Columbia University Policies

Since policies and procedures are subject to change, please check the Columbia University website for the most current information.

Reservation of University Rights

This Bulletin is intended for the guidance of persons applying for or considering application for admission to Columbia University and for the guidance of Columbia students and faculty.

In general, the Bulletin sets forth the manner in which the University intends to proceed with respect to the matters set forth herein, but the University reserves the right to depart without notice from the terms of this Bulletin. The Bulletin is not intended to be, and should not be, regarded as a contract between the University and any student or other person.

Valuable information to help students, faculty, and staff understand some of the policies and regulations of the University can now be found in Essential Policies for the Columbia Community, which includes information on the following:

  • Policy on Access to Student Records under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as Amended
  • Social Security Number Reporting
  • University Regulations (Including Rules of University Conduct)
  • Student Email Communication Policy
  • Information Technology Policies
  • International Travel Planning Policy
  • Policies on Alcohol and Drugs
  • Policies and Procedures on Nondiscrimination and Harassment
  • Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students
  • Protection of Minors
  • Non-Retaliation Policy
  • University Event Policies
  • Policy on Partisan Political Activity
  • Crime Definitions in Accordance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program
  • Use of Hoverboards on University Campus and Property
  • Use of Unmaned Aircraft Systems on University Campus and Property
  • Voluntary Leave of Absence Policy
  • Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy
  • Military Leave of Absence Policy
  • Essential Resources:
    • Campus Safety and Security
    • Disability Services
    • Ombuds Office
    • Transcripts and Certifications
  • Central Administration of the University's Academic Programs
  • Consumer Information
  • Additional Policy Sources for the Columbia Community

Immunization Requirements

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)

New York State Public Health Law 2165 requires that all students provide documentation of immunization for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) before registering for classes in their first term of study. There are several ways to provide documentation. In all cases, the Columbia University MMR form must be completed and submitted to the Columbia Health Immunization Compliance Office upon acceptance to a program of study at Columbia, and no later than 30 days before the registration of classes (see the specific term deadline listed on the Academic Calendar in this Bulletin).

Immunization documentation and health forms must be faxed, mailed or delivered in person. The Immunization Compliance Office is unable to accept documentation via email for privacy and security reasons. The blood test and MMR immunizations can be obtained at Columbia Health.

For information about these requirements visit the Columbia Health Insurance and Immunization Compliance website, 212-854-7210, or email immunizationcompliance@columbia.edu.

Meningococcal Meningitis Decision

New York State Public Health Law 2167 requires that students receive information from their institutions about meningococcal meningitis and the vaccine that protects against most strains of the disease that can occur on university campuses.

Columbia students must make an informed decision about being vaccinated and certify their decision online. Full instructions are given online, and the process takes two to three minutes to complete. Students must formally indicate their decision about being vaccinated before they are permitted to register for classes.

Immunizations Recommendations

Columbia Health recommends that students receive all routine childhood vaccinations, an updated tetanus booster, vaccination for Hepatitis B (three-dose series), and varicella (chicken pox). These vaccines are available at Columbia Health.

Students paying the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee are not charged for the following vaccines when administered at Columbia Health:

  1. Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR);
  2. Hepatitis A;
  3. Hepatitis B;
  4. Hepatitis Combination A and B;
  5. Influenza;
  6. Meningococcal Meningitis;
  7. Pneumococcal (if clinically indicated);
  8. Tetanus-Diphtheria;
  9. Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis; 
  10. Varicella

For all other vaccinations, students are charged for the cost of the vaccine. Vaccinations are available to students not paying the Columbia Health Fee for a minimal fee.

For more information, visit the Columbia Health website or email immunizationcompliance@columbia.edu.

Undergraduate International Travel Policy

Effective February 2017 for all international travel beginning on or after Tuesday, May 2, 2017

All matriculated undergraduates participating in Columbia-Led, Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized international travel will be required to obtain School Sponsorship at least 4 weeks prior to departure.

Application for School Sponsorship is comprised of the following steps. All steps must be completed prior to travel departure:

1.     Complete and Submit a School Sponsorship Request Form - including all travel destinations and side trips while abroad.

2.     Complete Pre-Departure Orientation.

3.     Abide by all University requirements, including:

a.     Register all travel with the University’s international travel assistance services – International SOS (ISOS).

b.     Maintain a health insurance policy that will also provide coverage outside the U.S. for routine, urgent, and emergent care.

4.     Complete a Risk, Waiver and Release Form, which must be signed by the undergraduate.

Undergraduates are expected to begin the application for School Sponsorship as soon as an opportunity that would require international travel has been secured, and submit a completed application no later than 4 weeks prior to departure.

Once School Sponsorship is approved and issued, undergraduates may continue their work with a sponsoring unit/program to begin/continue their preparation for a specific Columbia-Led, Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized travel program.

