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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


Columbia staff have been working hard since spring to plan for an in-person return to campus and we are all full of excitement to welcome each of you to campus. At the same time, we must remain vigilant as we prepare to come back together as a community.

Undergraduate students in residence are a unique community, and a microcosm of the larger community in Morningside Heights. It is imperative that we work together to achieve the goal of keeping ourselves and one another as safe as we can. Our community also includes the faculty who teach, the staff who support you and keep Columbia functioning, and the neighbors who surround campus and call Morningside Heights home.

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 and Testing

Students have already heard about the important steps you must take to be medically prepared to join and stay in our community. These steps are listed again below for your reference. We also encourage students to take a COVID-19 test prior to coming to Columbia so that you are safe to travel.

  1. Students must be vaccinated or have an approved exemption. If you are not yet vaccinated, you must act quickly to get the vaccine if you wish to move in to housing and remain enrolled this fall.

  2. Vaccine documentation must be uploaded and approved by Columbia Health before you arrive on campus. Check the status of your vaccine submission by logging into the Columbia Health Portal and viewing the “Medical Clearances” section in the left menu.

  3. COVID-19 Safety Training must be completed before you arrive.

  4. The updated Columbia Community Health Compact must be signed ASAP, even if you signed it last year.

  5. Schedule your Gateway PCR test. The Gateway test is an initial PCR test at a Columbia site and a necessary entry test to be part of the campus community. You can schedule the Gateway within one business day of your move-in or earlier if you are in the area, but no later than September 9. If you are a returning student with a Columbia test from January 2021 or later on file, you are all set. If you are arriving from an international destination and are unvaccinated, the gateway test should be done on day 3-5 after your arrival during your 7 day quarantine.

  6. Prepare to complete daily attestations once on campus, by downloading the ReopenCU App, where you’ll also be able to see your Greenpass (approved to access facilities) or Redpass (prohibited from accessing facilities)

  7. Expect to participate in surveillance testing, a monitoring testing program Columbia will use to ensure the health of the community. Students with approved religious or medical exemptions are required to test weekly and the full fall testing overview can be found on the University COVID-19 site.

  8. Expect to comply with testing requirements within one business day (regardless of vaccination status) if a COVID-19 wastewater spike is detected in your residence hall.

Masking, Distancing and Social Norms

Columbia’s vaccine mandate is in place to ensure that our community is armed with the strongest tool we have to prevent infection, serious illness, and transmission. As we continue to learn how COVID-19 variants behave, there are additional precautions we must all take despite being a fully vaccinated community. All students are expected to abide by these guidelines to care for themselves and to demonstrate respect for others.

  • Face Coverings – The wearing of face coverings indoors is currently mandated until further notice. Masks for vaccinated individuals are not required outdoors but exempt unvaccinated individuals will be expected to mask both indoors and outdoors at all times.

  • Distancing From August 3 to September 8, 2021, vaccinated individuals no longer need or distance indoors. After September 9, 2021, distancing is no longer required by any affiliate (except when unvaccinated individuals need to remove their mask, for example, when eating).

  • Social Gatherings – Event guidelines will evolve with the trajectory of the pandemic and students must follow masking and distancing guidelines for social gatherings in order for events to continue throughout the semester.

  • Travel – Students are discouraged from personal travel once they arrive on campus, but should an emergency arise, they must complete a Travel Form and strictly follow current State of New York and CDC domestic or international travel guidelines.

  • Healthy Hygiene Practices – We are now accustomed to thoroughly washing our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water and using hand sanitizers with 60%+ alcohol level and this must continue; coughing or sneezing should be done into a tissue or in your elbow and we expect everyone to be thoughtful about sanitizing publicly used spaces they be using. ​​If you sneeze while wearing a fabric mask be sure to wash it thoroughly.

  • Stay Home – If you are not feeling well, simply stay home. The risk you pose to yourself and others does not justify doing otherwise.

  • Support one another – Avoid stigmatizing or discrimination of those who have had COVID-19 or may be at risk for it; not only must we support one another but it’s critical that all individuals feel safe to disclose symptoms or seek care, should they need it.


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.