New Student Information | Columbia Journalism School

New Student Information

Congratulations on your admission to Columbia!

Anticipated 2021-2022 Class Overview

  • Students in the full-time Master of Science and Dual Degree with Computer Science programs hail from 31 states, including the District of Columbia. The top states represented among the students are New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Connecticut. In addition, 34 percent of the class is international, representing 25 countries, with the largest groups hailing from Canada, China, India, and the United Kingdom. This year, 76 percent of those in the M.S. class are women, and 24 percent are men, with a select number of individuals identifying as nonbinary.
  • In the Master of Arts class, 54 percent of students are international, representing 20 countries, led by India, the United Kingdom and Canada. 73 percent of those in the M.A. class are women, and 27 percent are men.
  • In the M.S. in Data Journalism class, 59 percent of students are international, representing 9 different countries, led by India and Ghana. 59 percent of those in the M.S. Data class are women, and 41 percent are men.
  • Of the four students enrolling in the Ph.D. in Communications, two are U.S. citizens, and two are international. Two students in this year's doctoral class are women, and two are men.
  • Of the U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents in the 2021-22 class who chose to identify, 38 percent identified as African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American and/or Pacific Islander.

International Students

Leaving the comforts of home can be a challenge. Add to that the pressure of applying for the correct student visa and it can feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) of Columbia University has developed an online guide just for you that covers everything from securing your visa, to making the most of your time in the U.S.. to understanding your Optional Practical Training after graduation, including the potential for the Data Journalism degree students to apply for the STEM degree extension. The ISSO website is designed to help international students meet the challenges of studying abroad and help you enjoy living and learning in New York City. 

New Student Checklist

You must complete the following tasks before you arrive on campus.

IMPORTANT: In order to get your Columbia University ID card or purchase a Journalism School Press Pass, you will need to take two high resolution digital passport-­style photos as soon as possible.

  • The photo should be a color JPEG file.
  • The background should be uniform and light­-colored.
  • You must be facing forward with your head and shoulders clearly visible.
  • No photos with sunglasses or hats.
  • The file cannot exceed 100K in size for the Columbia University ID card and must be 300 dpi for the Journalism School Press Pass.

Submit Official Transcripts of Previous Academic Work: You will need to submit official academic transcripts of your previous academic work to Columbia Journalism School. An official transcript is one that comes directly from the university or through a credentials verification service. If you submitted the transcript yourself, it is not official. You must have official transcripts from every university you have attended (including undergraduate schools, graduate schools, non-degree programs, and study abroad programs), without exception, sent to Columbia Journalism School by no later than July 1, 2021 if you are beginning your studies in Fall 2021.

If you already had your official transcripts sent to Columbia Journalism School during the initial application process or prior to deferring to this year, you do not need to have them sent again.

Please review the official transcript submission methods and use the one most appropriate for you.

Locate and activate your Columbia e­mail address: Once your $1,000 electronic enrollment fee has been received, your UNI, which also serves as your Columbia e­mail address, is generated. Please allow seven to 10 business days for your information to be updated in the system. Follow these instructions to activate your Columbia UNI and email address.

Once you’ve activated your email account, it will take 24 hours before you can actually use it. Access your Columbia email, a version of Gmail called LionMail.

Other helpful links:

Get your Columbia University ID: CUIT has developed a secure web service for students to upload and submit a photo online for their first University ID card. Find out how to submit your photo. It is required that all students starting in the 2021 fall semester submit their photo no later than June 15, 2021. 

Complete the Journalism School’s Emergency Contact Form.

Certify your meningitis vaccination decision: Record your meningococcal (meningitis) vaccination decision. 

Submit your MMR Form: Complete the Columbia University Measles, Mumps and Rubella form and submit it to the Health Immunization Compliance Office.  For all students starting in the 2021 fall semester, the MMR form must be submitted no later than June 15, 2021.


