Document Tracking and the Deadline

My staff and I know the stress that surrounds the submission of an admission application.   This entry is meant to help applicants understand how our application system works as well as how we update our system and communicate with you.  I hope this will help to ease any concerns you might have during this busy time.  This entry is somewhat long, but if you read it thoroughly it should answer any questions or concerns you might have.

First let me state that 100% of the application process can be completed on the Web – we do not require that a single document be mailed to our office to consider a candidate for admission.  The only documents we might expect to receive by mail are academic transcripts and letters of recommendation.  We encourage applicants to upload copies of transcripts to our system, the personal statement and two résumés are uploaded, and applicants self report test scores in Part 2 of the application.

If letters of recommendation or transcripts are sent by mail, the important thing is the date the documents are received, not the date documents are tracked into the online system.  Our deadline is January 5th so documents sent by mail should be received by this date.  However, it can take 10-15 business days from the time a document is received via mail for us to manually track it in our system.

So do not panic if you have submitted Part 2 and/or mailed something to our office and it does not show as received on January 6th.  It actually may take us up until late January to track all documents sent to our office or uploaded to the system.  Rest assured that we will work with applicants if we believe a good faith effort was made to supply a necessary document by our deadline date.  There is no need to send a document a second time to us unless we reach out to you first (we will do so by email if necessary).  Sending documents a second time typically leads to delays.

Also note that if you do plan on mailing your transcripts, you should upload a single sheet with your name and short statement noting the names of the transcripts that are being mailed (in Part 2 where you are asked to upload your transcripts).

The following are details related to the two parts of the application, along with notes on each required document or piece of information we require and how receipt is tracked.

Part 1

Part 1 of the application is quite simple and only requires an applicant to fill in personal information and answer basic questions along with entering the names of three recommenders, along with whether an applicant expects them to submit their letters online or via mail.

If an applicant indicates that a letter writer initially was going to submit a letter online but then later decides to submit by mail, we do not need to be notified.  When we open the letter we will match it to the online record.

If a recommender submits a letter via our online system, the applicant will receive an email from the system informing him/her that the letter has been uploaded and the status will change to “Submitted.”  If we receive the letter via mail, we will have to manually update the applicant record.  In this case, no email will be sent to the applicant, rather the applicant can log in and check the status on the main page.

The receipt of letters of recommendation should not impact an applicant submitting other documents.  Applicants are encouraged to submit all of the documents and information they are responsible for as soon as possible.  As letters are received they will be tracked into the system and the status updated.

The final step in Part 1 is payment of the $85 application fee.  After paying the fee and submitting Part 1, applicants receive a confirmation email and Part 2 will become visible on the application site.

Part 2

Below are descriptions of all of the documents/information we require in Part 2 of the application.  Please read carefully as we receive many questions about the receipt and tracking of documents in our system.


Transcripts can be uploaded to the application site or mailed to our office.  We do not require official transcripts to consider an applicant for admission and uploading unofficial copies is perfectly acceptable. Do note that all coursework must show the grade received and the grading scale notes should be included with the transcript.

Do note that if transcripts are uploaded to the site they will not automatically be tracked as received.  Rather the status will read as “Not Received.”  Why does this happen?  The reason is that we must print the application and manually check to see if the transcripts are legible and complete.  Thus it can take some time for us to manually change the status to “Received – Not Official” which is acceptable for admission consideration. 

Note that any transcripts uploaded to our system will be tracked as “Received – Not Official.”  If an offer of admission is made and an applicant accepts the offer, we would then require an official copy to be sent via mail by June 15th.

If an applicant does send official transcripts via mail and they are received by the deadline, they will be tracked as “Received – Official” in the system.  Again, the tracking process can take time so we appreciate your patience.

Test Scores

All applicants should self report applicable test scores (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS) in Part 2 of the application.  We do not require official test reports to consider an applicant for admission.

While we do encourage applicants to list our test code when taking exams, we do not pay the testing organizations to mail paper reports to our office, rather the score reports are downloaded into a centralized Columbia University computer system.  However, we do not match application records to this centralized system until after admission decisions have been made.

Because of this, every applicant must enter self reported scores in Part 2 of the application.  If self reported scores are not entered, it will slow down our processing of the file.  While we understand that some applicants have requested that official test reports be sent to our office, if you have left the self reported test score section blank, you should log back in and self report your scores before the January 5th deadline.

Just like with transcripts, test scores that are self reported in Part 2 will not automatically be tracked as received.  Upon submission of Part 2 the status will read as “Not Received.”  Again, the reason is that we must print the application and manually check to see if the scores have been entered and printed out correctly.  Thus it can take some time for us to manually change the status to “Received – Not Official” which is acceptable for admission consideration.

If an offer of admission is made, we will then match your admission record to the centralized system the university uses for test score reporting.  If an applicant entered our code we will match the official scores to the application record.  If we run the matching process and the scores are not present, we will notify the applicant that he or she should contact the testing service to ensure that the official scores are sent to us no later than June 15th.  Once official scores are received they would be tracked as “Received – Official.”

Personal Statement and the Two Required Résumé /CV Documents

When you upload these documents to the system they will automatically track as “Received – Official.”  We will still manually review the application and will notify the applicant if there is an issue when these documents print, but this happens so rarely that we are comfortable with tracking as “Received – Official” upon submission of Part 2 of the application.  The status change is automated, but it can take a day for the system to update so do not panic if they are not tracked as “Received – Official” right after submission.

Forwarding the File to the Admissions Committee

Once we have manually checked a file to ensure that all of the required documents have been submitted and are legible, we will send an email to you stating that the application has been forwarded to the Admissions Committee.  Please realize this may take up until late January.  Again, if there is an issue, we will reach out to applicants via the email listed in the application.  When a file is completed has no impact on the admission decision (as long as all of the documents were received by the deadline).

Keeping Up With the Admission/Enrollment Process

Thank you for your attention to this message and we look forward to reading your application.  Decisions will start to go out in early March.  When a decision has been posted, applicants receive an email with instructions to log in to the online application site to view the decision.  Please continue to visit this blog for updates on when decisions will be sent.

I encourage all applicants to thoroughly review this PDF document which describes the admission process from beginning to end, including when decisions are sent, when our Admitted Student Day will take place, and how you can best research financial aid opportunities.


  1. […] Third, realize that we do need to manually check each and every application.  This means that when an application is submitted, it will be printed and double checked.  So for example, after you have self reported your test scores in Part 2 of the application, we will check to make sure they have printed out and then mark them as received on the application site.  Thus do not expect that your application will show as complete immediately after submitting it.  We will process it as quickly as possible and reach out to applicants if there are any issues with documents.  For more details, please see this past entry. […]