International Undergraduate Students

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 you will require a student visa to study in the United States.

Have questions? Our International Admissions team is here to help you.

We've planned virtual and in-person events.


Can't make it to one of our events? We'd be happy to hear from you.

Contact us

Ready to apply? Follow these steps.

1. Select the appropriate application for you through one of the links below. You may also choose to complete the Common App.

Freshman   Transfer   Second Bachelor's

2. Submit the following required items.

  • Transcripts

    Students must submit all official educational records of high school, secondary school or college/university work. Ask your school(s) 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.

    If you have transfer credits from a college or university outside the United States, the Office of the Registrar will require a third-party transcript evaluation prior to admission. Columbia accepts transcript evaluations from AICE and NACES approved organizations. You'll find complete lists at the links.

    Columbia applicants can automatically receive a discounted evaluation rate with Scholaro

    Please note, you are responsible for acquiring this evaluation.

    How to Submit Transcripts

    Ask your institution(s) to send official electronically transmit transcripts to Columbia College Chicago Admissions at , or mail them to 618 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 at

    If you have any questions, please contact us at or +1 312-369-7130.

  • 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.

    Please review English Language Proficiency requirements.

  • 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.

    The application will also have an optional section where you can provide additional information about items in your academic history that you might want to explain.

  • Application Fee

    Application fee for international students (nonrefundable): $25

  • Portfolios | Auditions | Interviews

    Portfolio, audition, and/or interview requirements can vary based on your intended major.

    Students applying for BFA or BMus degrees are required to submit materials. Your submission will be considered for admission to the program as well as for the Faculty Recognition Award. Please follow the guidelines for your intended major. The submission deadline for Acting (BFA); Musical Theatre Performance (BFA); Contemporary, Jazz, and Popular Music (BMus); and Music Composition (BMus) applicants is Wednesday, December 1, 2023. For all other BFA programs, the submission deadline is Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

    Portfolios or auditions are not required for BA or BS applicants, but it it so your advantage to submit materials. A submission is the only way to be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award. Please follow the guidelines for your intended major. The submission deadline for all BA or BS applicants is Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

International Students' Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I maximize my financial aid?

    As an international student at Columbia College Chicago, you may be eligible for merit- or talent-based scholarships. There are a few financial aid options you can utilize as a non-U.S. citizen for your college education.  

    We’ve shared more about each below, whether you’re interested in Columbia’s undergraduate or graduate studies. Please reach out to our International Admissions team with any remaining questions at or call us at 312-369-7130. 


    Columbia Excellence Award (merit scholarship) 
    The Columbia Excellence Award was established to recognize the academic excellence of incoming international students and assist them in paying tuition costs. International students are automatically considered for the Columbia Excellence Award, no separate application is required. 

    The award is based on academic merit, and is renewable award based on a student’s cumulative GPA: 

    • 3.75 or higher: $11,000 
    • 3.3 — 3.74: $9,000 
    • 3.0 — 3.29: $7,000 


    Faculty Recognition Award (talent scholarship) 
    As an international student coming to Columbia, you can be recognized for your talents and rewarded with a renewable scholarship by applying for our Faculty Recognition Award. Typically, this scholarship is awarded to students who are planning to enroll for the Fall term. 

    The Faculty Recognition Award is a competitive, talent-based award that is renewable for up to four years. The number of awards each year varies and is dependent upon funding. The award is based on a student’s demonstration of talent, ability, or accomplishment in one of the many areas of study at Columbia. 

    Those eligible for the award include: 

    • Outstanding high school seniors and transfer students entering for the first time in the Fall 2023 semester  
    • Students who submit samples of their creative work that demonstrate strong accomplishment, talent, or ability in their intended major or field of study. Work in other disciplines will not be considered. 
    • Students who have been admitted to Columbia 
    • International students may be considered 


    Internal scholarships as a continuing student 
    We have over 30 internal scholarships available for both enrolled undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia. You can use our Scholarship Finder tool to explore all of the scholarship offerings for current international students. For more information, please contact 


    External scholarships 
    External scholarships are funds that you apply for and receive from an outside or external source not affiliated with Columbia College Chicago.  

    Read more about external scholarships on our webpage. 

  • Do I need a student visa to study at Columbia?

    If you are enrolling as a full-time student, you should apply for an F-1 visa. Most students will be applying for an F-1 Visa.

    If you are part of an exchange program or attending Columbia through a special partnership, you should apply for a J-1 visa.

    Columbia cannot issue visa documents for international nondegree-seeking students

    To apply for your visa you will need an I-20 form or a DS 2019 form issued by Columbia College Chicago.