FLU SHOTS: All students will be required to get a flu shot before the winter flu season begins, but should not get a shot over the summer. Shots will be provided for free on campus.

COVID19: Please refer to the University's COVID19 Hub for information. The site is updated frequently.

COVID19 Vaccinations: Students who intend to access campus for any reason at any time beginning Fall 2021, including those registered only for online courses, must be vaccinated before being granted access to University campuses and facilities, as well as participation at in-person University-recognized activities. This requirement applies regardless of the purpose, duration, or frequency of planned access to facilities or participation with in-person activities. 

Students, graduate and undergraduate, living in University-owned buildings are required to complete the vaccine process at least 14 days prior to their move in, with limited exceptions.

Students can submit their vaccine documentation via the Columbia Health Patient Portal. Columbia University accepts all vaccines recognized as safe and effective according to the World Health Organization. The deadline to submit your proof of vaccination is August 1 for students that begin in August and August 20 for students that begin in September. 

We encourage students to upload their documentation as soon as possible. Columbia Health has provided a tutorial with vaccine upload instructions.  All students are expected to complete the vaccine process at least 14 days before first accessing University facilities or participating with in-person, University-approved activities to ensure they are considered fully vaccinated at the time of first access. In Fall 2021, all students are also required to register (new students) or update (continuing students) their Meningitis decision. Please register your decision in the Columbia Health Patient Portal when you submit your COVID-19 documentation.

Completion of the vaccine process is defined as:

  • At least 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine

  • At least 14 days after receiving a single dose vaccine (currently only the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine)

In limited situations where a student has difficulty accessing an approved vaccine, the student can receive the vaccine from the University at no out-of-pocket cost.  Until fully vaccinated (as defined above), such students will be required to comply with additional COVID-19 testing requirements and other preventive measures in place at that time.

Confirm enrollment or submit a waiver request for health insurance: Columbia University requires all registered full-time domestic students to have health insurance.

Full-time domestic students must confirm enrollment in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan (The Columbia Plan) or request a waiver at least two weeks prior to the open enrollment deadline (June 15 for part-time students beginning in August, Sept. 30 for fall enrollment, and Feb. 15 for spring enrollment. To request a waiver, you must document enrollment in another plan that meets the University’s coverage criteriaInstructions on how to submit a waiver request on the Patient Portal are online. Waiver requests are considered, but approval is not guaranteed.

Part-time domestic students are encouraged, but not required, to have health insurance. Part-time domestic students can opt to enroll in the Columbia Plan.

All international students (full-time and part-time) are required to enroll in the  Columbia Plan to ensure that they have access to the highest quality of care both on-and off-campus while studying in the United States.  On a limited case-by-case basis, international students may be considered for an exception to the insurance requirement. Details on eligibility and requirements are found on the Columbia Health website.

Student Account Statement: Review your Student Account Statement. Please be sure that you have paid your bill to avoid the $150 late payment charge. Once the statement is available, an alert will be sent to your Columbia e­mail address. The payment deadline for the summer is mid-June and for the fall is mid-September. For further information, you can review the Columbia billing schedule here.

Direct Deposit: Sign up for Direct Deposit through Student Services Online (SSOL) to have scholarship and financial aid refunds deposited directly into your bank account.

Dining Services: Sign up for an optional Dining Plan or purchase "Dining Dollars" or a Flex account. PLEASE NOTE: The University Dining Plan is NOT mandatory and is rarely used by Journalism School students.

Text Message Enrollment: Register your mobile number to receive important and emergency communications from Columbia University.

Financial planning: It is important to begin thinking about how you will finance your graduate school education. See the Federal Financial Aid and Journalism Scholarships section for more details.

Complete an online application for a visa certificate (International Students Only): It may take up to 10 weeks to process your visa. Please fill out the application for the ISSO Visa Certificate. See the International Students section for more details.

