Best Columbia Business School Admissions Tips

Information is subject to change. Please verify all data with the schools.


~15.3% accepted

~72.2% yield

also known as

  • The Columbia Business School MBA Program
  • CBS

Best Columbia Business School (CBS) #MBA Admissions Videos ▸

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Short Answer Question: post-MBA goal in 100 characters


What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (100 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses

  • “After my MBA I want to join a consulting firm specializing in renewable energy and power companies.”

  • “I hope to work in business development for a media company that is expanding its reach in Asia. ”

  • “My goal is to work for an investment firm that focuses on community development projects.”

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


Can you get a job?


What you say

Are you a double switcher?

A double switcher is an applicant who seeks to change two of three variables post-MBA

The three variables are




Admissions Committees might be concerned if you are a double switcher

A double switcher might appear to have unrealistic career expectations

How you say it

Concision is critical

If you know your plan, you can express it concisely

If you can express your career vision concisely, you are more likely to secure internships that lead to offers


Change industry


Change function


Change location

Essay 1: why MBA, why now, why CBS?


Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


Why MBA?

Why now?

Why Columbia?

Short term career goal

What job do you want post-MBA?

My assumption: Admissions Committee readers want to see a goal that is both realistic and ambitious

Are you trying to use your MBA to change careers, or advance your current career?

My assumption: Most short term goals fit into one or more of these three categories

1. Vertical move (advance current career)

2. Change career (horizontal move)

Go into financial services

Go into consulting

Go into consumer goods / marketing

Go into technology

Go into media / entertainment

Go into non-profit / social ventures

3. Join or launch start-up (entrepreneur)

Long term career goal

What job do you want in five to ten years?

My assumption: Most long term goals can be simplified to fit one of two paths

CEO (C-level executive role such as CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CIO, etc.)

lead an existing organization


join or create a new organization

My assumption: If you plan to lead a large organisation, you need to know how to

scale a business

hire the right people

drive growth to match market conditions

How does an MBA best prepare you to transition from your short term goal to your C-level executive role?

My assumption: A future CEO might be trying to use an MBA to help transition

1. From specialist to generalist

2. From tactician to strategist

3. From problem solver to problem finder

The entrepreneur path

My assumption: if you plan to create a company, you should know how to

identify and capture opportunities

create products and services that reflect market conditions and excite customers

Whether you are trying to become CEO of an existing company or founder of a new company

Show confidence: You WILL achieve this goal with or without business school

Still, earning your Columbia MBA accelerates your progress and maximises your potential

A good long term goal represents the next logical step after you achieve your short term goals

For instance, if you plan to spend a few years in management consulting, then it might make sense to move into a management role at a leading company in your coverage area

Doing so would allow you to utilise the expert knowledge and skills, as well as the professional relationships, that you established during your consulting career

Why MBA?

Columbia does not specifically ask why you want an MBA, but I encourage you to think about it

First, why are you NOT pursuing a specialised masters (Masters in Finance, Master in Technology) or a Ph.D.?

Most importantly, how does an MBA best prepare you to build the skills you need?

For example, you might need:

technical knowledge of finance and accounting

analytical skills, including corporate strategy, strategic planning (long-term thinking)

interpersonal skills to motivate experts in finance, accounting, sales, marketing, engineering, and operations

Clients sometimes ask me to explain the difference between technical skills and analytical skills. Here is my answer:

Technical knowledge and skills is the type of knowledge you need to understand a task. For instance, the accounting knowledge you need to understand what auditors do

According to NYTimes columnist David Brooks,

"Technical knowledge is like the recipes in a cookbook. It is formulas telling you roughly what is to be done. It is reducible to rules and directions. It's the sort of knowledge that can be captured in lectures and bullet points and memorized by rote." (found at; accessed 2013/04)

Analytical skills sometimes involve technical knowledge (finance and and accounting knowledge) but they are often more complex and more sophisticated than technical skills.

Sometimes, they require creativity and intuition. For example, strategy consultants display analytical skills when they form (and test) a business hypothesis

Business schools teach technical skills like finance and accounting so that students can apply these skills when analysing business cases

Why Columbia MBA?

