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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 Credit Form 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 period: 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 (also known as the Post-Change of Program Add/Drop Period): Students may request to add and drop certain courses*, subject to approval by their school and/or the instructor, through SSOL.  For more information, please review the Post-Change of Program Period Student Quick Guide.  Students not able to complete their request via SSOL should  complete a Registration Adjustment Form  and submit it to the Center for Student Advising in 403 Lerner. SEAS students will also need their CSA adviser’s signature on the form. 

*Please note: The deadline to drop Columbia College Core Curriculum courses is the second week of the semester.

After the drop deadline:

  • Columbia College students may elect a "W" or Withdrawal from classes from the drop deadline to the P/D/F deadline. Students must complete a CC Acknowledgement of Course Withdrawal Form and submit it to the Center for Student Advising in 403 Lerner.
  • SEAS students must petition the Committee on Academic Standing. Find all instructions and required forms to petition to drop a course after the deadline HERE.
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? How do I uncover a P/D/F grade?

CC Students (Pass/D/Fail): All students registered in Columbia College during the regular academic year may elect one course each semester during the regular academic year on a Pass/D/Fail basis. This is in addition to any courses that are given only on a Pass/Fail basis. Students who do not utilize both Pass/D/Fail options during the academic year may elect, in the summer immediately following, to take one Summer Term course on a Pass/D/Fail basis. Courses used to meet the stated degree requirements (except those only given on a Pass/Fail basis) may not be taken Pass/D/Fail. All courses used to meet the requirements of a major or concentration, including related courses, are also excluded from this option, except the first such one-term course taken by the student in his or her eventual major, unless otherwise specified by the department.

The purposes of this option are to encourage students to take courses of interest to them outside of the field of specialization and to permit those who have not decided upon a major to test their talents in a particular field that may be of interest. Students who wish to exercise the Pass/D/Fail option must designate a course for the grade of Pass/D/Fail when registering for each term in the College. A Pass/D/Fail course may be changed to a regular course or a regular course to a Pass/D/Fail course until mid-November in the fall term and until mid-March in the spring term regardless of whether a student has received a midterm grade for the class before the relevant date.

In order to encourage students to engage more fully in the courses they elect to take for a grade of Pass/D/Fail 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 the end of the add period in the spring semester to uncover the grade of a fall course and until the end of the add period in the fall semester to uncover the grade of a spring or summer term course. Seniors who graduate in May have until June 1 to uncover the grade of a final spring course.

The grade of Pass is not used in calculating grade point average; the grades of D and Fail are used.

SEAS Students (Pass/Fail): 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

Before the Deadline: The Pass/D/Fail deadline is usually the 10th week of classes.During the change of program period, students may elect to change the grading option via SSOL.During the post change of program period and before the deadline, students should email the Registrar at registrar@columbia.edu with their request.

After the Deadline: Students must petition the Committee on Academic Standing.  Find all instructions and forms here.

 

How do I take classes that overlap?

Students who wish to register for courses that overlap must submit a Course Overlap Petition to their CSA Adviser before the end of the Change of Program period. 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
  • Drama and Theater Arts
  • Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • Film Studies
  • Italian
  • Latin American & Iberian Culturals
  • Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Psychology (majors online, concentrators do not need departmental approval)
  • Physics
  • 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.

MTAC FAQ, Center for Student Advising

For whom is MTAC intended?

MTAC is intended to help students at all levels achieve mastery. The program is open to students at Columbia College, School of General Studies, and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science who are currently enrolled in BIOL C2005-2006/F2401-2402.

Who are the MTAC coaches?

MTAC coaches are current students who have already mastered the Contemporary Biology sequence, and who receive specialized and ongoing training in academic coaching strategies and methods.

How is MTAC different from tutoring or recitation?

The goal of MTAC is to complement, not replace, recitation sections and tutoring. Tutoring and recitation sections help students achieve mastery of course content, while MTAC emphasizes problem solving skills. Participating in MTAC is not a substitute for active recitation participation.

What should I expect from my MTAC group?

MTAC groups will be made up of CC, GS, and SEAS students working together to extrapolate key principles from lecture material and solve novel problems similar to those found on exams.

When and where do MTAC groups meet?

The specific details are still being worked out, but MTAC groups will be offered at a variety of times throughout the week, including morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. All meetings will take place on the Morningside campus.

What is expected of me as an MTAC participant?

The MTAC model works best when each member is prepared to participate actively in every meeting, every week. As such, if you accept a place in an MTAC group, you are committing to attending one 90-minute coaching session every week during the fall semester. If you miss more than two MTAC meetings, you will be asked to leave the program, so that another student can take your place.

Is it free for students to participate?

Yes, it’s free for students to participate, and the only materials necessary are those you will already have for the course.

Is MTAC endorsed by the Department of Biological Sciences and/or Professor Mowshowitz?

Yes, Professors Mowshowitz and Chasin have been actively involved in the development of the program.

How do I apply?

Please contact mtac@columbia.edu with questions about how to apply for the Spring 2015 semester. 

Whom do I contact with questions?

Please email mtac@columbia.edu with any questions or concerns, and a member of our team will respond as soon as we can.

Columbia Engineering, Center for Student Advising

I’m a SEAS student. What classes should I take my first semester?

