Columbia University School of General Studies
|Columbia University School of General Studies|
|Location||New York, NY, USA|
|Campus||Urban, 36 acres (0.15 km2; 0.056 sq mi) Morningside Heights Campus, 26 acres (0.11 km2; 0.041 sq mi) Baker Field athletic complex, 20 acres (0.081 km2; 0.031 sq mi) Medical Center, 157 acres (0.64 km2; 0.245 sq mi) Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory|
|Affiliations||Albert A. List College (Jewish Theological Seminary of America), and the Juilliard School|
The School of General Studies, commonly known as General Studies or simply GS, is an undergraduate school at Columbia University and is home to the university's non-traditional students. GS is also home to the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program and has joint degree programs with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Sciences Po. Degrees are officially conferred three times a year in February, May, and October in 83 different majors to GS graduates.
The school was founded in 1947 following a reorganization of University Extension, a program with its origins in 1904 when Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler first formally organized adult education classes to the general public ranging from classical studies to highway engineering and vegetable gardening.
Some GS students commute to campus from all over the New York metropolitan area, while others, many of who moved to the city from around the U.S., live in off-campus university residences. GS has a diverse student body, and 17% of students have international backgrounds.
All GS students are required to take core classes covering skills in Writing, Literature/Humanities, Foreign Language, Art Humanities, Music Humanities, Global Core, Contemporary Civilization/Social Science, Quantitative Reasoning, and Science.
In addition to its bachelor's degree program, the School of General Studies offers combined undergraduate/graduate degree programs with Columbia's Schools of Law, Business, Dental Medicine, Social Work, International and Public Affairs, Teachers College, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as undergraduate dual-degree programs with the Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and the French University Sciences Po.
General Studies practices rolling admissions, and admissions officers primarily examine college-level work and life experience, in addition to considering past high school records, test scores, extra-curricular activities, resumes and essays. They conduct interviews in person or on the phone. For transfer students, most successful applicants attain GPAs of at least 3.8. The school requires standardized test scores for entry, and uses scores from the SAT, ACT, or the school's own Admissions Exam. The GS acceptance rate is 17% for the applicant pool receiving decisions in the Spring of 2013.  GS admissions statistics are not reported in conjunction with Columbia College or SEAS, the schools for traditional Columbia undergraduates.
Applicants to the School of General Studies must have a break of one academic year or compelling personal or professional reasons for part-time attendance to be eligible to apply for admission. The average age is 29 for incoming students. Prospective undergraduates who have had a break of a year or more in their education are automatically ineligible for admission to Columbia College but not SEAS. Potential applicants to Columbia Engineering should proceed with transfer application regardless of any break in schooling. GS students have the option to attend part- or full-time.  Financial aid at Columbia GS is merit-based rather than need-based like those of Columbia College or SEAS. The relative scarcity of financial aid available for non-traditional students at Columbia has been subject to criticism and is a consequence of GS's small endowment. 
GS enrolls students who have taken time off from school for various reasons, including parenthood, travel, or career. Many students are part-time and work while pursuing a degree, and many have family responsibilities; others attend classes full-time. Many have pursued careers in fields such as investment banking and information technology and quite a few are nontraditional due to previous conscription or community service requirements in their home countries. A substantial portion of the population enter as transfer students; the previous schools of these students range from community colleges to universities.
Sciences Po Paris - Columbia University Dual BA Program
The Dual BA Program is a rigorous, transatlantic program in which undergraduate students earn Bachelor of Arts degrees from both Sciences Po and Columbia University. Students spend two years at one of three Sciences Po campuses in France, each of which is devoted to a particular region of the world and offers a heavy linguistic and cultural focus. After two years, students matriculate at Columbia University School of General Studies in New York City to complete the interdisciplinary social sciences curriculum. High school students may apply. Admission to the program is highly selective. In 2012 and 2013, only about 60 spots were available for a pool of approximately 300 applicants.
While Columbia University's mascot is a lion, the School of General Studies has another mascot on its coat of arms: the owl, which was selected for two reasons. First, it represents a connection to night classes, although the vast majority of students today take classes during the day. Second, the owl represents Athena and thus knowledge and wisdom; an owl can be found hiding in the robes of the university's central Alma Mater statue. The school also has a separate motto - "Lux In Tenebris Lucet," Latin for: The light that shines in the darkness.
The school's name refers to its diverse student body by alluding to medieval universities, which were also known as studia generalia. Studia generalia were degree-granting institutions that served a much broader, often international group of students and scholars.
