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#55 Columbia MBA Admissions Q&A with Senior Admissions Team – “Unparalleled Access”

“We’re really fortunate at Columbia to have unparalleled access to so many business leaders across various industries. New York is home to thousands of MNCs which means that our students have this real-time access concurrently as they are learning about business fundamentals… so they know what’s going on in industry. What this means for Columbia MBA students is they have unparalleled career opportunities” – Amanda Carlson, Assistant Dean, Admissions

Few business schools can match the size and scale of Columbia Business School. The school has two intakes in August and January with 750 students graduating each year. Over 450 business leaders speak on campus annually and Columbia has 40,000 alumni around the world. Students can choose from over 17 concentrations, 100 student clubs and 200 electives. And all of this takes place in New York City, a global business hub with over 3,000 MNCs.

This week I had an in-depth chat about the Columbia MBA with 5 members of the Admissions Team. We discussed what makes Columbia different from other top-ranked schools, admissions tips, living in New York, and the extensive career support available at the school. One thing is for sure: Columbia has a wealth of resources to deliver a first-class business education.


About Our Guests (5 senior members of Columbia Business School’s Admissions Team)

  • Amanda Carlson, Assistant Dean, Admissions – Amanda got her EMBA from Columbia in 2013 and worked in campus recruitment for McKinsey before coming to Columbia.
  • Christina Shelby, Director, Admissions – Christina has been doing Admissions for Columbia for over 7 years and got her Masters in Education from Columbia.
  • Michael Robinson, Senior Associate Director Admissions – Michael got his MBA from Columbia in 2001 and has been with the admissions team for 12 years.
  • Matthew Moll, Associate Director, Admissions – Matthew got his Masters in Journalism from Columbia and has been working in Columbia admissions for 7 years. He is currently pursuing his EMBA at Columbia.
  • Anne Carnahan, Associate Director, Admissions

Touch MBA’s Columbia MBA Essentials

Program Highlights (2:30)

  • Columbia Business School founded in 1916
  • 2 intakes / year in January (200, 3 clusters), August (559, 8 clusters)
  • January intake for those who do not want / need to pursue an internship, who wish to remain in the same industry, or pursue entrepreneurial interests; Jan intakes students not eligible for merit scholarships
  • Length: 16  or 24 months
  • Campus in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City
  • 760 participants/intake
  • ~90 nationalities/intake, class is ~36% international
  • Over 100 student clubs
  • Partnership with 25 exchange schools
  • Rankings: #5 Financial Times 2014, #8 US News 2015, # Bloomberg Businessweek 2012, #10 Economist 2013
  • First years are grouped into “clusters” of 65 students, and 4-5 student “learning teams”
  • 17 concentrations; over 200 electives available to students; 4,000 graduate level classes available across university (how many can they take)
  • Students rated Finance highest
  • Accredited by AACSB
  • 10 Dual Degrees options

Admissions (27:56)

  • Columbia has a rolling admissions process; applicants encouraged to apply as early as possible; interview notifications within 6 weeks and final decisions within 8 weeks
  • For August start, “early decision” deadline is in early October (early decision = Columbia is their first & binding choice); merit-based scholarship deadline is in early January; final deadline is in mid-April
  • For Jan start, deadline is in in early October
  • 5,765 applications received, 1,044 admitted, 749 enrolled, 18% acceptance rate
  • Avg GMAT: 716 (80% range 680 – 760), Avg GPA: 3.5 (80% range 3.1 – 3.8)
  • Avg age: 28 (25 – 30), Avg work experience: 5 (3 – 7), 99% of class have at least 1 year of work experience
  • Min TOEFL: NA or PTE: NA
  • Interviews done by Columbia MBA alumni who will have your resume
  • Looking for candidates with a strong work ethic, who are ready to build and and foster professional relationships, and are determined to make a real impact on the world through their chosen field

Financing (44:24)

  • Full-time MBA Tuition: $121,500
  • Recommended budget: $96,500 per year, or $193,000 total (including tuition)
  • 40% of participants awarded scholarships; average award is $16,000 USD
  • Scholarships are merit and need-based, ranging from a few thousand USD to full tuition; merit-based scholarship deadline is in early Jan and candidates don’t need to submit extra application materials

Career (48:14)

  • Columbia MBA – Full-time placement report (Class of 2013)
  • 90% of graduates employed within 3 months of graduation
  • Median Salary (Avg. Bonus): $110,000 ($30,000)
  • Graduates in 2013 experienced 116% increase in salary
  • Top 5 industries graduates worked in: Investment Management (16%), Finance: Banking (14%), Finance: Other (12%), Consulting (9%), Media (7%)
  • Top 5 recruiters: McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs
  • 40,000 alumni worldwide in over 40 countries
  • More business leaders visit Columbia than any other b-school in the world (450/year)

Get in Touch

Show Notes


  • Email: be the first to get our interviews and application tips
  • iTunes: leave us a review too – five stars? 😉
  • Stitcher Radio: great for listening on Android, Apple, or other mobile devices

Need help finding YOUR best-fit MBA program? Get FREE expert help here.

3 thoughts on “#55 Columbia MBA Admissions Q&A with Senior Admissions Team – “Unparalleled Access”

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