Apply for Housing: If you are interested in applying for graduate student housing, see the Housing section for more details. International students should apply for on­-campus housing as soon as possible, as it can be extremely difficult to secure housing after you arrive.

Disability Services: Disability Services facilitates equal access for students with disabilities by coordinating accommodations and support services. Disability Services supports all types of conditions including physical and learning disabilities to chronic illnesses or injuries. Disability Services helps with assistive technology, e-text, housing accommodations, learning specialists, exam proctoring and more. To register and learn more

Review the important policies, regulations and resources of Columbia Journalism & Columbia University at the following links:

Join Your Class Facebook Group For the Latest News & Events

Technology Guide, 2021-22

Greetings from the technology staff at the J-school. We oversee the computers, cameras, recorders and related gear that you’ll be using during your time here. In this letter, we’ll describe what we have on hand for your use and what you need to bring with you. We’ll also give suggestions for those of you who want to acquire cameras and other optional equipment, and we’ll tell you how to obtain a student discount when making your purchases.


An external hard drive that meets these minimum specifications:

  • FireWire 800, USB 3.0 and/or Thunderbolt connections
  • 1TB or more recommended for students enrolled in digital media (video, audio) classes
  • Speed of 7200 RPM (the speed is very important for students who are taking video)

An SD, SDHC or SDXC card. We recommend a card rated UHS Speed Class U3 or higher (UHS Speed Class U3 is necessary for video).

Strongly Recommended


  • (iPhone or Android) Details below

Laptop computer

  • Specifications depend on how much multimedia you plan to do; details below


If you plan to pursue photojournalism, you may wish to bring a digital SLR camera with the following minimum requirements:

  • Records in standard formats — .jpg, .tiff, RAW (no proprietary software required)
  • At least 10 megapixels
  • Offers full manual controls
  • Records to removable flash media

(For a list of specific models that meet these requirements, see below.)

Computers & External Hard Drives

The J-school has three computer labs equipped with docking stations for your laptop. We will provide you with all the editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, Audition and Photoshop, that you’ll need while you’re here. 

f you don't have a laptop, you may be able to check one out from our equipment room. That said, there is no guarantee that a computer will be available every time you need one, so we strongly recommend that you bring a laptop computer if at all possible. 

The minimum specifications are listed on the link below. That way, you can work anywhere: in the field, at home, in spaces inside the school that don’t have computers, and in the nice weather on the sunny steps of our building. 

Free wireless access is available throughout the Journalism School and the Columbia campus. If you wish to plug your laptop into one of our available monitor workstations, then you will also need the proper adapters for HDMI, thunderbolt, USB-C or display port.

f you’re planning on buying a laptop, think first about what you hope to do while you’re here; the medium(s) you plan to pursue should dictate the specifications of your laptop. 

To learn more, download the school's Technology Guide.

Orientation & Start Dates

Please note that orientation attendance is mandatory. Dates are subject to change.

All M.S. Students including the Dual Degree with Computer Science

  • Orientation: Monday, August 16 & Tuesday, August 17
  • Classes begin: Wednesday, August 18th
  • Fall Prep Day: Friday, September 3

M.A. and Ph.D. Students

  • Orientation: Thursday, September 2 & Friday, September 3
  • Classes begin: Thursday, September 9



Federal Financial Aid & Journalism Scholarship

The Financial Aid Checklist has been created to guide you through the Financial Aid process.

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

Admitted students who have submitted a 2021-2022 FAFSA and the Journalism School Scholarship Aid Form by the January 15 deadline will be considered for journalism scholarships and other federal aid. Until these forms are submitted the Journalism School cannot award scholarships or federal loans. If you have any questions about your FAFSA or your federal loan eligibility, please call the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at 212­-854-8608.


Federal Loan Documents
The following forms may be needed if you are applying for a federal student loan. Most of the forms are available in our online application system. You will have to sign in with your ID and password.


