International Students

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health is committed to welcoming students from all around the globe to pursue a degree in public health. As Dean Linda P. Fried has stated, human rights, access, and non-discrimination are integral to our field and to population health, and the Mailman School will do all it can to welcome those who seek to be part of this community.

Tests | Financial Aid | Transcripts | International Degrees | Undocumented StudentsWork Requirements | CareersStudent Life | Housing

I’m an international applicant. What tests are required?

Applicants to our programs must submit current official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores if your entire undergraduate education was not completed at an English-language university. Ph.D. applicants must submit TOEFL/IELTS scores if English is not your native language or if your entire undergraduate education was not completed at an English-language university. Only current valid test scores are accepted. Applicants may also take the GRE exam.

What is the minimum required score?

The minimum required TOEFL ibt score is 100 (or 600 paper based). The minimum required IELTS band score is 7.5. For the GRE, applicants should aim to score at or above the 50th percentile. For Biostatistics programs, applicants should aim for a quantitative score above the 70th percentile. 

Where should we send the scores?

TOEFL score reports should be forwarded directly to SOPHAS from the Educational Testing Service using code 5688. IELTS score reports should be sent directly to the School at the below address. Please contact the test center directly where you took the IELTS test and request that your official test score be sent to the address below. An institutional code is not required.

When is the last date I can take the TOEFL or IELTS?

An applicant should plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams in time for the scores to reach the admissions office by the application deadline. It is best to take the test at least one month before the application deadline to ensure that we receive your scores in time.

How long are test scores valid?

TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years. If your scores are no longer valid, you must retake the test (no exceptions).

Are loans and scholarships available to international students?

Many resources exist to help finance your education in addition to those offered by the Mailman School of Public Health, including the Public Health Scholars. International master’s students are eligible for School-based scholarships and fellowships, and are encouraged to complete the steps outlined above in the Scholarships, Fellowships and Scholarships section of our website.

At the doctoral level, international students may be eligible to receive funding from their academic department. Students must contact their respective academic department directly to review these funding opportunities.

All international students are advised to seek financial aid through their country of citizenship, private foundations, and international agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and Rotary International.

See attached pdf for programs providing loans and fellowships to international students and a list of support offered by country.

For more information on financial aid, please utilize the following resources:

What are transcripts? My transcripts are not in English. Can I send them anyway?

Transcripts are official records of a student's school progress in a college or university. They are also called degree certificates, academic records or mark sheets. Some show the degree received and date conferred.

If the institution you attended does not provide an English translation with the official transcript, a certified verbatim English translation of the transcript and diploma must be obtained through a translating service. Columbia has no preferred translating services, but many of our applicants use World Education Services to assist in English translation and verification. Please note: WES charges a fee for this service.

I graduated from a non-U.S. university. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. The Mailman School will consider for admission students who hold or will shortly complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its equivalent from another country. This includes the three‐year bachelor's degrees from India, all European countries, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. If you have questions about whether your degree is acceptable for consideration for admission, contact us for more information.

If I am an undocumented student, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. Undocumented students are eligible for the same need-blind admissions policy as US Citizens, permanent residents and eligible non-citizens, which means we evaluate admissions applications without regard to financial need.

Do I need to have work experience to apply for these programs?

The requirement varies according to department and program. Check the Minimum Work Requirements section of our site for further information.

What is the career trajectory for international students? 

Every international student’s situation varies, and employment/post-graduate outcomes vary based on a wide range of factors. The Office of Career Services conducts a survey upon graduation and 6-7 months post graduation to determine students’ post-graduate outcomes. Because of the timing of the survey, it is not possible to know whether students eventually received H1B visa sponsorship, or whether they were hired under OPT only. In the 2016 survey, F1 students had similar employment outcomes to domestic students. Of 2016 international student graduates, 86% were employed, 9% continuing their studies, 2% not seeking employment, and 3% job seeking by the December following graduation. Career Services does not guarantee specific employment outcomes for any student.

How does the Office of Career Services support international students?

In addition to online resources and ongoing outreach to employers to help students find jobs, the Office of Career Services hosts in-person and online events specifically for international students and alumni. Typically, one a semester would include a guest speaker from the International Students and Scholars Office or an attorney to discuss post-graduate employment and visa options. Career Services does not guarantee specific employment outcomes for any student. 

What is life like for international students?

With students hailing from 56 countries around the world, the Mailman School is deeply committed to an inclusive culture for all members of our community. Read more about the international experience, directly from our students:

Are there any student groups for international students?

Yes. Student organizations at the Mailman School of Public Health serve to support our community, increase cultural awareness, and enhance the academic experience. There’s a large list of student organizations which may be of particular interest to international students, including International Student Organization, Career China Club, Advocates for Asian American Health, and Society for African Health Initiatives.

What should I know about housing? 

Newly admitted students who require either single or couples housing and will begin in the fall may apply for CUMC housing online from April 15 until June 1. Housing notifications for newly admitted students will occur April 25-June 1.

There are four on-campus options, and you can also visit CUMC’s website for housing listings, FAQs, and information about eligibility and deadlines.

Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) assists Columbia students and affiliates in their search for housing in non-Columbia owned buildings located in the metropolitan area. OCHA maintains a website and regular office hours to provide advice, resources, and an online database of available housing. Read more about how one of our students found her way to a clear and bright apartment just a few steps away from campus.

Watch this video for additional information on housing options. 

What university resources are available for international students?

Columbia University offers resources through the International Students and Scholars Office, as well as The Office of University Life