Frequently Asked Questions

When will I be notified of my scholarship and federal financial aid awards?

Federal financial aid and the Journalism School Scholarship Aid Award notices are sent in mid‐March shortly after admission decision emails are posted.

What percentage of students receive federal financial aid?

The Journalism School offers several million annually in fellowships and scholarships to domestic and international students who demonstrate high academic achievement, financial need and exceptional promise for leading careers in journalism. Our Office of Admission and Financial Aid works with each student to ease the cost of attendance through a combination of scholarships and need-based programs, including grants and federal and private loans.

About 80 percent of our students utilize some sort of financial aid, including grants, loans or scholarships. Applicants who submit the Journalism School Scholarship Aid application are automatically considered for merit and need-based scholarships. Admission decisions are need-blind.

When will I receive the money from my student loan to cover my living expenses?

Generally, you will receive this money during the first two weeks of the semester. The funds come in the form of a refund, which is based on any credit remaining after the money from your student loan has been applied to tuition, fees and other university charges. Refunds are processed throughout the year when credit balances appear. The university will issue a refund either via direct deposit or a paper check. More information. 

What does the Journalism School look for in applicants for the M.S. and M.A. degrees?

We seek students who are skilled writers, curious about the world, interested in searching for the truth, determined and resourceful. Applicants should be motivated to dedicate their careers to journalism and exhibit leadership potential.

Do I need a degree in a specific major to be considered for admission? Are there any prerequisite courses that I need to have taken?

The Journalism School does not require applicants to have a specific major or take prerequisite courses to apply. You will need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or its equivalent outside the country. 

If you've begun graduate-level work in journalism or a related field, please note our Transfer of Credit Policy (only available for Ph.D. candidates).

 

What counts as journalism experience?

The Journalism School provides journalists with a unique opportunity to hone and deepen their skills at any point in their careers. Journalism experience is paid or unpaid work that has been completed in any media‐related field, such as newspaper, television, radio, photojournalism, digital publications or freelance work; work produced generally for a public audience.

If I don’t have any journalism experience, do I have a chance of being admitted?

We take a holistic approach to each application. Journalism experience is one element that the admissions committee will consider. Many applicants who may not have significant experience in journalism show strong potential in writing and can thoughtfully articulate and explain their goals and passion for working in the journalism industry. For students with little or no journalism experience, the Master of Science program is the most appropriate fit.

What is the required GPA to be considered for admission?

The Journalism School has no minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) requirement and accounts for different grading systems around the world in its admission process.

Is the GRE required for admission?

The GRE is not required for admission to the following programs: Master of Science, Master of Arts and dual degree programs with Columbia Law, Sciences Po and the University of Witwatersrand.

The GRE is required for admission if you are applying for the dual degree Master of Science with Religion, Computer Science or International and Public Affairs. The Ph.D. in Communication also requires the GRE exam. The Law School requires the LSAT. The Business School and School of International and Public Affairs require either the GRE or GMAT.

Only currently valid test scores will be accepted. GRE scores are valid up to five years from the original test date.

Which code should I use to send my GRE score?

The school code is 2120.

Will letters, transcripts or test scores that arrive after the deadline be considered?

Applicants should plan ahead to ensure that all letters, transcripts and test scores arrive by the deadline. Only complete applications will be sent to the admission committee.

I applied last year but did not complete my application and/or was not offered admission. Do you still have my materials?

No, we do not keep your materials on file. Applicants must submit a new online application, fee, updated resume, essays, transcripts, references and TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable). M.S. students must retake the Journalism School writing test. Non‐native speakers of English whose TOEFL or IELTS scores did not meet our required minimums should retake the test.

I'm applying to the M.S. program. When will I be notified about taking the writing test?

M.S. applicants and M.A. applicants (who have elected to be considered for the M.S. program) will be notified to set up their writing test via email after they submit their online application. The writing test, administered by the School or by alumni proctors, is required of all Master of Science degree applicants. Students are tested in English on writing skills and general knowledge of current events and historical facts. The 90-minute exercise will examine analytical and critical thinking skills, along with reporting and writing skills. The test format is short answer and uses open-ended questions. We do not have a sample test online.

