FAQs

Have questions about admissions for the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S)? We have answers. For easy viewing, our frequently asked questions are organized by topic: application requirements, general inquiries, admitted students, and student life.

Application Requirements

Can international applicants apply to the 3-year PhD-to-MD program?

The requirement for US citizenship or permanent resident status does not apply to applicants to other programs at P&S. It is part of the requirement for the Three year PhD/MD program because New York Presbyterian Hospital, the teaching hospital at Columbia University Medical Center, does not support visas which would enable graduates of the Three year PhD/MD program to enter residency training here, and also because some research stipends are not available to non-US citizens.

If I am interested in applying to the 3-year PhD-to-MD program, can my PhD come from another country?

No, your PhD degree must come from an accredited US or Canadian School.

What writing course fulfills the English requirement?

Courses designated 'writing-intensive' by the undergraduate institution will be accepted if they meet the following criteria:

1) at least 70% of the course grade is based on the student's essays (as opposed to exams or other forms of assessment)

2) students are required to hand in at least four essays as part of the course requirements

3) the course fulfills a writing requirement at the undergraduate institution

My college offers a Committee Packet, but I have been out of school for some time. Is it mandatory to send the Committee Packet?

No, it is not mandatory. You are still welome to submit your Committee Packet, but we would also welcome individual letters of recommendation from individuals with whom you have had significant work, volunteer, research, or mentor relationships in recent years.

Do you accept international students?

It is rare that we admit individuals from foreign universities because the Admissions Committee does not have satisfactory means of evaluating premedical education at universities outside of the United States and Canada. We therefore require at least one year of premedical training at an institution in the United States, in addition to the MCAT. Please note that non-residents of the United States are ineligible for federal financial aid programs.

May I use a yearlong sequence in biochemistry (and accompanying labs) to fulfill the organic chemistry requirement?

While you may substitute biochemistry (and accompanying labs) for either biology or chemistry, it is not an acceptable replacement for organic chemistry.

If my college offers classes in a quarter system or summer classes, will these fulfill your requirements?

Generally, yes—for classes taken on a non-semester basis (including summer courses), we expect 8 credits for these classes.

Where do I send supplemental letters of recommendations after the deadline for supporting documents?

You may have your letter writers send any additional letters of recommendations directly to us via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu). They must be written and signed on official letterhead and must include your AMCAS ID.

What is the cost of applying to Columbia P&S?

Our Secondary Application fee is $110. Kindly note that our fee is nonrefundable.

If received a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) waiver from AMCAS, will the Secondary Application fee be waived?

For students granted an FAP waiver from AMCAS, we will waive the Secondary Application Fee. Please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) with your AMCAS ID.

General Inquires

What are the average/median GPA and MCAT scores?

Columbia aims for excellence in its program, research, faculty, staff, and student body. As a result, the admissions process remains selective and competitive. Our average and median GPA and MCAT scores are:

  • Average GPA: 3.83
  • Median GPA: 3.87
  • Average MCAT: 518
  • Median MCAT: 519
  • MCAT Range: 508-528

Please note that if you have scores lower than our range, you are not automatically rejected. All of our applications are read in their entirety by our Admissions Committee.

What are the essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the MD degree?

Admission to Columbia is possible for all qualified applicants regardless of sex, race, religious affiliation, national origin, or physical disability. A qualified applicant meets the Technical Standards set by our Curriculum and Education Policy Committee.

Do you have an early decision program?

Columbia does not have an early decision program for medical school.

Do you accept transfer students?

We do not accept transfer students.

Do you accept re-applicants?

We do accept re-applicants.

Are former medical students eligible to apply to Columbia?

Students previously enrolled in medical school are not eligible to apply for admission to Columbia.

When will I know the final decision on my application?

Columbia does not have rolling admissions for medical school. Decisions are made at the end of interview season and all decision letters are sent in mid-February.

I am having technical difficulties with AMCAS and/or the Columbia Supplemental Application. Where can I get help?

If you are having difficulties with the AMCAS application, please contact AMCAS. If you are having difficulties with the Columbia Supplemental Application, please contact our Admissions Office at 212-305-3595 or psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu.

I submitted my CV via the Secondary Portal and now I would like to delete it. What can I do?

Please send the Admissions Office an email with a request to delete your CV and include your full name and AMCAS ID number.

Is a CV the same as a resume?

Even though the format and function of a CV can defer from a resume, we accept both and have no preference on which type you submit, with exception to the 3-year PhD-to-MD program that requires a CV.

Does the Admissions Office provide tours, pre-medical admissions advising, or materials to visitors?

Our office does not provide tours or pre-medical admissions advising. All of our available information is located on our website, so please look around!

If I have taken multiple MCATs, will the Admissions Committee take all of them under consideration?

If you have taken multiple MCAT’s, the Admissions Committee will only look at your highest overall score.

Do you accept additional MCAT scores after submitting my secondary application?

As long as the additional test is taken on or before September 2018, you may place your application on hold until your new scores are sent to us. Please e-mail the Office of Admissions (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) to place a hold on your application.

