Home / About the College / News and Updates / Our Path Forward
Columbia University Campus

Our Path Forward

What's New?

This page will be regularly updated as we near the opening of the fall semester. For even more details about the fall semester, view our Frequently Asked Questions, which are updated regularly.

If you missed last week’s Town Hall webinar, view the recording.

Updated August 7

Other Recent Updates

Academic Life


The next academic year is structured in a three-term format, which allows schools and students to take advantage of coursework into the summer of 2021. Most students will fulfill a majority of their coursework during the fall and spring; however, the summer provides an additional opportunity for students to distribute credits throughout three terms or earn additional credits during that time.

Faculty are actively engaged in preparations that will ensure the richest academic experience possible, in keeping with Columbia's standards of excellence. We are enhancing the remote learning strategies that were used at Columbia in the spring, and this will be a continuing priority throughout the duration of the summer.

Academic Calendar

The dates for the terms are as follows:

  • Fall term (September 8- December 23)
  • Spring term (January 11- April 26)
  • Summer term (Summer A:May 3- June 18, Summer B: June 28- Aug. 16)
  • Commencement scheduled for the last week of April

By Monday, August 3, students will be able to see in the online Directory of Classes and in Vergil not only the 14-week and 7-week courses that will be offered in Fall 2020, but also the modality of delivery (online, in person, or hybrid) and the class schedule. Academic departments and programs have also posted information for the 2020-2021 academic year on their websites.

Remote Learning

All Fall classes will have an online component: some courses will be taught entirely online, while other courses may be taught in a hybrid model that combines in-person and online components. There will be a small number of classes held entirely in person. Decisions about Spring and Summer courses will be finalized as public health decisions develop over the coming months.

While this past spring required a sudden shift to remote learning, in which faculty and Columbia had to transition with no notice, we are now actively engaged in preparations that will ensure the richest academic experience possible, in keeping with Columbia's standards of excellence. We have reviewed student feedback about remote learning in the spring and faculty are reflecting on ways to continue to improve the learning experience for everyone. This will be a continuing priority throughout the duration of the summer.


Students who enroll for the academic year must enroll in a minimum of 12 credits in the Fall and in the Spring. This constitutes full-time status and will also ensure successful progression towards completion of your degree requirements.

Fall and Spring will have the normal tuition structure. Furthermore, for students enrolled full-time in Fall and Spring, Summer (A and B) courses will be offered at no additional tuition cost. Students may enroll in up to 40 credits over the Fall/Spring/Summer (A and B) terms. Academic departments and programs have adjusted their curricular offerings across the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms to allow students greater flexibility in fulfilling their requirements and making progress to their degrees. This expanded three-term structure then gives students flexibility to either spread their full set of courses over three terms and/or to pursue additional courses towards a concentration and exploring wider interests across the academic year.

To be considered full-time, students enrolled in Fall will be expected to enroll in a minimum of 12 points of credit and can enroll in a maximum of 18 points of credit. These full-time credit requirements will also apply to Spring term.

  • Most undergraduate courses in Fall and Spring will be 14-week courses (including the reading and exam periods).
  • Some departments and programs will also be offering 7-week “immersive” courses, which will cover a semester’s worth of material in a compressed time period, involving more classroom and homework hours.

As stated above, students who are enrolled full-time in both Fall and Spring terms may take summer courses at no additional tuition cost and earn an additional maximum of 16 points of credit for Summer coursework. They can earn a maximum of 8 points of credit in a single Summer session (whether in Summer A or Summer B, or through courses that may span Summer A and B), as long as their total credits for the academic year do not surpass 40 points.

  • Many undergraduate courses taught in the Summer will be 7-week “immersive” courses, which will cover a semester’s worth of material in a compressed time period, therefore requiring more classroom and homework hours.
  • Some undergraduate courses may also be 14-week courses that will span Summer A and Summer B.

The Core

The two year-long Core courses -- Contemporary Civilization and Literature Humanities -- will each continue to be offered in the usual fall-then-spring sequence.

