A World-Class Education in the Heart of Chicago

Apply as an International Student if you do not have U.S. citizenship, you are not a resident/green card holder, and if you will require a visa to study in the United States.

Each graduate program has a specific application requirement. Please review the requirements for your program of interest before you start your application. 

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Submit Required Items

In addition to your online application, you'll have to submit additional documents as an international student at Columbia.

Application fee

Nonrefundable application fee for international students: $100

See our Student Financial Services FAQs for international students.

Transcript Requirements

Students must submit all official or certified true copies of educational records of college/university work. Official educational records not written in English should include an English translation. This may require  a “leaving certificate” or “graduation certificate” along with translated, certified educational record. 

Students must also submit a credential evaluation completed by one of the three evaluation companies below. Please choose only one. 

All required documents should be sent to:

Columbia College Chicago
Graduate Admissions
600 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60605

If you need help determining which educational records to send, please see this guide: www.edperspective.org/columbiacollegechicago/

Proof of English Language Proficiency

If English is not your country’s primary language, please submit at least one of the following:

  • Official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score. Recommended score of 90ibt.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. Recommended score of 7.
  • Transcript or educational records from an institution where English is the language of instruction and you have completed a bachelor’s degree.

You can review the English Language Proficiency requirements here.

Please contact gradstudy@colum.edu to discuss waiver options.

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.

Visa and Immigration Information

As an international student, you will need an F-1 student visa to enter the United States to study. You are required to apply for the visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate using an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form issued by Columbia College Chicago.

For New I-20 Requests

If you're arriving from overseas and requesting an I-20 (initial), we will need:

• A photocopy of your passport page(s) showing your full name, date of birth, photo and passport expiration date

• Proof of sufficient funds to cover the school year. Columbia requires you to have proof of funds that is equivalent to the current "Cost of Attendance Budget". That information can be found at colum.edu/calculateyourcosts. Proof must be an official bank letter or statement on bank letterhead that shows the name of the account holder, amount available and bank official's signature. This must be dated within six months of your first day of class.

• If the funds are not from your personal bank account, Columbia requires a Sponsorship Verification Form. There is no limit to the number of sponsors a student can have, but each sponsor must sign a certificate of sponsorship and present Columbia with official bank statements. The sponsorship verification form is available at colum.edu/sponsorship.

For I-20 Transfer Requests
If you are currently holding F-1 student visa status in the U.S. with a valid I-20, you can transfer your I-20 to Columbia College Chicago. We will need:

• Immigration Pre-Transfer Verification Form. Download and have your school advisor fill out this form at colum.edu/pretransfer.

• Photocopy of passport signature page(s) showing your full name, date of birth, and passport expiration date

• Photocopy of current F-1 visa

• Photocopy of current I-20

• Proof of sufficient funds (see above)
When will I get my I-20?

In order for Columbia to issue your I-20, you must be admitted to the College and submit all of the required documents. Once Admissions has processed your documents, you should receive your I-20 in 2 to 3 weeks.

Living in Chicago

Columbia's campus is located in the South Loop neighborhood, close to all Chicago has to offer—including first-rate museums, concerts, galleries, more than 28 kilometers of trails along Lake Michigan, and a variety of thriving artistic communities spread across the city. Chicago’s comprehensive public transportation system provides access to Midway and O’Hare airports as well as the city’s many culturally rich neighborhoods.

Buddy Program

The Buddy Program is an optional program designed for new international Columbia College Chicago students. The Buddy Program pairs you with a current Columbia student who will be your “buddy” for a semester. Your Buddy will be your guide to the college and the city of Chicago, and can also help you with transportation from the airport to Columbia.

To apply for a Buddy, go to: cccbuddyprogram.tumblr.com/new-international-student. The application will take about 10 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions on this program you can contact Kevin Obomanu at cccbuddyprogram@gmail.com.

On-Campus Housing

On-Campus Housing

The Residence Life Office provides a variety of housing options to suit your individual preferences. Apartment-style rooms and suites are fully furnished. All facilities are conveniently located, only steps away from the main campus buildings, and all are close to public transportation. If you would like to live on campus, please visit colum.edu/housingapp to apply for housing.

Housing assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis according to the date your housing application is completed and received. Find out more detailed information about on-campus housing. The website also includes photos, virtual tours of the residence buildings and room configurations, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Off-Campus Housing

Many of our incoming graduate students choose to live off campus, either in their own apartments or with roommates. Please visit our Graduate Relocation Guide to learn more about living in Chicago, and navigating the rental process.

After you've been admitted

Congrats on your acceptance to Columbia! We’re so excited to welcome you, and you’ll receive more information after you have told us your decision from your status page.

More information for admitted students is available here.

Pre-arrival checklist

Before you leave home, please remember to pack important information in your carry-on luggage. You will need the following information as soon as you arrive in the USA:

  • I-20
  • Passport
  • Financial documents
  • School information
  • Important phone numbers
  • Shuttle pick-up confirmation and phone number
  • Phone number and email of your Buddy


Getting to campus

There are a number of different ways you can arrive on campus. If you have signed up for a Buddy, they should be able to help arrange your airport pick-up.

Public Transportation
From O’Hare Airport: Take the Blue Line to the Jackson stop. From there you will walk two-six blocks, depending on your housing location.

From Midway Airport: Take the Orange Line to the Roosevelt stop or Harold Washington Library stop, depending on your housing location.

By Taxi 
Taxi stands are located at O’Hare and Midway airports, outside the baggage claim area. Follow the official airport signs. Do not accept rides from individuals who ask inside the airport.

Columbia College Chicago partners with Go Airport Express.

Have more questions?

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