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Last updated on Feb 26, 2020

Columbia University Online Programs Review

A traditional school with added online programs for more choice and flexibility ​
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Columbia University

  • Best fit for graduate and certificate students
  • 54 online programs and 74 degrees/certificates available
  • No online undergraduate programs
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Columbia University’s online programs are primarily designed to provide students with more schedule choices when completing certificates, certifications, and undergraduate or postgraduate degrees. Columbia’s degrees offered through online programs are equal to those earned by students studying on campus.

Unfortunately, many disciplines offering online classes don’t provide online-only pathways. Instead, they use their online courses to create hybrid programs, allowing you to take some courses from your home and the rest at Columbia University’s Upper West Side campus in Manhattan.

One exception is the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Columbia Video Network (CVN) branch. The engineering school is a part of Columbia Engineering and has 100% online graduate engineering degree programs. CVN offers certificates and degrees in the fields of biomedical, computer science, mechanical engineering, and more. The other exception is The Columbia School of Social Work, which is the only Ivy League school to offer an MSW degree entirely online.

Quick Facts

  • Number of online programs available: 54
  • Number of degrees/certificates available: 74
  • Price/cost information: Varies by program
  • Overall acceptance rate: Unspecified
  • Overall graduation rate: Unspecified

Columbia University’s Online Program

Areas of Study Certifications Undergraduate Postgraduate
Art and Design
Health and Nursing N/A N/A
Professional Studies
Social Sciences

*Information accurate as of 02/26/2020.


Columbia University offers two possible business certificates for people seeking to earn their certificate completely online: a Professional Certificate in Corporate Finance with edX and an International Certificate in Corporate Finance with FIRST FINANCE Institute. While you can take one of the 21 other online business classes available, Columbia only accepts a limited number of credits from those programs toward its Certificate in Business Excellence and its Certificates in Business Specialty (Management, Finance, Marketing, Social Enterprise, and Strategy).


Columbia Engineering’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science has an extensive range of fully online certifications and graduate degree programs under its Columbia Video Network (CVN) division. Any degrees you earn through CVN are the same as those obtained by students studying at Columbia University’s campus. The M.S. in Engineering program includes 10 courses. CVN has won various awards, including U.S. News’s 2019 “Best Online Programs for Grad Engineering” and “Best Online Programs for Veterans in Grad Engineering.”

Online certificates or master’s degrees are available in several fields of study, including applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, computer science, chemical engineering, and more.

Health and Nursing

Columbia School of Professional Studies offers an online Certification of Professional Achievement in Narrative Medicine. This non-degree course helps health care professionals develop their narrative understanding skills and values to serve patients better. Students must pay an additional $500 nonrefundable fee to secure a place in the program after they receive their acceptance letter. Students who complete the course gain six elective credits, which are transferable to the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine.


The Columbia Executive LL.M. in Global Business Law is a hybrid program that advances your career while providing a deeper understanding of U.S. business law and how essential legal concepts apply to an international landscape. It’s designed for lawyers in international practice with approximately five years of experience. Students take two online classes in the spring, before their residency period, and then another during the fall semester. During their summer residency, students take four courses and the required Colloquium on campus. Columbia University currently offers no other online law programs.

Professional Studies

The School of Professional Studies at Columbia University has several certifications and master’s programs in a range of fields. The school “advances knowledge with purpose to move careers, communities, and markets forward.”

Some of the certificates or certifications you can earn are a Business Certificate, Enterprise Risk Management Certificate of Professional Achievement (CPA), and Narrative Medicine CPA. Master’s degrees in online or hybrid formats include applied analytics, bioethics, enterprise risk management, and nonprofit management.


The only online science program Columbia University offers is an M.A. program from the Department of Statistics. It’s a two-year hybrid program with a diploma identical to that of a traditional student. The degree has full-time and part-time options, but only the first four classes are online. Full-time students take these classes their first fall semester, and from there, you take all classes on campus. Although students must be virtually present for quizzes and exams, virtual class attendance policies vary by instructor.

Columbia University Financial Aid: How Do I Pay for My Degree?

Columbia University has various financial aid offices, depending on which school you attend. Undergraduate schools include Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, School of General Studies, Morningside Schools, and Medical Center schools. Graduate students in architecture, arts, professional studies, and engineering should see the Office of Student Financial Planning for financial aid counseling.

You can also visit a school’s financial aid web page to learn more about:

  • Types of financial aid offered
  • Outside funding options
  • FAFSA application deadline dates
  • Contact information for that school’s financial aid office

Columbia University Admissions: What Do I Need to Know Before Applying?

Each graduate and undergraduate school within Columbia University has its own admissions office, application requirements and procedures, and deadlines. Processes and admission requirements may also differ between first-year admissions, transfers, international students, nontraditional students, and others.

Columbia Engineering’s graduate division for the Columbia Video Network, for example, requires three recommendation letters, GRE test scores, TOEFL or IELTS test scores (if applicable), transcripts from all your post-secondary colleges or universities, a personal statement, resume, or curriculum vitae, a $150 nonrefundable application fee, and a Transfer Credits Form (if applicable).

Columbia University FAQ

The Bottom Line

Columbia University remains a traditional school that’s still exploring and expanding its online course offerings, as indicated by limited information available about its digital education programs at Columbia’s various schools. As of now, only a handful of Columbia University’s schools have online programs. That selection is further limited with no online undergraduate programs and several master’s degrees with only a hybrid, online, and on-campus experience.

One exception is Columbia’s School of Social Work and Columbia Engineering’s Columbia Video Network, which both offer fully online master’s degrees or certificate programs. Due to Columbia University’s overall limited offerings, it’s most likely the best fit for graduate and certificate students near their New York City campus looking to add some flexibility to their schedule.

About the Authors

The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.