Columbia warmly welcomes transfer students from all over the world.

These students bring along their unique experiences, talents and aspirations. We are glad you’re one of them, and we look forward to everything you’ll add to our passionate and inclusive student body. Whether you have two credits or 20 credits, our admissions staff is ready to help make the transition as seamless as possible.

A transfer student is an individual who, after the completion of high school, home school or GED has earned some credit at another accredited college or university but has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.

There are two different ways to apply. You can begin the admissions process by completing either Columbia's application or the Common Application. Before you begin, review the Transfer Application section below. (Note: Some items are not required, but strongly recommended.)

Start your application

Transfer Planning Tools:

Transfer Policy
  • Columbia College Chicago accepts transfer credit from other regionally accredited colleges or universities and will consider transfer credit from select institutions with discipline-specific accreditation, located in Illinois or out of state. Transfer courses must be completed with a C grade or better and be similar or equivalent in content to those offered by Columbia.
  • A maximum of 88 credits from a regionally accredited four year college or university.
  • A maximum of 62 credits from a regionally accredited two year institution.
  • Transfer credit from any combination of regionally accredited two year institution, Advanced Placement, CLEP, military and/or Life Experience is limited to a maximum of 62 credits.
  • If a student has attended both a four-year and a two-year regionally accredited institution, the maximum number of transfer credits accepted is 88 (with no more than 62 credits earned from the two-year institution.)
  • No more than 4 semester credits of Physical Education will be accepted.
  • The final 12 credits needed for graduation must be taken in residence at Columbia College Chicago.

Deadline for Transfer Credit Submission

The acceptance of transfer credit is at the sole discretion of the College. To be accepted, transfer credit must be received by the Office of Degree Evaluation before the end of the student's first semester of attendance at Columbia. Students wishing to transfer credit after matriculation must submit such credit before the end of their next semester at Columbia.

Credit Not Accepted

Developmental, Adult Education, Continuing Education, ESL, Internships, Independent Study, Topics, Workshop, or Seminar courses are not transferable.

Advanced Placement Credit

Scores of 3, 4 or 5 on Advanced Placement tests may be accepted as transfer credit. Official records must be sent to the Office of Degree Evaluation for consideration. If at the time of testing students wish to have scores sent to Columbia the school code of 1135 should be noted. Credit for Advanced Placement scores is applicable only to students with freshman or sophomore standing and is considered inappropriate for more advanced students. More information about AP credit is avalible at CollegeBoard.

CLEP Credit

Columbia will evaluate CLEP scores for possible transfer credit. Students must submit official CLEP score reports to the Office of Degree Evaluation. The list of CLEP subjects, scores, and credits is available at CollegeBoard.

Life Experience Credit

Under special circumstances, a student may be granted up to 16 credits in their major for life and work experience. Apply to the Records Office for evaluation of non-college learning experiences.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

Credit is accepted for test scores of 4 or higher.

Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)

Credit is accepted for A and AS Level exams with grades of A to E in subjects similar to those offered at Columbia College Chicago.

Military Credit

Veteran may be eligible for active duty and service school credit on the basis of information from official copies of military records. Please contact E.J. Talbot, Veterans Affairs Coordinator, in Admissions.

Transfer Credit Evaluation

Students who begin their education at one institution and then transfer to Columbia will be able to determine how the courses they have taken will fulfill either Columbia's Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements or in some cases, courses in their chosen major.

Early Planning
Students planning to transfer to Columbia should consult with their college transfer center or academic advisor early in their academic career to obtain specific information on transferring general education and major course credits.

Send transcripts for evaluation purposes to:
Columbia College Chicago
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
600 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

Degree Evaluators

Names E-N
Michael Kilinski, mkilinski@colum.edu

Names A-D + O-Z
Cory Byrd, cbyrd@colum.edu

Transfer FAQ

How do I get my transfer credits evaluated?

Arrange for your previous college or university to send an official copy of your transcript to the Columbia College Chicago.

Where do I send the transcripts?
Columbia College Chicago
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
600 S. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

How many credits will be accepted?
A total of 62 credits will be accepted from a two-year school and 88 credits from a four-year school. The maximum number of credits accepted from any combination of two- and four-year schools is 88. Only classes with grades of "C" or better will be accepted and the content must be the same or similar to those courses offered at Columbia.

Will my grades transfer too?
No, the grades in your transfer classes will not appear on your Columbia College transcript and the grades will not be part of your Columbia College grade point average.

My previous college was on the quarter system. How are quarter hours converted to semester credits?
The conversion of quarter hours to semester credits is as follows:

Quarter Hours Semester credits
1 .67
2 1.34
3 2.01
4 2.68
5 3.35

Will Columbia College accept courses from every other college and university?
No, the school must be regionally accredited or in some cases, we may consider credit from an institution with national accreditation.

I don't see my school in your Participating Institutions list, why isn't it there?
Not every school is listed. Please read the information about accreditation to see if your school is appropriately accredited for the transfer of credit to Columbia.

Are all classes accepted?
No, transfer courses must be similar to those taught at Columbia College. They cannot be developmental classes (below college level 101) and must have been completed with a grade of "C" or higher.