International Students

Admitted students who have submitted the Journalism School Scholarship Aid Form by the Feb. 1 deadline will be considered for journalism scholarships. Until the form is submitted the Journalism School cannot award scholarships. If you have any scholarship questions, contact the Admissions Office at 212­-854-­8608.


Intra­-School Fellowships

If you applied for a Columbia University Intra­-School Fellowship, please contact Tarin Almanzar should you have any questions. The Intra­-School Fellowship committees make their selections in April, independently of the Journalism School.

You can access further information on billing and payment options as well as view tuition statements (1098­T Forms) at the Student Financial Services page.


Columbia University has limited housing for full-time graduate students around the Morningside Heights campus. Please note: students admitted from the waitlist are ineligible to apply for Columbia University Housing. Please see the Housing Memo posted with your admissions letter for additional information. The deadline to apply for housing is May 10th.

Additional Housing Information and Resources

International House (I­-House) Residence: International House is a privately owned student residence near the campus that provides housing to students from various universities and colleges in the area. Get complete details on the International House resources and the housing availability at I­-House.

Off­-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA): OCHA provides an online housing registry of room­-share and apartments in non­-Columbia owned buildings located in the New York City area (mostly surrounding Columbia University). Only students who have accepted our admissions offer (by submitting their $1,000 fee) and activated their Columbia ID (UNI) are permitted to use the website. You will be provided with the full details and website information once you have submitted your acceptance and deposit to the Admissions Office. See more housing search resources.

Enrollment Response Form & Fee

The enrollment response form can be found on your Applicant Status page in the online application system or in your admissions letter.

The enrollment fee can be paid by credit card using a Visa or MasterCard by the deadline indicated in your admission letter. Our system does not accept Discover or American Express.

The Journalism School does not accept wire transfers. Students who fail to remit the enrollment fee by the deadline forfeit their place in the entering class. The enrollment fee is not refundable.

Deferral Requests

Deferrals are not commonly given at the Journalism School. Requests are granted only for very compelling reasons and on a case-by-case basis. Deferrals are not granted for more than one year.


Master of Science and Master of Arts candidates, with outstanding circumstances, may submit a request to defer enrollment for one year with the permission of the Admissions Committee. Requests must be submitted by email to No deferrals will be granted once Orientation begins.

Students who have been granted a deferral will receive an official e­mail from the Office of Admission and Financial Aid. To secure your place in the next class, you must submit your $1,000 enrollment fee by your designated enrollment response deadline. The office will correspond with you in the beginning of next year to confirm your plans.

Note that you will need to re­-apply for scholarship aid. The Scholarship Aid Application will be available in December. Over the course of the next year, if there are changes to your email or home address, please email the Admission Office.

Public Safety Security Report

Columbia University prepares an annual security report, which is available to all current and prospective employees and students. The report includes statistics for the three previous years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus, in certain off campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Columbia University, and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from, the campus. The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies concerning sexual assault, and other matters.

You can obtain a copy of this report by contacting the director of Administration and Planning, Public Safety at 212­-854-­3815 or view it here.

Course Registration

  • Incoming part-time M.S. students will be pre-registered for their fall REPORTING class; no action required.
  • Incoming full­-time M.S. students will be pre­registered for their fall REPORTING class, their JOURNALISM ESSENTIALS classes, and the MASTER'S PROJECT.
  • Incoming M.S. in Data Journalism students will be pre-registered for their fall courses; no action required.
  • Incoming Dual­ Degree Journalism and Computer Science students will be pre­registered for their Journalism School courses in the same manner as full­-time M.S. students. They should contact their advisors for SEAS classes.
  • Incoming M.A. students will be pre­registered for all of their internal Journalism School courses. They will receive information in early August about how to register for their outside courses.
  • Incoming Ph.D. students should email Evelyn Corchado, Associate Director of Student Services. Detailed information and instructions on all of this will be circulated via email in early to mid-June.