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Columbia Business School

Columbia University


Columbia offers a flexible curriculum that enables students to select electives, though there are no majors or concentrations for the degrees. Since Columbia offers 11 dual-degree programs, students can really take advantage of the university’s academic offerings. Since the incoming class tends to be large (around 750) Columbia’s cluster system segments the class into 11 segments (each of around 65 students) to help students form closer relationships. Each cluster gets further divided into a “learning team” of around five students who support each other during their core classes. A second year student mentors each cluster to provide an additional resource for new students. Students are graded on a pass/fail system, with varying degrees of a pass including high pass, pass, and low pass.


Columbia is located in New York City and offers students access to ample business, cultural, and social experiences. Due to its world-class professors and proximity to Wall Street, Columbia is known for providing students with a strong background in finance and has played a historic role in shaping the way we make evaluations in value-investing. Columbia also boasts close ties to those in the real-estate, retail, media, and marketing industries and provides students with opportunities to collaborate and study exciting companies.


Around 40% of the graduating class pursues finance, unsurprising given Columbia’s proximity to Wall Street. Of these students, a large majority go into investment banking, with others pursuing hedge fund management, investment management, private equity, and venture capital. Columbia’s outstanding real estate offerings within the MBA program produce many students who accept positions in the real estate industry, making it among the top business schools for placing students into this space. Columbia holds a strong reputation in the luxury retail goods arena, and also offers courses studying this space. Therefore, graduates hold distinct advantages when pursuing jobs in this industry.


Due to the cultural and geographical vastness of New York City and the scarcity of on-campus housing, Columbia students often face difficulties forming the cohesive bonds that permeate so many other business school cultures. The school has long been considered competitive and cut-throat, though there have been recent efforts change this. Since New York real estate is so costly, the Columbia facilities are often considered lacking, especially compared to the highly manicured campus and edifices of other universities.


Columbia, unlike most of its counterparts, offers an Early Decision application option. Early Decision is an indicator of a student’s seriousness and commitment to attend a school, so if you’re certain that Columbia is your top choice, there may be some benefit to choosing this application option. An application to Columbia requires three essays, with one optional essay and one required short answer:

  • Short Answer: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)
  • 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: The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)
  • Essay #3:Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words) a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?
  • Optional Essay: Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 words).