Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for your interest in the Columbia Journalism School.
1. What will I learn in the Master programs and who should apply?
The Master of Arts degree is a 9-month program appropriate for experienced journalists who want to go deeper and cover complicated issues with greater expertise and nuance. Graduates emerge with a strong subject-matter grounding that enables them to situate news events in their larger context, to ask more informed questions, and to authoritatively evaluate claims made by sources.This program equips journalists with subject-area expertise in either arts & culture, business & economics, politics or science journalism. Most successful applicants already have 3-15 years of significant experience working in the journalism industry, an extensive file of clips, and are ready to move on from general assignment reporting. They take courses at the Journalism School, as well as in other divisions at Columbia University, depending on their concentration. The application deadline for Fall 2015 is December 15, 2014.
M.A. Admission Requirements
Listen to a conversation about the M.A. program on BlogTalkRadio.
The Master of Science degree is a 10-month program appropriate for students who have little to no full-time professional journalism experience and are interested in developing and honing their skills in this field. Reporting and writing are at the core of the program. The majority of the coursework is geared towards improving skills in digital media, reporting, writing, editing and storytelling. M.S. students also have the opportunity to specialize in one of three areas: data, investigative reporting, or documentary (these specializations require a separate application essay). The deadline to apply for Fall 2015 is December 15, 2014.
M.S. Admission Requirements
Listen to a conversation about the M.S. program on BlogTalkRadio.
2. Do I need a degree in a specific major to be considered for admission? Are there any prerequisite courses that I need to have taken?
The Columbia Journalism School does not require applicants to have a specific major or take prerequisite courses to apply. You will need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or its equivalent outside the country. We seek students for our degree programs who are skilled writers, curious about the world, interested in searching for the truth and writing about it, determined and resourceful, motivated to dedicate their careers to journalism, and who exhibit leadership potential.
If you've begun graduate-level work in journalism or a related field, please note our Transfer of Credit Policy (only available for Ph.D. candidates).
3. What counts as journalism experience?
The Columbia Journalism School provides journalists with a unique opportunity to hone and deepen their skills at any point in their careers. Journalism experience is paid or unpaid work that has been completed in any media-related field, such as newspaper, TV or radio, photojournalism, online publications, or freelance writing. The work produced is generally for a public audience.
4. If I don’t have any journalism experience, do I have a chance of being admitted?
We take a holistic approach to each application. Journalism experience is one element that the admissions committee will consider. Many applicants who may not have significant experience in journalism show strong potential in writing and can thoughtfully articulate and explain their goals and passion for working in the journalism industry. For students with little or no journalism experience, the Master of Science program is the most appropriate fit.
5. What does the Journalism School look for in applicants?
We seek students for our degree programs who are skilled writers, curious about the world, interested in searching for the truth and writing about it, determined and resourceful, motivated to dedicate their careers to journalism, and who exhibit leadership potential.
6. I am interested in the M.S./M.A./ Ph.D. program. How can I get more information?
The best way to get the most up to date information is through our Web site. We do not mail out pamphlets or materials. You can flip through our brochure by going to our Prospective Students page.
7. What kind of job opportunities are available after graduation?
Our Career Services staff -- all former journalists with strong industry connections in print, broadcast, and online media -- work closely with students to help them pursue the most prestigious jobs and internships in the U.S. and overseas. Students are invited to meet with a Career Services counselor for one-on-one consultations throughout the school year and are encouraged to attend weekly informal meetings with editors and job- hunting strategy sessions hosted at the school. Our annual spring Career Expo is the biggest journalism job fair in the country, with more than 250 recruiters and editors attending from 146 media organizations.
1. When are applications due?
The Fall 2015 application is open.
Master of Science, full-time and part-time: December 15, 2014
Master of Science, dual degree with Computer Science: January 15, 2015
(must complete the Computer Science Department MICE application)
Master of Arts, full-time: December 15, 2014
Ph.D. in Communications, full-time: December 15, 2014
2. Can I apply for an application fee waiver?
There is a $100 nonrefundable application fee. The school does not grant application fee waivers. You may use a credit card (preferred method), check or U.S. bank money order drawn in U.S. dollars when submitting your application online. When using a check or U.S. bank money order, make sure your name appears on the front and that it is payable to Columbia University. We cannot accept wire transfers, cash or postal money orders.
3. What GPA is required in order to be considered for admission?
The Columbia Journalism School has no minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) requirement and accounts for differences in grading systems around the world in its admission process.