What professors or programs best prepare you to achieve your short and long term goals?

Please view the videos below:

Video 1 of 2: New York City - limitless possibilities

Columbia Business School isn’t just located in New York — it’s enmeshed in it. From practitioners who double as professors to events with industry-leading CEOs and field trips to blue-chip companies and start-ups alike, Columbia leverages its relationship with the city to give students unparalleled access to one of the world’s business capitals.

Video 2 of 2: Campus and New York City - fast paced and adaptable

Columbia Business School isn’t just located in New York — it’s enmeshed in it. From practitioners who double as professors to events with industry-leading CEOs and field trips to blue-chip companies and start-ups alike, Columbia leverages its relationship with the city to give students unparalleled access to one of the hubs for global business.

An Oasis in the City

Nestled between Riverside and Morningside Parks, and a short walk from Central Park, Columbia’s campus in Morningside Heights is a sanctuary within the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Featuring Italian Renaissance–style architecture alongside cutting-edge modern buildings, sprawling plazas, lush lawns, and notable public art, the campus evokes a palpable sense of community. The neighborhood has the ambience of a college town but the convenience of a major city, with shops, restaurants, a farmer’s market, and — most importantly — a subway station that can transport you to the cultural and economic capital of the world.

Life at Columbia

Student Organizations

There are more than 100 active student organizations at Columbia Business School, ranging from cultural to professional to athletic tocommunity service–oriented. Together, they host more than 100 events every week, with many held during the School’s dedicated “Club Time” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. These organizations provide a valuable and stimulating complement to the academic curriculum and social environment. Leadership positions within the clubs also offer hands-on management and networking opportunities for students, and faculty members and alumni frequently get involved as advisers, event moderators, or panelists, while corporations often generously sponsor events.

See the list below for a sampling of some of the more popular student organizations at Columbia Business School.

Affinity | Community Service | Career and Professional

Social and Athletic | Student Government and Leadership

Affinity Clubs

Asian Business Association

Black Business Students Association

Cluster Q

Columbia Women in Business

Greater China Society

Latin American Business Association

South Asian Business Association

Community Service Organizations

Community Action Rewards Everyone

Financial Education Society

Harlem Tutorial Program


Career and Professional Clubs

Columbia Investment Management Association

Green Business Club

Healthcare Industry Association

Investment Banking Club

Management Consulting Association

Marketing Association of Columbia

Private Equity and Venture Capital Club

Real Estate Association

Retail and Luxury Goods Club

Social Enterprise Club

Social and Athletic Groups

Gourmet Club

Military in Business Association

Outdoor Adventure Club

Rugby Football Club

Wine Society

Women’s Touch Rugby

World Tour Club

Student Government and Leadership

Bernstein Leadership and Ethics Board

Graduate Business Association

Honor Board

International Student Advisory Board

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

Speakers and Conferences

The convenience of Columbia Business School’s New York location and its close ties to the business, nonprofit, and government communities means that students are constantly afforded the opportunity to hear from the very leaders who are actively shaping the business landscape.

Many professors invite practitioners to guest-teach a class session, while other leaders address larger groups of students at on-campus events organized by student clubs, research centers, and regular speaker series such as the Silfen Leadership Series, the Nand and Jeet Khemka Distinguished Speaker Forum, the Sir Gordon Wu Distinguished Speaker Forum, the Montrone Seminar Series on Ethics, and more.

Conferences led by student clubs also attract well-known guest speakers, participants, and alumni from across industries and around the world, providing students with greater insights into the current business environment. These conferences are entirely student run and give club members the opportunity to build industry connections while applying the management skills they learn in the classroom.

Some of the larger student conferences include:

Black Business Student Association Conference

Columbia Investment Management Association Conference

Columbia Women in Business Conference

Healthcare Conference

India Business Conference

Marketing Association of Columbia Conference

Media Management Association Conference

Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference

Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

Social Enterprise Conference

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

Diversity at Columbia

Student collaboration that brings together a variety of perspectives and experiences leads to truly effective learning and leadership development. With this in mind, Columbia Business School is committed to promoting diversity in all its forms by recruiting students from an array of professional backgrounds, socioeconomic upbringings, racial and ethnic identities, and geographic locations. Nowhere is this commitment more apparent than in MBA clusters and learning teams, which are designed to bring together students from a range of backgrounds to help them learn together, both about the material and one another.

