College and University Policies
College and University Policies
Since polices and procedures are subject to change, please check the Columbia University website (www.columbia.edu) for the most current information.
Reservation of University Rights
This bulletin is intended for the guidance of persons applying for or considering application for admission to Columbia University and for the guidance of Columbia students and faculty.
The bulletin sets forth in general the manner in which the University intends to proceed with respect to the matters set forth herein, but the University reserves the right to depart without notice from the terms of this bulletin. The bulletin is not intended to be and should not be regarded as a contract between the University and any student or other person.
Valuable information to help students, faculty, and staff understand some of the policies and regulations of the University can now be found in Essential Policies for the Columbia Community: http://www.essential-policies.columbia.edu/, which includes information on the following:
- Policy on Access to Student Records under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as Amended
- Social Security Number Reporting
- University Regulations/Rules of University Conduct
- Policies on Alcohol and Drugs
- Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policies
- Gender-Based Misconduct Policies
- Policy on Partisan Political Activity
- Crime Definitions in Accordance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program
- Morningside Campus: Required Medical Leave for Students with Eating Disorders
- Voluntary Leave of Absence Policy
- Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy
- Military Leave of Absence Policy
- Essential Resources:
- Campus Safety and Security
- Disability Services
- Ombuds Office
- Transcripts and Certifications
- Additional Policy Sources for the Columbia Community
- Student E-mail Communication Policy
- CUIT Computer and Network Use Policy
- Consumer Information
Meningococcal Meningitis Decision
New York State public health law requires that students receive information from their institutions about meningococcal meningitis and the vaccine that protects against most strains of the disease that can occur on university campuses.
Columbia students must make an informed decision about being vaccinated and certify their decision on-line. Full instructions are given on-line, and the process takes two to three minutes to complete. Students must formally indicate their decision about being vaccinated before they are permitted to register for classes.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
New York State public health law requires that students taking 6 or more points provide documentation of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) before their first term of study. There are several ways to document immunity. In all cases, the Columbia University MMR form must be completed and submitted to the Columbia Health Immunization Compliance Office in Wien Hall, first floor, Suite 108, no later than the specified deadline, which is listed on the Columbia Health website, www.health.columbia.edu, and on the Academic Calendar in this bulletin. The Immunization Compliance Office is unable to accept health forms or immunization documentation via e-mail for privacy and security reasons. The blood test or MMR immunizations can be obtained at Columbia Health Medical Services.
Columbia Health recommends that students receive all routine childhood vaccinations, an updated tetanus booster, vaccination for Hepatitis B (three-dose series), and varicella (chicken pox). These vaccines are available at Columbia Health Medical Services. Students enrolled in the Columbia Health Program are not charged for the following vaccines when administered at Medical Services: MMR, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis Combination A and B, Influenza, Meningococcal Meningitis, Pneumococcal (if clinically indicated), Tetanus-Diphtheria, Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis, and Varicella.
For all other vaccinations, students are charged for the cost of the vaccine. Vaccinations are available to students not enrolled in the Columbia Health Program for a minimal fee. For more information, please check on-line at www.health.columbia.edu.
Dean's Discipline Process
The Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (located within Student Affairs) is responsible for all disciplinary affairs concerning undergraduate students that are not reserved to some other body.
The purpose of the Dean's Discipline process is educative and used to determine students' responsibility for alleged violations of College or University policies, whether they occur on or off campus. Since the Dean's Discipline process is neither adversarial nor legalistic, the technical rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal court cases do not apply. As a result, students subject to Dean's Discipline should approach it as an opportunity to critically evaluate their responsibilities as members of the Columbia community.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards first determines whether Dean's Discipline is appropriate or if the complaint should be referred elsewhere. Many policy violations that occur in the residence halls are handled by the associate directors of the Office of Residential Programs; however, more serious offenses are referred directly to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.
Similarly, most violations of rules concerning fraternities or sororities as organizations are handled by the associate director of Greek life and leadership or the Greek Judicial Board; while some incidents are referred directly to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. In matters involving rallies, picketing, and other mass demonstrations, the Rules of University Conduct outlines procedures.
If it is determined that a complaint is subject to Dean's Discipline, the student is provided written notice and given instructions on the steps in the process. A disciplinary hearing follows, at which information is presented supporting the allegation that the student has violated College or University policies. The student is then provided an opportunity to respond and to present additional relevant information.
Based on a preponderance of evidence, the hearing officers will make a determination of responsibility for the alleged violation if the information provided in the hearing demonstrates that it is more likely than not that a violation of Columbia policy occurred. If a student is found responsible, the seriousness of the violation and student's previous disciplinary record, if any, will determine the sanction issued.
