Special Programs

Preprofessional Advising

Berick Center for Student Advising
403 Lerner
212-854-6378
preprofessional@columbia.edu

Medical, dental, and other health professional schools prefer that undergraduates complete a four-year program of study toward the bachelor’s degree. All health professional schools require prerequisite coursework, but the specific coursework can vary somewhat from program to program and school to school. This coursework can be completed during the undergraduate years along with the Core Curriculum and the major or concentration.

Majors and Concentrations

There is no major preferred by medical school admissions committees. Students are encouraged to major or concentrate in any field that appeals to them. Students concentrating in a non-science area may wish to take one or two extra science courses to demonstrate their interest and aptitude in the sciences. Students should work closely with their advising deans and preprofessional advisers from the Berick Center for Student Advising, as well as their departmental major adviser in planning a program that meets their interests.

Premedical Requirements

It is very important to note that each medical school in the United States and Canada individually determines its own entrance requirements, including prerequisite coursework or expected competencies. Each medical school also sets its own rules regarding acceptable courses or course equivalents. It is therefore essential that students confirm the premedical requirements for those schools to which they intend to apply.

In addition to medical school course requirements, all medical schools currently require applicants to sit for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). A new format of this exam was introduced in Spring 2015, for which the recommended preparation is:

  • 1 year of General Chemistry and General Chemistry Lab;
  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry Labs;
  • 1 year of Introductory Biology and Biology Lab;
  • 1 year of General Physics and Physics Labs; 
  • 1 semester of Introductory Psychology;
  • 1 semester of Biochemistry

At Columbia, the following courses correspond to the above requirements:

Chemistry
Select one of the following three options:
Option 1:
CHEM UN1403
 - CHEM UN1404
General Chemistry I (Lecture)
and General Chemistry II ( Lecture)
CHEM UN1500General Chemistry Laboratory
Option 2: for students who place into the accelerated track:
CHEM UN1604Intensive General Chemistry (Lecture)
CHEM UN1507Intensive General Chemistry Laboratory
or CHEM UN1500 General Chemistry Laboratory
Option 3: available to students depending on results of placement exam:
CHEM UN1507Intensive General Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM UN2045
 - CHEM UN2046
Intensive Organic Chemistry I (Lecture)
and Intensive Organic Chemistry II (Lecture) (formerly CHEM W3045-W3046)
CHEM UN2545Intensive Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Organic Chemistry
CHEM UN2443
 - CHEM UN2444
Organic Chemistry I (Lecture)
and Organic Chemistry II (Lecture) (formerly CHEM W3443-W3444)
CHEM UN2493
 - CHEM UN2494
Organic Chemistry Laboratory I (Techniques)
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II (Synthesis)
Biology
BIOL UN2005
 - BIOL UN2006
Introductory Biology I: Biochemistry, Genetics & Molecular Biology
and Introductory Biology II: Cell Biology, Development & Physiology
BIOL UN2501Contemporary Biology Laboratory (or other Biology laboratory approved by premedical adviser)
Physics
Select one of the following three options:
Option 1:
PHYS UN1201
 - PHYS UN1202
General Physics I
and General Physics II
PHYS UN1291
 - PHYS UN1292
General Physics Laboratory
and General Physics Laboratory II
Option 2:
PHYS UN1401
 - PHYS UN1402
Introduction To Mechanics and Thermodynamics
and Introduction To Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics
Or
PHYS UN1601
 - PHYS UN1602
Physics, I: Mechanics and Relativity
and Physics, II: Thermodynamics, Electricity, and Magnetism
Also select one of the following laboratories:
PHYS UN1291
 - PHYS UN1292
General Physics Laboratory
and General Physics Laboratory II
PHYS UN1493Introduction to Experimental Physics
PHYS UN1494Introduction to Experimental Physics
Experiments in Classical and Modern Physics
PHYS UN3081Intermediate Laboratory Work
Option 3:
PHYS UN2801
 - PHYS UN2802
Accelerated Physics I
and Accelerated Physics II
Also select one of the following laboratories:
PHYS UN1493Introduction to Experimental Physics
PHYS UN1494Introduction to Experimental Physics
PHYS UN2699Experiments in Classical and Modern Physics
PHYS UN3081Intermediate Laboratory Work
Psychology
PSYC UN1001The Science of Psychology

