Columbia University
#3 Overall Influence#6 Desirability Rank

Columbia University

Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Admissions

What does this school look for?

Annual Applications

40,572

Acceptance

6%

Graduation Rate

95%

Median SAT Score

1505

Median ACT Score

34

Costs

How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)

$50,665

Fees (in-state)

$2,760

Net Cost for 60k Income

$6,864

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings

$115,600

Employed

87%

Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body

28K

Under-Grads

8K

Graduates

20K

The Campus

Where will you be attending?

Location

West 116 St and Broadway, New York NY 10027

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this school influential?

#1 World Rank #1 USA Rank
Social Work
#1 World Rank #1 USA Rank
Anthropology
#2 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#2 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Political Science
#2 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Psychology
#2 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Communications
#3 World Rank #1 USA Rank
Nursing
#3 World Rank #3 USA Rank
Sociology
#3 World Rank #2 USA Rank
History
#3 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Business
#3 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Literature
#4 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Medical
#4 World Rank #2 USA Rank
Philosophy
#4 World Rank #3 USA Rank
Law
#5 World Rank #4 USA Rank
Economics
#5 World Rank #3 USA Rank
Biology
#7 World Rank #4 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#9 World Rank #5 USA Rank
Chemistry
#10 World Rank #5 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#11 World Rank #9 USA Rank
Computer Science
#12 World Rank #7 USA Rank
Mathematics
#12 World Rank #10 USA Rank
Engineering
#14 World Rank #8 USA Rank
Physics

Influential People

Who are Columbia University's Most influential alumni?

Columbia University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Social Work, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice. Columbia University’s most academically influential people include Milton Friedman, Stephen Jay Gould, and Isaac Asimov.

Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman

American economist, statistician, and writer

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Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould

American evolutionary biologist

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Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov

American writer and professor

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Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

First Secretary of the Treasury and Founding Father of the United States

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Margaret Mead
Margaret Mead

American anthropologist

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Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin

American writer

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Theodosius Dobzhansky
Theodosius Dobzhansky

Geneticist and evolutionary biologist

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Ruth Benedict
Ruth Benedict

American anthropologist and folklorologist

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Richard Lewontin
Richard Lewontin

American evolutionary biologist

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Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg

American poet

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Thomas Hunt Morgan
Thomas Hunt Morgan

American biologist

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Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist

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About This School

How does this school stack up?

By James Barham, PhD

Columbia is the eleventh-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. After New Jersey founded its college (now Princeton University) in 1746, New Yorkers, not wishing to be outdone, established their own college just eight years later. Its original name was King’s College.

However, following the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and George Washington’s final victory at Yorktown in 1781, King George III found himself in bad odor throughout the former colonies. So, in 1784 King’s College was formally rechristened in honor of Christopher Columbus. (With that doughty explorer being in equally bad odor today, a second rebranding sometime soon would not surprise us.)

Over the years, Columbia has flourished at several different sites around Manhattan, moving most recently (in 1896) from a Midtown location at 49th Street and Madison Avenue to its present location at 116th and Broadway in the Morningside Heights neighborhood on the Upper West Side.

Under whatever name and wherever situated, with around 100 Nobel laureates Columbia has long been at the forefront of research in both the sciences and the humanities. For example, Thomas Hunt Morgan’s experiments between 1911 and 1928 with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, in his Columbia lab fondly known as “the Fly Room,” laid the foundations for the modern field of population genetics.

In 1938, I.I. Rabi discovery the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) at Columbia. Rabi’s discovery formed the basis for NMR spectroscopy and other techniques for studying the structure and behavior of matter.

In January of 1939, Rabi, Enrico Fermi, and several other physicists produced the first artificial fission reaction—i.e., the first “splitting of the atom”—in the United States. They did this just one month after Lise Meitner and her colleagues in Berlin had achieved this result, in December of 1938.

During World War II, the then – top secret, but now – world famous, Manhattan Project got its name from the fact that much of the early theoretical work on the first atomic bomb took place in Pupin Hall (named after the Serbian-American physicist, M.I. Pupin) and elsewhere on the campus of Columbia University.

In 1953, Charles H. Townes and his Columbia University team created the first working laser device.

In 1966, a team led by Maurice Ewing at Columbia’s Lamont Earth Observatory successfully interpreted magnetic field – readings of the ocean floor at the mid-ocean ridges as evidence of ocean-floor spreading. By implication, these findings also provided the first experimental evidence in support of the global plate tectonics, or “continental drift,” hypothesis advanced by Alfred Wegener in 1910 to explain the apparent mobility of the continents over geological time.

Most recently, in 2019, neuroscientists working at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute for research on mind, brain, and behavior achieved an astonishing breakthrough. For the first time, scientists have been able to produce clear, intelligible, synthetic speech by means of real-time computer processing of human brain activity.

Another history-making scientist who graduated from Columbia, but did his important work elsewhere, is Arno Penzias, co-discoverer in 1964 (with Robert Woodrow Wilson) of the 3° K cosmic background radiation left over from the Big Bang.

As for the humanities and social sciences, Columbia is almost as distinguished in these fields as it is in the natural sciences. A full list of famous alumni would be much too long to reproduce here, but some of the highlights would include:

  • Aviator, Amelia Earhart
  • Philosophers, Robert Nozick & Jerry Fodor
  • Anthropologist, Margaret Mead
  • Economist, Simon Kuznetz
  • Urbanologist, Jane Jacobs
  • Film producer, David O. Selznick
  • Lyricist, Ira Gershwin
  • Violinist, Gil Shaham
  • Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca
  • Writers, Isaac Asimov, J.D. Salinger, & Hunter S. Thompson
  • Actors, Ossie Davis & Anthony Perkins
  • Creator of the original Star Trek television series, Gene Roddenberry