Columbia College-Chicago: Academics, Admissions & Tuition Info

Learn about Columbia College in Chicago. Read about its admission information, financial aid and degree programs to make an informed education decision.

About Columbia College in Chicago

The largest media and arts school in the nation, Columbia College in Chicago offers more than 120 majors or programs. Columbia's campus is located in the center of the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, surrounded by architecture and culture. The campus, which includes about a dozen buildings, is very close to Grant Park and Lake Michigan. Columbia has approximately 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending programs through schools in performing and fine arts, liberal arts and media arts. With over 96,000 alumni, the college has one of the largest alumni networks among media and arts colleges across the globe.


Columbia College in Chicago offers over 120 majors, minors and graduate programs through the School of Liberal Arts, School of Fine and Performing Arts and School of Media Arts. There are about 20 students per class, and students can earn a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts or certificate. All students complete required core classes in literature, history and the sciences through the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers 6 undergraduate programs, including creative writing, early childhood education and American Sign Language-English interpretation. The School of Fine and Performing Arts offers undergraduate and graduate programs in areas like music, photography, dance, acting, fiction writing, arts management and fashion. The School of Media Arts houses the journalism, television, radio and marketing communication departments. The most popular program departments for 2010-2011 were visual and performing arts and communication, journalism and related programs.

Some of Columbia's special programs include spending a semester at The Second City, the famous comedy center in Chicago, or spending a semester in Los Angeles. The semester at The Second City is run by the college's theater department as part of a comedy studies program and is open to junior-level students in any major who have an interest in comedy and performance. The semester in Los Angeles is a 5-week program for students to immerse themselves in the business of Hollywood through courses in screenwriting, entertainment journalism, directing, costume design and production, along with others.


For incoming first-year students, admissions requirements include submitting either the common application or the college's application, with the 2 having slightly different instructions. For the common application, the requirements include 1 essay, 2 letters of recommendation, an official high school transcript and immunization records. With the college's application, there is also 1 required essay; however, the essay question is arts focused, and only 1 letter of recommendation is required. For the fall semester, the general application deadline is May 1, and the deadline for a final decision is July 31.

For either application method, SAT and ACT scores are not required for admission, but are highly recommended. If the scores are not part of the high school transcript, the college specifically asks students to arrange for the test scores to be sent to the admissions office, since the ACT scores can be an alternative to placement tests. All new students typically complete placement tests; however, some students are exempt from this requirement if they have college credits for math or English from another college or from AP credits.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Tuition for full-time undergraduates for the 2012-2013 school year is $21,200 plus fees. Students taking over 16 credit hours in a semester are charged $536 for each additional credit hour. For full-time undergraduate students, books are estimated to cost $1,654, and room and board is estimated to be $11,920 for the 2012-2013 school year.

Graduate tuition ranges from $760 to $825 per credit hour, depending on the degree program, plus fees for the 2012-2013 school year. All full-time students, both undergraduate and graduate, are charged a required fee of $100 for a 'U-Pass' transit fare card for unlimited rides on the city's buses and trains. This is a discounted fare card for students to use to commute to work, shopping or outings. Tuition is due at the beginning of the semester (the first week of class) or a monthly payment plan is available.

Financial aid options include many scholarships offered by the college and two financial aid programs, the Tuition Assistance Grant and the Supplemental Assistance Program. Approximately 48% of incoming undergraduate students were awarded a scholarship from the college in 2010. Scholarships are based on academic merit, financial need or the student's academic department and range from $5,000 to $10,000. Fellowships and assistantships are also offered for graduate students.

School Type Private, 4-year, not-for-profit university*
Degrees Offered Bachelor's, master's, post-baccalaureate certificate and certificate programs*
Academic Calendar Semesters**
School Setting Large city*
Student Body 11,400 undergraduate students; 522 graduate students**
Student Housing On-campus housing is available for undergraduate and graduate students**
Schools and Programs 3 schools; over 120 majors and programs**
Student-Faculty Ratio 10 to 1*
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2011:
Bachelor's: Cinematography and Film/Video Production (406)
Master's: Fine and Studio Arts Management (121)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 29% in 4 years; 41% in 6 years for students who began in Fall 2005*
Admission Rate Accepts over 80% of applicants for undergraduate programs**
Entering Class 3,855 freshman in Fall 2008**
First-Year Retention Rates 67% of full-time students who began in Fall 2010 and returned in Fall 2011*
Average Test Scores SAT or ACT scores are not required for admission**
Undergraduate Application Due Date Rolling admissions; general application due by May 1st**
Decision Notification Date Students notified 3-4 weeks after all application materials have been received**
Tuition $21,200 for undergraduates for 2012-2013**
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percentage of Students Receiving it) 2010-2011 for all undergraduate students: grants or scholarships (51%), Pell grants (36%), federal student loans (70%)*
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 79% of first-year undergraduate students for 2010-2011*

Sources: *IPEDS Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics; **Columbia College Chicago.

School Contact Information

  • Address: Columbia College Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605
  • Phone: (312) 369-7130
  • Website:

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