Community Scholars FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  • You must be a Borough of Manhattan resident living north of 96th Street
  • You cannot have a current affiliation with Columbia University
  • You must have a High School Diploma, GED, or equivalent.

The Columbia Community Scholars Program was developed to assist Scholars in their completion of an independent project or to help them attain skills in a specific area of interest.  Participation in the Columbia Community Scholars Program is not intended to enable a Scholar to enter into a degree program; no course credit, certificate or diploma will be awarded upon completion.

There are no costs associated with participation in the Columbia Community Scholars Program. However should a Scholar opt to audit courses, course fees, lab fees, or book costs may apply. To help offset this, Scholars receive a $500 stipend annually for each of the three years they are in the program (a total of $1500 per Scholar).

Letters of recommendation should be addressed and mailed to:

Columbia Community Scholars Program
Office of Government & Community Affairs
Columbia University
309 Low Library
535 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

Unofficial transcripts can be submitted with the program application; however, applicants who are selected will be required to submit official transcripts to participate in the program.

If your high school is still open, they are most likely to have it. If not, reach out to the state Department of Education, or an equivalent agency that oversees education in the region where you attended high school. If you have a degree from an accredited university, a transcript from that can usually fulfill this requirement.

If you did not graduate from high school, and did not receive a high school equivalency certificate (GED/TASC/etc), you can submit an explanation of your equivalent experience. For more information, contact Maggie Barrows (212-854-2568).

Only current affiliation with the University renders an applicant ineligible. Columbia alumni who do not have a present affiliation with the University are able to apply.

The program was originated as part of Columbia University’s community benefits and services related to the Manhattanville Campus Expansion and resulted from discussions with the West Harlem community. The first cohort of five independent Scholars was selected from a competitive field of applicants during the spring of 2013. These Scholars began the program in the fall 2013. The Scholars starting in the fall of 2020 will be the 8th cohort.

Up to five new Scholars are selected for every year's class.

The application deadline for the 8th Cohort of Community Scholars is May 1, 2020.

Applicants will be informed of program decisions by the end of July.

New Scholars will begin the program at the start of the fall semester, which is typically immediately after Labor Day.

Columbia Community Scholars are enrolled for a period of up to three years.

Yes! You may apply another time. You will need to submit a new application in order to be considered.

No. Adults meeting the program eligibility may apply to the program regardless of age.

No. As long as you are a legal resident of the United States, you may apply.

Individuals selected as Columbia Community Scholars:

  • Are issued a Columbia University ID
  • Will be given a Columbia University email account
  • Gain access to all The Columbia University Libraries (including on-line access)
  • Have course auditing privileges (in departments offering auditable courses). The courses available to auditors are typically posted one month prior to the start of the term. To view the courses open to auditors, please go to the Directory of Classes, Columbia’s online course bulletin. You can search for auditing courses by clicking “A” in the “Course Listings by Department” box and scrolling down to where the Auditing Department is listed
  • Have opportunities for dialogue with distinguished faculty members in their field of study 
  • May participate in seminars and social events