4. Is the GRE required for admission?
The GRE is not required for admission to the following degrees: Master of Science, Master of Arts, and dual degree programs with Columbia Law, Sciences Po and the University of Witwatersrand.
The GRE is required for admission only if you are applying to the dual Master of Science (M.S.) with Religion, Computer Science, or International and Public Affairs degree program. The Ph.D. in Communication also requires the GRE exam. The Law School requires the LSAT. The Business School and School of International and Public Affairs require either the GRE or GMAT. The GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service and information about it may be found at www.gre.org. Only currently valid test scores will be accepted. GRE scores are valid for five years from the test date.
5. I'm an international applicant. What tests are required for the M.S. and M.A. programs?
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. Only current valid test scores are accepted. TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date.
There are no waviers given for the Ph.D. program. Waivers of this requirement for the M.S. and M.A. programs are rarely given and must be approved before the application deadline. Waivers are not guaranteed and if requested after the application deadline will not be considered. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
We require the following scores for consideration:
6. What is the code to use to send the TOEFL, GRE or IELTS score?
The school code is 2120.
7. When is the last date I can take the TOEFL, IELTS or GRE?
An applicant should plan to take the TOEFL, IELTS or GRE exams in time for the scores to reach the admissions office by the application deadline. It is best to take the test at least one month before the application deadline to ensure that we receive your scores in time.
8. How long are test scores valid?
TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years. GRE scores are valid for five years. If your scores are no longer valid, you must retake the test (no exceptions).
9. For the M.S. and M.A. applications, what are acceptable clips?
M.S. applicants must submit three examples of their journalistic or other written work in support of their application. See the M.S. requirements for more details.
M.A. applicants must also submit three copies of their journalistic work samples. See the M.A. requirements for more details.
Samples must be uploaded in PDF or Word format into our online application. Please submit no more than a total of 15 pages. Any clips or writing samples, permanently bound or laminated work, notebooks, magazines, newspapers, books, etc. will not be accepted via post mail. Samples must be written or copyedited by the applicant. For applicants that do not have clips, the admission committee wants to see writing samples that demonstrate applicants' 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. DVD or CD disks with audio or video clips will not be accepted. 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.
All clips must be in English.
10. What transcripts are required?
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. 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.
11. Can letters, transcripts or test scores arrive after the deadline?
Applicants should plan ahead to ensure that all letters, transcripts and test scores arrive by the deadline. Only complete applications will be sent to the admission committee.
12. What does the Journalism School's writing test entail?
The Writing Test is required only for M.S. applicants (or M.A. candidates who wish to be considered for the M.S. program too); all M.S. applicants must take the Journalism School Writing Test. Information on the test, procedures, testing sites, etc. will be sent to all applicants by e-mail once their applications have been submitted. The writing test is a 90-minute computer exercise that will examine your written, problem solving and critical thinking skills. The test will give the admissions committee a good picture of your reporting and writing skills as well as your judgment and knowledge of current events and historical facts. The test is short answer and open ended. We do not have a sample test online. The admissions office cannot provide further hints on the Writing Test.
13. Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
For your letters of recommendation, we encourage you to ask employers, editors or faculty who know about you and your specific interest in journalism and who have supervised your professional or academic work. Academic references are acceptable, but also think about other employers or contacts who know of your interest in journalism. When making your requests, it is helpful to send them a copy of your professional interests statement and your resume as reference points. Letters of recommendation from peers, colleagues, family, relatives or friends are not appropriate and should not be sent. Letters of recommendation should be on official letterhead.
14. What should I submit for writing samples or clips?
M.S. and M.A. applicants must submit three examples of their journalistic or other written work in support of their application. 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 and copyedited yourself. For applicants who do not have clips, the admission committee wants to see writing samples that demonstrate your ability to distill, analyze, and interpret information, e.g. blogs, press releases, or short writing samples. The pieces you submit do not have to be published, but should be journalistic in style. If you do not have any writing clips, you can use the content of your academic pieces and transform them into a piece intended for public consumption.
For any audio or multimedia video clips, please post your work to an appropriate web site, e.g. YouTube.com or Vimeo.com. We strongly recommend you shorten your hyperlink using http://bitly.com. Please upload a document (word or PDF) with the correct link to your audio or video clips. Your broadcast clips should be no longer than 3 minutes long. 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.
15. I am interested in applying to the documentary project. What is required? If I am not accepted into this specialization, will I still be considered for the M.S. Journalism program?
