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Apply as a freshman student if you’ve completed high school, home school, or a GED and have not enrolled in coursework at a post-secondary college or university. This excludes dual enrollments, courses taken at Columbia College Chicago, and/or any post-secondary enrollment during the summer immediately following secondary school graduation or GED completion.

Columbia accepts and reviews applications on a rolling basis, and it’s in your best interest to complete your application as early as possible.

Spring Semester Deadline: December 13, 2020

Fall Semester Priority Deadline: January 15, 2021

Ready to apply? Follow these steps.

1. Start your application.

Begin the application process using Columbia’s application, or add Columbia as a school when you complete the Common Application. You can use either application.

Are you an international student? Follow the same steps listed here, and review this page for additional requirements

2. Submit the following required items.

  • Transcripts

    All applicants are required to submit their official high school transcripts to Columbia.

    High School Applicant: Ask your high school to send your most recent and/or final transcript.

    GED Applicant: Ask the testing agency to send an official copy of your GED test results, including your scores. Certificates of GED completion are not accepted.

    Home School Applicant: Ask your state-recognized home school to send an official copy of your home-school transcript.

    International Applicant: Ask your secondary school or high school to send official or certified true copies of your educational records that demonstrate successful completion of a high school or secondary education.

    As an international student, you may be required to submit a “leaving certificate” or “graduation certificate” along with your certified educational records. Official educational records not written in English must include an official English translation. For help determining which transcripts or records to send us, check out this guide.

    How to Submit Transcripts

    Ask your institution(s) to send official transcripts to Columbia College Chicago Admissions at 600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605. All transcripts received by mail or in person must be in the original sealed envelope from the school.

    We also accept transcripts—when sent directly from the institution—via email to or via fax to 312-369-8024.

  • Writing Sample

    Within the application, submit a writing sample in response to this prompt:

    Please provide a short personal statement that outlines your goals for your enrollment at Columbia College Chicago. You may choose to write about development of your creative practice, progress toward your career objectives, improving specific skills, or your own personal growth.

  • Application Fee

    Application fee for domestic students (nonrefundable): $25 

    We never want our application fee to be a deterrent to prospective students. We are happy to grant a fee waiver, which you can request prior to submitting your application.

3. Read about our supplementary materials—and then decide if you want to submit any of them. (Keep in mind that a portfolio or audition is required for students applying for BFA or BMus programs. All students who submit a portfolio or audition will be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award.)

  • Test Scores

    While test scores are not required for admission, you may choose to submit your results from the ACT or SAT. Columbia uses these scores in awarding some merit-based scholarships. For students admitted to Columbia, the average composite ACT score is 24 and the average composite SAT score is 1060. If yours exceed these averages, it is likely in your best interest to submit your test scores for consideration.

    ACT and SAT Scores

    You should request your ACT and/or SAT score reports from the testing agency. Request your ACT score report using Columbia College's ACT School Code (1002). Request your SAT score report using Columbia College's SAT School Code (1135).

    Note: Once admitted, you can take an on-campus placement test if you believe your ACT or SAT scores do not accurately reflect your ability in writing, reading, or mathematics.

    AP Scores

    List Columbia College Chicago on your College Board account so we receive your score reports as soon as possible.

    We grant college credit for scores of 3 or higher on most AP exams. Please see our AP exam table for a complete list of exams and credits awarded by score.

    IB Exam Results

    Ask your diploma programme coordinator to submit a request for your IB exam results. In some cases, you may be able to request results yourself.

    We grant credit for IB exam results of 4 or higher.

  • Portfolios and Auditions

    If you are applying to a BFA or BMus program, a portfolio or audition is required. See requirements by program.

    For BA or BS students, samples aren’t required for admission, but we do invite you to upload any creative work you feel strengthens your application. All submissions will be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award. Please follow the guidelines for your intended major field of study.

BA, BFA, BMus, BS Degrees: What’s the difference?

Our Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs allow for exploration, including the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major or add a minor. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Music (BMus), Bachelor of Science (BS) programs feature more intensive required coursework in the major with limited elective coursework. 

To apply for a BFA or BMus degree, simply select your preferred program on your application. A portfolio or audition/interview will be required with your application. Please see specific requirements by program here.

You can submit portfolios or schedule auditions via Columbia Connect, your application portal, after your application is submitted.