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 travel all over the world; see if we will be coming to your area.

Meet us in person

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. Start your Columbia application using one of the links below or through 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. Official educational records not written in English should include an English translation when possible. In some cases this may require applicants to submit a “leaving certificate” or “graduation certificate” along with their translated, certified educational record. Official educational records not written in English should include an English translation when possible. All required documents should be sent to:

    Columbia College Chicago
    600 S. Michigan Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60605

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

  • Proof of English Language Proficiency

    There are many ways to prove English proficiency.

    Please review English Language Proficiency requirements.

  • Application Fee

    Application fee for international students (nonrefundable): $75

3. Read about our supplementary materials—and then decide if you want to submit any of them. (Keep in mind that a portfolio or audition is required for students applying for BFA or BMus programs. All students who submit a portfolio or audition will be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award.)

  • Test Scores

    While test scores are not required for admission, you may choose to submit your results from the ACT or SAT. Columbia uses these scores in awarding some merit-based scholarships. For students admitted to Columbia, the average composite ACT score is 24 and the average composite SAT score is 1060. If yours exceed these averages, it is likely in your best interest to submit your test scores for consideration.

    ACT and SAT Scores

    You should request your ACT and/or SAT score reports from the testing agency. Request your ACT score report using Columbia College's ACT School Code (1002). Request your SAT score report using Columbia College's SAT School Code (1135).

    Note: Once admitted, you can take an on-campus placement test if you believe your ACT or SAT scores do not accurately reflect your ability in writing, reading, or mathematics.

    AP Scores

    List Columbia College Chicago on your College Board account so we receive your score reports as soon as possible.

    We grant college credit for scores of 3 or higher on most AP exams. Please see our AP exam table for a complete list of exams and credits awarded by score.

    IB Exam Results

    Ask your diploma programme coordinator to submit a request for your IB exam results. In some cases, you may be able to request results yourself.

    We grant credit for IB exam results of 4 or higher.

  • Digital Portfolios and Auditions

    If you are applying to a BFA or BMus program, a portfolio or audition is required. See requirements by program.

    For BA or BS students, samples aren’t required for admission, but we do invite you to upload any creative work you feel strengthens your application. All submissions will be considered for the Faculty Recognition Award. Please follow the guidelines for your intended major field of study.

BA, BFA, BMus, BS Degrees: What’s the difference?

Our Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs allow for exploration, including the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major or add a minor. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Music (BMus), Bachelor of Science (BS) programs feature more intensive required coursework in the major with limited elective coursework. 

To apply for a BFA or BMus degree, simply select your preferred program on your application. A portfolio or audition/interview will be required with your application. Please see specific requirements by program here.

You can submit portfolios or schedule auditions via Columbia Connect, your application portal, after your application is submitted.

Visa and Immigration Information

  • 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.

    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 2019-20 school year, Columbia requires you to have proof of funds of at least $48,109. 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.
    • 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 or discount. 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 our Admissions team has processed your documents, you should receive your I-20 in two to three weeks.

  • 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.
  • What is eShipGlobal and do I have to use it?

    eShipGlobal is our global shipping service. You must sign up for eShipGlobal to request an I-20. This service helps you decide which mailing service to use for your country and helps you make sure that the correct address is used. To sign up:

    • Visit eShipGlobal website (this website works best with Internet Explorerer and Firefox)
    • Register for and create your account
    • Activate your account. After registering, you will receive an email within 30 minutes, prompting you to activate your account. This is required for you to begin using the account. Once the activation process is complete, you will receive a confirmation email. 

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 are the important arrival dates for Fall 2020?

    September 1, 2020 (Tuesday)

    On-campus housing opens for all international students. You should plan to arrive in Chicago on that day.

    In the evening, there is a welcome pizza party for international students, beginning 6 p.m. 

    September 2-3, 2020 (Wednesday and Thursday)

    International Student Welcome Program (ISWP) and orientation. Attendance is required on both days.

    September 4, 2020 (Friday)

    New Student Convocation, a campus-wide celebration, kicks off the school year.

    September 8, 2020 (Tuesday)

    Classes begin. 

  • 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 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.

    Sign Up for the Buddy Program

    If you have any questions on this program you can contact Kevin Obomanu 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. After you sign up for orientation via your status page (, you will receive information on how to sign up for classes.
  • What is the International Student Welcome Program?

    The International Student Welcome Program (ISWP) is required for all international students. In this program, you will learn about your immigration status, classroom expectations, and cross-cultural communication skills.

    This is separate from 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 ISWP?

    Yes. We welcome parents at ISWP and will have additional activities planned just for them. 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
    • Shuttle pick-up confirmation and phone number
    • Phone number and email of your Buddy
    • Other important contact information, including Columbia's Global Education team (, +1 312-369-7726). 
  • 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.