Undergraduates are required to immediately notify the Undergraduate Travel Review Committee should any changes to their location occur during the duration of their travel so their travel registry file may be updated.

The undergraduate schools reserve the right to revoke sponsorship, support and funding if the Undergraduate Travel Review Committee determines after review that the travel would be imprudent, based on assessment of the risk variables involved and/or the particular facts of the application. The purchase of travel protection insurance is strongly recommended to potentially mitigate financial loss in case of trip cancellation or interruption.

If a country or region is placed on the medium, high, or extreme risk list during travel, the Undergraduate Travel Review Committee will assess the risks of remaining in or departure from the country or region. Undergraduates will be advised of the risks and, if necessary, provided a recommended course of action. The undergraduate schools reserve the right to revoke sponsorship, support and funding should the undergraduate not follow the recommendations of the Undergraduate Travel Review Committee.

Link to the full policy: https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/travelpolicy/policy.

Religious Holidays

It is the policy of the University to respect its members’ religious beliefs. In compliance with New York State law, each student who is absent from school because of his or her religious beliefs will be given an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up any examination, study, or work requirements that he or she may have missed because of such absence on any particular day or days.

No student will be penalized for absence due to religious beliefs, and alternative means will be sought for satisfying the academic requirements involved.

Officers of Administration and of Instruction responsible for scheduling of academic activities or essential services are expected to avoid conflict with religious holidays as much as possible. If a suitable arrangement cannot be worked out between the student and the instructor involved, they should consult the appropriate dean or director. If an additional appeal is needed, it may be taken to the Provost.

Graduation

The B.A. degree is awarded three times during the year: in February, May, and October. There is one University Commencement ceremony in May (see Academic Calendar).

Application or Renewal of Application for the Degree

The Application for the Degree is available on the Registrar's website. Students may complete the degree application form electronically and submit it to diplomas@columbia.edu. Alternative instructions for submitting the application for the degree are on the form itself.

General deadlines for applying for graduation are September 1 for October degrees; November 1 for February degrees; and December 1 for May degrees. When a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline moves to the next business day. Students who fail to earn the degree by the conferral date for which they applied must file another application for a later conferral date.

Diplomas

There is no charge for the preparation and conferral of an original diploma. Students’ names will be printed exactly as they appear on their transcript. Students are advised to check their transcript, and if errors are found, they may email the Office of the University Registrar at registrar@columbia.edu.

If students wish to change their name, they must submit the Name Change Affidavit. The affidavit must be notarized and filed by the application deadline.

If a graduate’s Columbia diploma is lost or damaged, there will be a charge of $100 for a replacement diploma. Note that replacement diplomas carry the signatures of current University officials. Applications for replacement diplomas are available through the Office of the University Registrar

Additional Information:

Policy on Academic Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances

Columbia University is committed to fostering intellectual inquiry in a climate of academic freedom and integrity. Its members, students, and faculty alike, are expected to uphold these principles and exhibit tolerance and respect for others. The following procedures are part of a process to ensure that student concerns about experiences in the classroom or with faculty are addressed in an informed and appropriate manner.

When a student believes that a faculty member has failed to meet his or her obligations in an instructional setting, the student has two principal sources of immediate assistance: the University’s Ombuds Office and the professional staff of the school in which the student is enrolled.

The Ombuds Office is available to help students find solutions to a wide range of problems arising in the context of their association with the University, including those which involve faculty misconduct in an instructional setting. Students may wish to consult with the Ombuds Office before taking their concerns to the school, or they may wish to consult with the Ombuds Office at any time in the course of their discussions with school officials or, eventually, with members of the Vice President’s Grievance Committee.

Like the Ombuds Office,  Columbia College has a professional staff ready to help students with concerns and complaints of many kinds, including those which involve faculty misconduct in an instructional setting. The staff works with students and faculty to resolve such issues, but should resolution not be possible the student may avail herself or himself of the school's grievance procedures. Experience has shown that most student concerns are best resolved in a collaborative way at the school level, starting with the student’s advising dean. Columbia College students can learn more about how to initiate a concern, complaint, or grievance on the Columbia College website.

If the instructor at issue is a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty, the student may also consult grievance procedures available through the office of the Vice President for Arts and Sciences. These grievance procedures are intended to complement, not substitute for, the procedures available in each of the schools, and they treat a considerably more limited range of issues. They are designed to address only those cases involving professional misconduct by a faculty member of Arts and Sciences in an instructional setting in which there were significant irregularities or errors in applying school procedures. Information on this process can be found on the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences website.

If the instructor at issue is not a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty, the student should consult the instructor’s particular school for its procedures.

Columbia College students with thoughts on ways to clarify or enhance these procedures should contact Columbia College Academic Planning and Administration at cc-apa@columbia.edu.

Time Frame for Proceedings

A student should ordinarily bring any concern or complaint within 30 days of the end of the term in which the offending conduct occurred or by the beginning of the following term. The school process will ordinarily take 30 days.