Nontraditional education began at Columbia in the 1830s. A formal program, Extension Teaching (later renamed University Extension), was created by Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler in 1904. GS's evolutionary ancestor, however, is Seth Low Junior College, which was established in Downtown Brooklyn to help alleviate the steady flood of applicants to Columbia College when the College was limiting the number of Jewish applicants. Following completion of the two-year program, graduates could complete their undergraduate educations at the University's professional schools (many of which still conferred bachelor's degrees, in line with the credentialing standards of the era) or earn B.S. degrees in the traditional liberal arts & sciences at the Morningside Heights campus as University Undergraduates. The establishment of Brooklyn College in 1930 and the concomitant economic effects of the Great Depression led the University trustees to order the closure of the institution in 1936 (in contrast to the 1944 divestiture of Bard College), a process that was completed by 1938. Henceforth, the University Undergraduate appellation extended to part-time evening session B.S. degree candidates under the purview of University Extension not enrolled in undergraduate programs then offered by Columbia College, the College of Pharmacy, Optometry, & Nursing, the Schools of Business and Engineering, and two University affiliates (Barnard College and Teachers College). Admission to the degree program was contingent on a B average in the secondary school courses required by Columbia College.
With an influx of students attending the University on the GI Bill following the resolution of World War II, in December 1946, the University Undergraduate program was reorganized as an official undergraduate college for "qualified students who, because of employment or for other reasons, are unable to attend other schools of the University" and designated the School of General Studies as of July 1947. Additionally, the School was tasked with offering the extension and adult education courses oriented toward non-matriculated students previously offered by University Extension.
Unlike Columbia College and Barnard College, GS was coeducational from its inception. Formed in 1952 as an analog to the Columbia College and Graduate Faculties, the Faculty of General Studies ensured greater curricular autonomy and encompassed the majority of female instructional personnel at Columbia in the 1960s. During this period, fissures between the CC and GS communities solidified over a minimum matriculation age (20) that demographically overlapped with traditional residential students; the School's administration of an undergraduate program in the now-defunct Columbia Institute of Accounting for students under the age of 20; the perception of comparatively lenient admissions standards (including a "validation" semester for prospective degree candidates who lacked a high school diploma and a frequently-waived General Studies Aptitude Test); and the development of vocational courses (including "Fundamentals of Hand Bookbinding" and "Television Rehearsal") alongside major programs in public relations, human resources, and professional writing that were alleged to bear little consanguinity to the liberal arts strengths of Columbia College.
Released in February 1958, the controversial Macmahon Report on the Educational Future of the University recommended the elimination of the non-matriculated program (in which eighty percent of the School's student body was then enrolled) and raising the matriculation age to 23; this precipitated the immediate resignation of Dean Louis M. Hacker, who helped to initiate and favored the School's egalitarian "open door" policy, in which students were allowed to take nine credits of coursework without matriculating. During Hacker's tenure, 63 of 759 students who completed the "validation" program received GS degrees, while over three-fourths of respondents to a questionnaire issued to the graduating classes of 1956 and 1967 went on to pursue graduate or professional education. Although the recommendations were not stringently implemented following Hacker's resignation, by 1964 "the number of non-matriculated students [had] dropped to a level just above that of the degree candidates," while less than half of the School's courses were offered at night, and transfer students from community colleges were increasingly common. In December 1963, the University trustees amended a section of the University Statues pertaining to the GS program of study, leading to voiciferous faculty outrage. Following the dedication of Lewisohn Hall (a building that included dedicated classroom and administrative facilities) in April 1964, the matriculation age was raised to 21 by the trustees to maintain the stipulated character of the school amid the influx of traditionally-aged transfer students.
In December 1968, the University Council permitted GS to grant the B.A. degree over the objections of some members of the Columbia College Faculty. The Board of Trustees authorized that decision in February 1969.
In 1990, the CC, GS, and GSAS faculties were merged into the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. As a result, GS students receive degrees conferred by the Trustees of Columbia University through the Faculty of Art & Sciences, and GS is recognized as one of the two official liberal arts colleges at Columbia University, along with Columbia College.
More recently, as a result of the passage of extended GI Bill coverage in 2008, the school hosts many U.S. and international veterans. In the 2010-2011 school year, the school hosted about 150 of Columbia's nearly 300 studying veterans.
Some GS students are veterans of the U.S. military, and have their own group, the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University (or "MilVets"; see link below). In addition, there is a significant population of former Israeli soldiers who have completed their pre-university military duty. A January 2010 news article in The New York Times discusses the strong military veteran presence in the GS student body. In addition to a large body of former military students, many students have held full-time jobs before matriculating at Columbia.