The writing test is given either at the school between December and the end of January or under the supervision of alumni proctors elsewhere in the United States and abroad during the same period. Students do not have to travel to New York City to take the writing test. Information on registering for the test is emailed to all applicants after they have applied. For those taking the test outside of New York City, the admissions office will contact the proctor directly. Applicants to the Ph.D. and Master of Arts programs are not required to take the writing test.

Are interviews required as a part of the application process?

We do not require an interview for M.S., M.A. or Ph.D. candidates.

I'm graduating in the spring. Am I eligible to apply for the fall?

You are eligible to apply for fall admission provided that you will have received your bachelor's degree by July 15 of the year in which you are applying. You must upload your "in progress" transcripts with your online application. If you are admitted and enroll, you must submit a final, official transcript that shows all of your courses, grades and the confirmed date for your degree.

Does the Journalism School accept transfer credits from other institutions?

The Journalism School does not accept transfer credits from other institutions for students in the M.S. or M.A. degree programs. Students enrolled in the doctoral program may request that prior graduate‐level work be considered for transfer or advanced standing credit. Prior graduate work is reviewed during the second semester of the first year of entrance coursework.

I'm an international applicant. What tests are required?

Applicants to the M.S. or M.A. programs must submit current official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores if your entire undergraduate education was not completed at an English-language university. Ph.D. applicants must submit TOEFL/IELTS scores if English is not your native language or if your entire undergraduate education was not completed at an English-language university. Only current valid test scores are accepted. TOEFL scores are valid up to two years after the test date.

No test waivers are given for the Ph.D. program. Waivers of this requirement for the M.S. and M.A. programs are rarely given and must be approved before the application deadline.

Waivers are not guaranteed and, if requested after the application deadline, will not be considered. If you have any questions, please contact the admissions office

We require the following scores for consideration:

TOEFL: Paper-based: 650, Computer-based: 280, Internet-based: 114

IELTS: Overall: 8.0

What is the code to use to send the TOEFL or IELTS score?

The TOEFL school code is 2120.

When is the last date I can take the TOEFL or IELTS?

An applicant should plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams in time for the scores to reach the admissions office by the application deadline. It is best to take the test at least one month before the application deadline to ensure that we receive your scores in time.

How long are test scores valid?

TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years. If your scores are no longer valid, you must retake the test (no exceptions).

Are loans and scholarships available to international students?

Many resources exist to help finance your education in addition to those offered by Columbia Journalism School. Public and university libraries can also aid your research.

International applicants to the Journalism School are encouraged to submit the Journalism School Application for Scholarship Aid (available December 1). International students should also check with their own governmental agencies about educational funding. You can also check with the EducationUSA office in your country.

International students may be eligible for private loans with the assistance of a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students may borrow up to their cost of attendance minus any aid or other loans awarded. These funds may be borrowed from the students' lender of choice. For further information please email the Office of Admission and Financial Aid or call 212-854-8608.

My work samples are in another language. Do I need to get my work samples translated?

Yes, work samples and clips must be translated into English. The admission committee will review only work samples in English.

What are transcripts? My transcripts are not in English. Can I send them anyway?

Transcripts are official records of a student's school progress in a college or university. They are also called degree certificates, academic records or mark sheets. Some show the degree received and date conferred. If the courses, grades received, degree and conferral date are not in the transcripts and you have received a degree, you must also upload a copy of your diploma(s).

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. If you are admitted and enroll, you must submit both the official transcript and the verbatim translation in one sealed envelope to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2950 Broadway, Pulitzer Hall, Room 203, MC 3800, New York, NY 10027.

If the institution you attended does not provide an English translation with the official transcript, a certified verbatim English translation of the transcript and diploma must be obtained through a translating service and submitted in a sealed envelope, which is endorsed across the seal. Columbia has no preferred translating services. However, many of our applicants use World Education Services to assist in English translation and verification. Please note: WES charges a fee for this service.

I graduated from a non-U.S. university. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. The Journalism School will consider for admission students who hold or will shortly complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its equivalent from another country. This includes the three‐year bachelor's degrees from India, all European countries, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. If you have questions about whether your degree is acceptable for consideration for admission, please email us

More information.

After I've enrolled, can I switch to being a part-time student or vice versa?

We offer the M.S. degree on a part‐time basis for domestic students only. Students who begin in a part‐time cohort may switch to full‐time status and vice versa – space permitting.