International Students

Application Process for International Students

International Transcripts from institutions outside the U.S. or Canada

If your post-secondary credentials are from an institution outside the U.S. or Canada, the Office of Enrollment Management requires you to submit all post-secondary credentials — undergraduate and graduate — to World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a third party verification agency for a course-by-course evaluation.

Instructions for using WES

WES must complete a course-by-course evaluation of all post-secondary credentials. Please select the WES basic course-by-course evaluation (with GPA and course-levels) and request that WES send your evaluation to Columbia University School of Professional Studies (formerly known as School of Continuing Education.) The evaluation provided to the School of Professional Studies becomes an official academic record and sole property of the School of Professional Studies upon its receipt.

WES evaluations will be reviewed by School of Professional Studies administrators and the determination of degree equivalency to U.S. degrees is at the discretion of the School of Professional Studies.

English Language Proficiency

Students whose native language is not English must include proof of English proficiency.

Applicants taking the TOEFL must have a score of at least 100 on the Internet-based version (600 paper based). Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of 7.0 or higher. Applicants receiving scores below the posted minimums may be advised to apply directly to the American Language Program.

Applicants whose native language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language by submitting official scores from either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The requirement is only waived if:

  • The applicant has completed all coursework for and earned their undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in a country where English is the sole official language. Please note that graduate level work does not exempt applicants from meeting this requirement.
  • The applicant has completed at least two years at an undergraduate U.S. institution or at an institution in a country where the sole official language is English and earned the undergraduate (or Bachelor’s) degree at that institution.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit unofficial documents through the online application system at the time of application. Candidates offered admission will later be required to supply official scores sent directly from either TOEFL or IELTS prior to enrollment for verification before the admission offer is considered official. (Use school code 2594 to report TOEFL scores.)

Visa Requirements

International students must fulfill visa requirements.

Since the Sustainability Science program offers a full-time study option, international students enrolled in a full-time course load — registered for at least 12 points of credit-bearing courses per semester — are eligible for a student visa.

Eligible international students who wish to apply for a student visa should do so immediately after they have received their letter of admission to Columbia University. This should be done by completing the Application for Visa Certificate (AVC). Applicants should be aware that after admission into a program it may take up to four weeks to receive the documents needed from Columbia to obtain a student visa, so please plan accordingly.

International students who require a student visa to study at Columbia are required to pay an International Services fee.

Online applications for visa certificates are available here. While you are not permitted to submit the application until you have gained admission, we strongly encourage you to read the instructional information provided.

For questions about individual cases, please contact: International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO): 212-854-3587 or email.

Begin the Visa Process (Admitted Students Only)

Complete and submit the application for the form I-20 to the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). Please note that this is only required of international students requiring a student (F-1) visa. If you are not a United States citizen or permanent resident, you must be a full-time student at Columbia in order to be eligible for a student (F-1) visa. If you have questions about the visa application process you can email the ISSO at newintlstudent@columbia.edu.

Fee payment must accompany the online application

New Student Webinar Series (Admitted Students Only) The School of Professional Studies produces a webinar series to address many of the questions you may have, and we invite you to view the webinars below, to learn about important topics.

Work Eligibility

On-Campus Work Eligibility

Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are allowed to be paid for work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year when classes are in session, and unlimited hours during any recess periods, such as winter break or summer vacation.

On-campus employment is work done for and paid by Columbia University. This also includes work for a commercial firm on the campus if it provides direct services to all Columbia students.

Eligibility to Work Upon Graduation

M.S. in Sustainability Science graduates who hold an F-1 student visa may gain experience in their field of study by applying for off-campus work authorization in United States for a period of up to three years, as part of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.

M.S in Sustainability Science graduates are able to request a “STEM OPT extension,” or and “Optional Practical Training extension” for an additional 24 months. Please contact the Columbia International Student and Scholars Office for more information about eligibility requirements and how to apply.