While these courses are recommended for MCAT preparation, students should note the following additional information:

  • English: Most medical schools require one year of English, emphasizing skill acquisition in writing. Columbia College students fulfill this requirement with University Writing (ENGL CC1010) and Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy (Literature Humanities) (HUMA CC1001-HUMA CC1002).
  • Mathematics: Although not required by most medical schools, calculus is required for Columbia chemistry sequences and therefore all premedical students should have successfully completed the equivalent of one semester of Calculus. Medical schools that do have a mathematics requirement typically expect one semester of calculus and one semester of statistics. Any Columbia calculus and statistics classes will meet the requirement and it is sometimes possible to use AP credit toward this requirement.
  • Biochemistry: An increasing number of medical schools require one semester of biochemistry. While Columbia's introductory biology sequence covers many foundational concepts of biochemistry, it is not guaranteed that medical schools will accept this sequence in fulfillment of a biochemistry requirement.
  • Advanced Biology: A small number of schools require more than one year of introductory biology and many of these recommend specific advanced level classes.
  • Social and Behavioral Science: A number of schools have begun to add social and behavioral science courses into their requirements, including, but not limited to, psychology and sociology.

Students should note that medical schools’ stated prerequisites are subject to change from year to year and it is the responsibility of students to confirm the prerequisite requirements for the medical schools to which they intend to apply. Most medical schools list their requirements in greater detail on their individual websites. More information can also be found from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Barnard Courses

While it is preferred that students complete their premedical requirements with Columbia College courses, students may take premedical requirements at Barnard. However, the Columbia Biology and Chemistry Departments may not accept Barnard courses toward the major or concentration. Students should consult their departmental adviser well in advance of registering for a Barnard course.

Students with Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement (AP) credit is accepted by some schools, but not all. Students are responsible for monitoring the requirements of each school to which they intend to apply. For more information on current AP policies by school, refer to the Medical School Admissions Requirements Chart.

Generally, students with AP credit are strongly advised to take further courses in the field in which they have received such credit.

Application to Health Profession Programs

Students must apply for admission to health profession schools more than one year in advance of the entry date. Students who are interested in going directly on to health profession schools following graduation should complete all prerequisite courses required for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) by the end of the junior year. It is entirely acceptable — and often preferred — for students to take time between undergraduate and health profession school and thus to wait to apply to these schools for one or more years.

Students planning to apply to medical or dental school should be evaluated by the Premedical Advisory Committee prior to application. A Premedical Advisory Committee application is made available each year in December. For more information regarding this process, please consult with a preprofessional adviser in the Berick Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner preprofessional@columbia.edu.

Volunteer Program

Preprofessional Advising maintains an online listing of many different clinical and research volunteer programs across the city. Students may find placements in a variety of different settings including, but not limited to, emergency rooms; intensive care units; research laboratories; outpatient settings; and health clinics. Clinical exploration is viewed by many medical schools as a good test of students’ professional motivation and students are strongly encouraged to investigate some of the options available for meeting this expectation before applying to medical school.

Engineering

The Combined Plan (3-2) Program

The Combined Plan (3-2) Program provides students with the opportunity to earn both the B.A. at Columbia College and the B.S. at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in five years. Columbia College students must apply in their junior year to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. In order to apply, students must have completed or be in the process of completing the pre-engineering courses including:

Mathematics
MATH UN1101
 - MATH UN1102
 - MATH UN1201
Calculus I
and Calculus II
and Calculus III (at a minimum)
MATH UN1202Calculus IV (required for some programs)
MATH UN2030Ordinary Differential Equations
Chemistry
Select one of the following three sequences:
CHEM UN1403
 - CHEM UN1404
General Chemistry I (Lecture)
and General Chemistry II ( Lecture)
CHEM UN1604Intensive General Chemistry (Lecture)
CHEM UN2045
 - CHEM UN2046
Intensive Organic Chemistry I (Lecture)
and Intensive Organic Chemistry II (Lecture) (formerly CHEM W3045-W3046)
Laboratory requirement depends on specific program
Physics
Select one of the following three sequences:
PHYS UN1401
 - PHYS UN1402
Introduction To Mechanics and Thermodynamics
and Introduction To Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics
PHYS UN1601
 - PHYS UN1602
Physics, I: Mechanics and Relativity
and Physics, II: Thermodynamics, Electricity, and Magnetism
PHYS UN2801
 - PHYS UN2802
Accelerated Physics I
and Accelerated Physics II
Some programs require a third semester of Physics
Laboratory requirement depends on specific program
Computer Science
Select one of the following three courses, depending on program:
ENGI E1006Introduction to Computing for Engineers and Applied Scientists
COMS W1004Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Java
COMS W1005Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in MATLAB
Economics
ECON UN1105Principles of Economics