Where should I send any updates/corrections to my Secondary Application or to submit a new CV/resume?

Any updates or corrections to the Secondary Application should be sent as an Applicant Update (in PDF) via the “Status” tab of the Secondary Application.

I have uploaded a document to the Secondary Portal and cannot see it. How may I confirm that the document was successfully received?

You will receive an e-mail from us confirming receipt of your uploaded document within one or two business days.

I am a non-regular MD applicant (Columbia-Bassett, MD/PhD, 3 Year PhD-to-MD), am I considered a dual applicant?

If your primary program (Columbia-Bassett, MD/PhD, 3 Year PhD-to-MD) declines to invite you to interview, you are automatically placed in our regular MD applicant pool.

How do I change my application from one program to another?

If you would like to change your application, please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu). Please include your AMCAS ID.

Do you require official transcripts to be sent to the Admissions Office as part of application process?

You are welcome to upload unofficial copies as an Applicant Update (in PDF) via the “Status” tab of the Secondary Application. However, we do not require applicants to submit official transcript to us unless they are accepted and decide to matriculate at P&S.

I’m looking for advice for getting into medical school, is there anyone I may reach out to for more help?

Unfortunately, the Office of Admissions does not provide advice to interested students or applicants. We suggest you reach out to any premedical advisor available to you for more assistance.

Admitted Students

I am an accepted student who plans on matriculating. What information does the Admissions Office need from me?

  1. Your undergraduate degree must be completed before matriculating to Columbia's medical school.
  2. An official final undergraduate transcript stating the date and degree received.
  3. All required courses must be completed before matriculation.

Does Columbia's medical school grant deferrals?

Yes, deferrals are granted on a case-by-case basis for applicants who were accepted in the first round. Deferrals are usually approved by the Admissions Committee for one or two years. Admitted students interested in deferring must upload to their application a letter detailing their reason for requesting a deferral, along with the length of their deferral request. The deadline for requesting a deferral is April 30.

If I am accepted off the waitlist, can I be granted a deferral?

No, deferral requests from students pulled off the waitlist are not granted. It has long been our policy that acceptances from the waitlist are made for the purpose of filling vacancies in the incoming class as they occur.

Do I have to live in Bard Hall during my first year of medical school?

No, however all students who live in Bard their first year can participate in the Bard to Towers Lottery.

What is the Bard to Towers Lottery?

The Bard to Towers Lottery is open to current tenants of Bard Hall. The Towers consist of apartment-style living of 1-3 bedrooms designated as apartment shares. The process begins each March with an information session. Units become ready for move-in during the summer months. To participate in the Lottery, you must:

  • Hold a Bard Hall dorm housing contract.
  • Be a full-time matriculated student enrolled at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
  • Be in good financial standing with Columbia University.
  • Maintain full-time status throughout the upcoming academic year.

Is there a deposit?

There is no deposit required to save your spot at Columbia P&S.

I have received an offer of admissions at Columbia P&S. Is it binding?

No, our offer of admissions at Columbia P&S is not binding.

If I have previously been admitted to Columbia P&S and would now like to withdraw, who should I contact?

If you would like to decline our offer of admission, please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu). In addition, please upload your intention to withdraw as an Applicant Update via the Secondary Portal.

If I have been accepted to P&S from the wait-list and the deadline for important forms have passed, will I be granted an extension?

As an incoming P&S student, you are guaranteed Bard Hall housing. Health Forms are required three weeks after your acceptance date.

When will I be receiving information about UNI’s, e-mail address activation, and orientation?

You will receive more information about UNI’s, e-mail address activation and orientation in Mid-June.

Do I need to send official transcripts to the school even though I submitted my transcripts directly to AMCAS?

Yes, the Admissions Office requires you to submit your official transcripts directly to us via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) or regular mail:

     Office of Admissions
     Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
     630 West 168th St., Box 41
     New York, NY 10032

Student Life

What sets apart Columbia medical students?

Although our students demonstrate exceptional academic achievement upon entering medical school, what truly sets them apart is their commitment: to one another, to the life of their school, to the advancement of the field, and to the world beyond medical school—be it in the Washington Heights community or an impoverished nation thousands of miles away.

 

How many students participate in international experiences?

Among the most recent graduating class, nearly 27 percent took a senior elective abroad, mostly to developing countries.

How many students take an extra year for research or a dual degree?

Approximately 29 percent of the most recent graduating class took extra time for research or a dual degree.

How many students match at Columbia for postgraduate training?

Nearly 27 percent of our most recent graduate class matched at Columbia for part or all of their postgraduate training.

What service learning opportunities exist at Columbia?

Washington Heights offers students the opportunity to work with underserved populations to help alleviate health care disparities afflicting minority, immigrant, and low-income populations. There are numerous opportunities to participate in community education and community building programs established by Washington Heights and Harlem community organizations as well as P&S. These programs include:

Columbia Student Medical Outreach

Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership

Columbia University Harm Reduction Clinic

Q Clinic: Columbia Medical for LGBTQI Youth

P&S Human Rights Initiative and Asylum Clinic

Washington Heights Initiative

Community-based research by the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research

What is the P&S Club?

