Columbia College Chicago warmly welcomes transfer students from all over the world.

Transfer students bring their unique experiences, talents and aspirations to Columbia. What will you add to our wildly creative and inclusive student body? We’re excited to see.

A transfer student has completed high school, home school or GED and earned some credit at another accredited college or university, but has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.

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Apply Application Information

Online Application (required)
Complete either Columbia’s application or the Common Application. 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.
Essay (required)

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.
  • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • 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 problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • 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.

Transcripts (required)

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

How to Submit Transcripts

Transcripts must be official documents from your 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

Note: If submitting by fax or email, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.

International Applicants

Your school(s) should send us official or certified true copies of your educational records demonstrating successful completion of a high school or secondary education, in addition to any college transcripts. You may be required to submit a “leaving certificate” or “graduation certificate” along with your translated, certified educational record. Official educational records not written in English must include an official English translation. Read our guide for help determining which transcripts or educational records to send.

Letter of Recommendation (required)

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 complete an admissions application online, there is a feature that sends an email request for a letter of recommendation to your recommender on your behalf. Your recommender may then submit a letter online.

Your recommender can also submit by mail, fax or email. Download a Recommendation Form in PDF format; the Common Application provides a similar form. Recommenders should submit using the following guidelines:

  • In person or by mail:
    Columbia College Chicago Admissions
    600 S. Michigan Ave., Room 301
    Chicago, IL 60605
  • By fax: 312.369.8024
  • By email: 

Note: If submitting by fax or email, please include a cover letter with your full name and date of birth.

Test Scores—ACT, AP, IB, SAT, CLEP (recommended)
Portfolios and Auditions (optional)

Columbia welcomes portfolio and audition submissions, though they are not required. Admissions decisions are made by committee based on a holistic review of the following factors: academic record, personal essay, letter(s) of recommendation, and standardized test scores and creative work samples, when available.

Your portfolio may be considered—in conjunction with other required admission application materials—in identifying your eligibility for certain merit scholarships.

Please note: The vast majority of Columbia’s scholarship programs for incoming students do not require the submission of creative work samples.

How to Submit a Portfolio

After you submit the admission application, you may submit your portfolio or video audition. 

Each academic department at Columbia has specific submission recommendations. We are interested in seeing your best overall creative work—this means you can submit creative work related to a department or program different than the one in which you intend to study.

Submit Your Portfolio

Fall 2016 applicants that would like for their portfolios to be considered for merit scholarship must be admitted to the college and upload their work by April 22.

Proof of English Language Proficiency (required for some)
If English is not your country’s primary language, proof of English language proficiency is required for admission to the college.
BA/BFA/BM Degrees

Columbia offers a variety of bachelor's degree programs. Our Bachelor of Arts programs allow you 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 narrower and more focused course of study.

If you're interested in one of Columbia's professional degree programs, you must first gain admission to the college. Students typically apply to enter BFA or BM programs after one to three semesters of study at Columbia.

Planning ToolsPlanning Tools

Transfer Plans: Your Shortest Path to a Degree

Transfer Plans demonstrate the shortest path to completing a degree in your chosen program. They outline the total number of credits required for each major and degree and the number of semesters it will take you to finish.

These plans assume that you:

  • Will transfer in 60 credit hours
  • Have completed all general education requirements
  • Have not yet completed any major requirements

Download a transfer plan for your program:

Transfer Guides: From a Partner School to Columbia

Crafted with our partner institutions, Transfer Guides are four-year plans that demonstrate a pathway from a community college program to a corresponding Columbia program.

Download a Transfer Guide for your school and program.

If your school is not on the list, contact us at

City Colleges of Chicago
College of DuPage
College of Lake County
Elgin Community College
Harper College
Joliet Junior College
McHenry County College
Moraine Valley Community College
Waubonsee Community College
Unofficial Transcript Evaluation

Upload your transcripts from all institutions previously attended, and we’ll send you an unofficial transcript evaluation. It’s as easy as uploading your documents and filling out a short form.

Get your unofficial transcript evaluation


Use Transferology to learn how your courses will transfer to Columbia. Simply enter in your coursework, exams and/or military learning experiences, and then discover how Columbia will award your experiences with credit upon transfer.

Visit Transferology now

What if my school or course is not listed as equivalent on Transferology?

Columbia builds new course equivalencies with more institutions every day, and we regularly update equivalencies in Transferology. Columbia may still accept credit even if you don’t see your school or coursework listed as equivalent on Transferology. Please contact a degree evaluator for more information.

Last names A–K contact:
Michael Kilinski

Last names L–Z contact:
Cory Byrd

Transfer Policy and Credit Evaluation

Columbia has a generous transfer credit policy, which is posted in our course catalog. Students who transfer to Columbia can 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.

The school you transfer from must be regionally accredited. In some cases, we may consider credit from an institution with national accreditation.

This chart shows the conversion of quarter hours to semester credits:


Quarter Hours

Semester Credits












If you have a question about your evaluation or what will transfer to Columbia, contact a degree evaluator in the Office of the Registrar:

Last names A–K contact:
Michael Kilinski

Last names L–Z contact:
Cory Byrd

Connect With UsConnect With Us

Sherry Anton

Sherry Anton
Associate Director of Transfer Recruitment

Sherry Anton’s career at Columbia is a full-circle journey. She transferred to Columbia in the ‘90s, and worked in corporate sales after graduation. After earning a master’s degree in adult education, she worked at two Chicagoland higher-education institutions before coming to Columbia, where she’s worked for over a decade. Sherry dabbles as an artist and musician and loves city life, nature and walking her dogs.

Why do you love working at Columbia?

“Columbia is one of the most creatively infectious places I've experienced. Each day is rewarding.”

Samantha Vittori

Samantha Vittori
Transfer Specialist

Sam Vittori received her BA in Fashion Business from Columbia in 2011, after which she traveled as a wholesale clothing representative and served as social media manager for two start-ups. In 2013, she joined Columbia’s Admissions team. Outside work, Sam’s probably checking out local bands, riding her bike or daydreaming about La Pasadita.

Why do you love working at Columbia?

“As a student, I always felt that Columbia’s campus was buzzing, as if it was somehow electrified. The passion and drive found on campus was—and still is—so inspiring.”

Sam’s local partner schools:

  • College of DuPage
  • Joliet Junior College
  • Kankakee Community College
  • McHenry County College
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • Morton College
  • Prairie State College
  • South Suburban College
  • Triton College
  • Wilbur Wright College

Doreene Washington

Dorene Washington
Transfer Specialist

Dorene Washington is a native Arizonian who enjoys living in Chicago. She’s an avid reader and a lover of the arts, ballroom dancing, sailing, hot air balloons, camping, and writing songs and poetry. Her favorite music genres are classical and jazz. Dorene comes from a large family—she has 48 first cousins!

Why do you love working at Columbia?

“The staff, faculty and administrative team have one goal, and that’s to ensure our students’ individual successes.”

Dorene’s local partner schools:

  • College of Lake County
  • Elgin Community College
  • Harold Washington College
  • Kennedy–King College
  • Malcolm X College
  • Oakton Community College
  • Olive–Harvey College
  • Richard J. Daley College
  • Truman College
  • Waubonsee Community College
  • William Rainey Harper College