Columbia University School of General Studies

Columbia University History

One of the world’s leading research centers, Columbia University in the City of New York offers a distinctive and distinguished learning environment. Columbia seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time through its mission of educating students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

School of General Studies History

Founded in 1947, in large part to accommodate the wave of veterans returning from World War II, the School of General Studies (GS) is the liberal arts college at Columbia created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university. At GS, nontraditional students include students who have interrupted their educations or who have never attended college before, those who can only attend part-time, and students enrolled in Dual Degree programs, such as the Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin, Joint Program with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program with City University of Hong Kong, the Dual BA Program with Sciences Po, and the Dual Degree Program with Tel Aviv University. GS students are fully academically integrated and take the same courses, with the same professors, as students in Columbia’s other undergraduate colleges.


Note: The following enrollment statistics are based on 2019-2020 official reporting.

  • More than 2,600 undergraduate students
  • 70% full-time; 30% part-time
  • 48% female; 52% male
  • 27% of American students are Asian American, African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American
  • 21% international students (non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident)
  • Average age: 28

Tuition and Financial Aid

Note: The following tuition and financial aid statistics are effective for the 2022-2023 academic year.

  • $2,014 per point (see Tuition and Fees)
  • $27,860 estimated living and personal expenses, including room and board, books, commuting costs, and miscellaneous expenses
  • Approximately 70 percent of students receive some form of need-based financial aid and/or merit scholarship

Student Life


  • 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio
  • 79 Nobel laureates are affiliated with Columbia

University Resources

  • 13 graduate and professional schools, three undergraduate schools, and four affiliated institutions
  • More than 31,000 enrolled students
  • 22 libraries
  • More than 70 centers and institutes for specialized research
  • Endowment of more than $9 billion
  • Galleries, theaters, performance spaces, and art and architecture studios
  • Extensive network of support services

After Graduation

  • More than 70 percent of GS graduates go on to earn advanced degrees
  • More than 300 employers recruit on campus each year, and approximately 1,000 advertise employment opportunities to undergraduate students
  • Students have access to a global network of more than 250,000 alumni throughout the U.S. and 180 foreign countries