Student Initiatives

The School is constantly finding ways to further promote diversity, particularly through its more than 100 student organizations. These student-led groups provide opportunities throughout the semester for all students to celebrate the many different cultures present at Columbia Business School, and many are also involved in the career recruiting process and student-run conferences. The goal behind clubs affiliated with particular affinity groups is not only to provide a network of support for those students, but also to promote collaboration among clubs across the School.


In addition to the fellowships and scholarships designed to foster diversity in the full-time MBA program, the School is also closely affiliated with several national organizations that work to improve the diversity of leaders in the business world.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow

National Black MBA Association

National Society for Hispanic MBAs

Riordan Fellows Program

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity

Ten School Diversity Alliance

On-Campus Diversity Events

Throughout the year, the Admissions Office hosts recruiting events for underrepresented minorities. These events, which include Spotlight On: Diversity and Diversity Connect at Columbia, immerse prospective students in the Columbia Business School community, imparting a holistic understanding of the dynamic academic and social environments that exist on campus.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

Women at Columbia

Columbia Business School strives to lead top MBA programs in reflecting a more equitable gender balance among its population by actively recruiting talented and accomplished female students and faculty members, sponsoring events that address issues relevant to women in business, and providing on-campus support for recent mothers.

Student Initiatives

Columbia Women in Business (CWIB) is one of the most popular and successful student organizations on campus. CWIB hosts a series of events each semester specifically geared toward further strengthening the role of women in the business world, building connections with female alumni, and facilitating career recruiting in a range of industries. The annual Columbia Women in Business Conference, run entirely by students, attracts high-profile women speakers and industry insiders to discuss the various paths to success taken by women business leaders.


Columbia Business School is proud to partner with organizations both on and off campus that are devoted to supporting women in business.

Forté Foundation

85 Broads

10,000 Women Initiative

Office of Work/Life

On-Campus Events

The Admissions Office hosts two annual recruiting events designed for female applicants, Spotlight On: Women and Women Connect at Columbia, where prospective students have the chance to visit campus to meet current women students, alumni, and faculty members, discuss issues unique to women in business, and learn more about the experience for women at Columbia Business School.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

LGBT at Columbia

Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia Business School prides itself on being an open and welcoming community for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, faculty members, and administrators. The School’s population of LGBT students cuts across geography, experience, ethnicity, and gender to create one of the largest and most diverse LGBT groups among the world’s top business schools. In addition, Columbia Business School has the largest representation of straight allies among all business schools, and the School’s relationship with New York City affords LGBT students powerful networking opportunities and an extensive LGBT community.

Student Initiatives

Cluster Q, Columbia Business School’s LGBT student organization, has grown in membership for four consecutive years. The club provides a strong network for LGBT students within the School, as well as with alumni, recruiters, and students from across Columbia University. Cluster Q organizes a variety of social and career-oriented events throughout the year, helping to foster the LGBT community on campus and develop relationships with recruiters.

Cluster Q maintains relationships with many top firms – from finance to consulting to brand management – who actively recruit members of the Columbia Business School LGBT community .


Columbia Business School encourages students to network with their peers from other business schools. Each year, Cluster Q sends a large cohort of students to Reaching Out MBA, an LGBT-specific MBA career and networking conference.

The Admissions Office also actively participates in CHecK uS Out, a multi-school admissions event for LGBT prospective students organized by Columbia, Harvard, Kellogg, and Stanford that takes place in New York City and San Francisco each fall.

On-Campus Events

Each year the Admissions Office hosts LGBT Connect, an on-campus admissions event geared towards prospective LGBT students. This event gives prospective students the opportunity to visit campus and meet admissions officers, current LGBT students, and LGBT alumni.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

Veterans at Columbia

The Military in Business Association (MIBA), Columbia Business School’s veteran student organization, has continually grown in membership as the veteran presence within the School community has increased. MIBA provides an incredibly strong network for veteran students within Columbia Business School, as well as with alumni, recruiters, and students from across the University.

