Columbia University Admissions Statistics

Learn About Columbia and the GPA and SAT / ACT Scores You'll Need

Low Library at Columbia University
Low Library at Columbia University (Explore the Columbia campus in this photo tour). Allen Grove

Columbia University, like all of the Ivy League Schools, has highly selective admissions. In 2017, the acceptance rate was a mere 7 percent. Many strong and well-qualified applicants will not get in. Columbia has a holistic admissions process and accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge Application.

Why Columbia University?

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Campus Features: Columbia's location in Upper Manhattan makes it an excellent choice for strong students looking for a truly urban campus. Barnard College adjoins the campus.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 6:1
  • Athletics: The Columbia Lions compete at the NCAA Division I level.
  • Highlights: Columbia is a highly selective member of the prestigious Ivy League, and it consistently ranks as one of the top national universities. Academic strengths span the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Columbia University Admissions Statistics 2017-18

For the class entering Columbia University for the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was seven percent. Below are score percentiles for the SAT scores and ACT scores of accepted students.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 700 780
Math 710 790
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

If you compare SAT scores for the Ivy League schools, you'll see that all are highly selective and Columbia's scores rank in the middle of the group. Successful applicants will need scores that are well above average.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 33 35
Math 29 35
Composite 31 34

An average ACT composite score is 21, so "average" clearly isn't going to be good enough to get into Columbia University.

Columbia University GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

GPA, SAT, ACT Graph for Columbia University Admissions
GPA, SAT, ACT Graph for Columbia University Admissions. Graph courtesy of

The GPA and standardized test score data in the graph above is self-reported by actual applicants to Columbia University. GPAs are unweighted. You can with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of Columbia's Admissions Standards

In this graph, the blue and green dots representing accepted students are concentrated in the upper right corner. Most students who got into Columbia had GPAs in the "A" range, SAT scores (ERW+M) above 1300, and ACT composite scores above 27. Scores significantly above these lower ranges are clearly better. Also, realize that a lot of red dots are hidden beneath the blue and green on the graph. Many students with "A" averages and high test scores were rejected by Columbia. For this reason, even strong students should consider Columbia a reach school.

At the same time, keep in mind that Columbia has holistic admissions. The admissions officers are looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus. Meaningful extracurricular activities, strong application essays, and glowing letters of recommendation will all strengthen an application. Students who show some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will get serious consideration even if grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal. The school emphasizes that all aspects of the application are important.

Rejection and Waitlist Data for Columbia University

Waitlist and rejection data for Columbia University.
Waitlist and rejection data for Columbia University.  Graph courtesy of

The graph at the top of this article can be a bit misleading, for it would seem to suggest that a 4.0 GPA and high SAT scores or ACT scores give you a good chance of getting into Columbia University. The reality, unfortunately, isn't quite so positive.

When we strip away the acceptance data from the graph, we can see that plenty of students with academic measures that are on target for Columbia do not receive acceptance letters. In fact, you can have a 4.0 GPA and 1600 SAT score and still receive a rejection letter. That said, strong academic measures certainly improve your chances measurably.

More Columbia University Information

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 30,454 (8,170 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 54% Male / 46% Female
  • 93% Full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $57,208
  • Books: $1,400 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $13,644
  • Other Expenses: $1,947
  • Total Cost: $74,199

Columbia Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 59%
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
  • Grants: 52%
  • Loans: 12%
  • Average Amount of Aid
  • Grants: $49,185
  • Loans: $10,740

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: biology, biomedical engineering, biomedical science, civil engineering, economics, English, history, neuroscience, nursing, operations research, political science, psychology
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free .

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97%
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 88%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 95%

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: baseball, basketball, cross-country, fencing, football, golf, rowing, soccer, squash, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, wrestling
  • Women's Sports: archery, basketball, cross-country, fencing, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, squash, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball

If You Like Columbia University, You May also Like These Schools

Applicants to Columbia tend to be high-achievers who are interested in top-ranked universities in urban locations. Many applicants also apply to Yale University, Emory University, MIT, and Harvard University. New York University is another popular choice for applicants who want to be in New York City. Some applicants apply to most if not all of the Ivy League schools, often driven more by prestige and name recognition than a coherent rationale for choosing a school. Keep in mind that all of these universities are highly selective, so you'll want a few schools on your college wish list that will be easier to get into.

Data Source: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; All other data from the National Center for Education Statistics