Studying in a foreign country for a semester, a full year, or sometimes a summer, represents a significant enhancement to the Columbia College education. Study abroad expands the walls of the institution and offers students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the larger global community of which we are all members. Students engaged in international study discover insights into other cultures, develop new perspectives, and learn to reflect on how their own culture has shaped their understanding of the world. Students interested in studying abroad should visit the Office of Global Programs, 606 Kent, as early as possible to discuss their academic goals and to develop a plan for integrating international study into their curriculum.
The College maintains the authority over students' participation in study abroad programs and upholds standards for all potential candidates. To be eligible for participation in a Columbia-approved study abroad program, students must meet the following criteria:
- Have a minimum GPA of 3.0;
- Make progress toward finishing the Core Curriculum;
- Complete the Core foreign language requirement (i.e., satisfactory completion of the intermediate sequence). Some programs require one or two courses beyond this level, so students may also need to complete advanced language prerequisites;
- Demonstrate academic interest by completing at least one course pertaining to the country or region where the student intends to study;
- Maintain good academic standing. A review of each student's academic and disciplinary records is conducted as part of the required clearance process. Students on academic or disciplinary probation are not permitted to study abroad during the term of their probation.
It is generally possible to arrange for study in most foreign countries through programs sponsored by Columbia or by other American institutions, or through direct application to foreign universities. Such studies may be approved for one to two terms in the junior year or during any summer term.
Students who enroll in the following Columbia-sponsored programs receive direct Columbia credit for their courses. The grades earned in their studies are reflected on their official transcripts and cumulative GPA:
- Reid Hall in Paris
- The Berlin Consortium for German Studies
- The Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies
- The Columbia in Beijing Program at Tsinghua University
- The Tropical Biology and Sustainability Program in Kenya
- Columbia University in London
- Columbia Global Seminars taught on Columbia-sponsored study abroad programs
Credit from outside approved programs is certified as transfer credit toward the degree when the student returns to the College and upon receipt of appropriate transcripts and other supporting materials. Grades earned during participation in outside approved programs are not reflected on the transcript or the cumulative GPA. College transfer students should note that they are permitted no more than 60 points of outside credit (see Academic Regulations—Regulations for Transfer Students).
All students are reminded that the final 30 credits required for the degree must be taken while enrolled in the College for study on Columbia's New York campus or on one of the Columbia-sponsored programs abroad. Any exceptions require special permission from the Committee on Academic Standing.
In addition, the following conditions apply for study abroad:
- No credit is granted for courses in business, education, journalism, or other subjects that, at Columbia, are typically taught in professional schools.
- Transfer credit is not awarded for courses taken on a Pass/Fail basis in outside programs. The minimum grade necessary for transfer of credit is C-.
Students must be cleared to study on approved programs by the Office of Global Programs, 606 Kent, by October 1 for the spring semester and by March 1 for the fall semester/academic year. Students must register with this office before November 15 for the spring semester and April 15 for the fall semester/academic year.
All matriculated undergraduates who wish to participate in Columbia-Led, Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized international travel must first be cleared to participate in such program and are then required to obtain School Sponsorship at least 4 weeks prior to departure, in accordance with the Undergraduate International Travel Policy.
While abroad, students remain enrolled at the College; tuition is paid to Columbia. Columbia, in turn, pays the academic costs of the overseas program. Students are financially responsible for room, board, and any other miscellaneous costs. Students receiving financial aid at Columbia remain eligible for aid when they study abroad with Columbia’s approval.
Columbia College students who enroll in the Columbia-sponsored programs listed below have the same access to the financial aid they would have if they were enrolled in classes in New York. Students who plan to apply should consult with the Office of Global Programs, 606 Kent; 212-854-2559; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kenya: Tropical Biology and Sustainability in Kenya Program
In partnership with Princeton University, Columbia has developed a field semester abroad program in Kenya on Tropical Biology and Sustainability. Operating during the spring semester, this global immersion experience gives students the opportunity to study ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, environmental engineering, and sustainable development in the environmental hub of East Africa. Based at Princeton's Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya, and with support from Columbia's Global Center Africa in Nairobi, students also travel across Kenya to places such as the forested slopes of Mt. Kenya, the wildlife-rich savannas of Laikipia, and the coffee and tea plantations of western Kenya. Students take four three-week course modules taught by Princeton and Columbia faculty who work in Kenya and other parts of East Africa.
Applicants must have completed Environmental Biology I and II, or the equivalent, to be eligible to apply.
China: Semester or Academic Year in Beijing [on hiatus]
This program is designed for students who demonstrate a high level of both written and spoken Mandarin Chinese and who would like to directly enroll in courses at Tsinghua University. The program offers access to a broad range of courses through the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and other schools where participants take classes with Chinese university students. A local faculty member advises students on their academic program and organizes co-curricular activities. Tsinghua University graduate students are available to tutor students and assist with the transition into the Chinese university system.
Applicants must have the equivalent of three years of college-level Chinese, although more is recommended.
