Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a list of frequently asked questions from across Student Affairs collected here in one place for your convenience. You can browse by topic/department or search by keyword.

Time Away, Center for Student Advising

Does Columbia offer credit for internships?

Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Columbia School of General Studies, do not provide credit for internships. There is no doubt that internships are valuable experiences for students seeking an introduction to a range of careers and professional cultures.  However, we expect companies to appropriately compensate students for work performed during internships. This policy is one adopted by many of our peer institutions and also is in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and NY State’s Minimum Wage Act and Wage Orders. CCE has posted some helpful information regarding unpaid internships at:

http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/employers/policies#Unpaid

We will continue to support student participation in internships and will be happy to provide letters acknowledging this support if such letters are requested by employers. To receive a letter of support, please see your advising dean.

In order to volunteer at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, your Advising Dean must fill out this form.

For full internship listings from a variety of employers, consult LionShare and the Center for Career Education.

How do I study abroad?

Columbia College:

The minimum requirements to be permitted to study abroad are:

  • GPA above 3.0
  • Sufficient progress on Core requirements
  • At least 4 semesters of language study (or the equivalent) in the language of the country in which you wish to study abroad
  • One course about the country or region in which you wish to study abroad

CC students should meet with a study abroad adviser in the Office of Global Programs.

Columbia Engineering:

  • GPA above 3.0
  • Sufficient progress on First-Year Sophomore requirements

Engineering students should look through the Engineering Global Initiatives website and plan to meet with Dean Leora Brovman.

How do I take a leave of absence?

Talk to your Advising Dean. 

Voluntary Leaves are taken for a variety of reasons. For more information, review our FAQs for Voluntary Leaves.

Medical Leaves are for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. For more information, review our FAQs for Medical Leaves.

How do I take a summer class/take a class outside Columbia?

Columbia College:  Please note that summer study outside Columbia is only approved for students who are behind in credits or who are studying a language.  Read our CC Summer Study Fact Sheet to learn about summer study at Columbia and at other institutions. 

If you have read over the criteria and procedures and are eligible to take summer courses outside Columbia, please fill out and submit the CC Outside-Summer Credit Approval .doc to your Advising Dean.

Columbia Engineering:  Read our SEAS Summer Study Fact Sheet to learn about the options available to you.

If you wish to receive credit for courses taken outside of Columbia and have read over the criteria and procedures, fill out and submit the SEAS Outside-Summer Credit Approval.doc to your Advising Dean.

Classes, Center for Student Advising

How do I add a class?

During the Change-of-Program period (the first 10 days of the semester, also known as Add-Drop): Use normal web registration procedures.

After the Change-of-Program deadline: Students must petition the Committee on Academic Standing.  Find all instructions and forms HERE.

How do I audit a class? (For CC Seniors only)

The mark of "R" or registration credit is equivalent to auditing a course.  Please note that no points/credits are earned.  The "R" credit option is available only to Columbia College seniors who submit a completed petition found HERE.  

"R" credit petitions will only be authorized if:

  • the courses are in excess of the 124 points required for the B.A. degree
  • the courses are not used to fulfill a requirement for the B.A. degree, and
  • the student has the permission of the course instructor.

For more information regarding the "R" Credit option, please see your Advising Dean.

How do I drop a class?

During the Change-of-Program period (also known as Add/Drop): You can use normal web registration procedures.

After the Change-of-Program period and before the drop deadline: Go in person to the Registrar's Office in 205 Kent with a Registration and Add/Drop Form.  SEAS students need their CSA adviser’s signature on the form. 

After the drop deadline:

SEAS student must petition the Committee on Academic Standing. Find all instructions and required forms to drop a course after the deadline HERE.

Columbia College students may request a W or Withdrawal from classes from the drop date to the P/D/F deadline (5th to 11th week). Students should fill out a Registration/Add/Drop form AND sign a CC Acknowledgement of Course Withdrawal.

How do I get a course approved for the Science or Global Core Requirements?

Science Requirement: Columbia College students who wish to request an exception to the Science Requirement should go to the Dean's Office in 208 Hamilton Hall.

Global Core/Major Cultures: Students who wish to request an exception to the Global Core or Major Cultures Requirement should meet with their advising dean at the CSA and submit the Global Core Petition Form.

How do I go over points?

To take more than 22 (CC) or 21 (SEAS) credits during one semester, submit the Petition to Register Above the Credit Limit form to your adviser in CSA. Find all required forms and instructions HERE.

How do I Pass/D/Fail a class?

