Need clarification on some of these terms? We’ve defined and explained some commonly misunderstood SIPA-lingo. We’ve also added some advice below for applicants who contact Admissions to ensure clearer communication!

Self-report (scores): If you are submitting (the optional) GRE/GMAT and/or the IELTS/TOEFL tests, you will manually input your scores into the application system and upload the unofficial scores to your application. These test results are typically displayed right after your exam; a screenshot or download will also suffice. The written portion of these exams are not required for your application to be reviewed – only if and when you are admitted will we ask for these parts in your official scores. When you do receive the written section results, please email us the full score breakdown and the score report so that we may update your file manually. 

Unofficial vs. official (test-scores and transcripts):   Any score or transcript sent in by the applicant is considered unofficial; official scores and transcripts are sent by the institution (the school or testing agency).

As mentioned above, unofficial scores and transcripts are accepted at the time of application and official scores and transcripts are only required after admission into SIPA. 

Transcripts:  It might be obvious what transcripts are but make sure that your transcripts include ALL grades and course names (even for unofficial transcripts). For example, if you studied abroad, make sure your home institution’s transcripts include the names and grades of the courses you took at the different institution. If it does not, you will need to send unofficial transcripts from the study abroad institution as well. Please submit transcripts and not a screenshot or PDF of your degree audit report or student system. These are difficult to read and typically truncated.

Early ActionEarly Action is a way for applicants to demonstrate to the admissions committee that they are serious about attending Columbia. Applicants who apply by the Early Action deadline and are admitted are not bound to attend. As far as admissions consideration, there is no difference or advantage to applying for one deadline over another.  

General advice for contacting the admissions office:

  1. If you have submitted your application, include your application reference ID # so we can more easily access your file. This reference number is displayed on your status page after submission.
  2. Be consistent with using the same email address. This helps us more easily identify you.
  3. Label your essays (so we know which one is your Personal Statement, Second Essay, etc.). A simple header is appropriate.
  4. Please be patient around the holidays if we haven’t gotten back to you as quickly as you had hoped. One follow-up email after three- to five-business days is appropriate but flooding us with more will only delay responses.
  5. Please review all information on our website before asking us general questions. While we’re happy to speak with you, a lot of important information can already be found on our site!