Deadlines & Requirements | Columbia Journalism School

Deadlines and Application Requirements

Create an account through our application system. 

You can return to the application at any time and submit materials as you are ready. The application details the required submission materials. Please allow plenty of time to write your essays, get recommendations and transcripts and gather samples of your work. Remember to save your username and password for future access to your application. Deadline information on Knight-Bagehot and Spencer Fellowship can be found on the program pages.


Note: All materials (essays, writing samples, resumes, etc.) must be submitted in English. If an original transcript (mark sheet, diploma, degree certificate, or academic record) is not in English, you must upload both the official transcript in the original language and its verbatim English translation.

Application Details

What you'll need to complete your application. 

Application Fee

Required of applicants to all programs

$100 non­-refundable application fee payable at time of on­line application submission by credit card only.

We do not accept checks or bank money orders. We will not accept cash or postal money orders. No exceptions. 

Applications are not considered complete unless accompanied by the fee. The school does not grant application fee waivers.

Academic Transcripts

Required of applicants to all programs

A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. university or its equivalent from another country, awarded by the summer of the year that you begin classes, is required.

During the initial phase of the application process, you are permitted to upload unofficial copies of your academic transcripts for evaluation purposes via the application portal. You must submit transcripts from every university you have attended, without exception. Should you be accepted and choose to enroll, you will then need to submit official academic transcripts from every university you have attended to the school. Please review the official transcript submission methods below:

Transcripts from Domestic Institutions 

  • Electronic transcripts: Receiving electronic transcripts via a point-to-point system that bypasses the student (using vendors such as Parchment, Credentials Solutions, and the National Student Clearinghouse) enhances efficiency and ensures authenticity of materials. All admitted students who have attended a college or university in the United States must submit electronic transcripts directly from their school, delivered directly to The Office of Admission. 
  • Paper transcripts: If an admitted student’s U.S.-based institution does not offer electronic delivery, the student must write to the Office of Admission with the link to their prior U.S. institution’s webpage concerning transcript orders to confirm that paper is the only option and obtain permission to submit a paper transcript. If a paper transcript is the only option, it must be sent directly from the other institution to Columbia, and not delivered or forwarded via the student.

Transcripts from International Institutions 

  • International institutions outside of the People’s Republic of China: Admitted students who attended international institutions must submit an electronic transcript if their school offers secure online delivery. If the school cannot send transcripts electronically through a secure online system, they must contact World Education Services (WES) and order a course-by-course evaluation and International Credential Advantage Package to be sent directly to The Office of Admission (Columbia Journalism School, 203 Pulitzer Hall, Mail Code 3801, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027).
  • International institutions in the People’s Republic of China: Admitted students who attended institutions in the People’s Republic of China can access a unique resource through CHESICC, the credentials verification service affiliated with the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Education, to arrange for submission of a “Verification Report of China Higher Education Student’s Academic Transcripts” AND a “Verification Report of China Higher Education Qualification Certificate.” These should be delivered electronically to the appropriate admissions office at Columbia.

Writing Test

Required of applicants to M.S. and M.S./Computer Science programs and by M.A. applicants who indicate they would also like to be considered for the M.S. program.

The writing test is taken from mid-November through mid-January.

  • The test format is short answer and open­-ended questions.
  • Test information will be sent after the application has been submitted.
  • The Office of Admission will email you regarding test logistics in early November.
  • The writing test takes approximately two hours and focuses on an applicant’s reporting, writing, and critical thinking skills. 
  • This is not a test of current affairs, and there is no way to study for the exam.
  • This test is administered by a service called ProctorU. All students will take the test remotely, regardless of location. You do not need to travel to New York City to take the test.
  • We do not have a sample test online.

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Required of applicants to all programs

Current official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score reports are required for:

  • M.S. and M.A. applicants: if you indicate that you did not complete your entire undergraduate education at an English­-language university.
  • Ph.D. applicants: if either English is not your native language OR you indicate that you did not complete your entire undergraduate education at an English-­language university.

TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. Waivers of this requirement are rarely given and must be requested and approved before the application deadline. The Graduate School of Journalism reference code for ETS is 2120. On the TOEFL, we require a minimum score of 650 (paper­-based) or 114 (internet-­based); and for the IELTS we require a minimum score of 8.0.


Applicants to our programs are required to write 2-3 essays as outlined below.

M.S. Applicants (2-3 essays)

  • Autobiographical essay
  • Professional Interests/M.S. essay
  • Specialized program essay (only if applying to the Investigative, Documentary programs)

M.A. Applicants (3 essays)

  • Autobiographical essay
  • Professional interests/M.A. essay
  • Program Interests essay

Ph.D. Applicants (2 essays)

  • Autobiographical essay
  • Academic Interests essay

Guide to Essays 


Required of applicants to all programs

In a short autobiographical essay, tell us about yourself. You can write about your family, your education, your talents, or your passions about significant places or events in your life; about books you have read, people you have met, or work you have done that has shaped the person you have become. Our only requirements are that the essay be informative, well written, and reflective of your own voice; our only cautions are that you avoid poetry, purple prose, or writing about yourself in the third person.