CC Students: CC students can designate one class per term to take Pass/D/Fail (not including PE courses and other courses that only allow the Pass/Fail grading option).  You cannot take any Core classes Pass/D/Fail, nor any language courses.  Some majors allow you to elect Pass/D/Fail for the first course you take in the department, but it is your responsibility to confirm that with the department before choosing the Pass/D/Fail option. 

Beginning with courses taken in the Fall 2007 semester, students are allowed to uncover a grade of Pass within two weeks of the start of the semester immediately following that in which the grade of Pass was received. Students have until two weeks into the start of the spring semester to uncover the grade of a fall course and two weeks into the start of the fall semester to uncover the grade of a spring or summer term course. The grade of Pass will not be used in calculating grade point average; the grades of D and Fail will be so used.

SEAS Students: SEAS students can take up to 6 credits of non-technical courses pass/fail and the courses will count towards their non-tech requirement. Courses must be at the 3000 level or higher. Students should check that the department offering the course allows courses in their department to be taken pass/fail.  Students cannot take any core classes or language instruction classes pass/fail.  Only one class per semester may be taken pass/fail.  (This restriction does not include courses that are only offered pass/fail).   The course grade cannot be uncovered. Courses taken pass/fail cannot count towards a minor, all courses taken for a minor have to be taken for a letter grade

Deadline: The Pass/D/Fail deadline is usually the 10th week of classes.  Go in person to the Registrar (205 Kent) with a completed Registration and Add/Drop Form

For more detailed information, consult our Fact Sheet.

How do I take classes that overlap?

CC Students: Columbia College students who wish to register for courses that overlap must visit the Dean's Office in 208 Hamilton Hall, before the last day of registration, to petition for approval. Click here for the form.

SEAS Students: Columbia Engineering students who wish to register for courses that overlap must submit the Overlap Approval form to their Advising Dean before the last day of registration.  Find all forms and instructions HERE.

Where can I find a tutor or other extra academic help?

If you are struggling in a course, you should always first contact your professor or teaching assistant to discuss expectations, go over previous exams and papers, and clarify concepts and the material. It's also a good idea to contact your advising dean, who can help you review your study habits and create a plan. 

For more assistance, you can look for a tutor or visit a help room. Help rooms are sponsored by the academic departments and are staffed by graduate students. They are open at various times for students to drop by and ask questions about homework and material.  There are also a variety of tutors available. Academic Success Programs offers a free group tutoring service in a variety of subjects. Here is a list of department-sponsored private tutors and help room information.

Majors, Center for Student Advising

How do I change a major or concentration?

Columbia College: Complete the CC Change Major/Concentration Form and bring it to the CSA in 403 Lerner.

Columbia Engineering: Complete the SEAS Change Major/Minor Form, get departmental approval and a signature, and bring the form to the CSA in 403 Lerner.

How do I declare a major?

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students declare their majors online during the major declaration period in their sophomore year.  Engineering students declare in October; CC students declare in March.  Look for an email from your Advising Dean with a clickable link, or visit SEAS Major Declaration/CC Major Declaration to get started.

Some College majors require departmental signatures to finalize online major declaration.  If your major is housed within one of the following departments, download the CC Major Declaration Form and bring it to 403 Lerner:

  • Architecture
  • Comparative Literature & Society
  • Creative Writing
  • Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • Film Studies
  • Italian
  • Psychology (majors online, concentrators do not need departmental approval)
  • Physics
  • Latin American & Iberian Cultura
  • Sustainable Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Visual Arts
How do I find out more information about a department or program?

Each department and academic program in Columbia College has a Director of Undergraduate Studies, a faculty member who can answer your questions about requirements for the major or concentration, guide your choices about placement level, discuss opportunities to study abroad, and assist you in planning your program. A complete list of names and contact information is here.

Graduation and beyond, Center for Student Advising

How do I get a recommendation letter?

If you are applying to graduate school and would like the CSA to gather and send out recommendation letters on your behalf, use the Dossier Service.

If you are applying to law school or health professional school, please contact the Office of Preprofessional Advising.

How do I get information about the 3-2 Combined Plan Program?

You can find information about the 3-2 Program in this brochure.  Take a look and contact your CSA adviser if you have further questions.

How do I get information about the 4-1 Program?

You can find more information about the 4-1 Program in this brochure. Additionally, you can learn about the 4-1 Program in the Columbia College Bulletin and the SEAS Bulletin.

How do I get information about the SIPA 5-Year MIA/MPA Program?

Read the CSA fact sheet regarding the SIPA 5-Year MIA/MPA Program. Contact your CSA adviser if you have further questions.

How do I plan for graduate school?

Read the CSA fact sheet regarding the graduate school application process.