The parents or guardians of students found responsible may also be notified. In addition, the faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes and the Columbia College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa may take into consideration students' responsibility for violating College or University policies in the decisions for awarding College Honors, Departmental Honors, and selecting students for induction into Phi Beta Kappa. Students may also be precluded from participating in other campus events and opportunities depending on the case outcome.
Students will be notified of the outcome of the hearing in writing and have the right to request an appeal of the decision and the resulting sanctions. There are three grounds upon which an appeal may be made: (1) the student has new information, unavailable at the time of the hearing; (2) the student has procedural concerns that may change or affect the outcome of the decision; or (3) the student believes that the sanction is too severe.
The request for review must be made in writing and must be submitted within ten calendar days after the student receives notice of the hearing outcome. Students are given the opportunity to make one request for review of the decision against them. No higher level of appeal is available after this first request has been processed.
For more information on the Dean's Discipline hearing process or to contact a staff member, please visit the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards website: http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/judicialaffairs/index.php
In a situation requiring immediate action and during the investigative process, student affairs staff may place restrictions on a student prior to the conclusion of the hearing. Restrictions that may be placed on students include, but are not limited to, no contact directives restricting access to the residence halls or other buildings on campus or suspending a student from participation in the campus community.
Student affairs staff will only take these interim actions if it is determined that the student's behavior may make their presence on campus a danger to the normal operation of the institution, the safety of themselves or others, or to the property of the University or others.
If an investigation is occurring outside of the university community (as in the case with criminal investigations), the University may postpone the Dean's Discipline process until the conclusion of outside proceedings. However, interim measures may be taken immediately as indicated above.
It should be noted that the results of the outside investigation are rarely considered within the context of the institutional investigation unless that investigation reveals behavior that is particularly egregious and damaging to the well-being of the University community. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards when the outside proceedings have been completed.
In general, under University policy and federal law, a student's record, including information about Dean's Discipline proceedings, is confidential; however, there are certain exceptions to this. One exception is that the outcome of Dean's Disciplinary proceedings alleging a crime of violence may be disclosed both to the accuser and the accused.
To read more about the exceptions that apply to the disclosure of student records information, please visit http://facets.columbia.edu/policy-access-student-records-ferpa.
Withdrawals, Leaves, and Readmission
At the end of each term, the Committee on Academic Standing reviews the records of all students enrolled in the College to determine student standing, including academic probation, suspension, and required withdrawals.
Students may be placed on academic probation for the following reasons: failure to complete with passing grades 12 points in a term; a term or cumulative grade point average below 2.0; or failure to make satisfactory progress toward the degree. The advising deans in the Center for Student Advising offer support to help students on academic action return to good standing.
Parents are notified when students are placed on academic probation or suspension or are academically dismissed from the College.
Students who are on academic probation are not eligible to study abroad.
Students with extremely poor records in a term, or who fail to improve after being on academic probation, will be required to withdraw from the College for at least a year. Conditions for readmission are specified at the time of suspension. If a student is readmitted after having been suspended and again fails to achieve satisfactory grades or to make normal progress toward the degree, he or she may be dismissed from the College. When students are suspended or dismissed, they are notified of the process to appeal the decision. The decision of the appeals committee is final.
International students in F-1 or J-1 status are not allowed to remain in the United States while suspended or dismissed from the University. Any international student who is dismissed or suspended should immediately contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) to discuss any options available.
Medical Leave of Absence
A medical leave is granted to a student whose health prevents them from successfully pursuing full-time study. A student should consult with their advising dean in the Center for Student Advising to initiate a medical leave. Documentation from a healthcare provider must be provided before a medical leave can be granted. Any health documentation provided may be reviewed by a Columbia health professional in Health Services and a conversation between the treating health care provider and the designated University health professional may be required. Students may also be required to engage in an exit interview with a University health professional during the process.
Upon return from a medical leave, the student must submit proof of treatment and recovery, as well as meet all other conditions as outlined in their leave letter provided by the Center for Student Advising. Most medical leaves are for a minimum of one year; they are rarely granted for more than two years. Failure to return within two years results in permanent withdrawal from the College.
International students in F-1 or J-1 status should contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) before taking a leave of absence to obtain the necessary information needed to stay in valid student non-immigrant status and to verify that SEVIS, the Department of Homeland Security database, has been notified of the approved leave.
Once the student plans to return to Columbia and has obtained the necessary approval from the school, the student must contact the ISSO to request a new visa certificate (form I-20 or form DS-2019) that reflects the new completion of studies date. To obtain the complete policy, students should consult their advising dean in the Center for Student Advising.
