Columbia University School of General Studies

Columbia University History

One of the world’s leading research centers, Columbia University in the City of New York offers a distinctive and distinguished learning environment. Columbia seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time through its mission of educating students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

School of General Studies History

Founded in 1947, in large part to meet the needs of veterans returning from World War II, the Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) is the undergraduate, liberal arts college at Columbia created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds seeking a rigorous, traditional, education at a premier Ivy League institution.

At GS, nontraditional students include students who, for personal or professional reasons, have interrupted their educations for at least a year or more, have never attended college before or can only attend part-time, and are enrolled in the International Dual Degree Programs, such as the Joint Program with the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program with City University of Hong Kong, the Dual BA Program with Sciences Po, the Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin, or the Dual Degree Program with Tel Aviv University. GS students are fully integrated into the academic and campus community at Columbia, taking the same courses, with the same professors, as all other students in Columbia’s undergraduate colleges.

GS Enrollment

Note: The following enrollment statistics are based on 2019-2020 official reporting.

  • More than 2,600 undergraduate students
  • 70% full-time; 30% part-time
  • 27% of American students are Asian American, African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American
  • 21% international students (non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident)
  • Average age: 28

Tuition and Financial Aid

Note: The following tuition and financial aid statistics are effective for the 2022-2023 academic year.

  • $2,014 per point; for more information see Tuition and Fees
  • $27,860 estimated living and personal expenses, including room and board, books, commuting costs, and miscellaneous expenses
  • Approximately 70 percent of students receive some form of need-based financial aid and/or merit scholarship

Academic Program

  • GS students must fulfill core requirements in science, literature, art, music, humanities, social sciences, quantitative reasoning, and global studies, and demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.
  • GS students take the same classes, with the same professors, as students in Columbia's other undergraduate colleges.
  • GS is the historical home to dual-degree programs at Columbia University—the school was the first undergraduate college at Columbia University to offer joint programs with other universities
  • More than 80 majors available
  • More than 1,500 courses offered every year

Student Life


  • 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio
  • 79 Nobel Laureates are affiliated with Columbia

University Resources

  • 13 Graduate and Professional Schools, 3 Undergraduate Schools, 4 Affiliated Institutions
  • More than 31,000 students enrolled
  • 22 Libraries
  • More than 70 centers and institutes for specialized research
  • Endowment of more than $9 billion
  • Galleries, theaters, performance spaces, and art and architecture studios
  • Extensive network of support services

After Graduation

  • More than 70 percent of GS graduates go on to earn advanced degrees.
  • More than 300 employers recruit on campus each year and approximately 1,000 advertise employment opportunities to our students.
  • Students have access to a global network of more than 250,000 alumni throughout the U.S. and in 180 foreign countries.