Application Process

Answers to questions students ask about the application process.

 

How do I apply to Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)?

Applicants must apply online. Applying online will give you greater control of your application and will allow us to process it more efficiently.

Do I need a degree in engineering to apply?

Ordinarily, applicants have majored in the field in which graduate study is intended. But in certain programs, preparation in a related field of engineering or science is acceptable. The applicant will be admitted only if the undergraduate record shows promise of productive and effective graduate work.

May I provide you with background information about myself such as GPA, prior education, work experience, and test scores, to learn about my chances for admission and possibility for financial aid before applying?

Unfortunately, we are unable to evaluate your candidacy prior to submission of a complete application. There is no minimum score requirement for standardized test scores or GPA in order to apply for admission consideration. If you are interested in admission, we encourage you to submit a complete application along with the required documents.

Which semesters or terms can I apply for?

Admission is available for the spring or fall term. Some programs only offer admission for a fall term start. Check the department websites for more information about programs.

What is the deadline to apply?

The School follows what is commonly referred to as a "rolling" admissions process, meaning we accept applications after our posted deadlines. However, applicants should apply on or within a few weeks of our priority deadlines for the best chances of admission. 

What is the deadline for the arrival of the recommendations or other materials supporting my application?

References can be added to your submitted application after the priority deadline, if necessary. It is in your best interest to complete your application close to the priority deadline. The contacts you list as reference providers will be able to add their letters directly to your online application after submission. If you haven't taken the GRE or TOEFL test, you may enter your anticipated test date to submit the application and update the scores after submission when available.

What if I apply after the priority deadline? Do I still have a chance for admission?

Sometimes students miss the priority deadline for good reasons. However, this may cause chances for admission to decrease when the application is completed more than a few weeks after the priority deadline.  Be advised that Columbia reserves the right to evaluate and render a decision on the application even if all the pieces of the application have not been received after the priority deadline. Once a decision is rendered the decision will be final. 

What happens to my online application after it is submitted?

As soon as you submit your online application, with all the required material, it goes through a process to prepare for the admissions review. Due to the large amount of applications received this process can take several weeks. It is normal that we do not communicate with you during this process.

You will receive an email to inform you when your application was sent for review. If we still require some document(s) to complete your application you will receive an incomplete application notice. However, you can login at anytime to complete or update your application before it goes under review. When the application is under review you will be unable to further alter your application. 

I am interested in two different programs at SEAS — can I apply to both?

No. You may apply to only one program at a time. Do not apply to more than one program at SEAS for a given term or the applications you submit may be invalidated.

I am interested in an on-campus program and Columbia Video Network (CVN) program, can I apply to both?

No. You may apply to only one program at a time either on-campus or through CVN. Students may not apply to more than one program at SEAS for a given term or applications may be invalidated.

I have changed my name. What name should I enter on the application?

Enter your legal name on your application for admission. If you are an international student, use the name as it appears on your passport. If your name differs in any way on your official documents from what you indicated on the application this can cause a delay or a rescinding of an admission offer. Be sure to enter alternative name(s) on the application for admission in the space provided. In addition, please mail proof of name changes, such as a copy of a marriage certificate.  Please read the application carefully and follow the instructions.

Where do I mail official transcripts?

Copies of your official transcripts should be uploaded online for review purposes. Our office will require official transcripts via postal mail at the point of admission.  Check our FAQ section on transcripts if you have additional questions. 

Can I submit additional materials once my application is under review or evaluation?

After your application is in review you may not update it.  Furthermore, an application will not be evaluated a second time should the decision be made prior to receiving additional material. All materials submitted in support of an applicant, whether official or unofficial, become the property of Columbia University and will not be returned to the applicant or forwarded to other schools or agencies. We suggest that you keep copies of any documents you may need for your personal use.

Do all of my application materials need to be submitted online?

Yes, applicants must submit all application requirements online. This includes uploaded copies of official transcripts and recommendations. No exceptions are made to the requirement.

Are certain recommendation letters deemed more effective for the application?

A letter that addresses recollections of favorable personal interactions in a classroom or a laboratory setting is very valuable. Letters from professors in the student's department who have direct experience with the student and can clearly compare him or her to others from classes they taught are effective. If a student has professional experience that is relevant, either because of the skills developed or the type of work experience, a letter from professionals can be very useful. Also, letters from research supervisors in the student's chosen area are important. Research-oriented letters are encouraged for those applying at the Ph.D. level.

How long should my personal statement be?

There is no minimum or maximum length for the personal statement. Brevity is preferred. The statement serves as both a writing sample and opportunity for you to explain why you are applying, what makes you a good fit, and anything that may be unclear elsewhere on your application.

Do you accept international/foreign checks or other methods of payment for the application fee?

No, the application fee must be paid using a major credit card via the online application system.

I am having technical problems with the online application system. Who should I contact?

It is best if you locate and contact the webmaster or technical support directly from your online application.

How can I check the status of my application?

Applicants may login to the online application system at any time to view their application and update the application if necessary until the review process begins. You will receive an email to inform you when your application was sent for review or a decision is made. Be advised that after the deadline Columbia reserves the right to evaluate an application and render a final decision even if all pieces of the application have not been received.

Contacting our office for your status interrupts and can delay the processing of applications for review.

When will I receive a decision on my application?

A decision can be expected to be made within six to eight weeks from the time the application came under review. Be advised, the decision could take more or less time depending on a variety of factors, including the selection of students for funding.

How will I be notified of the decision on my application?

You may be informed by the department to which you applied by email or phone call. However, this type of notice is not a guarantee of admission until a verification process is completed by the Graduate Student Affairs Office (GSA). The official notice of an accept offer will be communicated to you by GSA in a formal letter sent electronically.  Be sure you provide a current and valid email address to ensure you receive all correspondence.

Can my reference providers submit their letters of recommendation by postal mail or via email to someone directly?

We are unable to accept hard copy reference letters by mail or via email. References sent this way will not be reviewed. Exceptions are not made.  If your reference provider has trouble submitting their reference online, please contact technical support from the online system or contact the Office of Graduate Student Affairs for assistance at: seasgradmit@columbia.edu and we will be happy to assist them.

I am an international student. Do I need to submit financial documents along with my application for visa purposes?

There is no need to submit financial documents before the decision is made on your application for admission. You may be required to submit financial statements to the International Students and Scholars Office ISSO after you are accepted into the program.