Members come from all branches of the armed forces within the United States and internationally. By leveraging the experiences of current and former members, MIBA seeks — through camaraderie, support, and networking — to enhance the career success of all those with a connection to the Columbia Business School military community.

Student Initiatives

MIBA organizes a variety of social and career-oriented events throughout the year, strengthening the veteran community on campus and cultivating relationships with recruiters. MIBA also organizes events with current and former high-ranking military leaders such as former US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey and former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr.

In addition, MIBA has also sponsored student-wide happy hours, raised over $6,500 for Survivor Joe (an organization that supports currently deployed service members), and co-sponsored a successful social event with Cluster Q (Columbia Business School’s LGBT student organization) that raised over $3,000 in donations for The Trevor Project and Team RWB.

MIBA also maintains close relationships with many recruiters from top firms — from finance to consulting to brand management — who actively recruit MIBA members of the Columbia Business School veteran community.


The Admissions Office actively participates in several organizations related to veteran recruitment, including the Yellow Ribbon Program. In addition, a MIBA member attends the annual Service Academy Career Conference in Washington DC in order to speak with prospective students about Columbia Business School.

On-Campus Events

MIBA and the Admissions Office host an annual Fleet Week event for prospective students who have served in the armed forces. This event is held during Fleet Week and is open to Fleet Week participants as well as other active or former member of the military.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

Spouses, Partners, and Families

Starting graduate school can be a big adjustment for anyone, and that includes a student’s spouse, partner, or children — particularly when moving to a new city. While the transition can seem daunting, the Office of Student Affairs is committed to helping students and their families alike become part of the Columbia Business School community. In addition to online resources for you and your family, a student-led interest group, Columbia Better Halves, creates venues for significant others and families of students to meet. Activities include family-friendly events such as Halloween Family Day, playground activities, dinners, cultural excursions, and an important initiative during orientation to better prepare partners for the demands of an MBA education.

New York is an exciting place, and it offers plenty to do. Visit the University’s Exploring New York City for a resource listing to give you a head start on some aspects of life in New York, including museums, neighborhoods, transportation, and more.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


Will you attend CBS if we admit you?

What business opportunities have you identified that you can best capture by studying at CBS?

What academic and social opportunities have you identified that you can best capture by studying at CBS?


Those who prioritize studying in an urban location will prioritize CBS.


NYC as business incubator


NYC as academic and cultural community


limitless possibilities

fast paced and adaptable

Essay 3: surprise your Cluster peers


What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


What do you want your future classmates to know about you?

Do you know our student culture?

Why do you best fit Columbia's culture?

Do I want you at my party?


Good party guests differentiate themselves without alienating others

You are unlikely to surprise Amanda and her team by telling them something they has never heard before

Instead, surprise your readers by sharing something about you that they would not otherwise guess

Or, simply tell an entertaining story that shows your unique experiences


Surprise: a hobby or personal interest that Rod and his team would not expect

Someone perceived to have "hard" skills shows their soft side (or vice versa)

Steve Jobs calligraphy

IT guy builds banking systems by day, sings in a punk band by night


Life journey

Travels along the Silk Road

One minute video with original music and photos; bands I joined or co-founed in each place I lived (and what each musical style shows about personality)

California hardcore funk

New Orleans jam band block parties at Jazz Fest

New York punk folk duo with spicy tuba

Tokyo virtual 'Second Life' blues band


Use this story to demonstrate innovation and creativity

Optional Essay: explain areas of concern (academic or personal)


Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. (Maximum 500 words)

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


What aspects of your academic record might concern Admissions Committee readers?

What aspects of your personal history might concern Admissions Committee readers?


You do NOT need to use this essay to explain gaps in your employment history nor reasons for not providing a letter of recommendation from your current (or most recent) supervisor

Columbia Admissions Committee gives you space to explain those areas of concern in the online application data form

“Please provide an explanation for any gaps in your employment history” (1000 characters available)

“Are you providing a letter of recommendation from your current (or most recent) supervisor?