  • First-year students will be assigned to the following Core courses in Fall and/or Spring: Literature Humanities, Frontiers of Science and University Writing.

  • Rising sophomores who have already registered for Contemporary Civilization will remain enrolled in their chosen fall sections.

Most of the one-term Core courses -- Art Humanities, Frontiers of Science, and Music Humanities -- will now be offered in fall, spring and summer. Students will still be expected to take University Writing in either fall or spring, since it is an important foundational course for all other coursework students will take and therefore should not be delayed.

Academic Support Services

Voluntary Leave of Absence

Continuing students must consult with their adviser in the Berick Center for Student Advising for any questions regarding taking either a voluntary medical leave of absence or a voluntary personal leave of absence. Prior to matriculation, all incoming students must consult with Admissions about delaying their attendance.

We know a concern of students considering taking a voluntary personal leave of absence is whether or not they can secure housing upon their return. While Columbia cannot guarantee housing for students who take a voluntary leave of absence, we have historically been able to accommodate most students who need housing upon their return. We will continue to make every effort to secure housing for students returning from a voluntary leave, but this process would occur, as it does now, after first assigning all students with guaranteed housing status. It’s important to note that if we see a significant increase in students interested in taking a leave due to COVID-19, we would likely experience greater housing and enrollment constraints in subsequent semesters and years.

Students who take a voluntary leave of absence before the start of a semester would continue to be eligible for financial support upon their return, subject to the standard review of their financial aid application materials. Students who initiate their leave after a semester begins may require some adjustment to their aid and should reach out to Financial Aid when they plan their return to campus. We encourage any student with questions about this process to be in touch with Financial Aid to discuss their individual circumstances.

Returning Students

CSA advisers are here to help students navigate the world of virtual studies. Given that most classes will be taught entirely or partially online, we have compiled these tips for online learning. Advisers will be checking in regularly with their student advisees once the school year commences, to offer support and discuss strategies for success. Throughout the summer, students can also make an appointment with their CSA adviser. Please also check the CSA website for updates about the upcoming academic year.

New Students

Incoming students received an email informing them of their adviser assignment; CSA advisers will reach out by email soon thereafter to schedule an appointment to discuss questions and begin planning. Students may also reach out to with immediate question.

Campus Life


Until a proven vaccine is developed, Columbia must continue to maintain a de-densified campus as we have seen the significant impact that physical distancing has had on the spread of the virus. This means the on-campus student population must be limited in order to adhere to distancing protocols that require spacing students appropriately in residence halls, classrooms and other public spaces. In addition, we must factor in the safety of our faculty and staff, including essential campus services staff, all of whom have close day-to-day interaction with students and many of whom may fall into higher risk segments of our community. We must also consider the safety of our neighbors in Morningside Heights and New York City at large.

Current projections and assessments based on NYC and NY State guidelines indicate we might be able to bring back to campus up to 60%of our undergraduate population in Columbia College and Columbia Engineering. This number could continue to change as we monitor data and guidance from public health officials..

We know all students and families are invested in residential life as a key component of the college experience. Yet, to achieve our distancing requirements, not all students will be able to safely return to campus right away. Knowing this, we have begun planning to offer student programs and services virtually and we will work closely with students to develop new and creative ways to uphold and sustain our bonds and community spirit.

Those who return to Columbia’s campus will be asked to agree to the Columbia Community Health Compact that will require each individual to comply with established health and safety protocols and to uphold our shared commitment to limit the spread of the virus and to protect one another’s well-being.

Housing and Dining Summary

To adhere to physical distancing requirements, students approved to live in residence halls this upcoming year will be assigned to single rooms and spaced appropriately throughout residence halls. Students will only be given swipe access into their assigned residence hall and will not have access to other halls. In addition, students living on-campus will not be permitted to sign-in or host guests, including Columbia students living in another residence hall, Columbia students living off-campus, or family members.

Columbia Dining will serving students on campus this year. Along with offering some of our long-time fan favorite dishes, the Columbia Dining team has put their creative foot forward and will be introducing an array of new menu offerings, such as fusion bowls, vegan omelets, and taro ice cream, to name a few.

Food service will be take-out only to start the year. Options will include traditional hot and cold foods, as well as an enhanced selection of prepared grab-and-go items. In addition, the Dining team is very excited to introduce Chef Mike’s Market, which will be situated in the 4th Floor Dining Room in Ferris Booth, as well as in King’s Table. These markets will allow for students to choose from a variety of hot and cold food options while on the go, including a complete, ready-to-go entrée for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

For comprehensive FAQs about housing, residence life, facilities and more, visit Columbia Housing and Columbia Dining for more information.

Considerations for Residential Living

Campus life will be very different from what students may have experienced pre-COVID-19 due to current physical distancing requirements, and health and testing protocols. In addition to newly established protocols within living, social and learning spaces, gathering in outdoor spaces will also be a different experience as we collectively commit to protecting our entire community from the spread of infection. Students who request to reside in campus housing should have both flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions on campus and in New York.

Students in residence will be expected to follow public health guidance that includes wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and limiting the size of social gatherings. Students will be expected to agree to the Columbia Community Health Compact before their arrival.

We will prioritize students by class year (Fall is designated for first- and second-year students; Spring is designated for juniors and seniors to join or to rotate in should capacity remain the same). We’ll also consider special circumstances that may necessitate on-campus housing for certain populations, including:

  • Students who lack safe and necessary conditions for learning in their home environment

  • Students who are pursuing advanced academic projects that require access to materials and spaces found only on campus

  • International students who have visa and travel concerns.

  • Students with an existing accommodation with Columbia Health and/or students who have discussed personal circumstances with a provider in Columbia Health

If you enroll in the 2020-2021 academic year but do not live on campus, you will still maintain guaranteed housing for the next academic year.

For information on the move-in process, please visit Columbia Housing’s detailed FAQs

International Students

Fortunately, the department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has rescinded the recent rule that would have required international students with F visas to leave the United States if their course of study is entirely online. International students are still advised, however, to stay in close contact with the International Students and Scholars Office to confirm important guidelines and advice that may be necessitated in each student’s case. FAQs for international students can be found here.

Social Engagement/Events

Knowing that our population of students will be both on and off campus, we have begun planning to offer student programs and services virtually and we will work closely with students to develop new and creative ways to uphold and sustain our bonds and community spirit.

The room capacity for event spaces will be limited because of distancing requirements; therefore, student clubs and organizations will be encouraged and in some cases, required to host programs and club engagement virtually. Outdoor spaces will be made available to encourage outdoor gatherings.


The Ivy League Presidents have determined that there will be no Athletics competition through the fall term. Practice, conditioning and other athletic training opportunities for enrolled student-athletes provided they are structured in accordance with each institution's procedures and applicable state regulations and will follow a phased approach. The Ivy League will issue additional guidance in the coming weeks. Fall sport student-athletes will not use a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility in the fall, whether or not they enroll. Students who wish to pursue competition during a fifth-year will need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond the current anticipated graduation date.

Club, intramural, fitness classes, and recreational athletics may be permitted if they can be conducted in accordance with state and institutional guidelines and appropriate social distancing. More information will be shared with the campus community when possible.


The University has determined to extend the suspension of all international Columbia-related travel for all affiliates until further notice. For CUIMC and Morningside faculty and staff domestic Columbia-related Travel is permitted only if video participation is not available. For students, domestic Columbia-related Travel continues to be suspended. Additionally, all Columbia affiliates are strongly urged to postpone any non-essential personal travel abroad, and to follow state guidance for personal domestic travel.

Consistent with CDC guidance, Columbia University advises all affiliates who have returned from ANY international travel, stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. Follow the self-isolation guidance found on the Columbia Preparedness COVID-19 FAQs.

Health and Well-being


For individuals on Columbia’s campus, there will be new restrictions and protocols that will affect daily life across campus and in residence halls. These will be in the spirit of maintaining the individual health and safety of every member of our community, including yours. Students, faculty and staff on campus will be required to sign the Columbia Community Health Compact before their arrival, to agree to adopt and uphold responsibilities and agreements, to collectively navigate the year with a shared commitment to protect and support one another’s health, safety, and well-being. We will continue to develop strategies for how we will maintain lower density in residence halls and other classroom and student spaces.

As the pandemic evolves, decisions about health and safety will be continuously updated, including who can be on campus, limitations on interactions and gatherings and much more.

New Protocols

Public health protocols have been established to help protect individuals in the Columbia community and our neighbors as we prepare for return to campus. In addition to the expectation that all members of our community follow health and hygiene practices that include washing hands frequently with soap and water, not touching one’s face with unwashed hands, and sneezing or coughing into one’s elbow, the following measures will be expected at all times, both indoors and outside, of anyone on campus.
Everyone on Columbia’s campuses must:

  • Wear a face covering over one’s nose and mouth at all times, except when alone in a private office or in an enclosed room with the door closed.
  • Keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) distance between oneself and other people whenever possible.
  • Follow signage and guidance on use of campus spaces.
  • Stay home if not feeling well.
  • Follow workplace and shared-space hygiene (wipe workplace surfaces used frequently, including desk surfaces, keyboards, light switches, and shared equipment such as copiers, printers, A/V, etc.) with disinfectant sprays or wipes that the University will provide. Columbia staff will do frequent specialized cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout campus.

For more detailed information about protocols on campus, visit the public health protocols and learn about enforcement and expectations for adherence for all students on campus.

Physical (Social) Distancing

This guidance addresses questions related to the University’s Enhanced Health and Safety Policy on face covering, physical distance, and related issues that went into effect on June 22, 2020 and will continue to evolve as we near the fall.

Eating or drinking:

When you remove your face covering to eat or drink, you must be at least 6 feet (2 arms’ length) from others.

  • Being side by side at that distance is fine, but try to avoid being directly across from someone else.
  • If you smoke, this same rule applies—and only in outdoor areas on campus where smoking is permitted.

Passing someone in a narrow hallway/stairwell or other narrow space:

Keep as much space as you can, wear your face covering and keep moving.

Riding an elevator:

Elevator capacity will be limited. Follow the instructions on the sign nearby whatever elevator you plan to use. If the elevator permits more than one person at a time and you’re in the elevator with someone else, stay as far apart as the space allows, and keep your face covering on. Everyone will know that this is about keeping our community safe. And if you are able, take the stairs instead.

Using the restroom:

Keep your face covering on.

  • Restroom signs will show how many people can use the restroom at one time. This occupancy limit will be based on restroom size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly (20 seconds, with soap) afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. If there is someone already at the sink, wait until they have left the restroom to use the sink yourself.
  • In certain shared facilities, Columbia Facilities and Operations/CUIMC Facilities Management and Campus Services will have easy-to-use cleaning materials for you to wipe your sink area.


Keep your face covering on, both inside and outdoors. We understand it can get hot – if you need to pull your face covering down for a moment to wipe off your face, be sure you’re more than 6 feet from others.

Sitting or walking outside on campus with someone:

Keep your face covering on and keep six feet between you. Even if you’re with a roommate, partner or family member, keep your face covering on and keep at least six feet from other individuals or groups.

Alone in a private office:

Keep your face covering on unless you are alone in an enclosed office with the door closed.

Hanging out/studying/organizing/working on a project with friends or colleagues:

Keep your face covering on and stay 6 feet (2 arms’ length) apart.

Getting around campus and NYC:

Keep your face covering on. It’s important for your health and the health of others [if applicable: and it’s required by NY law in public places whenever you cannot keep 6 feet apart]. Avoid crowds and remember to use hand sanitizer too.

Self-monitoring, Testing And Contact Tracing

All students, faculty, and staff will have an initial “gateway” SARS-CoV-2 test when arriving on campus. Such testing has been in place for individuals returning to campus as of June 22, 2020 and will continue for all returning affiliates throughout the summer and fall as campus operations resume.

All undergraduate students will also receive a SARS-CoV-2 test on a weekly basis. The frequency of the testing will be re-evaluated over time in view of the status of the epidemic in New York City and the campus.

Detailed Information on Columbia’s Test and Trace program and symptom self-checking can be found on the COVID-19 resource website.

Facilities Management and Cleaning

Cleaning and Disinfecting information can be found on the University’s COVID-19 resource website.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid

Cost of Attendance in 2020-2021

The cost of attendance is set by the University and approved by the Board of Trustees and includes tuition, room and board and other mandatory fees.

Tuition and Mandatory Fees

Undergraduate tuition and fees for 2020-2021 has been set at $31,440 per semester (fall and spring) or $62,880 for the full academic year.

To enhance the experience of attending Columbia in this unprecedented academic year, Columbia College students who enroll in both fall and spring will also be able to take classes for a third term, Summer 2021, at no additional tuition charge. In addition, the maximum credit hours for this year have been increased to 40 credits, thereby allowing students greater progress towards their degree, if they desire. The 40 credits can be spread over the three semesters of fall, spring and summer.

Room and Board

Room and Board for 2020-2021 will be $15,130 for first-year students. This covers on-campus living charges for the fall and spring semesters. Upper class rates will vary based on meal plans selected. For the majority of students who will live on-campus only in either the fall or the spring because of housing occupancy limits, room and board charges will be assessed only for the semester they are on-campus. Summer housing will be available as usual at an additional cost.

Special COVID-related Support

In recognition of challenges that students and families may be facing during this pandemic, Columbia College is offering the following additional support in the upcoming year:

Off-campus Living Allowance

When calculating financial aid awards for students living off-campus, Columbia College will take into account an off-campus living allowance of $4,000 per semester to help with living and technology expenses related to remote learning.

Waiver of Student Work Contribution

Fall 2020: Similar to the summer earning grants we provided this summer, Columbia College will offer the opportunity for students on financial aid to apply for a waiver for the term-time student work expectation for Fall 2020. This process will replace the Fall Work Exemption Program. More information will be provided at the beginning of the academic year.

Change in Family Circumstances

Columbia College continues to be committed to providing need-based aid to our students. We recognize that during this pandemic family circumstances may change. As always, our Financial Aid Office will work with each family to evaluate changes in circumstances and potentially adjust financial aid awards.

All financial aid questions should be directed to the Financial Aid and Educational Financing office at (212) 854-3711 or


Fall 2020 Semester

Labor DayMonday, September 7
Classes BeginTuesday, September 8
Exams for Immersive CoursesTuesday, October 20-Friday, October 23
No ClassesMonday, November 2
Election Day, University HolidayTuesday, November 3
No ClassesWednesday, November 25-Friday, November 27
Thanksgiving, University HolidayThursday, November 26
Last Day of ClassesMonday, December 14
Reading and Exam DaysTuesday, December 15-Wednesday, December 23
End of SemesterWednesday, December 23

Spring 2021 Semester

Classes BeginMonday, January 11
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, University HolidayMonday, January 18
Exams for Immersive CoursesTuesday, February 23-Friday, February 26
Spring BreakMonday, March 1-Friday, March 5
Classes ResumeMonday, March 8
Last Day of ClassesThursday, April 15
Reading and Exam DaysFriday, April 16-Friday, April 26
Semester EndsMonday, April 26
Commencement WeekTuesday, April 27-Friday, April 30

Summer 2021 Semester A&B

Classes BeginMonday, May 3
Memorial Day, University HolidayMonday, May 31
Reading and Exam DaysTuesday, June 15-Friday, June 18
BreakMonday, June 21-Friday, June 25
Classes ResumeMonday, June 28
Last Day of ClassesFriday, August 6
Reading and Exam DaysMonday, August 9-Monday, August 16
Semester EndsMonday, August 16

Explore Frequently Asked Questions