Japan: The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS) offers an intensive, two-semester academic program primarily for undergraduates who wish to do advanced work in Japanese language and Japanese studies. The program is open to qualified students who have completed two or more years of college-level Japanese at the time of enrollment. A limited number of students may be admitted for single semester study in the fall or spring.
The KCJS curriculum provides intensive Japanese language study and the opportunity to choose from a broad spectrum of social sciences and humanities courses on premodern and contemporary Japan. The program takes advantage of the numerous social and cultural resources of Kyoto by incorporating into the curriculum field trips, guest speakers, and research projects based on local field work.
For program information, students may consult http://www.kcjs.columbia.edu and email email@example.com. Students are also advised to consult with the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.
France: Reid Hall in Paris
Established in 1966, the Columbia-Penn Program in Paris at Reid Hall offers semester, academic-year, and summer study-abroad options that challenge students to step outside the boundaries of a traditional French language program and use French as a means to further their understanding of their own area of study. Students with a good command of the French language refine their speaking and writing skills through intensive language training and by taking selected disciplinary courses taught in French specifically for the program at Reid Hall and in the French university system at partner institutions: Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po), University of Paris I (Panthéon Sorbonne), University of Paris IV (Sorbonne), University of Paris VII (Denis Diderot), and the École du Louvre. Opportunities for participating in joint honors seminars and directed research are also available.
The minimum prerequisite for the semester or academic-year program is two years of college-level French, although more is recommended.
Germany: The Berlin Consortium for German Studies
The Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS) provides students with the opportunity to enroll in courses at the Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) for the fall semester or a full academic year. The program begins with a six-week intensive language practicum which, in conjunction with a month-long homestay, prepares students for study at the FU Berlin. Upon completion of the practicum, students enroll in one course taught by the BCGS directors on a topic such as cultures, politics, history, literature, theater, or cinema; and for at least two, possibly more, FU Berlin courses for which they meet the prerequisites.
The FU Berlin offers a wide range of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students majoring in a variety of disciplines may choose from an array of appropriate courses.
Applicants must have the equivalent of two years of college-level German, although more is recommended.
For program information, students may consult http://www.bcgs.columbia.edu and email firstname.lastname@example.org. Students are also advised to consult with the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Germanic Languages.
United Kingdom: The Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program
Columbia students interested in spending their junior year at Oxford or Cambridge should apply for admission to the Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program during the first term of their sophomore year. Application to the program is made through the Office of Global Programs, where a preliminary selection of candidates is made. Designated candidates for admissions then apply to one of the participating colleges of Oxford or Cambridge. Criteria for admission include a very strong academic record at Columbia, as well as commitment to a chosen field of study. Application through the Columbia Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program is the only way the College authorizes study at either university.
Columbia in London Program
The Columbia in London Program operates under the direction of Columbia's Department of English and Comparative Literature, in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), one of the UK's most prestigious academic institutions.
The program's Global Seminar, London as Literature, studies major works of English and Anglophone literature from all periods and genres in a London context. Each fall, the program will be led by one Columbia faculty member whose research directly engages the literary culture of London. That faculty member will offer a version of the global seminar that will enable participating students to study literary texts in their immediate geographical and cultural settings, transforming their relationship to their objects of study and encouraging them to develop a wider range of reading practices and research methodologies. In addition to regular class meetings, the Global Seminar will involve regular outings to urban sites, designed to complement and enhance the readings and classroom discussions. Destinations will include the British Library, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Museums, the Globe Theater, and a host of other London cultural institutions.
In addition to the Global Seminar, students will also enroll alongside local students in courses offered by the host institution. QMUL offers programs across a broad range of disciplines, including physical and natural sciences, business and management, engineering, humanities, and social sciences.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Cuba: The Consortium for Advanced Studies in Cuba
The Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) program in Cuba is a collaborative initiative involving seven U.S. universities: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania. CASA-Cuba provides students with a unique opportunity to have direct access to Cuba’s leading institution of higher learning, the University of Havana, and to Casa de Las Américas, the Cuban government’s premier research institution on Caribbean and Latin American studies, Cuban culture, and the arts. Comprehensive student services support the academic and social experience. The program runs in both fall and spring semesters.
Applicants must have the equivalent of five semesters of college-level Spanish.
Summer study abroad provides a meaningful complement to the College curriculum and can help students prepare for semester- or year-long overseas programs.
Columbia College students who enroll in the Columbia-sponsored summer programs listed below earn direct credit for their courses.
Africa and the Middle East
Jordan: The Arabic Language Program in Amman
This nine-week program helps students strengthen their skills in Modern Standard Arabic by offering intensive language training. All skills are emphasized in the classroom and during tutorials. Group excursions, cultural activities, and a week-long travel break give students various perspectives of Jordanian society and different venues in which to practice their Arabic.
Jordan/France: The Middle Eastern and North African Studies Program in Amman and Paris
This nine-week program offers a multifaceted introduction to the languages, history, and culture of the Maghreb, emphasizing the region’s relations with the Middle East and France. Students take the equivalent of a year of Modern Standard Arabic and receive training in the dialects of the Maghreb. The language program is complemented by a cultural and historical seminar featuring lectures by prominent specialists from Columbia University and partner institutions in the Middle East and France.