The documentary program is a selective concentration for those who feel passionately about learning in-depth visual storytelling. Students interested in applying to the documentary project must submit a third essay (Essay D), which should make the case for your admission to the specialization. Please describe why you want to make journalistic documentaries and what subject area(s) might interest you and why. In your answer, cite some documentaries that you have seen that you think fulfill a journalistic potential. In addition, you are required to submit at least 2-3 broadcast samples. See M.S. requirements for more details. If you are not admitted to the documentary concentration, the admission committee will consider your application for the M.S. program.
16. I am interested in applying to the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. What is required? If I am not accepted into this specialization, will I still be considered for the M.S. Journalism program?
We urge you to think very carefully about your skills, educational goals and professional ambitions before applying to the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism specialization. Students interested in applying to the Stabile program, must submit a third essay (Essay C), which should make the case for your admission to the investigative journalism specialization. Please describe how your educational or professional experience has prepared you to undertake the investigative journalism specialization. It will be helpful to the admission committee if you discuss some ideas for your master’s project or thesis, since this will be the most significant investigative piece you will complete at the School. If you are not admitted to the Stabile program, the admission committee will consider you for the M.S. program. The journalism school also offers other individual investigative reporting courses taught by other top investigative journalists.
17. I applied last year, but did not complete my application and/or was not offered admission. Do you still have my materials?
No, we do not keep your materials on file. Applicants must submit a new online application, fee, an updated resume, essays, transcripts, references, and TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable). M.S. students must retake the Journalism School writing test. Non-native speakers of English whose TOEFL or IELTS scores did not meet our required minimums should retake the test.
Please review the following application requirements carefully:
1. I'm applying to the M.S. Program. When will I be notified about taking the writing test?
M.S. applicants and M.A. applicants (who have elected to be considered for the M.S. program) will be notified about setting up their writing test via e-mail after they have submitted their online application. The writing test, administered by the School or by alumni proctors, is required of all Master of Science degree applicants. Students are tested, in English, on writing skills and general knowledge of current events and historical facts. The 90-minute exercise will examine analytical and critical thinking skills, along with reporting and writing skills. The test format is short answer and uses open ended questions. We do not have a sample test online.
The writing test is given either at the school between December to the end of January or under the supervision of alumni proctors elsewhere in the United States and abroad during the same periods. Students do not have to travel to New York City to take the writing test. Information on registering for the test is e-mailed to all applicants after they have applied. For those taking the test outside of New York City, the admissions office will contact the proctor directly. Ph.D. applicants and applicants to only the Master of Arts program do not take the writing test.
2. I have submitted my online application and would like to know if you have received my transcripts.
After you submit your online application, using your Username and Password, you can check your application to see which materials are still missing on your Applicant Status homepage. Please allow the Office at least 30 days after you submit your online application to update your profile. Only complete files will be sent to the admission committee.
3. I am having troubles with my online application. Who should I contact?
For problems with your online application, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. When will we be notified about our admission decisions?
All admission decisions for the M.S., M.A. and Ph.D. programs will be posted via e-mail in mid-March. All financial aid award e-mails will be posted via e-mail shortly after that.
5. Are interviews required as a part of the application process?
We do not require an interview for M.S., M.A. or Ph.D. candidates.
6. Can I e-mail my transcripts, letters of recommendation or other supplemental material?
Your letters of recommendation, essays, resume and writing samples must be uploaded to our online application. We do not accept e-mailed copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation or supplemental materials. If you are admitted and enroll, you must have official, final transcripts mailed to: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2950 Broadway, Pulitzer Hall Room 203, Mail Code 3800, New York, NY 10027.
7. How should my recommenders upload my letters of recommendation?
All M.S., M.A., and Ph.D. applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. To expedite this process, 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. You can use our online system to send reminder emails to your recommenders. If your recommender wishes to submit his/her recommendation on paper via U.S. mail, he/she must contact the admissions office directly email@example.com to receive instructions. Your letters of recommendation should be on official letterhead.
After submitting your online application, using your Username and Password, you can check whether the admissions office has received your letters. You can view your "Application Checklist" on the main Applicant Status homepage.
8. I’m reapplying. What should I include?
Applicants must submit a new online application, fee, an updated resume, essays, transcripts, references, and TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable). M.S. students must retake the Journalism School writing test. Non-native speakers of English whose TOEFL or IELTS scores did not meet our required minimums should retake the test.
