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 will create a PIN and password so that you can return to work on your application over several sessions. Your information is transmitted through a secure server and is kept confidential until you submit your application. Please write down your PIN and password for your reference.

2. $100 nonrefundable application fee

You may use a credit card (preferred method) or a check or U.S. bank money order in U.S. dollars when submitting your nonrefundable application fee online. When using a check or U.S. bank money order, make sure your name appears on the front and is payable to Columbia University. We cannot accept wire transfers, cash or postal money orders. The school does not grant application fee waivers.

3. Official transcript(s)

Applicants to Columbia Journalism School must have graduated from regionally accredited U.S. colleges and universities or from overseas institutions with equivalent certification. Scanned copies of transcripts from each of the undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended should be uploaded through our online application system. Should you be admitted and choose to enroll, you must submit official copies of all transcripts. You may not register without having official transcripts on file.

If you completed coursework through a study abroad program, you must provide a separate transcript from the host institution unless all study abroad course titles and grades are listed on your primary transcript. All official academic transcripts must be official documents bearing the institutional seal and signature of the institution's registrar. They must be submitted in the original, sealed envelope from the institution. Unofficial transcripts printed from a school Web site will not be considered.

If an original transcript (mark sheet, degree certificate, diploma or academic record) is not in English, the applicant must submit both the official transcript and its verbatim English translation. Both the official transcript and the translation should be submitted in one sealed envelope. If the institution attended does not provide an English translation with the official transcript, a certified, verbatim English translation from a translation service must be obtained and submitted in a sealed envelope, endorsed across the seal. Columbia University has no preferred translating services. However, many of our applicants use World Education Services to assist in English translation and verification. Please note WES charges an additional fee for this service.

4. Three letters of recommendation

All M.A. applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. To expedite this process you must ask your recommenders to use the online recommendation form located in the online application. During the online application process, you will identify the names of three recommenders and their email addresses. An email is sent to each person instructing him/her how to write, upload and submit their recommendation letter. If your recommender wishes to submit his/her recommendation on paper via U.S. mail, he/she must contact the admissions office directly to receive instructions. Your letters of recommendation should be on official letterhead.

5. An active e-mail address

During the admission process, we will communicate with you by e-mail only. It is essential that you have a reliable e-mail account that you check on a daily basis and that blockers and bulk mail filters are disabled from this account. Mail filters sometimes interfere with our communications.

6. 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 unless they indicate that their entire undergraduate education was conducted at an English-language university. Native English speakers who did not earn their undergraduate degree at an English-language university should contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid. 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 Graduate School of Journalism reference code for ETS is 2120.  On the TOEFL, we require a minimum score of 650 (paper-based) or 114 (internet-based); and for the IELTS we require a minimum of 8.0.

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:


Paper-based: 650

Computer-based: 280

Internet-based: 114


Overall: 8.0

7. 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 M.S. 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 M.A., as well as how you expect to change your career path after completing this program. If you have recently completed our M.S. program, we would appreciate your specific ideas regarding the added value the M.A. program will confer upon you. Finally, the admissions committee will be looking for candidates who -- either as working journalists or students of journalism -- have shown themselves proficient in the technical and professional skills of the craft, and who also possess the intellectual curiosity and capacity to undertake the M.A. This program emphasizes expertise in the subject matter and approaches the course materials in the more academic context of other departments in a great research university.

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

Each candidate for admission must specify a concentration. You may apply to only one of the four available concentration, and we urge you to think very carefully about your skills, educational goals and professional ambitions before applying. This essay should make the case for admission to your chosen concentration within the M.A. program. Please describe how your educational or professional experience has prepared you to undertake this field of study and manage 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 under the joint advisement of faculty from both the journalism school and the specialized field within the concentration.

8. 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. Try to keep your résumé or CV to one to two pages.

9. Clips/ Writing samples

All M.A. applicants are required to upload three samples of their journalistic work to our online application. We will not accept hard copies of your writing clips or samples. The total number of pages submitted is not to exceed 15; any excess pages or other articles will not be considered. If you are submitting a broadcast/radio journalism sample, please cut and paste your hyperlink and upload a word document or PDF to our online application. The total running time of your broadcast clip should not exceed 3 minutes. Materials submitted in support of an application will not be returned.

The GRE and Journalism Writing Test are not required for the M.A. program.


We keep application materials on file for only one year. Applicants may reactivate their applications once, and only for the class immediately following the original application. To reactivate your application, you must submit a new online application. Please indicate you are a re-applicant in Essay A. In addition, you will need to submit a current resume, new essays and letters of recommendations. You do not need to resubmit your transcripts unless you completed additional coursework in the previous year. Your TOEFL or IELTS scores will also be kept on file, unless they are over two years old in which case you must retake the test.

E-mail Notifications

All notifications, including your final admissions decision, will be made via e-mail. We do not send out admission letters. Therefore it is imperative that the e-mail address you submit with your online application is your primary e-mail address free of filters and blockers that would impede the delivery of the admissions emails.

From your application submission date to the day you get your decision e-mail, you must check your e-mail for updates from our office. (You must check the junk mail folder for our e-mails as many e-mail programs put mass mailings, such as ours, in junk mail folders. In years past, this has been the case with Hotmail, MSN and Yahoo e-mail accounts.)

Admission decisions will be emailed on or before March 15.

Contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid

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

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