Enrollment and Courseload


The School of General Studies permits students to study at their own pace, whether it be on a full- or part-time basis. Full-time status is defined as taking a minimum of 12 points per term. Students may not register for more than 18 points in a given semester. Requests to exceed the 18-point cap must be submitted to the Committee on Academic Standing, and exceptions will be granted only in rare and unavoidable circumstances. International students on an F-1 student visa are required to attend full time.

Postbac Premed

While there is no academic or program requirement for full-time enrollment, some students may need to maintain full-time status because of visa requirements, for insurance, or to remain eligible for University Housing.

Full-time Enrollment

Option One

Full-time status in the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program is defined as registration for 12 or more points per term. This enrollment status is required for all international students.


Certification for this option is provided by the University Registrar.

Option Two

A postbac student who is registered for fewer than 12 points may be regarded as equivalent to full-time if enrolled in at least 9 points and participating in unpaid, volunteer work in a health care setting for at least three hours per week and 42 hours per semester. If the position is paid or a stipend is awarded, students will not qualify for full-time status. This option is not available to international students.


Certification is provided by the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Office. In order to receive a certification letter from the Postbac Premed Office, students must provide a letter to their Postbac Premed advisor from their volunteer supervisor stating that they are working in a volunteer and unpaid capacity for a minimum of three hours per week, with a minimum commitment of 42 hours during the 14-week semester. This letter must be on letterhead, dated, and signed by the volunteer supervisor. Students should allow one week between the submission of the letter from their volunteer supervisor and the availability of a letter of certification from the Postbac Premed Office.

International Student Enrollment: Application/Glide Year

During the application year, international students with F-1 (or J-1) non-immigrant status who wish to remain in the United States must either be enrolled in a program of full-time study or be on optional practical training (OPT) if F-1 status or academic training (AT) if J-1 status, authorized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In planning the application year, it is advisable for students with F-1 or J-1 status to consult with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), as well as with their premedical advisors, early in their final semester of study to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws.

Summer Enrollment

Preparatory Courses

Some Postbac Premed students may need to begin their studies in the summer to prepare for fall courses in mathematics, chemistry, and/or physics. Some preparatory coursework is also offered throughout the academic year.

With very few exceptions, the only summer session courses admitted students will be allowed to take are Preparation for College Chemistry, Basic Physics, English, Psychology, or a mathematics course. Please see the grading policy for Preparation for College Chemistry, Basic Physics, Basic Math, and College Algebra & Analytic Geometry.

Required Courses

Medical schools generally prefer that coursework be completed during the regular terms of enrollment; the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program does not permit students to enroll in science classes in the summer, except to take preparatory courses, math, laboratory courses, and the twelve-week Physics II and General Chemistry II courses. The reason for this restriction is a concern that the compressed schedule of summer classes is a less effective way to learn and leaves students ill-prepared for subsequent courses and for the MCAT.

Registration for Summer Courses

Summer courses are administered by the Columbia University School of Professional Studies. For courses offered during the summer semester that fulfill requirements of the Postbac Premed Program, please visit the Premed section of the SPS website; however, please note that courses offered in a six-week format do not fulfill the Postbac Premed Program requirements (with the exception of lab, math, and English courses).