Required of applicants to M.S. programs

What led you to your interest in journalism?  What experience, if any, do you have in journalism?  What do you hope to gain through your work at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism?


Required of applicants to M.S. specialized programs

Data Journalism Degree Essay - Explain why you want to pursue a degree in data journalism and what data project you envision doing during your year at the Journalism School. Describe an example of what you would consider a high quality data journalism piece and explain what makes it a good story. We also want to know about any previous experience with computation and projects that drew from data or made some use of data analysis and/or reporting data. You will not be required to demonstrate a strong data portfolio, however, but instead demonstrate a strong interest in the subject. 

Stabile Investigative Journalism Specialization Essay (for Stabile applicants only) Before applying to the Toni Stabile Center investigative journalism specialization, we urge you to think carefully about your skills, educational goals, and professional ambitions. Note that investigative journalism is about exposing wrongdoing in the public interest; it is about holding powerful individuals and institutions accountable. Investigative techniques are useful for a range of stories, but investigative reporting is not just about the use of these techniques, it is also about the exposure of wrongdoing. Please describe how your educational or professional experience has prepared you to undertake the investigative journalism specialization. The bulk of this essay should make a case for your admission to the investigative journalism specialization. It will be helpful to the admission committee if you discuss some ideas for your master’s project or thesis since this will be the most significant investigative piece you will complete at the School.

Documentary Essay (for Documentary applicants only) The Documentary Program is a selective concentration for those who feel passionately about learning in-depth visual storytelling. The bulk of this essay should make the case for your admission to the documentary specialization. Please describe why you want to make documentaries and what subject area(s) might interest you and why. In your answer, cite some documentaries you have seen that you think fulfill a journalistic potential.


Required of applicants to M.A. program

Submit a stringent self-assessment of your work as a journalist or in Columbia’s Master of Science program, pointing out strengths and weaknesses. If you have not been enrolled as a student in the past five years, we would like to know what opportunities and challenges you foresee in pursuing the Master of Arts, as well as how you expect to change your career path after completing this program. If you have recently completed our Master of Science program, we would appreciate your specific ideas regarding the added value the Master of Arts program will confer upon you, and your assessment of the relationship between the two curricula.


Required of applicants to M.A. program

This essay should make the case for your admission to your chosen major within the M.A. program.  Please describe how your educational or professional experience has prepared you to undertake this field of study and to handle the in-depth materials you will encounter in the major. It will be helpful to the admission committee if you discuss any interest in a sub-specialty (i.e. a Business and Economics major may wish to become a technology reporter) in which you will produce your master’s thesis.

ACADEMIC INTERESTS (750 word limit)

Required of applicants to Ph.D. program

Please describe the academic and intellectual interests, progress, and achievements that have contributed to your decision to apply for doctoral study. You should include a thoughtful description of your tentative plan of study or area of inquiry at Columbia as you now envision it, the kind of research questions you intend to pursue, and what you hope to expect to do after you have completed the degree.


Required of applicants to all programs

Current resume/curriculum vitae: Please include any honors or awards you have received as a student or working journalist. Please note important stories you have developed or covered.

Journalistic Work Samples

Required of applicants to M.S., M.A. and Dual Degree/Computer Science

Multimedia clips/writing samples – We require M.S. and M.A. applicants to submit three examples of their journalistic or other written work in support of their application.

  • Please upload these samples (in PDF or Word format) into our online application.
  • Please submit no more than a total of 15 pages.
  • We will not accept, via post, any clips or writing samples, permanently bound or laminated work, notebooks, magazines, newspapers, books, etc.
  • Do not submit work you have not written yourself or copy-edited.
  • For applicants who do not have clips, the admission committee wants to see writing samples that demonstrate your ability to distill and interpret information, e.g. blogs, press releases, or short writing samples.
  • For any audio or video clips, submissions should run no longer than 2­-3 minutes each. We will not accept any DVD or CD disks with audio or video clips. Any materials submitted that do not meet these criteria will not be considered.

No more than three samples should be submitted in total, whether written samples or multimedia clips.

Academic Writing Sample(s)

Required of Ph.D. applicants

  • Ph.D. applicants should include two samples of your writing of no more than 15­-20 pages each.
  • Scholarly writing is preferred, but an essay or piece of substantial journalism is acceptable.
  • The piece can be an excerpt from a larger work, published or unpublished.
  • You must be the sole author of the work; co-authored pieces are not acceptable.

GRE Scores

Optional for Ph.D. & Dual Degree/Computer Science applicants

For Ph.D. & Dual Degree/Computer Science students, GRE scores are optional. You will not be penalized if you submit an application without scores; it will be considered on the same terms as those with current scores.

Should you wish to submit your test scores, please provide test scores as printed on the score report you received from Educational Testing Service (ETS) and ensure that an official copy of your score report is sent from ETS to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The school code to reference is 2120.