Students must also complete the requirements for a Columbia College major or concentration, as well as any additional pre-curricular requirements for the specific engineering major (see specific requirements on the Undergraduate Admissions website). In the fourth and fifth years of study, to be completed at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, requirements for the major at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science must be completed in consultation with the major adviser there. Students with more than 35 transfer credits are not eligible for the program. Housing and financial aid will be continued.

Each fall, Undergraduate Admissions conducts information sessions in which students meet with the Combined Plan Program administrator. For more information, students should contact their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner, or email combinedplan@columbia.edu.

The 4-1 Program at Columbia College

The 4-1 Program provides students in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) the opportunity to obtain a B.A. degree from Columbia College with one additional year of study after completion of four years of study and fulfillment of all requirements for the B.S. degree in engineering. SEAS students who are interested in the 4-1 Program must declare their interest in the spring of their sophomore year and plan their next three years of study with the program adviser. The fifth year of study commences in the fall semester and students are required to conclude their studies while enrolled for two full-time semesters.

The program is selective, and admission is based on the following factors:

  1. Granting of the B.S. at SEAS at the end of the fourth year;
  2. The fulfillment of the Columbia College Core Curriculum requirements by the end of the fourth year at SEAS;
  3. Maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Columbia College Core courses as well as those courses counting toward the Columbia College major;
  4. Creating a plan to complete a Columbia College major or concentration by the end of their fifth year that is approved by the appropriate director of undergraduate studies.

For more information, students may contact their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner.

The International Affairs Five-Year Program

The International Affairs Five-Year Program offers Columbia College students the opportunity to earn both B.A. and M.I.A. degrees in five years. Students apply to the program during their junior year through the School of International and Public Affairs Admissions Office in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Once admitted to the joint program, students complete their senior year at Columbia College, starting in the fall semester, but the bulk of courses taken are graduate-level ones acceptable to SIPA. Admission to the joint program does not constitute admission to SIPA.

To be eligible for the program, students must have been enrolled in Columbia College for at least four semesters by the end of the junior year; have completed a minimum of 93 credits; taken a basic course in economics; achieved competence in a modern foreign language; and completed all Columbia College Core Curriculum requirements and major/concentration requirements, with the exception of six to eight credits, or two courses. These two courses may be taken during the senior year while completing the 24 points required by SIPA. Three points of SIPA requirements may be taken in the junior year. Summer courses between the junior and senior year may be considered. Students must receive the B.A. with a satisfactory GPA. Upon formal admission to SIPA after their senior year, students must apply for housing and financial aid.

For more information, students may contact their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner.

The Juilliard School

Exceptionally talented Columbia College students have access to instrumental, composition, and voice instruction at The Juilliard School through two distinct programs:

The Cross-Registration Program

Students can be invited to cross-register for weekly instrumental (classical and jazz), composition, and vocal instruction with the Juilliard faculty, after completing the formal application and successfully auditioning at Juilliard. Annual juries are held at the end of each academic year, which determine eligibility to continue in the program. Other types of ensembles or classes at Julliard are generally not available for cross-registration.

Applicants to the exchange program may be first-year applicants or current students within Columbia College. Students may participate in the program for up to four years of study and have the option of applying to the joint program in their junior year. Columbia College students interested in this program must submit a Juilliard Application for Admission, including pre-screening materials, by the Thursday, December 1 deadline.

The Joint BA/MM Program

Columbia College students already in the exchange program can participate in the joint program that offers students the opportunity to earn a B.A. from Columbia and an M.M. from Juilliard in five years (voice candidates may need six years of study to complete the program depending on preparation). It is recommended that students interested in the program complement their exchange instruction with music classes and participation in ensembles at Columbia. However, exchange participants do not have any specific course requirements at Columbia in order to qualify for admission to the M.M. at Juilliard.

