FAQ for Admitted and Incoming Students

In our Office of Admissions, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the communities with which we interact are our top priority. We have spent months thinking carefully about all aspects of our Master of Social Work program and adjustments that will need to be made for this fall semester. To give you a clearer idea of what to expect, we have compiled these FAQs. You’ll also want to be sure to read Dean Begg’s latest announcement about Fall 2021 coursework.

Are you an Advanced Standing Student? See also: FAQ for Incoming ADVANCED STANDING Students


What will courses look like this fall?

Residential Campus courses will primarily be held fully in-person. There will be a minimal number of Residential Campus courses held via Zoom (indicated with a “Z” prefix in the section code, e.g., Z01). No courses will be offered in a Hybrid format. All Residential Campus students are expected to live in the NYC/tri-state area this academic year in order to take some, if not all, classes in person at the Columbia campus.

The Online Campus will continue to offer fully online courses via Adobe Connect (indicated with a “D” prefix in the section code, e.g., D01).

If I’m enrolled in the residential campus, but I can’t reside in New York City this fall, would you advise that I enroll in the Online Campus for the fall semester?

Yes, residential students who are unable to move to New York City must be enrolled in the Online Campus to continue taking all their courses and pursuing field education remotely. Selecting a campus (Residential or Online) indicates that you are opting into that campus for the full academic year. The deadline to switch campuses is June 1, 2021.

Note: International students should refer to the INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS section below.

When is registration? When will the Schedule of Courses be available?

Please refer to the Academic Calendar for registration dates. The Directory of Classes and registration information can be found at this link. Please contact our Office of Student Affairs (swstudentaffairs@columbia.edu) with any questions.

When can I schedule waiver exams?

Entering students may take waiver exams to satisfy the requirements for the following courses: Research Methods, Social Welfare Policy, and Statistics. The minimum passing score is 70%. Note that information regarding the waiver exams is shared in the weeks prior to Orientation.

What is your Statistics Waiver policy?

Students must fulfill the Statistics requirement in 1 of 3 ways:

Option #1: Complete T6505 (0 credits) Introduction to Statistics at CSSW (5-week course)

Students are required to complete this 0-credit course prior to their second year of study. In the course, students acquire the language of statistics and learn the basics of descriptive and inferential statistics. The emphasis of the course is on a conceptual understanding of basic concepts to aid in interpretation. Specific topics include descriptive statistics, standard errors, type I and type II errors, t-test, chi-square, and analysis of variance.

Students who will matriculate in the Fall (September) typically enroll in the section offered in September. However, students also have the option to enroll in the summer course that takes place in August, prior to the start of the fall term.

**Advanced Standing students MUST enroll in the course offered that begins in July.**

All students will be able to use their designated registration appointments to access the summer term and enroll in the summer statistics course.

Option #2: The Completion of Approved Prior Coursework

Students who have completed an approved Statistics course in their previous undergraduate or graduate studies may apply for a waiver of the Introduction to Statistics requirement. Students must have received a grade of B or greater in an approved course taken within four years of one’s first semester of matriculation at Columbia School of Social Work. Please complete the TRANSFER CREDIT FORM to have a course evaluated.

Option #3: Pass the Statistics Waiver Exam

The minimum passing score is 70%. Note that information regarding the waiver exams is shared in the weeks prior to Orientation.

(IMPORTANT: You must utilize your Admissions Application Login Information to access this form, NOT your Columbia UNI, and Password. If you have forgotten these credentials, please click “Forgot your Password” on the login page.)


What will practicum placements look like in the fall?

Placements for the upcoming year may be in-person, remote, or a hybrid of the two. Please note: As in the past, practicum assignments for incoming fall students will be expected to continue for one year, whether remote or in-person.


What are my options for coursework and practicum at CSSW in fall 2021?

All international students planning to be enrolled during the 2021-2022 academic year must be physically located in the NYC/tri-state area to enroll and engage in coursework and Practicum Learning.

If international students are not able to come to NYC/tri-state area for the Fall 2021 semester:

  • New incoming students should reach out to the Office of Admissions (cssw-admit@columbia.edu) to inquire about deferral options.
  • Continuing CSSW students should reach out to the Office of Advising (swadvising@columbia.edu) to inquire about taking a leave of absence.


International students (i.e., not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) must enroll in in-person classes. Classes taking place fully online in Zoom or in Adobe Connect do not qualify as in-person classes. Per federal guidelines, international students are limited to enrolling in a maximum of one fully online course per semester.

Practicum Learning

practicum placements for international MS students will be in-person.


What will financial support/financial aid look like during these difficult times?

Our Office of Financial Aid is working with all incoming students to help them create plans for covering direct and indirect expenses associated with attending CSSW. We recommend students begin applying for loans in July for the 2021-2022 academic year in order to leave enough time for processing and adjustments prior to the beginning of the term. If you have any questions about your financial aid package, please get in touch with the Office of Financial Aid at swfinaid@columbia.edu.

My financial situation has changed because of COVID-19. Can I make an appeal for more aid?

Absolutely. The School will continue to review COVID-19 related appeals for emergency funds and tuition support. We encourage you to contact the Financial Aid team for guidance and help by email at swfinaid@columbia.edu.

I have been awarded Federal Work-Study. How will this work in the fall?

Remote opportunities continue to be available for students receiving funding for Federal Work-Study positions. We encourage students to look for jobs throughout the university and not just at CSSW, in order to give themselves the greatest number of remote opportunities. Work-study positions that require in-person work are expected to increase during the 2021-2022 year.

Will I have the option of working as a research assistant to a CSSW faculty member for my work study, if the program is remote?

If your admissions package included a Federal Work-Study award, you may seek research opportunities with CSSW faculty. Many of these positions will allow students to work remotely. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid (swfinaid@columbia.edu) for more information about FWS opportunities.

Will I still be able to apply for on-campus employment if course work is remote delivery?

Yes; you may seek on-campus employment. Many opportunities will allow students to work remotely.


Will Columbia provide housing, or assistance locating housing, if I do choose to move to New York City?

The School is not in the position to offer housing to all students, but we do provide housing guidance and/or resource referrals. For more information, please see https://housing.columbia.edu/.

Can you give me some tips on finding housing off-campus at an affordable cost?

Columbia’s Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) office assists Columbia students and affiliates in their search for rental housing in the metropolitan area. Office staff manage a database known as the Off-Campus Housing Marketplace which includes available rooms and apartments in non-Columbia-owned buildings as well as sublets of units in Columbia-managed housing. We encourage you to register here.


Do you allow admitted students to postpone their enrollment?

As in years past, students admitted to CSSW may request to defer their matriculation for one year. Students contemplating deferring are encouraged to reach out to a member of the Admissions team to discuss options.