All first-semester SEAS students will be pre-registered for University Writing OR Art of Engineering. You should also plan to take General Chemistry; Calculus I or II; Physics; and one other class in consultation with the SEAS Bulletin.

I am a SEAS student. May I reverse the order of Art of Engineering and University Writing?

SEAS students must take the Art of Engineering and University Writing in the order they have been pre-registered.

Columbia College, Center for Student Advising

What’s the difference between a major and a concentration?

Columbia College students may choose either to major or concentrate in a discipline. Concentrations usually have fewer requirements and thus free up a student’s schedule to take other classes of interest. CC students do not need to have a major to graduate and may instead choose a concentration. Please note that in the case of "Special Concentrations" (for example, the Special Business Management Concentration), a student must choose a major or a concentration in addition to the special concentration in order to graduate.

I want to major in economics. What should I take?

A sample schedule may include: Principles of Economics and Calculus I or Calculus III.

I want to major in a discipline in the humanities or social sciences. Which classes should I take?

Take courses in the subject matters of interest. For example, if you are interested in history, take some history classes that sound interesting. Typically, it is a good idea to take introductory classes that are 1000- or 2000-level.. Classes in the 3000- or 4000-level, especially seminars, are often taken by juniors and seniors who are more advanced in the subject matter.

I’m a CC student and am not sure what I want to major in. I’m interested in many things! Which classes should I take?

Take a variety of classes that interest you! Your first year is a great time to explore classes and to figure out what you are really passionate about. Peruse the Directory of Classesand the CC Bulletin, make a list of classes that interest you, and then put them intoVergil to see what might work best with your schedule. You may also take classes that fulfill your core requirements, such as a foreign language, a Global Core class, or a class that fulfills the science requirement.

I want to major in one of the hard sciences. What should I take?

Consult the requirements for your prospective major or concentration in the CC Bulletin. Students planning to study biology, chemistry, or physics should plan to take General Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus their first semester.

How do I request to change my section of Literature Humanities or Frontiers of Science?

The Core Office will consider petitions from students to change their pre-registered sections of Literature Humanities and Frontiers of Science sections beginning Tuesday, September 8, at 9:00 a.m. in 202 Hamilton Hall. Changes will only be made for students who have conflicts with another Core class, major requirement, or varsity athletic practice. All requests must be made in person by filing a petition with the Core Office in 202 Hamilton. Registration for all Core classes ends on Friday, September 18.

How do I request to change sections of University Writing?

To change your University Writing section, you must fill out a petition in person on Wednesday, September 2, by 4:00 p.m. You may change your section to reconcile conflicts with other courses, university-sponsored extracurricular activities, varsity athletic practices, or university-sponsored work-study hours. You will be allowed to change sections only if there is space available in another section.

How do I request to reverse the order of University Writing and Frontiers of Science?

Columbia College students with a compelling reason to reverse the order of their enrollment in University Writing and Frontiers of Science may fill out a petition in person on Wednesday, September 2, by 4:00 p.m. Petitions must include a strong argument as to why one course should take precedence over the other. Even with a compelling reason, the granting of a petition is not automatic, as it depends on availability in both University Writing and Frontiers of Science.

Center for Student Advising, FAQs for All Incoming Students

Where can I find a list of classes offered in the fall 2015?

Please consult the Directory of Classes.

How do I know what classes are required for a major or concentration?

Please consult the CC Bulletin or SEAS Bulletin.

I plan to be pre-med. What classes should I take?

A sample schedule may include: General Chemistry I and Calculus I. Please consult the pre-med curriculum for more information. You should also attend the Pre-Health Workshop during the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP).

What should I do if the class I want to take is full?
  • Don’t panic! During NSOP and once classes start on September 8, it is likely that more spots will open up as all students finalize their schedules. You will have until Friday, September 18, to continue making changes to your schedule. September 8 through 18 is called the Change of Program Period.
  • You should check to see whether or not the course has a waitlist; if so, add yourself to the list.
  • If you still want to get into a class that is full, it is essential to attend the first class.
  • In case a seat does not open up, you should plan to attend the first class meetings of the next best options on your list. Twelve credits is the minimum required for all students. If you drop below 12 points, you risk being withdrawn from the term (except in your last term, when you are permitted to go below 12 points).
What should I do if I do not like the time/day a class is offered?

Everyone has their ideal schedule and class time preferences. However, sometimes you have to take classes at a day or time that is not your first choice. You can certainly try to join the waitlist for a section that is more preferable. However, if you are not added to the class from the waitlist, consider taking the class at a different time. Who knows, that class could wind up being your favorite class!

How do I know which level of a math, science, or language class to take?

Placement exams will be given during the New Student Orientation Program (NSOP). You will receive a list of all placement exams during NSOP. For languages, you may consult the Academic Planning Guide to see if AP or SAT II scores place you into either a higher level or place you out of the language requirement.

For the subjects below, please consult the appropriate department’s website for more information:

How do I purchase textbooks?

Students often purchase textbooks from the Columbia Bookstore or Book Culture.

I have AP/IB or other outside credit. How can I add that to my transcript?

Typically, advising deans add AP/IB and other outside credit to a student’s record the summer after his/her first year at Columbia. Please consult the Academic Planning Guide to see if AP credit or SAT II scores may place you into a higher level class or give exemption to a requirement.

I have non-academic questions about preparing for Columbia.