Graduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Cost of Tuition?
Columbia’s graduate tuition is calculated on a per/credit hour rate, which is dependant on your program of study. Credit hour rates increase each year, current rates can be found here. To estimate the total cost of tuition, please check the credit hour requirements for your program of interest.
Are There Fees in Addition to Tuition?
Students are responsible for the cost of: registration, U-Pass, student activity fee, a health center membership, and a graduation fee. Costs vary depending on your student status (full-time, part-time or summer). Click here for a summary of fees.
What Is the Cost of Living in Chicago
For the 2013-2014 academic year, the estimated cost of living (in addition to tuition and fees) is approximately $17,999.
How Much Is the Application Fee?
The standard application fee is $55. The Student at Large fee is $65, and the International application fee is waived.


Am I Eligible for Financial Aid?

Students who are enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours (part-time) may be eligible for federal student loans, as well as private educational loans. Aproximately 85% of Columbia graduate students utilize some amount of federal loan funding.

Federal Direct Stafford Loans at the graduate level have a borrowing limit of $20,500 and are guaranteed to students in an amount which corresponds to their enrollment status (full-time, part-time, or summer). To be eligible for a Federal Stafford Loan, you must: be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen; have not exceeded the lifetime Stafford borrowing limit of $138,500; and have submitted a FAFSA for the year in which you intend to borrow. 

Federal Direct PLUS Loans may be used to supplement any education-related expenses not covered by the Stafford Loan(s). However the total amount borrowed must not exceed the Cost of Attendance Budget, which is $33,276 for the 2012-13 academic year. The graduate PLUS loan is a credit-based loan and requires an additional application. NOTE: Graduate PLUS Loans have a fixed interest rate of 7.90% through 2013.

Private educational loans are credit-based loans with interest rates and repayment plans determined by the individual lenders. Students may borrow a private educational loan for an amount up to the student’s Cost of Attendance Budget minus other financial aid received. NOTE: Because these loans typically have higher interest rates and origination fees than federal loans, we suggest you exhaust all your federal funding options before using a private educational loan.

More information regarding financial aid can be found at

Can I Complete my FAFSA Before Submitting an Application?
Yes. In fact, we encourage students to complete their FAFSA as early as possible to ensure timely processing of financial aid awards.
What Scholarships Are Available?

Columbia College Chicago offers a substantial scholarship to select new students called the Graduate Merit Award (GMA). Each program awards several of these merit-based scholarships to incoming graduate students.

There are also scholarships available to continuing students, including the Graduate Opportunity Award and the Albert P. Weisman Award. To learn more about scholarship opportunities and eligibility, click here.

Are Campus Jobs or Work Study Available?

There are many part-time employment opportunities available on-campus, and the current pay rate is $11.75/hour. Columbia’s Office of Student Employment administers all student employment programs. Click here for eligibility requirements and more information.

The Office of Student Employment also posts a variety of on- and off-campus jobs on ColumbiaWorks, a free online resource that houses employment opportunities for students and alumni. Graduate students have access to view postings on ColumbiaWorks once they are a confirmed student and may begin applying for jobs once they have registered for classes.

There are a limited number of federal work study positions available at the graduate level. Students with completed admission applications will be considered for work study during the admissions review process provided that they have a completed FAFSA on file. Students wishing to be considered for federal work study funds should complete their FAFSA as early as possible (applications become available on January 1 each year).

Can I Be a Graduate Assistant?
Each department has a few Graduate Assistantships available, which are paid positions.  The type of work asked of Graduate Assistants varies by department, and these positions are typically reserved for continuing students. During your first semester of graduate study, you can inquire about a graduate assistantship through your department.


What Is the Application Deadline?
Program deadlines vary by program, but many are in December and January of each year. Check your program-specific deadline here.
Do You Accept Applications for Spring or Summer Admission?
No. Columbia College’s graduate programs admit students once per year for the fall semester only.


The only exceptions are the Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis program, which accepts applications every 18 months, and the Student at Large program, which accepts applications for each semester.

Can I Apply to Two or More Programs for the Same Entry Term?
No. You may only apply to one Columbia program per term.
Can I Arrange to Have My Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation Sent Before Submitting My Application?

Yes. College transcripts can be submitted at any time. Hard-copy letters of recommendation may also be mailed to the Graduate Admissions and Services Office at 600 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois, 60605. However, we recommend using our electronic system to transmit your letters, which is available via our online application system.

After Submitting My Application, when Can I Expect to Receive a Decision, and How Will I Be Notified?
Admission decisions are processed six to eight weeks after the program’s application deadline. You will be notified of the College’s decision via mail. Please make sure that we have your current mailing address on file—if you have recently moved, please contact us at 312-369-7260 or to update your address.
I Am Not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. How Do I Apply?
International applicants follow the same basic application procedure as domestic students; however, they are required to submit some additional materials. For a full checklist, click here.
If I Have Submitted an Application Before, Do I Need to Re-Apply? Do My Materials Remain on File?

