Columbia University School of General Studies
|Motto||Lux in Tenebris Lucet|
Motto in English
|The light that shines in the darkness|
|Students||2,603 (Fall 2019)|
408 Lewisohn Hall,
New York City,
|Campus||Morningside Heights Campus,|
urban, 36 acres (0.15 km2; 0.056 sq mi)
|Affiliations||Albert A. List College (Jewish Theological Seminary of America), Sciences Po, Trinity College Dublin, Tel Aviv University, and City University of Hong Kong|
The School of General Studies, Columbia University (GS) is a liberal arts college and one of the undergraduate colleges of Columbia University, situated on the university's main campus in Morningside Heights, New York City. GS is known primarily for its traditional B.A. degree program for non-traditional students, such as those who have had an academic break of at least one year or are pursuing dual-degrees. GS students make up almost 30% of the Columbia undergraduate population (including Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and GS).
GS offers dual-degree programs with several leading universities around the world. It offers dual degrees with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Sciences Po in France, Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and City University of Hong Kong. It also offers the BA/MA Option with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Combined Plan and the MS Express program with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and five-year joint degrees with the School of International and Public Affairs. GS offers the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program, the oldest and largest program of its kind in the United States.
GS's evolutionary ancestor is the now-defunct, all-male Seth Low College, named for former Brooklyn mayor and President of Columbia Seth Low. It was established in Downtown Brooklyn in 1928 to help alleviate the flood of Jewish applicants to Columbia College. The entrance requirements for Seth Low Junior College were reportedly the same as those enforced in Columbia College. Following completion of the two-year program, graduates could complete their undergraduate degrees at the University's professional schools, such as the School of Law, Business School, or School of Engineering and Applied Science (all of which conferred terminal bachelor's degrees at the time) or earn B.S. degrees in the liberal arts as University Undergraduates.
Seth Low Junior College was closed in 1938 due to the adverse economic effects of the Great Depression and concomitant popularity of the tuition-free Brooklyn College in 1930. Henceforth, its remaining students were absorbed into the Morningside Heights campus as students in the University Undergraduate program, which was established by Nicholas Murray Butler in 1904.
University Extension was responsible for the founding of three schools at Columbia Business School, the School of General Studies and the School of Dental and Oral Surgery (now the College of Dental Medicine). The School of Continuing Education (now the School of Professional Studies), a separate school was later established to reprise University Extension's former role.
The Establishment of the School of General Studies
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." Columbia University pioneered the use of the term "General Studies" when naming the college, adapting the medieval term for universities, "Studium Generale." Thus, the School of General Studies bears no semblance to general studies or extension studies programs at other universities in the United States. In December 1968, the University Council permitted GS to grant the B.A. degree instead of the B.S. degree, making it only one of two colleges at Columbia offering the B.A. degree.
Merging of Columbia College and School of General Studies Faculties
In 1991, the Columbia College (CC), School of General Studies (GS), and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) faculties were merged into the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, which resulted in the complete academic integration between the School of General Studies and Columbia College. As a result, both GS and CC students receive B.A. degrees conferred by the Trustees of Columbia University through the Faculty of Art & Sciences, and GS is recognized as an official liberal arts college at Columbia University.
GS students make up almost 30% of the Columbia undergraduate population and in 2013 were reported as consistently collectively earning the highest average GPA among undergraduates at Columbia University. Approximately 20% of GS students are part-time students who have significant, full-time work commitments in addition to their academic responsibilities. Numerous GS students have gone on to win prestigious fellowships, including the Rhodes Scholarship, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and the Fulbright Scholarship.
The School of General Studies confers the degree of Bachelor of Arts in more than 70 majors. All GS students are required to complete the Core Curriculum, which includes University Writing, Literature/Humanities, Contemporary Civilization/Social Science, Art Humanities, Music Humanities, Global Core, Quantitative Reasoning, Science, and Foreign Language.
GS offers dual degree programs with Sciences Po, the City University of Hong Kong, Trinity College Dublin (University of Dublin) in Ireland, and List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary. It also offers dual degree programs with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of International and Public Affairs, and Columbia Business School. GS has a Post-baccalaureate Premedical Program, the oldest program of its kind.
Admission to Columbia GS is highly competitive, with the estimated acceptance rate of 33-35%, and it requires an online application, official high school (or GED) transcripts, SAT or ACT test scores within the past eight years or a score on the General Studies Admissions Examination, an essay of 1,500-2,000 words, and two recommendation letters. Interviews are conducted in person and over phone.