- Frederick H. Sykes, (1904–1910) Director of Extension Teaching.
- James Chidester Egbert, Jr., (1910–1942) Director of Extension Teaching/University Extension.
- Harry Morgan Ayres, (1942–1948) Director of University Extension (re-established as School of General Studies in 1947).
- John A. Krout, (1948–1951) Acting Director of the School of General Studies
- Louis M. Hacker, (1951–1958), former student of University Extension. First Dean of the School of General Studies.
- Cliford L. Lord, (1958–1964)
- Clarence C. Walton, (1964–1969)
- Aaron Warner, (1969–1976)
- Ward H. Dennis, (1977–1991)
- Frank Wolf, Acting Dean, (1991–93)
- Caroline W. Bynum, (1993–1994)
- Gillian Lindt, (1994–1997)
- Peter J. Awn, (1997–Present)
Notable alumni and attendees
The following list contains some of the notable alumni and attendees of the School of General Studies and its extension school predecessors only. For a full list of people associated with Columbia University as a whole, please see the list of Columbia University people.
An asterisk (*) indicates an attendee who did not graduate.
Alumni of the School of General Studies and its precursors
- Ira Gershwin* (1918) Attended pre-medical classes, Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer.
- Amelia Earhart* (1920) Attended one semester, American aviator and early female pilot.
- Simon Kuznets (1923), Nobel Prize-winning economist.
- David O. Selznick* (1923), Hollywood producer, King Kong, Gone with the Wind
- Federico García Lorca* (1929), Attended briefly, Spanish poet and dramatist.
- Isaac Asimov (1939), science fiction writer and biochemist
- Jane Jacobs* (1940s), Attended for two years, author The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban theorist and activist.
- Baruj Benacerraf (1942), Nobel Prize-winning immunologist.
- Telly Savalas (1946), Actor, Emmy-award winner and Oscar nominee.
- Ossie Davis (1948), Actor and social activist, Emmy- and Golden Globe-award nominee.
- John W. Backus (1950), Developer of Fortran, the first true computer language.
- Anthony Perkins* (1950s), Actor and writer.
- Donald Clarence Judd (1953), Artist.
- Donald Richie (1953), Film Critic.
- Sandy Koufax* (1955), Hall of Fame pitcher for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Mike Gravel (1956), Former US Senator from Alaska and candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Released full Pentagon Papers.
- Pat Boone (1957), Singer and actor.
- Gerard W. Ford (1957), Founder of the Ford Modeling Agency.
- Hunter S. Thompson*, (1958). Writer.
- Mary McFadden (1959), Fashion Designer
- Stewart Rawlings Mott (1959), Lobbyist and Philanthropist
- Edward Klein (1960), Author.
- R. W. Apple (1961), The New York Times associate editor.
- John Tauranac (1963), Chief designer of the New York City subway map of 1979.
- Jehuda Reinharz (1964), President of Brandeis University
- Malcolm Borg (1965), Chairman of North Jersey Media Group (formerly Macromedia, Inc.) owner of The Record (Bergen County)
- Jacques Pepin (1970), French Chef.
- Edward Cecil Harris (1971), Creator of the Harris matrix.
- Peter H. Kostmayer (1971), Former (D) Congressman Pennsylvania.
- Roger Pilon (1971), Constitutional scholar and legal theorist.
- Howard Dean (1975), Postbaccalureate Premedical Program. Former Governor of Vermont and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
- Howard G. Chua-Eoan (1983), News Director, Time.
- Gil Shaham (1990), Violinist.
- Ted Rall (1991), Syndicated cartoonist.
- Sasha Frere-Jones (1993), American writer, music critic, and musician
- Patrick Gaspard* (1994–1997), Obama Administration - White House Political Director
- Josh Waitzkin* (1999), Child chess prodigy and author.
- Princess Firyal of Jordan (1999) Jordanian princess, socialite, and philanthropist
- Philippe Reines (2000), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas (2010), Actor.
- Lena Park (2010), Korean-American singer
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt* (2000-2004), American actor and director
- Robert Sean Leonard*, American actor
- Jason Everman (2013), former member of Nirvana, Soundgarden, the Army Rangers, and Green Berets.
- Planning and Institutional Research | Home
- Universities: Introduction
- Janus: ` studium
- History of the School of General Studies
- Lisa W. Foderaro (January 8, 2010). "From Battlefield to Ivy League, on the G.I. Bill". The New York Times.