colum.edu/ode/pdf/ap-exam-table.pdf.

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 Office of the Registrar for evaluation of non-college learning experiences.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

Credit is accepted for test scores of 4 or higher.

Cambridge International Examinations IGCSE

Credit is accepted for A-Level exams with grades of A to C in subjects similar to those offered at Columbia College Chicago. For more information about Cambridge Exams, see www.cie.org.uk.

Military Credit

Veterans may be eligible for active duty and service school credit on the basis of information from official copies of military records. Contact the Office of Admissions with additional questions.


Tuition and Fees

Tuition charges are based upon the number of credits for which a student enrolls each semester. A full-time student is one who enrolls for a minimum of 12 credits. Full-time students who enroll for 12 to 16 credits are charged the semester tuition rate. For any additional credit hours of enrollment beyond 16 credits, the student is charged a per-credit-hour rate. A part-time student is one who enrolls for fewer than 12 credits in a semester. For part-time students who enroll in 1 to 11 credits, tuition is based upon a per-credit-hour rate. Tuition rates, student fees, and refund schedule are established each 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. Please consult the Student Financial Services Web site at www.colum.edu/sfs for up-to-date information.


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. 

Please consult the Student Financial Services Web site at www.colum.edu/sfs for up-to-date information on instructional resource fees.


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 Office of 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 colum.edu/sfs.

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.

Refund Schedule

If a student drops a course prior to its start date, they are eligible for a refund of the tuition and fees associated with that course. For many courses, students are also permitted to drop with a refund for a predetermined number of days after the course has started. For the most recent policy on the refund period for dropped classes, please visit colum.edu/sfs. If a student fails to drop from a course during the refund period, they are responsible for all tuition and fees associated with the course, even if they never attended the course.


Withdrawing from Courses and Withdrawing from the College

Students who are planning to withdraw from a course are encouraged to speak with both College Advising and the Office of Student Financial Services prior to withdrawing. Withdrawing from a course can impact the student’s financial standing with the college, and can also impact the student’s academic standing.

If a student completely withdraws from courses through the 60% point of the term (or session if not enrolled for the full term) and was awarded Title IV aid (federal financial aid) they will have their financial aid award prorated based on the last date of attendance. Award adjustments may result in an outstanding student account balance.

Please note, 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 .

Mandatory Attendance Process

Students are required to attend class regularly.  Failure to attend class in the first two weeks of the term will negatively impact financial aid. If your professor reports that you failed to attend and participate in class during the add/drop period, a grade of NS (no-show) will be entered on your record for the course. Please note that students will still be charged tuition and fees for any course for which you receive a NS grade. For more information on non-attendance please visit the Student Financial Services website.


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.gov. All students who receive federal/state financial aid must comply with all applicable regulations. For additional information on applying for financial aid, please visit colum.edu/sfs.