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Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School (CBS) is part of Columbia University’s campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City.  CBS provides a full-time, two-year MBA program that gives students the option of enrolling in either August or January, as well as an Executive MBA Program.  Columbia MBA students enjoy the school’s location in New York City, one of the U.S.’s primary financial centers.  They also receive especially strong training in finance, based in part on such customized, practical programs as the rigorous Value Investing Program for second-year students.

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CBS employs about 150 full-time faculty members to teach students across eight academic divisions and 26 special programs, centers and institutes.  Columbia’s Executives in Residence features retired industry leaders elected to one-year teaching terms at CBS. Adjunct professors also lead a selection of classes each year.


Columbia Business School’s MBA program exposes students to a versatile range of lecture-, case- and project-based learning and offers students a high level of flexibility. Admitted students are divided into clusters of 65 to 70 people that take most of their core classes together in their first year. Each cluster is further sectioned into learning teams of about five students, who tackle many core course assignments as a group.

Classes at CBS follow a semester system, with three semesters—Spring, Summer and Fall—in each academic year. Following a weeklong orientation period for first-year students matriculating in the fall, Fall Semester courses begin in late August and run through mid-December. There is then another orientation in early January for students who choose the “J-Term” option that allows them to enter the MBA program in Spring Semester. Spring courses begin for all MBA students in late January and last until mid-May. During Summer Semester, which runs from late May to mid-August, students who entered in the fall complete internships while J-Term students take classes. All students then complete the following Fall and Spring Semesters together, with commencement taking place in mid-May. Columbia does not offer any kind of pre-term academic refresher for incoming students, but instead incorporates opportunities for students to get up to speed on key business areas during orientation.

CBS’s full-term courses span a semester and are worth three credits apiece, while half-term courses are correspondingly worth 1.5 credits each. The full-time MBA program requires students to earn 60 credits in order to graduate, a condition students generally fulfill by undertaking 15 credits each semester. Columbia provides students with a structured core curriculum that includes two full-term courses and eight half-term courses, though students may choose three half-term courses from a “flex-core” section of Columbia’s offerings.

The school’s schedule is structured so that students complete their core curriculum across their first two semesters. Prior to the start of each semester, CBS offers exemption exams that allow students who pass to trade their core courses for electives. All students are given three slots for full-term electives beginning in their second semester. The second year of the MBA consists entirely of electives.

While students do not have the option of selecting a major at CBS, MBA students can choose to focus their studies in one of 14 predetermined areas, such as accounting, leadership and ethics, or finance and economics. One notable example of the school’s numerous special programs is the Master Classes, which are industry-focused electives that give second-year students firsthand experience in evaluating real-world problems alongside industry leaders.  Students can also study abroad through Global Study Tours or CBS’s Chazen Global Immersion Program, which gives second-year students the chance to spend a semester studying at one of 22 international partner programs or the Haas School of Business in California.

Other MBA Degree Options

Aside from the full-time MBA program, CBS offers an Executive MBA Program in New York, an EMBA-Global Americas and Europe program with London Business School, and an EMBA-Global Asia program with London Business School and the University of Hong Kong. Full-time MBA students may also pursue one of 11 dual-degree tracks, including the three-year JD/MBA program through CBS and Columbia Law School.

Career-focused Paths

  • Accounting
  • Decision, Risk, and Operations
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management
  • Leadership and Ethics
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Media and Technology
  • Private Equity
  • Real Estate
  • Retail and Luxury Goods
  • Social Enterprise
  • Value Investing

Degree Offerings at Columbia

Full-time MBA Program

Executive MBA Programs
New York, Americas, Europe, Asia

Dual Degrees
Architecture, Dental and Oral Surgery, Engineering and Applied Science, International and Public Affairs, Journalism, Law, Nursing, Physicians and Surgeons, Public Health, Social Work

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Clubs, Conferences & Competitions

More than 100 student organizations contribute to CBS’s engaged extracurricular community.  CBS builds “Club Time” into students’ schedules twice weekly to facilitate deeper involvement with these social, professional and affinity- and service-oriented student groups.  Student clubs organize events and projects ranging from happy hours and galas to the Harlem Tutorial Program.  CBS students are also afforded opportunities for involvement in student government through organizations such as the Bernstein Leadership and Ethics Board, the Career Fellows and the Honor Board.  In addition, MBA students spearhead many of CBS’s conferences.  Some examples include the Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference, the Social Enterprise Conference, the Black Business Students Association Annual Conference, and the Columbia Women in Business Conference.

