APPLICATION PROCESS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
The program welcomes international applicants. Please refer to the important information below regarding transcripts, English language proficiency, visas, and work-eligibility.
If your post-secondary credentials are from an institution outside the United States, the Office of Admissions also requires you to submit all post-secondary credentials (undergraduate and graduate) to World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a third-party verification agency for a course-by-course evaluation for admission consideration.
Instructions for using WES
WES must complete a course-by-course evaluation of all post-secondary credentials. Please select the WES basic course-by-course evaluation (with GPA and course-levels) and request to have WES send your evaluation to Columbia University School of Professional Studies. The school can be found by searching Columbia University and then selecting School of Professional Studies. The evaluation provided to the School of Professional Studies becomes an official academic record and sole property of the School of Professional Studies upon its receipt.
WES evaluations will be reviewed by the School of Professional Studies administrators and the determination of degree equivalency to U.S. degrees is at the discretion of the School of Professional Studies.
Students whose primary language is not English must include proof of English proficiency
If your primary language is not English, you must provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS unless both of the following are true:
The language of instruction of your undergraduate degree conferring institution is English, and you completed two or more years at the institution.
Applicant total scores must meet the Columbia SPS minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL iBT) or 7.0 (IELTS) to be admissible. You will be required to enter your test scores or your anticipated testing date within the online application, and official test score reports will be required for your application to be considered complete and ready for admission review. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years after your test date. Applicants receiving scores below the posted minimums may be advised to apply directly to the American Language Program.
To submit TOEFL iBT scores: Visit www.ets.org and send your official score to our school code 2594. Please note: we do not accept TOEFL best scores.
To submit IELTS scores: After you have submitted your application, please upload your unofficial IELTS score report. Alternatively, you can also send us your official score through your testing center.
Applicants whose primary language is not English may be required to complete an intensive course with the American Language Program (ALP) prior to beginning their studies in the degree program as a condition for admission.
Applicants may also be asked to complete an interview using a video conferencing tool.
International students must fulfill visa requirements.
Since the Sustainability Science program offers a full-time study option, international students enrolled in a full-time course load—registered for at least 12 points of credit-bearing courses a term—are eligible for a student visa.
Eligible international students who wish to apply for a student visa should do so immediately after they have received their letter of admission to Columbia University. This should be done by completing the Application for Visa Certificate (AVC). Applicants should be aware that after admission into a program it may take up to four weeks to receive the documents needed from Columbia to obtain a student visa, so please plan accordingly.
International students who require a student visa to study at Columbia are required to pay an International Services fee.
You can find the online application for visa certificate by clicking here: While you are not permitted to submit the application until you have gained admission, we strongly encourage you to read the instructional information provided.
Begin the Visa Process (Admitted Students Only)
Complete and submit the application for the form I-20 to the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). Please note that this is only required of international students requiring a student (F-1) visa. If you are not a United States citizen or permanent resident, you must be a full-time student at Columbia in order to be eligible for a student (F-1) visa. If you have questions about the visa application process you can email the ISSO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fee payment must accompany the online application.
New Student Webinar Series (Admitted Students Only)
The School of Professional Studies produces a webinar series to address many of the questions you may have, and we invite you to view the webinars below, to learn about important topics.
On-Campus Work Eligibility
Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are allowed to be paid for work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year when classes are in session, and unlimited hours during any recess periods, such as winter break or summer vacation.
On-campus employment is work done for and paid by Columbia University. This also includes work for a commercial firm on the campus if it provides direct services to all Columbia students.
Off-Campus Work Eligibility
Curricular Practical Training is an authorization for off-campus employment that is an integral part of the established curriculum of your degree program. The M.S. in Sustainability Science program does not require the completion of an internship as part of the program’s curriculum, but approved students are eligible to undertake a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) internship.
Eligibility to Work Upon Graduation
M.S. in Sustainability Science graduates who hold an F-1 student visa may gain experience in their field of study by applying for off-campus work authorization in the United States for a period of up to three years, as part of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.
M.S. in Sustainability Science graduates are able to request “STEM OPT extension,” or Optional Practical Training extension for an additional 24 months. Please contact the Columbia International Student and Scholars Office for more information about eligibility requirements and how to apply.