  • How do I apply for an F-1 Visa with Form I-20?

    To request an initial I-20 fill out the request form which can be found on your status page. This link will be available after you are admitted to Columbia.

    Those applying for an F-1 visa must do so at a U.S. embassy or consulate using a Form I-20, a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status to study in the United States. Columbia College Chicago will issue your I-20.

    If you're arriving from overseas and requesting an initial I-20, 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. For the 2024-2025 school year, Columbia requires you to have proof of funds of at least $56,281. 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. Columbia College Chicago scholarships count towards this amount.  
    • 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
    If you currently hold F-1 student visa status in the U.S. with a valid I-20, you can transfer your I-20 to Columbia College Chicago. To request an I-20, fill out the request form which can be found on your status page, which will be available after you are admitted to Columbia. You will need:
    • Immigration Pre-Transfer Verification Form. Download and have your school advisor fill out the form available at Please make sure your name is on the second page. 
    • 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.
    • Copy of your most recent I-94 (you can get yours here)
    • Proof of sufficient funds (see above).
  • How do I apply for a J-1 Visa with Form DS-2019?
    Those applying for a J-1 visa must do so at a U.S. embassy or consulate using Form DS-2019, a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. It is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program. Columbia College Chicago will issue your DS-2019.

    If you are applying for a J-1 Visa, please provide the following documents:

    • A photocopy of your passport page(s) showing your full name, date of birth, photo and passport expiration date.
    • Proof of sufficient funds. This monetary amount is dependent on your specific program cost and whether you receive any sponsorship. Columbia College Chicago will communicate this amount to you.
  • When will I get my I-20?

    In order for Columbia to issue your I-20, you must be admitted to the college and you must fill out the I-20 request form on your status page. Please have the required documents ready for upload. (See the Visa and Immigration Information section below for a list of requirements).  Once you have submitted your I-20 request, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will issue your I-20 in 3 - 5 business days.   Your visa package with your I-20 and information on how to apply for your visa will be sent via e-mail.   If you have any questions regarding your I-20 request, please contact ISSS at

  • How do I transfer my I-20 paperwork?
    If you are transferring from a school in the U.S. and already have an I-20, you must fill out the I-20 request form, located on your status page, so we can transfer your I-20. See the Visa and Immigration Information section below for more information.

Once you're admitted and on campus:

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.

Read more about living in Chicago and things to do near campus.

  • What is the Buddy Program?

    The Buddy Program is a program designed for new international Columbia College Chicago students.

    The Buddy Program pairs you with a current Columbia student who will be your Buddy before and after you arrive to Chicago.  Your Buddy will be your guide to the college and the city of Chicago and help make your transition to life at Columbia College Chicago easier. .   

    Sign Up for the Buddy Program

    If you have any questions on this program you can contact Clare Lake at 

  • How do I register for orientation?
    All students must sign up for an orientation session, which will take place either at the college or online. You'll sign up for orientation via your Columbia Connect Portal.
  • What is the International Student Orientation

     International Student Orientation (ISO) is required for all international students. In this program, you will learn about maintaining your student visa status, the types of employment available to international students, U.S. laws, the health care system in the U.S. and your student insurance policy.  

    This is separate from new student orientation, which is for all Columbia College Chicago students and is a chance for you to meet other students, talk to your advisor, meet with Student Financial Services, and finalize your schedule. 

    My parents will come with me. Can they attend ISO?

    Yes, your parents may attend ISO.  We do ask that you e-mail with their names so we can add them to the visitor's list on the day of ISO.   We do not, however, provide overnight accommodations for parents. If your parents are planning to attend, view our local hotel suggestions.


  • What do I need to bring with me?

    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
    • Your acceptance letter
    • Financial documents
    • School information
    • Pre-arranged transportation information if applicable.  
    • Phone number and email of your Buddy
    • Other important contact information, including International Student and Scholar Services (, +1 312-369-7246). 
  • Am I required to live in the residence halls on campus?

    We strongly recommend that you live in the residence halls on campus during your first year at Columbia, either as a first-time freshman or a transfer student. There are many neighborhoods in Chicago and many styles of our apartments. In our experience, we've seen too many students have problems when they rent an off-campus apartment before experiencing the city first.

  • How do I apply for housing?

    After you decide to enroll and make a deposit to confirm your attendance, you should visit your status page ( to complete a housing application. Please note: you must submit a $500 prepayment when you apply.

For questions about paying for college, see our payment FAQs for international students.