Applying to Columbia University GSAPP

Firstly, be sure to check out the Admissions page for Columbia GSAPP, which covers the application process, including the steps, deadlines, and components of your application. You may also want to learn more about Columbia University. For Ph.D. candidates, also refer to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which partners with programs to ensure a great and productive experience during graduate school.

The Columbia Center for Career Education has wonderful resources that further frame what is below. I encourage you to peruse their resources as you begin to shape your application, particularly with regard to your personal statement and CV/resume.

Below you’ll find my thoughts on the admissions process. While I’m happy to answer all of your questions about graduate studies and/or our program, in particular, these tidbits may help reduce the stress of applying.

For all students:

  • Our program does not require that you gain the support of a faculty member before your admittance, nor do you need a supervisor’s approval before applying.

  • Do our interests align? If so, I’m happy to chat with all prospective students interested in understanding how to engage in topics at GSAPP, Columbia, or elsewhere. Be ready to share your thinking, regardless of how thoroughly formed they are.

  • What should you focus on in your application? In every program I have been part of, we have considered the application holistically‚Äďacademic record, work or research experience, CV/resume, statement, etc.

    Ann Forsyth has a great blog post on Planetizen about your statement of purpose (or that section on your admissions essay). My alma mater emphasizes similar tips and tricks concerning writing your essay. For Ph.D. applicants, refer to the link below, as well. Presenting your interests to others clearly (and articulating them for yourself) is among one of the most useful things any person interested in graduate education can do!

For PhD Applicants:

  • Don’t take your interest in a PhD lightly! What is it you want to do with this degree? Are you interested in teaching and/or research? If your interests lie in professional practice without a focus on research, a PhD might not be the right degree for you. Remember that while this advanced study can be incredibly rewarding, it can be stressful and demanding and requires a lot of individual motivation to answer those questions you have been thinking about so passionately.

  • Remember that it’s a two-way street: the program should be right for you as much as you for the program! Consider faculty interests, research support, and courses available in your search for the right program. Sometimes our program isn’t the right one for you!

  • I recommend using your personal statement as a chance to reflect on your interests and how they may be translated toward your course of study and research during a PhD. In addition to the links above, the Chronicle of Higher Education has a great write-up about what your personal statement should include.

  • My colleague recommends the book Getting What you Came For by Robert Peters, PhD for excellent advice for navigating a Ph.D. from admissions to graduation. I also found Karen L. Kelsky, PhD’s The Professor is In as a useful resource for my own navigation of the strange world of doctoral studies.