You must submit a new application for each new entry term.

The only materials that remain on file in the Graduate Admissions and Services Office are your college transcripts. You will need to resubmit all other materials, including your letters of recommendation, resume, essay and any work samples or supplemental materials.

How do I find my College/University code within my application?

The application requires that you input the code for all colleges or universities you have previously attended. To look this code up, select the “Look up” button to the right of the field. There are multiple ways to search for your college or university. Try searching by city, or by the state’s two letter abbreviation, then select your school from the results. If that doesn’t work, try different versions of the name of your college or university. It may be under “Univ” instead of University, “Acad” instead of Academy, or “Inst” instead of Institute. Use as few characters as possible, and as general of search terms as you can. If you’ve done all of those things, and your school still isn’t showing up, search for “Official College” (without the quotation marks” in the School Name field. This will bring up on result (1.999992 | Official College – TYPE SCHOOL NAME HERE). Select this, and add the school to your application. Then, once you’ve returned top your application, edit the information, providing the correct location details for your college or university.

How Do I Apply As a Non-Degree-Seeking Student?

Students have the option of studying at Columbia as a graduate Student at Large in the following departments only: Educational Studies, Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling, and Journalism. However, we strongly encourage you to contact the Graduate Admissions & Services Office or your department of interest to confirm which courses, if any, are available for the term in which you intend to enroll.

Students at Large at Columbia are required to fill out a separate application and have not been admitted to a degree-granting program. Click here to access our application—select “Student at Large” from the program dropdown menu.


Note: For a full list of application requirements, please see the checklist for your program of interest.

What Is the Minimum Gpa Required for Admission?
An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is strongly recommended. However, if your cumulative GPA is lower than 3.0, this does not prevent you from applying to one of our graduate programs. The review committee will consider all parts of your application package as a whole and will take into consideration both your cumulative and major GPAs.
Is the GRE Required?
Scores from common standardized tests, such as the GRE or GMAT, are not required for application to any of our graduate programs. However, if you feel that your score will strengthen your application, you are welcome to submit it along with the rest of your application materials. The only program for which the GRE is recommended is Master of Arts Management.
Is an Interview Required?
Some programs may require an admissions interview, including: Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling, Creative Producing, Film & Video, Music Composition for the Screen, and Interdisciplinary Arts. If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by the department.


How Do I Schedule a Campus Visit?

If you would like to schedule an informational session with one of our graduate admissions counselors please call 312-369-7260 or email Counselors are typically available Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm.

If you would like to come to campus for one of our graduate admissions events, such as Open House or Preview Days, click here for more information.

Additionally, campus tours are conducted Monday through Friday at 10:30am and 1:30pm, and on Saturdays at 11am. PLEASE NOTE: Although tours are geared towards the undergraduate student population, graduate students may find them useful in getting a general sense of our urban campus. If you would like to participate in an undergraduate campus tour, you can find more information here.

Where do Graduate Students live?

Graduate students can choose between living on campus in one of our residence halls, or living off campus. 

The cost for a single occupancy bedroom in a shared apartment on campus is roughly $12,000 for September to May. Some students may choose to purchase or enhance the optional meal plan, which will add to their total costs.  Housing is offered only after students have been admitted to the college, and you can apply via your application for admission, or on our Residence Life page, where they can also find further information on pricing. 

For those students intersted in living off campus, we've developed a handy Graduate Relocation Guide which covers everything from neighborhoods to transportation.  

If Accepted, Can I Defer My Admission to Another Entry Term?

You may request permission to defer your admission for one year. However, deferrals are granted at the discretion of the department and are not guaranteed. If you are granted a deferral, you will be required to submit a $300 Graduate Deferral Deposit in addition to a $450 Graduate Confirmation Deposit. After receiving permission from your department, submitting these two payments will guarantee your spot in the next year’s entering class. Deferrals may only be granted for one year.

Do You Accept Transfer Credits?

Select programs may accept a certain number of transfer credits from other graduate level courses that you have completed. However, the college does not review or grant transfer credits prior to enrollment.

Do You Offer Any Low-Residency, Remote Learning, or Online Courses?

Some departments may offer a small selection of online courses. However, with the exception of our GLCMA program, the majority of graduate instruction at Columbia takes place on campus and graduate students enrolled at Columbia typically live in the Chicagoland area.

Does Columbia Provide Services for Students With Disabilities

If you believe you will need accommodation for a documented disability to attend Columbia College Chicago, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office at 312-369-8296.