If admitted during their senior year, students normally spend two subsequent years (three for voice majors) primarily at Juilliard, while finishing any remaining undergraduate requirements at Columbia College. Students receiving Columbia financial aid are subject to Juilliard’s financial aid policies during their time at Juilliard, and are not eligible for aid from Columbia.

To plan accordingly, students who wish to pursue the joint program should consult with their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising. To apply, Columbia College students must have completed 94 points of coursework, including the Core Curriculum requirements and major or concentration requirements for the B.A. within three years, and have participated in the exchange program for at least one year.

Exchange participants interested in applying for the program must submit the Juilliard Application for Admission by the Thursday, December 1 deadline. The pre-screening (if applicable) is waived. Live auditions are held at The Juilliard School in early March.

Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education Program

The Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education (AILE) Program provides Columbia College students with outstanding records the opportunity to earn both B.A. and J.D. degrees in six years. Selected students matriculate at the Law School after their junior year, having completed the required 93 points including the Columbia College Core Curriculum requirements and a concentration. Interested students must submit an application in the spring of their junior year to the Office of Preprofessional Advising in the Berick Center for Student Advising.

Columbia College may nominate one or two juniors each year for consideration; the final admission determination is made by the Law School Admissions Committee. Transfer students and students with fewer than six semesters of study as Columbia College students on Columbia’s New York campus (not abroad) before entering the Law School are not eligible for the program.

Prospective participants in this program must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) no later than the February administration of the year of intended enrollment. After formal admission to the Law School, the students are withdrawn from the College. In the student’s second and third years at the Law School, 12 points of coursework taken only at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be completed. The courses must be approved beforehand by the student’s preprofessional adviser. AILE candidates are required to apply for the B.A. degree the term before they expect to graduate.

Students should inform their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising of their plans to graduate in order to be considered for honors and Phi Beta Kappa. AILE students receive Columbia College and Law School degrees at the same time. Once admitted to the Law School, students interested in financial aid and housing should apply through the Law School.

For more information, students may contact Preprofessional Advising, 403 Lerner, 212-854-6378; preprofessional@columbia.edu.

Public Policy and Administration Five-Year Program

The Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration provides Columbia College students with the opportunity to earn both B.A. and M.P.A. degrees in five years. Students apply to the program during their junior year through the School of International and Public Affairs Admissions Office . Once admitted to the joint program, students complete their senior year at Columbia College, starting in the Fall semester, but the bulk of courses taken are graduate-level ones acceptable to SIPA. Admission to the joint program does not constitute admission to SIPA.

To be eligible for the program, students must have been enrolled in Columbia College for at least four semesters by the end of the junior year; completed a minimum of 93 credits; taken a basic course in economics; achieved competence in a modern foreign language; and completed all College Core Curriculum requirements and major/concentration requirements, with the exception of 6 to 8 credits, or two courses. These two courses may be taken during the senior year while completing the 24 points required by SIPA. Three points of SIPA requirements may be taken in the junior year. Summer courses between the junior and senior year may be considered. Students must receive the B.A. with a satisfactory GPA. Upon formal admission to SIPA after their senior year, students must apply for housing and financial aid.

For more information, students may contact their advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner.

Columbia-Howard/Spelman Exchange Programs

Columbia College, in partnership with Barnard College, offers students the opportunity to participate in domestic exchange programs with prominent historically black colleges/universities—Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. The program permits Columbia students to spend a semester or academic year at Howard or Spelman. In exchange, it allows Howard and Spelman students to spend a semester or academic year at Columbia.

Program participants pay tuition to Columbia College. However, students studying at Howard pay room and board expenses directly to Howard University, and students studying at Spelman College pay room and board expenses to Barnard College.

Courses taken at Howard and Spelman are treated as transfer credit. Transfer credit may be earned for approved courses in which students receive a letter grade of C- or higher. However, grades are not calculated into a student's grade point average. Courses taken to satisfy major requirements must be approved by the appropriate academic department.

To be eligible for participation, students should be juniors in good standing in the College and have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher. Students interested in attending Howard should submit applications by the first week of March for the fall semester and by the first week of November for the spring semester. Students interested in attending Spelman during fall or spring semesters should submit applications by the first week of March.

Applications and additional information may be obtained from the Berick Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner; 212-854-6378; csa@columbia.edu.