Columbia Journalism School
  • Ma-app-main
  • Students in the arts & culture seminar visit a print studio.
  • Ma-app-main
  • Students in the arts & culture seminar visit a print studio.

M.A. Required Application Materials

1. Apply Online

You must create an account through our online system in order to submit an application and required materials. Please remember to write down your username and password to access your application at a later time.

2. $100 nonrefundable application fee

You may use a credit card (preferred method) or a check or bank money order drawn in U.S. dollars from a U.S. bank when submitting your application online. Please make the check payable to Columbia University. We will not accept cash or postal money orders, no exceptions. Applications are not considered complete unless accompanied by the fee. The school does not grant application fee waivers.

3. Official transcript(s)

Scanned copies of transcripts from each of the undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended should be uploaded through our online application system. If an official transcript is not in English, the applicant must submit both the official transcript and its verbatim English translation. If the institution does not provide an English translation, with the official transcript, a certified, verbatim English translation from a translation service must be obtained. If you are admitted and decide to enroll, you must submit, in the original, sealed envelope, from the institution(s), your academic transcript(s). IMPORTANT: Transcripts must be documents as received from your school's Registrar's Office. You may not submit photocopies, printouts from student self-service portals, photographs of documents, etc. After saving your file, make certain your transcript uploaded properly and is legible by using the "Preview Upload" button in the online application.

4. Three letters of recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendations. An email is sent to each recommender instructing him/her on how to write, upload, and submit their recommendation letter. You may submit your online application even if the letters of evaluation have not yet been submitted by your evaluators. Please refrain from asking relatives, family or personal friends and classmates to write your letters of recommendations. Appropriate recommenders are, for example, professors, editors, job supervisors, teachers; in short people who have supervised your academic or professional work and can comment and provide evidence of your ability to perform top graduate level work. Letters of recommendation should be on official letterhead.

5. Writing Test (ONLY FOR M.A. APPLICANTS WHO INDICATED THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE M.S.)The writing test administered by the Columbia Journalism School is taken from mid-December through the month of January. Test instructions will be sent after the application has been submitted. The Admissions Office will email you regarding test logistics after December 16. The writing test takes approximately two hours and focuses on an applicant’s reporting, writing and critical thinking skills. The test format is short answer and open-ended questions. It may be taken in New York City or administered with an alumni proctor in your area. You are not required to come to New York City to take the test. We do not have a sample test online.

6. An active e-mail address

Please ensure that you have a reliable e-mail account. During the admissions process the Office of Admission and Financial Aid will communicate with applicants via e-mail only. All admission and financial and scholarship aid notifications will be sent by e-mail. We encourage applicants to frequently check their e-mails.

7. TOEFL or IELTS for international applicants

Proof of English language eligibility for international students: Applicants must submit current official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores if either English is not your native language OR you indicated that your entire undergraduate education was not completed at an English-language university. TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. Waivers of this requirement are rarely given and must be approved before the application deadline. The Columbia Journalism School reference code for ETS is 2120. 

The test scores must be sent directly from either the Educational Testing Service (ETS: or IELTS ( to the Office of Admission and Financial Aid, Columbia Journalism School, 2950 Broadway, Pulitzer Hall, MC 3801, New York, NY 10027. 

We require the following scores for consideration:






8. Three personal essays submitted online only

Essay A: Autobiographical Essay (750-word limit)

In a short autobiographical essay, tell us about yourself. You can write about your family, your education, your talents, or your passions, about significant places or events in your life; about books you have read, people you have met, or work you've done that has shaped the person you have become. Our only requirements are that the essay be informative, well written, and reflective of your own voice. We caution you to avoid poetry, purple prose, or writing about yourself in the third person.

Essay B: Professional Essay (750-word limit)

Submit a stringent self-assessment of your work as a journalist or in Columbia’s Master of Science program, pointing out strengths and weaknesses. If you have not been enrolled as a student in the past five years, we would like to know what opportunities and challenges you foresee in pursuing the Master of Arts, as well as how you expect to change your career path after completing this program. If you have recently completed our Master of Science program, we would appreciate your specific ideas regarding the added value the Master of Arts program will confer upon you, and your assessment of the relationship between the two curricula.

Essay C: Program/Interests Essay (750-word limit)

This essay should make the case for your admission to your chosen major within the M.A. program.  Please describe how your educational or professional experience has prepared you to undertake this field of study and to handle the in-depth materials you will encounter in the major. It will be helpful to the admission committee if you discuss any interest in a sub-specialty (i.e. a Business and Economics major may wish to become a technology reporter) in which you will produce your master’s thesis.

9. A current résumé or curriculum vitae submitted online only

Please include any honors or awards you have received as a student or working journalist. Note important stories you have developed or covered, particularly those that relate to the concentration to which you are applying.

10. Clips/ Writing samples

We require applicants to submit three examples of their journalistic or other written work in support of their application. Please upload these samples (in PDF or Word format) into our online application. Please submit no more than a total of 15 pages. We will not accept, via post, any clips or writing samples, permanently bound or laminated work, notebooks, magazines, newspapers, books, etc. Do not submit work you have not written yourself or copyedited. For applicants that do not have clips, the admission committee wants to see writing samples that demonstrate your ability to distill and interpret information, e.g. blogs, press releases, or short writing samples. For any audio or video clips, submissions should run no longer than 2-3 minutes each. We will not accept any DVD or CD disks with audio or video clips. Any materials submitted that do not meet these criteria will not be considered. No more than three samples should be submitted in total, whether written samples or multimedia clips.


Contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid

Columbia Journalism School
2950 Broadway (at 116th St.)
Room 203 (lobby)
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-8608

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