Our students are remarkably active, involved, socially committed, and diverse. The P&S Club, an umbrella student activities organization for Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, sponsors over 70 clubs, the most comprehensive of any student activities group in American medical education. For more information, please visit the P&S Club website.

How many students participate in international experiences?

Among the most recent graduating class, nearly 32 percent went abroad for a first year summer experience, took a senior elective abroad, or travelled internationally for scholarly project or MS degree research activities, all mostly to developing countries.

How many students take an extra year for research or a dual-degree?

Approximately 34 percent of the most recent graduating class took extra time for research or a dual degree.

How many students match at Columbia for postgraduate training?

Twenty three percent of our most recent graduate class matched at Columbia for part or all of their postgraduate training.

What service learning opportunities exist at Columbia?

Washington Heights offers students the opportunity to work with underserved populations to help alleviate health care disparities afflicting minority, immigrant, and low-income populations. There are numerous opportunities to participate in community education and community building programs established by Washington Heights and Harlem community organizations as well as P&S. These programs include:

What are the first-time pass rates on licensure examinations for Columbia medical students?

USMLE Step 1

  • 2013: 99% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2014: 99% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2015: 100% (P&S) vs. 95% (national)
  • 2016: 99% (P&S) vs. 95% (national)
  • 2017: 99% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2018: Data not yet available

USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge

  • 2013: 100% (P&S) vs. 98% (national)
  • 2014: 99% (P&S) vs. 97% (national)
  • 2015: 96% (P&S) vs. 95% (national)
  • 2016: 97% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2017: 99% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2018: 99% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)

USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills

  • 2013: 99% (P&S) vs. 98% (national)
  • 2014: 99% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2015: 98% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2016: 100% (P&S) vs. 97% (national)
  • 2017: 98% (P&S) vs. 96% (national)
  • 2018: 98% (P&S) vs. 94% (national)

USMLE Step 3

  • 2013: 98% (P&S) vs. 97% (national)
  • 2014: 100% (P&S) vs. 97% (national)
  • 2015: 97% (P&S) vs. 97% (national)
  • 2016: 100% (P&S) vs. 98% (national)
  • 2017: Data not yet available
  • 2018: Data not yet available

Interviewing Inquires

When will I know if I am invited for an interview?

We begin extending invitations for interviews through email in late August through January.

How do I go about reiterating my interest in Columbia P&S?

Please upload your letter of interest through the Secondary Application portal (as PDFs).

I am an applicant to a non-regular MD program (Columbia-Bassett, MD/PhD, 3 Year PhD-to-MD) and have not heard back regarding an interview. Who can I contact?

These programs have a later start to their interview cycle and usually begin in October.

What does the interview process look like for Columbia-Bassett applicants?

Applicants to the Columbia-Bassett track will have to interview at both Cooperstown, NY and New York City.

What should I do if I have been invited to interview, but the dates available don’t work with my schedule?

If the dates available to interview do not work for you, we will try our best to accommodate you. Please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) and our Interview Coordinator will get in contact with you.

When will I know with whom and at what time I’ll be interviewing?

You will receive the name of your interviewer and the time of your interview during check-in in the morning.

What should I do if I am abroad during the interview cycle, live far away from New York City, or are otherwise limited in my travel?

We do require in-person interviews. However, if you will be in the area during a particular period of time, the Admissions Committee may take that into consideration. Please upload a document as an Applicant Update (in PDF) via the “Status” tab of the Secondary Application to inform the Admissions Committee.

If I have been invited to interview and am interested in staying with a student host, who should I contact?

Please contact pshosting@columbia.edu if you would like more information about student hosting. Due to the high need of student hosts, we are unable to guarantee a student host for every applicant who needs one—please plan accordingly.

I am interested in learning more information about a particular Columbia program, office, or organization during my interview day. Is there a way to set that up in advance?

Please contact the Office of Admissions via email (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) in advance of your visit so we can best accommodate your interest during your interview day.

What does the interview day look like?

·         8:15 – 8:45 Continental Breakfast

·         8:45 – 9:45: The Dean’s Welcome

·         9:45 – 12:00: Morning Interviews

·         12:00 – 1:00 Lunch with Current Students

·         1:00 – 2:00: Tour with Current Students ending at the Admissions Office

·         2:15 – 5:00: Afternoon Interviews 

Is there a place to store my luggage during the interview day?

Yes, we do have a secure storage area for your luggage on the day of your interview. You may bring it with you at check-in in the morning.

Who should I contact if I would like to send a thank-you note to the Dean of Admissions, my interviewer or the admissions staff?

We are very welcoming of any thank-you notes you would like to send. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with specific contact information of your interviewer if they did not share that information with you. You may send any thank-you notes to our mailing address:

     Office of Admissions
     Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
     630 West 168th St., Box 41
     New York, NY 10032

We ask that any thank-you notes also be uploaded via the Secondary Portal as an Applicant Update (in PDF).

 

I successfully completed my interview day at Columbia P&S. When will I hear back regarding my admission decision?

We do not have rolling admissions. All of our students will receive their admissions decisions in late February.