Confidentiality

At every level, those involved recognize and respect a student’s need for confidentiality when addressing certain kinds of concerns. If the student wishes complete confidentiality, concerns may be raised with the University’s Ombuds Office, a neutral office that can receive complaints of any kind for the University and that offers a range of options and communication channels. Students, however, must be aware that the Ombuds Office has no authority to adjudicate a complaint; it is there as a confidential resource to students, faculty, and administrators to advise on various avenues of redress and to mediate disputes, if both parties agree.

Notice of Non-Discrimination

Columbia University is committed to providing a learning, living, and working environment free from unlawful discrimination and to fostering a nurturing and vibrant community founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members. Consistent with this commitment, and with all applicable laws, it is the policy of the University not to tolerate unlawful discrimination in any form and to provide persons who feel that they are victims of discrimination with mechanisms for seeking redress.

The University prohibits any form of discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, sex, gender, pregnancy, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, disability, military status, or any other legally protected status in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, employment, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other University-administered programs.

Nothing in this policy shall abridge academic freedom or the University’s educational mission. Prohibitions against discrimination and discriminatory harassment do not extend to statements or written materials that are relevant and appropriately related to the subject matter of courses.

Inquiries or complaints regarding any form of discrimination or harassment may be directed to:

Title IX Coordinator/Section 504 Officer for Columbia University 
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
103 Low Library
212-854-5511

Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights (New York Office)
OCR.NewYork@ed.gov

646-428-3800

Student Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment, Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students and Consensual Romantic and Sexual Relationships

Columbia University is committed to providing a learning, living, and working environment free from discrimination, harassment and gender-based and sexual misconduct. Consistent with this commitment and with applicable laws, the University does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or gender-based sexual misconduct in any form and it provides students who believe that they have been subjected to conduct or behavior of this kind with mechanisms for seeking redress. All members of the University community are expected to adhere to the applicable policies, to cooperate with the procedures for responding to complaints of discrimination, harassment and gender-based and sexual misconduct, and to report conduct or behavior they believe to be in violation of these policies to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action or the Gender-Based Misconduct Office within Student Conduct and Community Standards. For additional information on these issues, policies, and resources, please visit the Sexual Respect website

Complaints against students for gender-based misconduct are processed in accord with the Gender–Based Misconduct Policies for Students. Students who attend Barnard College and Teachers College as well as Columbia University are covered by these policies. The use of the term “gender-based misconduct” includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence. Columbia University's Sexual Respect Online provides additional information and resources for students, faculty, and staff.

Complaints against students for other forms of discrimination and harassment are processed in accord with the Student Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment and should be filed with the Dean of Students of the school in which the accused student is enrolled.  

Complaints against employees and third parties affiliated with the University for discrimination and harassment are processed in accord with the Employment Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment. The use of the term “discrimination and harassment” includes discrimination, discriminatory harassment, gender-based harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

Columbia University maintains policies regarding consensual romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students, and staff and students.

The Faculty-Student Relationship Policy states that no faculty member shall exercise academic or professional authority over any student with whom he or she has or previously has had a consensual romantic or sexual relationship. This policy covers all officers of instruction, research and the libraries, including student officers of instruction and research and teaching assistants.

The Staff-Student Relationship Policy states that no staff member at Columbia should participate in the supervision, employment actions, evaluation, advising or mentoring of any Columbia University student with whom that staff member has or has had a consensual romantic or sexual relationship, except in unusual circumstances, where explicit advance authorization has been obtained.

For further information and assistance, contact:

Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
2690 Broadway
103 Low Library
eoaa.columbia.edu
212-854-5511

Title IX Coordinator/Section 504 Officer for Columbia University 
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
2690 Broadway
103 Low Library
eoaa.columbia.edu
212-854-5511

Gender-Based Misconduct Office
612 West 115th St.
Watson Hall
8th Flr.
sexualrespect.columbia.edu/gender-based-misconduct-policy-students
212-854-1717

Additional Resources

Columbia offers a number of confidential resources to students who believe they were subjected to discrimination, harassment or gender-based or sexual misconduct and who do not wish to report to the University:

Sexual Violence Response and Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center (Confidential)
24/7/365 Helpline
health.columbia.edu/sexual-violence-response
212-854-HELP (4357)

Medical Services (Confidential)
health.columbia.edu/emergency
212-854-7426

Counseling and Psychological Services
2920 Broadway
Lerner Hall, 8th Fl.
health.columbia.edu/counseling-and-psychological-services
(212) 854-2878

Ombuds Office
2920 Broadway
710 Lerner Hall
ombuds.columbia.edu
212-854-1493

Office of the University Chaplain
1200 Amsterdam Ave.
660 Schermerhorn Extension
ouc.columbia.edu
212-854-1234