New Student Information | Columbia Journalism School

New Student Information

Congratulations on your admission to Columbia!

The information here should answer many questions about what you need to do prior to enrolling for the summer or fall terms. Many of our new students have questions concerning the COVID-19 crisis. For a comprehensive understanding of how Columbia Journalism School is responding to COVID-19 and how it affects plans for the 2020-2021 academic year, please visit our F.A.Q. page.

Class Overview 2020-2021

  • In our largest degree-granting program, the Master of Science, the students in the incoming class hail from 25 states including the District of Columbia. The top states represented among the admitted students are New York, California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. In addition, 39 percent of the full-time M.S. class is international, representing 32 countries, with the largest groups hailing from China, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. This year, 75 percent of those admitted to the M.S. class are women and 25 percent are men.

  • In the Master of Arts class, 44 percent are coming from outside of the United States, representing 15 countries, led by India, Denmark, Brazil, and South Korea. Forty-four percent are men and 56 percent are women.

  • In the Data Degree cohort, there are 11 men and 9 women. Fourteen students are international, representing 9 different countries, led by India, Kenya, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom.

  • Of the four students enrolling in the doctoral program in communications, two are international students and three are men.

  • In our dual degree program with Computer Science, there are two women and two men. Three are international students.

  • In terms of racial diversity of U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents, 34 percent of the full-time incoming class 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.

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 spring semester submit their photo no later than December 1, 2020. 

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 part­-time students starting in May 2020, the MMR form is due May 8, 2020. For all full-­time students starting in the 2021 spring semester, the MMR form must be submitted no later than December 1, 2020.


FLU SHOTS: All students who will be on campus in any capacity must get a flu shot. Shots are available on campus for free for all students. You can set up your shot appointment via the patient portal. If you choose to get your shot elsewhere, you will need to upload proof of having gotten it to the patient portal by January 20. More information is available here

COVID19: Please carefully read and follow the instructions in the Public Health Memo. Please note that all students must have a gateway test before coming to the campus for the spring semester.  

Enroll/waive CU student medical insurance: Full­-time students are automatically enrolled in the basic level of the plan but may upgrade their coverage to the comprehensive level or request a waiver. Part­-time students are encouraged to enroll in the plan but are not required to do so. Please read more information here. To request a waiver of automatic enrollment in the basic level of the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan, new incoming students must submit a waiver request (June 15 for part-­time students beginning in August, Sept. 30 for fall enrollment, and Feb. 15 for spring enrollment) and provide documentation of alternate coverage under a comparable insurance plan.

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, 2020-21

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, as well as work stations and video-editing suites located throughout the building. Our computers are Macs, and are equipped with editing software that you'll need while you're here, such as Adobe Premiere, Audition and Photoshop. Your J-school ID card will give you access to our building 24/7, and you're welcome to use any lab that is not reserved for a class. So strictly speaking, you can do our program without a computer of your own -- but that said, our labs are in heavy rotation between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays, and some labs are in use on the weekends as well. So there’s no guarantee a computer will be available every time you need one.

For that reason, we strongly recommend that you bring a laptop computer if at all possible. That way, you can work anywhere. Free wireless access is available throughout the Journalism School and the Columbia campus.

If 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.

M.S. Students

  • Orientation: Monday, Jan 4,, 2021 and Tuesday, Jan 5, 2021
  • Classes begin: Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021

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 2020-2021 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 November 25.

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.

For information regarding deferrals relating to COVID-19, please refer to our F.A.Q. page.


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.