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.

Our International Admissions team is here to help you. We travel all over the world; see if we will be coming to your area or contact intladmissions@colum.edu.

Ready to apply? Follow these steps.

1. Start your application using Columbia’s application or the Common App.

2. Submit the following required items.


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 intladmissions@colum.edu 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): $100

3. Read about our supplementary materials—not required for admission—and then decide if you want to submit any of them.

Test Scores

While test scores are not required for admission, you’re welcome to submit ACT, SAT, AP or IB scores to further demonstrate your preparedness for college-level work.

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 math.

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

While a portfolio isn't required for admission to Columbia College Chicago, keep in mind that submitting a portfolio makes you eligible for talent-based scholarships!

You can submit either a digital portfolio or a video audition by January 15, 2019, for consideration. View portfolio submission guidelines here.

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 2018-19 school year, Columbia requires you to have proof of funds of at least $47,266. 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 colum.edu/sponsorship.
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 colum.edu/pretransfer. 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 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 kobomanu@colum.edu. To find out more information, find the Buddy Program on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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 (colum.edu/status), 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 mandatory for all international students. In this program, you will learn about your immigration stats and rights, 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. 

What if I am not able to attend the ISWP program?

The ISWP program is a mandatory program for all international students. This program has been designed and implemented based on student feedback. We feel that students who take part in this program have the best preparation to begin their studies at Columbia. We understand that things come up that may be out of your control—like flight arrangements or obtaining a visa—but we highly recommend that you attend this program.

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.

Do I need to stay on campus for ISWP?

We recommend all students to stay on campus for ISWP, but if you already have made arrangements for off-campus housing or are already living in the Chicago area, please contact intladmissions@colum.edu for additional information.

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 (global@colum.edu, +1 312-369-7726). 
How do I get to campus?
Columbia will meet and greet you at the airport. Please check your status page for more information. We can't wait to see you!
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 complete a housing application. You must submit a $500 prepayment when you apply. See floor plans and photos and apply for housing—which is offered on a first-come, first-served basis—at colum.edu/residencelife.
For questions about paying for college, see our Student Financial Services FAQs for international students.