How will I know when my credits have been evaluated?
You will receive a transfer credit evaluation report via email.

What if I have questions about my evaluation?
Contact one of the transcript evaluators in the Office of Degree Evaluation.

Transfer Guides

Download a transfer guide for your program

Transfer Application:

Essay

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.

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
    Admissions
    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: admissions@colum.edu
    If submitting by email, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.
Test Scores

Applicants are not required to report ACT, SAT, AP or IB scores in order to be admitted to Columbia College Chicago. These items may be included, however, if an applicant desires to further demonstrate preparedness for college-level work.

ACT & SAT Scores

In both cases, score reports should be requested through the testing agency. Request your ACT score report with Columbia College's ACT School Code (1002). Request your SAT score report and use Columbia College's SAT School Code (1135).

Note: Once admitted to Columbia, you may choose to take an on-campus placement test if you do not feel your ACT or SAT scores accurately reflect your ability in writing, reading or math.

AP Scores

Please make sure you have Columbia College Chicago listed on your College Board account so that we receive your score reports as soon as possible.

Note: Columbia College will grant college credit for AP scores of 3 or higher. Scores of 4 or 5 may give you more credit.

IB Exam Results

Ask your Diploma Programme Coordinator to submit a request for your IB results. In some cases, you may be able to request results yourself.

Note: Columbia College will grant college credit for IB exam results of 4 or higher.

Transcripts

All applicants are required to submit their official high school transcripts to the Columbia Admissions. Transfer applicants also must submit official transcripts from any colleges previously attended.

How to Submit Transcripts

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

Submit your transcripts online

    • In person or by mail
      Columbia College Chicago
      Admissions
      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: admissions@colum.edu
      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 generally 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 will be considered with other required admission application materials in identifying those applicants eligible for the college’s merit scholarship programs. Portfolio submissions are required in order to be considered for our Illustration, Interior Architecture, and Theatre Directing Bachelor of Fine Arts programs.

Note: Most of Columbia’s scholarship programs for incoming students do not require the submission of creative work samples.

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.

BA/BFA/BMus Degrees

Columbia offers a variety of bachelor's degree programs. Our Bachelor of Arts programs allow students to explore different disciplines and minors, while our Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Science programs are professional degree programs that require a more narrow and focused course of study.

Applicants interested in one of Columbia's professional degree programs may generally indicate this interest on the application. Certain programs will require applicants to submit additional materials such as a portfolio, while other programs consider admitted students as provisional candidates who must complete a set number of credits/semesters in residence before applying to be formally accepted into the program.

Art + Design

Illustration BFA
Prospective students interested in admission to this BFA program must submit a portfolio along with other required general application materials. Portfolio guidelines are available here.

Interior Architecture BFA
Prospective students interested in admission to this BFA program must submit a portfolio along with other required general application materials. Portfolio guidelines are available here.

Cinema Art + Science

Cinematography BFA | Cinema Visual Effects BFA
Directing BFA | Editing and Post-Production BFA
Producing BFA | Production Design BFA
Screenwriting BFA | Sound for Cinema BFA

Students may apply to enter these BFA programs after completing three semesters of study in the Cinema Art + Science Department. Prospective students must indicate Cinema Art + Science BA on the College's application and are encouraged to submit a portfolio.

Computer Animation BFA
Traditional Animation BFA

Prospective students may indicate an interest in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation on the College's application and are encouraged to submit a portfolio. Admitted students will be considered provisional candidates and must formally apply to be accepted into the BFA program once they have completed 45 credits at the College.

Dance

Dance BFA
Prospective students may indicate an interest in this BFA program on the College's application and are encouraged to submit a video-taped audition. Admitted students will be considered provisional candidates. The Dance Department will conduct candidacy reviews during the second term of a student's first year (fall or spring), once the student has completed the first semester of the foundations program.

Fashion Studies

Fashion Design BFA
Prospective students may indicate an interest in this BFA program on the College's application and are encouraged to submit a portfolio. Admitted students will be considered provisional candidates. The Fashion Studies Department will conduct candidacy reviews during the second term of a student's first year (fall or spring), once the student has completed the first semester of the foundations program.

Music

Contemporary Urban & Popular Music BMus
Performance: Instrumental BMus
Performance: Jazz Studies BMus
Performance: Vocal Performance BMus

Prospective students may indicate an interest in these BMus programs on the College's application and are encouraged to submit a video-taped audition. Admitted students will be considered provisional candidates. The Music Department will conduct candidacy reviews during the second term of a student's first year (fall or spring), once the student has completed the first semester of the foundations program.

Theatre

Acting BFA
Musical Theatre Performance BFA
Theatre Design BFA

Prospective students may indicate an interest in these BFA programs on the College's application and are encouraged to submit a video-taped audition. Admitted students will be considered provisional candidates. The Theatre Department will conduct candidacy reviews during the second term of a student's first year (fall or spring), once the student has completed the first semester of the foundations program.

Theatre Directing BFA
Prospective students interested in admission to this BFA program must participate in an interview with Theatre faculty and submit a portfolio along with other required general application materials. Portfolio guidelines are available here.

International Students

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Proof of English language proficiency is required for admission to the College 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.