Prospective Columbia undergraduates who have had a break of a year or more in their education, have already completed an undergraduate degree (and intend to pursue studies in a different discipline), or are pursuing dual undergraduate degrees are considered non-traditional and eligible to apply to GS. Applicants in extenuating circumstances which preclude them from attending Columbia College full-time are also eligible. GS students have the option to attend part- or full-time.
Dual degree programs
Joint Program with the Jewish Theological Seminary – Albert A. List College
Since 1954, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) and the School of General Studies have offered a joint degree program leading to a B.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from List College. Professor Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Dean of the School of General Studies, is an alumna of the Joint Program.
Dual BA with Sciences Po Paris
The Dual BA Program is a unique program in which undergraduate students earn two Bachelor of Arts degrees in four years from both Columbia University and Sciences Po, one of the most prestigious universities in France and Europe. This program is geared towards traditionally-aged applicants in high school, and is one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the nation.
Students spend two years at one of three Sciences Po campuses in France (Le Havre, Menton, or Reims), each of which is devoted to a particular region of the world. At Sciences Po, undergraduates can pursue majors in political science, economics, law, finance, history, among others. After two years at Sciences Po, students matriculate at Columbia University, where they complete the Core Curriculum and one of over 70 majors offered at Columbia. Graduates of the program are guaranteed admission to a Sciences Po graduate program.
Joint Bachelor's Degree with City University of Hong Kong
This program is open to top-ranked undergraduates enrolled at the City University of Hong Kong and allows graduates to receive two bachelor's degrees from the City University and Columbia in four years. Undergraduates spend their first two years at the City University and their final two years at Columbia, where they complete the Core Curriculum and choose one of 70 majors offered at Columbia.
Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin
The Dual Bachelor's Degree Program with Trinity College Dublin is a unique program in which undergraduate students earn two Bachelor of Arts degrees in four years from both Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin (University of Dublin). Trinity College Dublin is the oldest university in Ireland and is widely considered to be its most prestigious institution. This program is geared towards traditionally-aged applicants in high school.
Tel Aviv University and Columbia University Dual Degree Program
The Tel Aviv Columbia Dual Degree Program allows undergraduates to earn two bachelor's degrees over the course of four years. Students spend the first two years of their undergraduate careers at Tel Aviv and then spend their final two years at Columbia while completing the Core Curriculum and major. Tel Aviv University is considered to be one of Israel's leading and most prestigious institutions. This program is geared towards traditionally-aged applicants in high school. 
Combined Plan with the School of Engineering and Applied Science
GS students are eligible for competitive admission to the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) through the Columbia Combined Plan program, under the condition that they complete the necessary pre-engineering courses with a high GPA and obtain recommendations from 3 instructors. Students in the program receive a B.A. in a liberal arts discipline from GS and a B.S. in an engineering discipline from SEAS. Students may apply for the Combined Plan program in their junior (3-2 program) or senior (4-2) year of undergraduate study.
An asterisk (*) indicates an alumnus who did not graduate.
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Film and entertainment
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- Trish Regan (2000), Fox Business Network anchor
- Steve Hofstetter (2002), comedian, host, and executive producer of "Laughs" on Fox television stations
- Erik Courtney (2000) Bravo TV personality Newlyweds: The First Year
- Mark Rotella (1992), senior editor at Publishers Weekly
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- Howard G. Chua-Eoan (1983), News Director, Time
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- Kimberly Navarro (2004), ice dancer, 2008 & 2009 U.S. bronze medalist and 2008 Four Continents bronze medalist.
- Trent Dimas (2002), Olympic champion gymnast
- Gillian Wachsman (1994), former skater; 1985 NHK Trophy champion and 1986 U.S. national champion
- Sandy Koufax* (1955), Hall of Fame pitcher for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers
- Troy Murphy (2015), former NBA player
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- Silvia Hugec (2023), figure skater and Slovak national champion
- Gerard W. Ford (1957), Founder of the Ford Modeling Agency.
- Mary McFadden (1959), Fashion Designer
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- Steve Brozak (1982), investment banker, retired marine
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- Gabby Gabreski (1949), American flying ace during World War II and the Korean War; headed the Long Island Rail Road
- Farahnaz Pahlavi (1986), eldest daughter of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, last Shah of Iran
- "School of General Studies".
- "BA/MA Option".
- "Combined Plan Program Experience".
- "SEAS MS Express Program".
- "Columbia Dual Degree Programs".
- "Notable Alumni".
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