Columbia University: Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

Low Library at Columbia University
Low Library at Columbia University (Explore the Columbia campus in this photo tour). Allen Grove

Located in New York City, Columbia University is an Ivy League School with an acceptance rate of 7%. The school is highly selective, and many strong and well-qualified applicants will not get in. Columbia has a holistic admissions process and accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge Application. Here are the Columbia University admissions statistics you should know.

Why Columbia University?

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Campus Features: Columbia's location in Upper Manhattan makes it an excellent choice for strong students looking for a truly urban campus. Barnard College adjoins the campus.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 6:1
  • Athletics: The Columbia Lions compete at the NCAA Division I level.
  • Highlights: Columbia is a highly selective member of the prestigious Ivy League, and it consistently ranks as one of the top national universities. Academic strengths span the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Acceptance Rate

For students entering Columbia University in the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was 7%. This means that for every 100 applicants, 7 received acceptance letters while 93 were rejected. Columbia is one of the most selective colleges in the country.

Admissions Statistics (2017-18)
Number of Applicants 38,118
Percent Admitted 7%
Percent Admitted Who Enrolled 61%

SAT Scores and Requirements

All applicants to Columbia must submit either SAT or ACT scores. For students entering the school in the 2017-18 academic year, 59% chose to submit SAT scores.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 700 780
Math 710 790
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

If you compare SAT scores for the Ivy League schools, you'll see that all are highly selective and Columbia's scores rank in the middle of the group. Successful applicants will need scores that are well above average. We can see from national SAT data, that the great majority of students who attend Columbia scored in the top 7% of all test-takers. For the evidence-based reading and writing section, 50% of students scored between a 700 and 780. This tells us that 25% scored a 700 or lower while at the upper end, 25% scored a 780 or higher. Scores on the math exam were even higher with the middle 50% of students scoring between a 710 and 790. This means 25% scored a 710 or lower, while the top quartile is students who scored a 790 or perfect 800. The most competitive applicants to Columbia have combined SAT scores over 1500.


Columbia University does not require the optional writing section of the SAT. If you take the SAT more than once, Columbia will superscore your exams and consider the highest score you earned for individual sections. The university does not require SAT Subject Tests, but they will consider them if you choose to submit them.

ACT Scores and Requirements

All applicants to Columbia must submit either SAT or ACT scores, and the two exams are similarly popular. For students entering the university in the 2017-18 academic year, 57% chose to submit ACT scores.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 33 35
Math 29 35
Composite 31 34

An average ACT composite score is 21, so "average" clearly isn't going to be good enough to get into Columbia University. If we look at national ACT data, we find that the great majority of Columbia students ranked in the top 5% of all ACT test-takers. The middle 50% of students admitted to Columbia scored between a 31 and a 34 on the exam. This tells us that 25% got a 31 or lower, and another 25% earned a 34 or higher.


Columbia does not require the optional essay section of the ACT, nor does the university require students who take the ACT to submit SAT Subject Test scores. As with the SAT, Columbia will superscore your ACT scores if you took the exam more than once.


Columbia University does not publish the average GPA of admitted students, but you can be sure that nearly all students had averages in the "A" range. 90% of all admitted students ranked in the top 10% of their graduating class.

Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Graph

Graph of Columbia University Applicants' Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Data
Graph of Columbia University Applicants' Self-Reported GPA/SAT/ACT Data. Graph courtesy of

The GPA and standardized test score data in the graph above is self-reported by applicants to Columbia University. GPAs are unweighted. Find out how you compare to accepted students, see the real-time graph, and calculate your chances of getting in with a free Cappex account.

Admissions Chances

Realize that a lot of red dots are hidden beneath the blue and green on the graph. Many students with "A" averages and high test scores were rejected by Columbia. For this reason, even strong students should consider Columbia a reach school. At the same time, keep in mind that Columbia has holistic admissions. The admissions officers are looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus. Meaningful extracurricular activities, strong application essays, and glowing letters of recommendation will all strengthen an application. Students who show some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will get serious consideration even if grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal. The school emphasizes that all aspects of the application are important.

Data Sources: Graph courtesy of Cappex; All other data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Columbia University admissions website.