9. When should I apply for financial aid?
M.S. and M.A. applicants, both domestic and international, who wish to be considered for scholarship assistance, must submit the Columbia Journalism School Scholarship Aid Application. This application will be available on December 1 and due February 1. You may submit your online application before submitting your scholarship aid application. Please see the aid and scholarship section below for more details. Ph.D. candidates are automatically considered for scholarship aid and need not submit the scholarship aid application. However, Ph.D. candidates interested in federal funding should submit the FAFSA by February 1.
10. I'm graduating in 2015, am I eligible to apply for Fall 2015?
You are eligible to apply for Fall 2015 admission provided that you will have received your bachelor's degree by July 15, 2015. The deadline to apply for the M.S. program is December 15, 2014. The deadline for the M.A. program is December 15, 2014. You must upload your "in progress" transcripts with your online application. If you are admitted and enroll, you must submit a final, official transcript that shows all of your courses, grades, and the confirmed date for your degree.
11. Can application materials arrive after the deadline?
We strongly urge you to plan ahead to have all of your application materials complete by the deadline. Only complete applications will be reviewed by the admission committee.
12. How can I access the Scholarship Aid Application?
The Scholarship Aid Application will be available December 1 and can be accessed through the online application. On the main page, after you log in, you will see a form called "Scholarship Aid Form" above "Application for Admission." Click on this link and complete this form.
1. Are loans and scholarships available to international students?
Many resources exist to help finance your education in addition to those offered by Columbia Journalism School. Public and university libraries can also aid your research. For additional information about resources for international students, see More Scholarships, International Students and International Studies.
International applicants to the Columbia Journalism School are encouraged to submit the Journalism School Application for Scholarship Aid (available December 1).
International students may be eligible for private loans with the assistance of a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students may borrow up to their cost of attendance minus any aid or other loans awarded. These funds may be borrowed from the students’ lender of choice. For further information please contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at 212-854-8608.
2. My work samples are in another language. Do I need to get my work samples translated?
Yes, work samples and clips must be translated into English. The admission committee will review only work samples in English.
3. What are transcripts? My transcripts are not in English. Can I send them anyway?
Transcripts are official records of a student's school progress in a college or university. They are also called degree certificates, academic records or mark sheets. Some show the degree received and date conferred. If the courses, grades received, degree, and conferral date are not in the transcripts and you have received a degree, you must also upload a copy of your diploma(s).
If an original transcript (mark sheet, diploma, degree certificate or academic record) is not in English, you must upload both the official transcript in the original language and its verbatim English translation. If you are admitted and enroll, you must submit both the official transcript and the verbatim translation should be submitted in one sealed envelope to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2950 Broadway, Pulitzer Hall, Room 203, MC 3800, New York, NY 10027. If the institution attended does not provide an English translation with the official transcript, a certified verbatim English translation of the transcript and diploma, done through a translating service must be obtained and submitted in a sealed envelope, which is 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 a fee for this service.
4. I graduated from an international university. Am I eligible to apply?
The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia will consider for admission students who hold or will shortly complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its equivalent from another country. This includes the three-year bachelor's degrees from India, all European countries (three-year Euro-bachelor's), Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel. If you have questions about whether your degree is acceptable for consideration for admission, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. What university resources are available for international students?
Columbia University offers resources through the International Students and Scholars office. Learn more by visiting their Web site: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/isso/.
6. If I scored below the required TOEFL/IELTS, can I still apply?
We take a holistic approach to each application. Your TOEFL score is one element that the admissions committee will consider. However, mastery of the English language is an important skill for journalism students. We urge students to seek the following scores for serious consideration:
1. How do I apply for scholarship aid?
Admission decisions are made at the school without regard to applicants’ financial need.
M.S. and M.A. applicants, both domestic and international, who wish to be considered for scholarship assistance, must submit The Columbia Journalism School Scholarship Aid Application by February 1, 2015 (it will be available on December 1, 2014).
U.S. citizens and permanent residents must also submit the 2015-16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The school code for the Graduate School of Journalism, which is required to complete the form, is 002707. The FAFSA will be available on January 1, 2015.
Your Scholarship Aid Form and FAFSA are due February 1, 2015.
Ph.D. candidates are automatically considered for scholarship aid. The Scholarship Aid Form is not necessary for Ph.D. candidates. However, Ph.D. candidates interested in federal funding should submit the FAFSA by February 1, 2015.
