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Columbia College Chicago is a creative liberal arts college focused on rigorous academics and hands-on, team-based learning. Located in one of the most vibrant and forward-thinking cities in the world, we are committed to an inclusive community that will inspire you to hone your talents and shape the world around you.

You are considered a second bachelor’s student if you have already completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited four-year college or university. To apply, submit the following items in addition to the application. (Note: Some items are not required but strongly recommended.)

Start your application

All applicants are required to complete an essay.

Essay question options:

  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.
These essay options mirror those in The Common Application® and are used by permission.
Application Fee

A completed online application must include a nonrefundable $35 application fee for domestic students and a nonrefundable $100 application fee for international students. Students will be able to submit their payment in the final step of the application process.


Official Transcript

All second bachelor's applicants are required to submit their official college transcript to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

How to Submit Transcripts

Transcripts must be official documents from a student’s college or university.

Submit your transcripts online

  • In person or by mail
    Columbia College Chicago
    600 S. Michigan Ave, Room 301
    Chicago, IL 60605
  • By fax: 312.369.8024
    If submitting by fax, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.
  • By email:
    If submitting by email, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.
Letter of Recommendation

At least one letter of recommendation is required to complete your application. A letter of recommendation should be completed by your instructor, counselor, advisor or other individual who can speak to your ability to succeed at college-level work in a rigorous arts and media curriculum.

How to Submit Recommendation Letters

Recommendations must be submitted to Columbia by the recommender of your choosing. When you are applying online, there is a feature that will send an email request for a letter of recommendation on your behalf to your recommender. Your recommender may then submit your letter online.

Your recommender may also choose to submit a recommendation by mail, fax or email using the submission information below. If helpful to you, we have provided a recommendation form that you may download here. The Common Application also provides a similar form.

  • In person or by mail
    Columbia College Chicago
    600 S. Michigan Ave, Room 301
    Chicago, IL 60605
  • By fax: 312.369.8024
    If submitting by fax, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.
  • By email:
    If submitting by email, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.
Portfolios and Auditions

A Portfolio/Audition of a Student’s Best Creative/Artistic Work (optional)

Columbia College Chicago strongly encourages portfolio and audition submissions, though they are not required.

Access to the arts and arts instruction varies widely among Columbia’s pool of applicants. Applicants who believe that their portfolios or auditions will assist the Admissions Review Committee in making a decision are encouraged to submit creative work. This includes but is not limited to: original film, video or audio clips; creative writing samples; video of musical, theatre or dance performance; news clips or reel; and online media or interactive work.

Portfolios are required for admission to the Illustration and Interior Architecture Second Bachelor's programs.

How to Submit a Portfolio

Applicants will be able to submit their portfolio or audition after submitting the Admission Application. An online portal for submitting a portfolio will become available in late October.

Each academic department at Columbia has specific recommendations for work samples and/or supplementary materials. Please read the instructions for your intended major carefully.

International Students

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Proof of English language proficiency is required for admission into the College’s undergraduate degree program if English is not your country’s primary language. This can be demonstrated by submitting at least one of the following:

  • Official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)—Recommended score of 80 on the iBT (Internet Based TOEFL) or 553 on the pBT (Paper-Based TOEFL);
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)—score of at least 6.5;
  • ACT (American College Testing)—Recommended score of 18 or higher on the English and Reading sections;
  • SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)—Recommended score of 430 or higher on the Critical Reading section;
  • Transcript from a U.S. high school or a high school in which English is the language of instruction and the applicant has completed at least three years in that high school with passing grades;
  • Evidence of completion of at least one semester of university-level coursework in English Composition at an accredited college/university in the United States with a grade of “C” or better;
  • Successful completion of an ESL course at a preferred institution:
    - DePaul’s English Language Academy—University Bridge Level
    - Intrax English Language Programs­—level 9

Note: The English Proficiency Requirements cannot be waived for any applicant educated in a country where the native language is not officially recognized as English. Waivers will not be granted to international applicants/nonnative speakers on the basis of U.S. employment or U.S. residency alone, nor solely on completion of an English as a Second Language (ESL) program unless there is a pre-existing partnership agreement between Columbia and the ESL program.