Family Emergency Leave of Absence
Columbia College students who must leave the university for urgent family reasons that necessitate a semester-long absence (e.g. family death or serious illness in the family) may request an emergency family leave of absence. Documentation of the serious nature of the emergency must be provided. Students must request an emergency family leave of absence from their advising dean in the Center for Student Advising.
When an emergency family leave of absence is granted during the course of the semester, the semester will be deleted if the leave begins prior to the drop deadline. If a student leaves after the drop deadline, the course grades will normally be W (authorized withdrawal) in all courses. In certain circumstances, a student may qualify for an Incomplete, which would have to be completed by the first week of the semester in which the student returns to Columbia. If the Incomplete is not completed by that time, a W will be inserted.
To return to Columbia College, students must notify the Center of Student Advising by June 1 for the fall term or October 1 for the spring term. Students must request readmission in writing and submit a statement describing their readiness to return. Once readmission is granted, housing will be guaranteed.
Students who decide not to return must notify the Center for Student Advising of their decision. Leaves may not extend beyond four semesters. Students who do not notify the Center for Student Advising of their intentions by the end of the two-year period will be permanently withdrawn from the College.
Students seeking readmission to Columbia College must submit evidence that they have achieved the purposes for which they left. Consequently, specific readmission procedures are determined by the reasons for the withdrawal. Policy statements outlining the readmission procedures for voluntary or medical leaves of absences are available in the Center for Student Advising. Students should consult their advising dean for further information.
Students who fail to graduate and who have been withdrawn must apply for readmission within a two-year period in order to have an opportunity to complete the degree. To apply for readmission, students must have successfully completed no fewer than 90 points of academic credit and earned a GPA of no less than 2.0. Students must fulfill the degree and major or concentration requirements in place at the point of original matriculation. Readmission will be predicated upon the assessment of students' ability to successfully complete the degree within one calendar year. Inquiries regarding readmission should be directed to the Center for Student Advising.
Students applying for readmission should complete all parts of the appropriate readmission procedures by June 1 for the fall term or October 1 for the spring term. Once an international student in F-1 or J-1 status is readmitted, the student should contact the International Students and Scholars Office to obtain a new visa certificate (form I-20 or form DS-2019).
The Columbia College Committee on Academic Standing
The Columbia College Committee on Academic Standing implements academic policies and regulations for Columbia College students as set forth by the faculty Committee on Instruction, the University Senate, or the faculty as a whole. The Committee on Academic Standing is expected to uphold the policies and regulations of the Committee on Instruction.
The Committee on Academic Standing is composed of advising deans, the associate dean of advising, and the dean of advising.
Academic integrity defines an intellectual community and its educational mission. As members of such a community, Columbia College students are expected to honor intellectual work and respect its origins. A Columbia College education has two complementary elements: mastery over intellectual material within a discipline and overall development of moral character and personal ethics.
Engaging in forms of academic dishonesty violates Columbia community standards and severely inhibits a student’s opportunity to mature academically, professionally, and socially. Consequently, academic dishonesty is one of the most serious offenses a student can commit at Columbia University.
Academic dishonesty may be intentional or unintentional and most commonly includes but is not limited to:
- Plagiarism (the use of words, phrases, or ideas belonging to another, without properly citing or acknowledging the source)
- Self-plagiarism (the submission of one piece of work in more than one course without explicit permission of the instructors involved)
- Cheating on examinations, tests, or homework assignments
- Violating the limits of acceptable collaboration in coursework established by a faculty member or department
- Receiving unauthorized assistance on an assignment
- Copying computer programs
- Obtaining advance knowledge of exams or other assignments without permission
- Unauthorized distribution of assignments and exams
- Facilitating academic dishonesty by enabling another to engage in such behavior
- Lying to an instructor or University officer
- Falsification, forgery, or misrepresentation of information in coursework or lab work; on any application, petition, or documents submitted to the College or a University official
- Fabrication of credentials in materials submitted to the University for administrative or academic review
A student alleged to have engaged in academic dishonesty is subject to the Dean’s Discipline Process outlined above.
Students found responsible for academic dishonesty should expect a notation on the student's permanent academic record specifying and indicating that sanction is a result of academic misconduct. In addition, they may expect reports of such offenses on future recommendations for law, medical, other professional schools or graduate school. The parents or guardians of students found responsible may also be notified. Furthermore, the faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes and the Columbia College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa may take into consideration students' responsibility for violating College policies in their respective decisions for awarding College Honors and selecting students for induction into Phi Beta Kappa.