Tunisia/Nairobi: Democracy and Constitutional Engineering in Tunis and Nairobi
This three-week program focuses on the concept of democracy, the challenges of democratic transitions and consolidation, and trade-offs associated with different ways of organizing democratic institutions. The program takes place in Tunis and Nairobi enrolls Columbia students alongside students from leading universities in the Middle East and Kenya.
China: Columbia Summer in Beijing: Business Chinese
This ten-week program is based at Peking University and offers advanced Chinese language students an opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the language, culture, and customs that drive the economic development of the world's most populated nation. Students enroll in six weeks of intensive, personalized instruction in business Chinese language classes and four weeks of language practicum placements in Beijing offices of local/multinational companies.
Japan: The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies Program in Advanced and Classical Japanese
This six- or eight-week program offers intensive training in modern and classical Japanese for students who have completed at least one year or three years of Japanese, or the equivalent.
France: Reid Hall in Paris
Summer French Studies in Paris
The six-week program offers modules at several levels designed to allow students to work together in small classes to integrate language and cultural studies and to progress in French while using Paris as a learning lab for language, culture, and extracurricular activities.
Art Humanities and Music Humanities in Paris
This six-week program enables students to complete two Core Curriculum courses, Art Humanities and Music Humanities, in Paris. The program emphasizes the musical and visual cultures of Paris. Day trips to important sites in the region, such as Chartres and Giverny, will complement the excursions to monuments and musical performances within Paris.
Art Humanities and Music Humanities in Berlin
This six-week program enables students to complete two Core Curriculum courses, Art Humanities and Music Humanities, in Berlin. The program emphasizes the musical and visual cultures of German. Two overnight excursions to important sites in Germany will compliment the excursions to monuments and musical performances within Berlin.
Greece: Curating the Histories of the Greek Present
This five-week program takes place in various locations in Greece and consists of an intensive curatorial workshop grounded in a seminar highlighting historical, anthropological, and literary approaches to aspects of Greek history and culture. It examines these through the organization of an art exhibition under the general theme of the environment.
Italy: The Italian Cultural Studies Program in Venice
This six-week program is based at Ca' Foscari University in Venice and uses an interdisciplinary approach to understanding Italian culture and society through study of its language, literature/film, art history and conservation, and economy. Students are given the opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of the rich Venetian culture, traditions, and history.
Brazil: The Summer Portuguese Program in Rio de Janeiro
This four-week program is based at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica (PUC-Rio) located in the Gavea district of Rio, and offers intensive language training in Portuguese. All students participate in a Community Involvement Project, which provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen language proficiency while gaining insight into Brazilian culture and society.
Mexico: Colonization and Decolonization in the Making of the Modern World
This four-week program in Mexico City gives students the opportunity to study the dynamics of civilizational contact, exchange, and conflict in the Americas. It offers the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race course "Colonization and Decolonization" in a moveable classroom setting to allow students access to sites of historical and architectural significance, including museums, archives, as well as meetings with local scholars and non-governmental organizations.
Summer Study Abroad Approval
Students seeking to study abroad during the summer must be approved by the Office of Global Programs, 606 Kent. Transfer credit for summer classes taken abroad on outside programs is awarded only for foreign-language courses under these conditions:
- Credits for language study at the elementary and intermediate levels are awarded after the student takes a placement exam to determine his/her progress in the language. Advanced foreign-language instruction courses are accepted for academic credit upon review by the appropriate language department.
- The only non-language instruction courses eligible for credit are courses which will satisfy the major or concentration. The courses must be taken abroad in a foreign language and must receive departmental approval to satisfy major or concentration requirements.
Limited exceptions can be made for awarding credit for summer courses taught in English. College credit can be granted provided that the course offers a unique experience, such as a field-studies program or archaeological dig, where the study-abroad site functions as a constituent part of the course, and the program must be approved by the Office of Global Programs. Departmental approval is required and the course must satisfy major or concentration requirements.
Other Opportunities Abroad
Students interested in non-credited internships and other experiential learning opportunities abroad should inquire with the Center for Career Education (East Campus Building, Lower Level).
In order to provide the richest and most immersive experience possible to its students, Columbia has established a network of exchange agreements with international institutions. With an exchange agreement, Columbia students may study at a partner institution; in exchange, students from the foreign institution may study at Columbia. Students take regular courses alongside local students, live in campus housing, have an academic adviser, and have access to all university facilities and resources.
Currently, Columbia has undergraduate exchanges with the following institutions:
- Bocconi University
- Boğaziçi University
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
- University College London
- University of Hong Kong
- Waseda University
Credit and Grading
As with other types of study abroad programs, all academic work completed abroad counts toward the Columbia degree, and students may take classes toward the major with the department's approval.
Tuition and Finances
Columbia College students who attend these exchange programs have the same access to financial aid they would have if they were enrolled in classes on Columbia's New York campus. Columbia students pay their usual Columbia tuition and are responsible for non-academic costs abroad.