If not, please explain” (300 characters available)

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

Reapplication Essay: how have you enhanced your candidacy?


How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate how you plan to achieve your immediate and long term post-MBA professional goals. (Maximum 500 words).

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


Instructions: Please submit two recommendations from individuals who can speak directly about your managerial ability and professional promise. The Admissions Committee prefers that one recommendation be from your direct supervisor. If you are unable to secure a recommendation from your direct supervisor, please submit a statement of explanation in the Employment section of your application. The other recommendation should be from a former supervisor, if possible, or another professional associate who is senior to you.

If you are a college senior or have worked full-time for less than six months, at least one, but preferably both, of your recommendations should be from an individual who can comment on your managerial abilities, such as a summer employer or another individual who you feel can objectively assess your professional promise. The second recommendation may be from a college professor.

Please note those who are reapplying to Columbia Business School are required to submit one additional recommendation. This recommendation must be from a recommender that you did not use in your previous application.

Applications are not considered complete until all required information is submitted; this includes recommendations.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)


All applications require two recommendations. If you have been working full-time for at least six months, one recommendation should be from your current supervisor. The second recommendation should be from either a former direct supervisor or from another professional associate, senior to you, who can add personal insight into your candidacy.

If you are a college senior or have worked full-time for less than six months, at least one, but preferably both, of your recommendations should be from a person who can comment on your managerial abilities. You may ask a summer employer or another person who you feel can objectively assess your professional promise. The second recommendation may be from a college professor.

We ask recommenders to consider the following guidelines when writing their recommendations:

Your relationship to the applicant.

The applicant’s performance.

Strengths and weaknesses of the applicant.

The applicant’s interpersonal skills.

The applicant’s written and spoken communication skills.

How does the applicant accept constructive criticism or handle conflicts?

How effective are the applicant’s interpersonal skills in the workplace?

The most important thing you would like the Admissions Committee to know.

Please be aware, the Admissions Committee does require all application materials be submitted online, including recommendations.

(found at; accessed 2013/06)

for reference

Vince Columbia Business School

One MBA, Two Paths

Columbia Business School students may enroll in either August or January. The two paths, each comprised of four terms, merge in the fall of the second year to complete electives as a single class. The paths are identical in terms of competitiveness of admissions, academic rigor, and student resources, however they differ in terms of timing and the opportunity to complete a summer internship.

August Entry

About 70 percent of Columbia MBA students begin their studies in the fall term. After mandatory orientation in the second half of August, regular classes begin in September. Most August-entry students complete a summer internship between their second and third terms.

The August entry has two review periods — early decision and regular decision. Because the School uses a rolling admissions process, it is always to your advantage to apply well before the deadline.*

Early Decision

  • Available for August entry applicants only
  • Application deadline in early October
  • Early decision applications are reviewed, and decisions rendered, before regular decision applications
  • Candidates have decided that Columbia is their first choice and must sign the following statement of commitment within their applications: I am committed to attending Columbia Business School and will withdraw all applications and decline all offers from other schools upon admission to Columbia Business School.
  • Applicants must submit a nonrefundable $6,000 tuition deposit within two weeks of admission

Regular Decision

  • Candidates may submit regular decision applications as soon as the application becomes available in the summer
  • Regular decision applications are reviewed after early decision applications
  • No statement of commitment required
  • To be considered for merit-based fellowships, applications must be submitted by the specified merit-based fellowship deadline in early January
  • Final application deadline in April

January Entry

Students who do not want or need an internship may consider beginning their MBA studies in January and completing their second semester of classes during the summer. A January start may be ideal for students who wish to remain in the same industry after graduation or pursue entrepreneurial interests. About 30 percent of students enter in January.

Please note that there is no early decision option for January entry and that, due the timing of the application cycle, January-entry applicants are not eligible for merit fellowship consideration. The Admissions Office begins reviewing applications for January entry once the application becomes available in June. The final application deadline is in early October.

*The deadline for the 3-year MBA/JD program is February 15, 2012.


Information is subject to change. Please verify all data with the schools.