CBS provides students with further avenues to practically hone their business skills through competitions.  For example, the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization runs the yearly Shark Tank Competition that tests the entrepreneurial creativity and viability of students’ business plans.  Other competitions open to CBS students include international and regional competitions such as the American Bankruptcy Institute Corporate Restructuring Competition.

Campus Spaces

Uris Hall is one of CBS’s key buildings and has its origins in Columbia University’s move to the Morningside campus in the late 1800s, though it has been renovated many times since its original construction; it now houses many faculty and administrative offices.  Nearby Warren Hall also houses CBS’s main facilities.  Since September 2008, construction has been underway for a new Manhattanville campus that will contribute two new buildings to CBS, along with bolstered connections between the school and the broader Columbia community.  While buildings began to open in the spring of 2017, the business school is expected to occupy space by 2021. Columbia offers limited University-owned apartments, and CBS reports that many students choose to independently find off-campus housing.

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Career Services

The CBS Career Management Center equips MBA students with many resources to secure employment after business school. Students can undertake one-on-one advising sessions or attend workshops, clinics, seminars and panels organized by the center. Furthermore, the newly established Columbia Career Network connects students with alumni mentors with shared interests and hosts both on- and off-campus events to engage alumni with current CBS students. Representatives of corporations are also brought to campus to give presentations on their firms, take part in panel discussions and recruit CBS students for post-MBA roles. At least 400 firms are represented each year by recruiters. On-campus interviews for full-time time positions begin in October, while those for summer internships begin in January.

Career Statistics

Ninety-three percent of the Class of 2017 had received job offers and 89% had accepted a position by three months after graduation, a figure that does not include the percentage of students starting a new business or returning to their previous employers.  The median starting salary reported for graduates was $125,000 in a range from $40,000 to $250,000.  Approximately 34% of the class joined the financial services industry, with about 14% of graduates taking roles in investment banking.  Consulting employed the next highest percentage of graduates by industry at roughly 33% percent, followed by media and non-health technology at just under 16%.  Approximately 4% of the class chose positions in real estate.

Of 2017 graduates, about 30% selected financial services roles and 37% accepted consulting roles.  Marketing and management functions were undertaken by approximately 8% of graduates each.

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The Class Profile

CBS accepted just over 16% of applicants to the Class of 2019, and 753 students ultimately entered the program.  Eighty percent of students in the class were 25 to 31 years old at the time of matriculation, and 2017 entrants reported on average a GMAT score of 724 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.5.  Students also averaged five years of prior work experience, and 99% had at least one year of full-time work experience.  Women make up 41% of the Class of 2019, and 34% of students identify as U.S. minorities.  Forty-three percent of students are international citizens.  Those with professional backgrounds in financial services constitute 29% of the class, making financial services the most represented industry, while 22% of the Class of 2019 was previously in the consulting industry.  As undergraduates, 32% of the class majored in social sciences, while 32% pursued degrees in business and 17% studied engineering.

Application Procedures

Prospective CBS students can apply either early decision or on a rolling basis, with a final application deadline in April. J-Term applicants must apply by early October; those targeting consideration for merit fellowships should apply by January. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and submit transcripts from each academic institution attended, and beginning in the 2013-2014 admissions cycle, GPAs should be reported in whichever scale is used on candidates’ transcripts. Applicants must also submit their GMAT or GRE scores, TOEFL or PTE scores if applicable, essays, two recommendation letters, a résumé, a CBS application form and an application fee of $250. Interviews are only available by invitation from CBS and can be issued at any time following the Admissions Office’s receipt of materials. Interviews are usually conducted near an applicant’s location by an alumnus or offered via phone with a current MBA student.

Application Checklist

  • GPA
  • GMAT/GRE/TOEFL score(s)
  • Transcripts
  • Résumé
  • Essays
  • Recommendations
  • Application Fee
  • Interview

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Tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year totals $74,400.  The cost of the year, however, is placed at $110,914 for first-years to account for additional costs such as other mandatory fees, healthcare, books and supplies, room and board, and personal expenses.  CBS also notes that students could encounter additional costs due to study tours and optional activity fees.  The school offers resources for non-U.S. citizens needing special authorization for billing through the International Students and Scholars Office, and the Student Financial Services Office offers loan information for U.S. and international students.  Accepted students are automatically considered for fellowships—only first-years entering in August are eligible for need-based fellowships that year—and a separate application is required for students seeking need- or merit-based scholarships.

Program Tuition 2018 – 2019

  • Tuition $74,400
  • Mandatory fees $3,693
  • Health services and insurance  $4,480
  • Books and supplies $900
  • Room and board $21,375
  • Personal expenses  $6,066
  • Total first-year budget $110,914

  Get all of this info to read on the go! Download the Columbia Business School School Snapshot PDF.

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