Columbia’s disciplinary approach to academic dishonesty, and the disciplinary process as a whole, is educative, and is informed by expectations that students must take full responsibility for their actions and that students will make informed choices inside and outside the classroom. Through the Center for Student Advising, students can access a range of resources that aid them in making sound decisions regarding academics, extracurricular activities, and personal issues.
Policy on Academic Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances
Columbia University is committed to fostering intellectual inquiry in a climate of academic freedom and integrity. Its members, students and faculty alike, are expected to uphold these principles and exhibit tolerance and respect for others.
When a student believes that a faculty member has failed to meet his or her obligations in an instructional setting, the student has two principal sources of immediate assistance: the University's Ombuds Office and the professional staff of the School in which the student is enrolled.
The Ombuds Office is available to help students find solutions to a wide range of problems arising in the context of their association with the university, including those involving faculty misconduct in an instructional setting. Students may wish to consult with the Ombuds Office before taking their concerns to the School, or they may wish to consult with the Ombuds Office at any time in the course of their discussions with School officials or, eventually, with members of the Vice President's Grievance Committee.
Like the Ombuds Office, each of the Schools has a professional staff ready to help students with concerns and complaints of many kinds, including those involving faculty misconduct in an instructional setting. The staff works with students and faculty to resolve such issues, but should resolution not be possible, the student may avail herself or himself of the School's grievance procedures.
The following procedures are part of a process to ensure that student concerns about experiences in the classroom or with faculty are addressed in an informed and appropriate manner.
Due to the size and diverse nature of our scholarly community, each school maintains its own processes for addressing a variety of student life issues, including students' concerns about experiences in the classroom or with faculty at their school. Experience has shown that most student concerns are best resolved in a collaborative way at the school level, starting with the advising dean or dean of students, as explained below for your particular school.
The grievance procedures available through the office of the Vice President for Arts and Sciences are intended to complement, not substitute for, the procedures available in each of the Schools, and they treat a considerably more limited range of issues. They are designed to address only those cases involving professional misconduct by a faculty member of Arts and Sciences in an instructional setting in which there were significant irregularities or errors in applying School procedures. Information on this process can be found on the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences website.
If the instructor at issue is not a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty, the student should consult the instructor’s particular school for its procedures.
We welcome students' thoughts on ways to clarify or enhance these procedures. If you are a Columbia College student, please e-mail email@example.com.
Columbia College Process for Expressing Academic Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances
Columbia College students are members of a University community committed to fostering intellectual inquiry within a climate of academic freedom and integrity. Students and faculty alike are expected to promote these goals in the context of inclusiveness, mutual respect, and tolerance for others, as ideas are explored, facts gathered, opinions weighed, and conclusions drawn. We work together with the understanding that we are, first and foremost, an educational community with teaching and learning at the heart of our enterprise and many educational opportunities beyond the walls of the classroom.
Central to all of our procedures is our educational mission, and it is this educational mission which also informs our process for dealing with academic concerns, complaints, and grievances. From time to time, a student may have concerns about a particular classroom experience, a specific curricular matter, or a faculty member’s actions that do not seem to be consistent with the highest ideals of our community.
Different kinds of academic concerns and complaints will require different approaches to resolve them satisfactorily. The student should speak first with his or her advising dean who will help the student determine how best to proceed. It may, for example, be the case that the issue is best taken up with the student's instructor. If, after a discussion with the advising dean, it is clear that the student does not feel comfortable speaking directly with the instructor, the advising dean will then advise and support the student in a different course of action.
For all procedures that are handled in the College, we attempt first to resolve issues on an informal and educational basis, making sure that those involved understand each other's point of view, before moving toward more formal procedures of complaint and redress. In every case, we seek to address issues in a timely manner (see Timeframe for Proceedings) at the most immediate level available, before moving up to higher levels of authority and responsibility.
Concerns about Grades or Other Academic Assessments
The awarding of grades and all other academic evaluations rests entirely with the faculty. If a student has a concern relating to a particular grade or other assessment of his or her academic work, the student first should speak with the instructor of the class to understand how the grade or other evaluation was derived and to address the student's specific concern. If the student does not feel comfortable speaking with the class instructor about the matter, he or she should bring the issue to the attention of the department chair, the director of undergraduate studies, or his or her advising dean, in order to seek advice on how best to address the issue.
If the student is unable thus to resolve the matter to his or her satisfaction and believes that a procedural issue is involved, the student should bring the matter to the attention of the Dean of Academic Affairs.
The dean will work with the student and the faculty to determine whether there has been a procedural breach and, if so, take immediate steps to remedy the matter. If relevant faculty other than the instructor, together with the dean, decide that the grade or other academic evaluation was appropriate, given class assignments and circumstances, the student will be informed and the decision will be final.
