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Columbia Business School - Full-Time MBA

Columbia Full-Time MBA Program Structure

The Columbia full-time MBA program is intended to be completed across two years of study. The academic calendar is divided into three 12-week terms: the fall term begins late August to early September, and after a six-week break between terms, spring term commences in early-mid January. Those who enter in August typically complete an 8 to 12-week internship in the summer between the first and second years and graduate in the spring of the second year, whereas a smaller group of “J-Term” students enter in January and complete their MBA throughout four consecutive terms, taking courses throughout the summer and graduating with their August-entry peers the following spring. These summer courses begin in late May and conclude with exams in mid-August.


The Columbia full-time MBA program requires a total of 60 credits that consist of an 18-credit core curriculum and a minimum of 42 elective credits. At the beginning of the program, students are divided into clusters, groups of 60 or so peers who take most of the first-year core courses together. Each cluster is then broken into five- to six-person learning teams who work together on class projects. Clusters and learning teams are designed to reflect the diversity of the class as a whole and to help students form closer relationships with each other.

The core curriculum consists of two full courses and eight half courses. These full courses are typically worth three credits each, whereas students earn 1.5 credits for half courses. Beginning in the second term, students choose from over 200 elective offerings to complete the rest of the curriculum. Students may assemble their own elective sequences, but can also refer to lists that the school provides of recommended courses for common career paths such as entrepreneurship, healthcare, marketing, media, real estate, value investing, and social enterprise.

Full-Time MBA Rankings

• U.S. News & World Report: 6 (tie)
• Bloomberg: 9
• Forbes: 7 (tie)
Financial Times: 8
The Economist: 15

Class Profile

There are currently 1,130 students enrolled in the Columbia full-time MBA program from a pool of 6,971 total applicants, totaling a 16 percent acceptance rate. The January Entry class of 2021 featured 211 students, while the August Entry 571 students. The average GMAT score was 726, with the class’ undergraduate GPA was 3.6.

Students, on average, join the program with five years of previous work experience, are 38 percent female, and are 28-years old. 40 percent of the student body was female, while 44 percent of students were international.

The top undergraduate degree earners included Business, Economics, Engineering, and Social Sciences.  The top previous industries of current students included Financial Services, Consulting, Marketing/Media, and Technology.

Career Statistics

About 94 percent of the most recent graduating class featured job offers within three months of graduation with a 90 percent acceptance rate. The median base salary of graduates is $150,000, with an average signing bonus of $30,000. Also, 71 percent of employment opportunities were school facilitated.

Tuition, Scholarships, and Financial Aid

The tuition cost for the Columbia Business School full-time MBA is approximately $77,376 for first-year students. However, the total cost of attendance is $117,633 for the first year, which accounts for additional fees associated with room and board, books and supplies, health services and insurance, and personal expenses.

All students who complete their applications by the merit fellowship consideration deadline and indicate that they would like to be considered for fellowships are eligible for merit-based fellowships that are granted on the basis of academic excellence, geographic and personal background, and professional experience. There are also a number of corporate-sponsored fellowships that provide opportunities for summer and post-MBA employment. In addition, CBS offers partial-tuition, need-based scholarships to both domestic and international candidates. Financial aid applications for August-entry students are due by January 22 or three weeks after a student is admitted, whichever date is later, and applications for January-entry students are due by October 15 or three weeks from the date of admission, whichever is later. These scholarship decisions are considered in the order in which they are received, so admitted students seeking need-based financial assistance should apply as soon as possible.

CBS encourages U.S. citizens and permanent residents to apply for Federal Direct Stafford Loans or Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans, which are available to students enrolled full or half time who maintain satisfactory academic progress. Domestic students can also apply for Columbia University institutional loans or for private, credit-based loans. The school offers private, credit-based loans to international students with a U.S. cosigner.


Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree. While there is no specific requirement for work experience, the majority of the class has at least one year of full-time work experience.

Applicants must submit transcripts from each college or university they have attended, a GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment score, two letters of recommendation, a $250 application fee, three essays, and a response to a short-answer question. International applicants who do not have a degree from an institution in which all instruction is conducted in English are required to submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE). A select group of applicants may also be invited to interview with alumni or current students, often in the applicant’s geographic area.

Columbia Full-Time MBA 2020-2021 Essay Topics

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2: Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you.  (250 words)

August 2022 Entry Application Deadlines

Early Decision October 6, 2021
Merit Fellowship January 5, 2022
Regular Decision April 8, 2022

January 2022 Entry Application Deadline

Regular Decision October 6, 2021


What is the average GMAT score for the Columbia Full-Time MBA?

The average GMAT score for the Columbia School of Business Full-Time MBA is 726.

What is the average first-year tuition cost for the Columbia Full-Time MBA?

The average first-year tuition cost for the Columbia Full-Time MBA is $77,376.

What is the average total first-year cost of attendance for the Columbia Full-Time MBA?

The total cost of attendance for the Columbia Full-Time MBA is $117,633.

What tests are accepted for the Columbia School of Business Full-Time MBA?

The GMAT, GRE and Executive Assessment are accepted for admissions to the Columbia School of Business Full-Time MBA.

Working on your Columbia University full-time MBA application? Check out the Clear Admit CBS Essay Topic Analysis for advice on how to approach your essays.

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