2. What supporting documents must be submitted with The Columbia Journalism School Scholarship Aid Application?
Please upload these documents with your completed Scholarship Aid Form:
-All U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents must submit a 4506 form for each tax return submitted to the IRS. This permits a third party to receive a copy of your 1040 form directly from the federal government. Do not send the 4506 Form to the IRS, but upload it to your Scholarship Aid Form. If Columbia requests the 1040 form, you will be notified in advance.
All international students must provide documentation verifying income and asset information provided in the scholarship application form. Examples of these documents are: tax forms, statement from employer, and bank statements.
3. When is the scholarship aid application deadline?
All scholarship aid documents will be due February 1, 2015.
For 2015 applicants, the 2015-16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid will be available January 1, 2015 (FAFSA) and The Columbia Journalism School Scholarship Aid Application will be available December 1, 2014. All scholarship aid documents will be due February 1, 2015.
4. When will I be notified of my scholarship aid award? When will I be notified of my federal financial aid?
All admission decision emails will be sent to the applicant in mid-March. All federal financial aid and journalism school scholarship aid award emails will be sent by mid-March. To be eligible for federal financial aid, you must submit the 2015-16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will be available January 1, 2015. We ask that students complete the Scholarship Aid Form and the FAFSA by February 1, 2015. The Office of Admission and Financial Aid will notify you of your federal financial aid package as well once you complete the FAFSA.
5. What percentages of students receive financial aid?
The Graduate School of Journalism offers approximately $4 million annually in fellowships and scholarships to students who demonstrate high academic achievement, financial need, and exceptional promise for leading careers in journalism. Our Office of Admission and Financial Aid works with each student to ease the cost of attendance through a combination of scholarships and need-based programs, including grants and federal and private loans.
About 80% of our students utilize some sort of financial aid, including grants, loans or scholarships. To apply for scholarship aid from the Journalism School, submit the Journalism School Scholarship Aid application. You will then be automatically considered for merit and need-based scholarships. Admissions decisions are need-blind.
1. Can I apply to be a part-time student?
We also offer a Master of Science degree on a part-time basis for domestic students only. The application deadline is December 15, 2014 to begin in May 2015. Students take 6 points over two years, and take the same courses offered in the full-time program but on a more flexible schedule. Students who begin in a part-time cohort may switch to full-time status and vice versa.
2. Does the Journalism School offer any correspondence or online courses?
The Journalism School does not offer any correspondence or online courses.
3. Does the Journalism School offer dual degrees?
The Journalism School offers the following dual degree programs in cooperation with other schools at Columbia. Participation in these Columbia University programs requires admission to both schools. Students must contact each school or department for application details and deadlines. The Journalism School participates in international dual degree programs with Sciences Po in Paris and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Only students who are currently enrolled or graduates of Columbia’s Journalism School are eligible to apply. French is the language of instruction at Sciences Po, and applicants will need to take a French proficiency exam as a part of the application process.
Please see our Web site for more details about other dual degree programs.
4. I’m interested in taking only a couple of classes. May I take them as a non-matriculated student?
The Journalism School offers a number of different continuing education courses for journalists. Please see our website for more details about continuing education.
5. I am interested in book and magazine publishing. What do you offer?
The Columbia Publishing Course provides an intensive introduction to all aspects of book, magazine and digital media publishing in an intensive six-week summer program. Please see our website for more details about the Columbia Publishing Course.
6. Does the Journalism School accept transfer credits from other institutions?
The Journalism School does not accept transfer credits from other institutions for students in the M.S. or M.A. degree programs. Students enrolled in the doctoral program may request that prior graduate-level work be considered for transfer or advanced standing credit. Prior graduate work is reviewed during the second semester of the first year of entrance coursework.
6. May I sit in on or audit classes?
Prospective students are welcome to sit in a class. To see whether it’s possible to visit any other class, please contact the Admissions Office directly for additional information. It is always up to the discretion of the faculty member teaching the class to accommodate student requests to sit in on a class. The School also holds public lectures.
7. How do I find out about public lectures?
The Dean's office arranges a series of major lectures and panels each week in the Third Floor Lecture Hall of the Pulitzer building. These are created specifically to highlight important topics, including journalism trends and current events. Visit the Events page, and like "Columbia Journalism School" on Facebook to receive updates.
For questions regarding open public lectures, please contact the Events Office at JSchoolRSVP@columbia.edu.
Contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid
Columbia Journalism School
2950 Broadway (at 116th St.)
Pulitzer Hall Room 203 (lobby)
New York, NY 10027