Complaints Involving a Faculty Member
The Columbia faculty hold themselves to the highest professional standards, but from time to time, there may be concern that their professional conduct is not consistent with the standards that the faculty have established for themselves. Those rights, duties, and obligations are delineated in the University Statutes and in the Faculty Handbook, found on-line at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/fhb/main.html.
Consistent with those duties and obligations, conduct that is grievable under these procedures include:
- Failure to show appropriate respect in an instructional setting for the rights of others to hold opinions differing from their own;
- Misuse of faculty authority to promote a political or social cause within an instructional setting;
- Conduct in the classroom or another instructional setting that adversely affects the learning environment.
If a student believes that a faculty member has acted in an unprofessional manner, he or she should first speak with his or her advising dean who will work with the student to review the claim, establish the substance of the complaint, and come to a decision about how best to address the concerns raised by the student. If appropriate, the advising dean will refer the student to the Dean of Academic Affairs who, working with relevant faculty, will investigate the matter fully and attempt to resolve the matter. If the matter remains unresolved and the dean decides that further action is warranted, he or she may refer the matter to the Vice President for Arts and Sciences.
If at any time a student believes the process is not working in a constructive or timely fashion, the student may always call the Dean of the College. If the instructor is not a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty, the advising dean will assist the student to identify the appropriate faculty and the right procedures. Each school has its own grievance procedures and they are posted on individual schools’ websites.
The University has alternate procedures to address other specific concerns.
If the alleged misconduct involves discrimination and sexual harassment, the complaint should be filed with the Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. For information on the procedures for handling such complaints, see Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure in this bulletin or on-line at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/eoaa/docs/discrim_sexharass.html.
Complaints against the school's faculty that allege scientific or scholarly misconduct are also evaluated using other procedures. These are contained in the Obligations and Responsibilities of Officers of Instruction and Research, available on-line at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/handbook/obligations.html.
The policy on romantic relationships can be found in the Romantic Relationship Advisory Statement in this bulletin or on-line at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/eoaa/docs/romance.html.
Timeframe for Proceedings
A student should ordinarily bring any concern or complaint within thirty (30) days of the end of the semester in which the offending conduct occurred or by the beginning of the following semester. The school process will ordinarily take thirty (30) days.
At every level, those involved recognize and respect a student’s need for confidentiality when addressing certain kinds of concerns. If the student wishes complete confidentiality, any concern may be raised with the University’s Ombuds Officer, a neutral complaint handler for the University. The office offers a range of options and communication channels. Students, however, must be aware that the Ombuds Office has no authority to adjudicate a complaint; it is there as a confidential resource to students, faculty and administrators to advise on various avenues of redress and to mediate disputes, if both parties agree.
Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and Gender-based Harassment Policies
In situations involving allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, students should consult: http://www.essential-policies.columbia.edu/student-policies-and-procedures-discrimination-and-harassment.
It is the policy of the University to respect its members’ religious beliefs. In compliance with New York State law, each student who is absent from school because of his or her religious beliefs will be given an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up any examination, study, or work requirements that he or she may have missed because of such absence on any particular day or days.
No student will be penalized for absence due to religious beliefs, and alternative means will be sought for satisfying the academic requirements involved.
Officers of administration and of instruction responsible for scheduling of academic activities or essential services are expected to avoid conflict with religious holidays as much as possible. If a suitable arrangement cannot be worked out between the student and the instructor involved, they should consult the appropriate dean or director. If an additional appeal is needed, it may be taken to the Provost.
The B.A. degree is awarded three times during the year: in February, May, and October. There is one commencement ceremony in May.
Application or Renewal of Application for the Degree
Students pick up and file applications for their degree at the Center for Student Advising in 403 Lerner Hall. General deadlines for applying for graduation are August 1 for October; November 1 for February; and December 1 for May. (When a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline moves to the next business day.) Students who fail to earn the degree by the conferral date for which they applied must file another application for a later conferral date.
There is no charge for the preparation and conferral of an original diploma. Your name will be printed exactly as it appears on your transcript. Check your transcript, and if you find errors, contact the Registrar, 210 Kent, before you file the degree application.
If you wish to change your name, you must submit the Name Change Affidavit located on the back of the degree application form. The affidavit must be notarized and filed by the application deadline.
If your diploma is lost or damaged, there will be a charge of $100 for a replacement diploma. Note that replacement diplomas carry the signatures of current University officials. Applications for replacement diplomas are available at http://registrar.columbia.edu/registrar-forms/application-replacement-diploma
information, see the following websites: