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Our Path Forward

Columbia University invites its community back to campus this fall for in-person classes and residential living for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduates. While health and safety protocols related to Covid-19 will continue to evolve through the year, every effort is being made to achieve a meaningful experience that will unite our community and foster a rich academic and campus life experience for our students.


The first day of classes will be Thursday, September 9, 2021 and the change of program period will last until September 21.

Due to the mandatory vaccination requirements for the Columbia community, we anticipate that all of our classrooms will return to full density with no required social distancing. The University expects that faculty and students will meet in person for all class sessions. And that, with the limited exception of pre-established online courses, all classes will be conducted face-to-face in campus classrooms.. As a result, students will notice that, when registering for classes, no modality will be described as the expectation is that all classes will be in-person.

Notwithstanding, with many international students facing visa-related delays, every effort will be made by our academic programs to offer virtual access to many classes.

More detailed information can be found in the Fall 2021 Instruction Guidelines.

Academic Calendar

Labor Day

Monday, September 6

Classes Begin

Thursday, September 9


Thursday, October 21

No Classes

Monday, November 1

Election Day, University Holiday

Tuesday, November 2

No Classes

Wednesday, November 24-Friday, November 26

Thanksgiving, University Holiday

Thursday, November 25

Last Day of Classes

Monday, December 13

Study Days

Exam Days

Tuesday, December 14-15

Thursday, December 16-23

End of Semester

Thursday, December 23


Reuniting as a residential community is a momentous milestone and the details of how to do so safely are a top priority. Columbia Housing is your primary resource for all housing details but below are some move-in dates that relate to undergraduate orientation programs.

Incoming students

The Class of 2025 will hear more about their New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) experience in early July through the Countdown to Columbia series. Move-in for NSOP will begin on Sunday, August 29.

First-year room assignments will be communicated by Columbia Housing by Wednesday, June 30.

Transfer, Visiting, and Combined Plan Students

Students who are joining Columbia as transfer, visiting or combined plan students this year will be invited to move in Tuesday, August 31 to begin their orientation programming. Transfer or combined plan students admitted last year and who have Columbia housing are also invited to move in with the transfer/combined cohort on Tuesday, August 31. Transfers or combined plan students in housing or off-campus are also welcomed to attend orientation programming.

Rising Sophomores

The Class of 2024 will also be invited to attend an orientation experience on campus, focused on social and community-building opportunities that support this class’ first collective residential experience.

Move-in for this class will begin Wednesday, September 1.

All Other Students

All other students may move into their residence halls beginning on Saturday, September 4.

Columbia Housing will follow up directly with all students on move-in details.


Vaccination Requirements

All students should download the ReOpen CU app on their phones, which is used by Columbia community members for self-attestation as well as for access to buildings during this period. A green pass on the app provides you with access to campus and facilities, whereas a red pass indicates failure to comply with required protocols.

Columbia requires that all students, faculty and staff be vaccinated for fall term. If you are vaccinated at any site other than Columbia Health on the Morningside campus, you must upload documentation in the Medical Clearances section of the Patient Portal by August 2. If you are requesting a medical or religious exemption, that must also be submitted no later than August 2. Columbia Health will review, evaluate and verify vaccination documentation or exemption requests by September 1; thereafter, verified students will then receive green pass status on the ReOpenCU app. Those who have not submitted vaccination documentation or who do not have an approved medical or religious exemption will have a red pass.

International students will have the opportunity to get the vaccine upon arrival on campus, if you have not been able to complete this requirement prior to returning. You do not need to come early to campus in order to get the vaccine. More information will follow in July regarding the process.

Columbia is currently operating seven vaccination sites in New York state. If you are not in the area, you can find a vaccine site in New York or elsewhere in the US. You can also find more general information on the University’s Covid-19 website

Health Requirements

Currently, the University continues to require that all individuals wear a face covering or mask in all indoor settings on campus as well as observe physical distancing, irrespective of vaccination status. Beginning September 9, face coverings and distancing no longer will be required, except for persons who have received a vaccine exemption. It is important to note that individuals may choose to not wear masks or physically distance themselves when outdoors, if they wish, and this choice should be respected.

Community Health Compact

The Columbia Community Health Compact is our community’s call to action and to recognize our shared responsibility for community health, informed by science and founded on mutual respect.

The terms of the existing Compact are being amended to reflect the University’s revised policies, including the vaccine mandate. Students should use the ReopenCU app to sign this pledge between July 6 and August 16. Additional details can be found in the newly revised Columbia Community Health Compact.


Columbia looks forward to welcoming students back to a meaningful campus life experience where we’ll re-establish our community bonds and the vitality of an in-person campus experience. Undergraduate Student Life will be planning as robust as possible an experience, adhering to updated guidance and Covid-19 protocols.

Meeting Spaces

If you and your friends or student group want to gather, indoors or outdoors, explore this list of available spaces and their safety requirements.


New York City

Despite a difficult year for all cities, Columbia’s hometown has begun to transition back to life. Students should review the latest updates from New York City to be aware of public health guidelines in restaurants, shops and on the New York City subway. New York may have different Covid-19 restrictions than where you are today, so stay up-to-date on the latest mandates through the City’s website.

Restaurants and Shops

As the vaccination rate increases in New York City, more restaurants and shops are reopening towards full indoor capacity.

Read more about policies around dining at restaurants and shopping in stores.


There are many ways to explore the city: by foot, train, bike, ferry, etc. Learn more about public transportation options through the MTA.

Some MTA services may have been disrupted by the pandemic; read more about safety protocols on the MTA website.


Ivy League athletic competitions are expected to resume this fall. Visit the Columbia Athletics website to stay up-to-date on new information and sports team schedules.


We understand that international students may have additional questions related to travel and visa guidelines, which are fluctuating based on the impact of the pandemic in different countries.

The International Students & Scholars (ISSO) office will be hosting webinars for incoming international students this summer are as follows:

  • Tuesday, June 22: 9:00am - 10:00am

  • Thursday, July 15: 9:00am - 10:00am

  • Thursday, July 22: 9:30am - 11:00am, Webinar collaboration with Student Financial Services and Office of University Life

  • Tentative: Second ISSO-CUCSSA webinar for new Chinese students (TBD mid-summer)

Please contact Maria Reynoso ( to sign-up.

Incoming students with visa questions can learn more about Covid-19 guidance on the ISSO website. Contact the schools for additional support for your individual circumstance as an international student.


The public health situation, as related to travel, is being continually monitored by the University.

Study abroad and other University-related international travel continues to be suspended until further notice but we anticipate a full resumption in the spring term.

If you’re interested in other types of travel and related restrictions, visit the Columbia Covid-19 website.