How to Get into Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

Program Overview

How are you going to take advantage of being at the ‘very center of business?’ Your answer to this question is one of the keys you need to unlock a future at the prestigious Columbia Business School (CBS). As in general with New York City, it really is all about location, location, location in your application, whether physically or figuratively. You need to share where you intend to go with your career and demonstrate that CBS is the best program to take the next steps towards your aspirations.  Discover the opportunities that CBS is uniquely positioned to offer due to the NYC location.  Are you interested in a certain industry or sector that is especially vibrant? Alternatively, do you hope to learn from a specific professor who is an adjunct faculty member who also consults on Wall Street?  In addition to what you hope to learn at CBS if you find yourself in Uris Hall in 2018, how might you contribute to the school?

CBS graduates and professors influence the global marketplace every day. CBS professors routinely sit on the boards of large corporations, accept high profile government appointments, and are on the covers of leading business magazines. This influence also expands past traditional industries. CBS is creating a global impact through entrepreneurial work including venture capital-backed start-ups like Figure 1 and Key Me. With alumni such as Warren Buffett, CBS is responding to the growing number of students interested in entrepreneurship by expanding the support offered by the Lang Center as well as beginning plans to solidify their already large alumni network in the Bay Area.

While many schools tout their deep connections in business across a variety of industries, CBS by virtue of its reputation and location can give you a level of access to business leaders and insight that is unmatched and invaluable.


Students are placed into clusters (~70 students) and are then further divided into learning teams of approximately five students from diverse backgrounds who work together throughout the core courses on group assignments; creating a family within the larger class. CBS’ core curriculum uses case-based lessons along with collaborative learning models as students master business functions and disciplines. Students who demonstrate proficiency in a subject area are eligible to replace core classes with electives.

Approximately 30% of CBS students are on the J-term schedule which begins in January and provides for a faster experience through CBS in 16 months total by starting later and eliminating the summer internship to reduce opportunity cost of being out of the workforce. August-entry students can take as few as 12 credits or up to 18 credits per term and can have up to 6 credits from other Columbia graduate programs, Independent Study, Global Business Project, or a Cross-Cultural Seminar. Classes are typically held Monday through Thursday with Fridays left open so that students can have in-semester internships.

CBS uses its location at the center of business to offer Immersion Seminars that give students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning in the real world. Topics for the seminars range from deep dives into data analytics, entrepreneurship, brand experience, innovation and more. Started in 2015, the Immersion Seminars allow CBS students to apply their classroom knowledge to issues presented by current C-suite executives each week. This unparalleled access to companies such as Google, Tiffany and Company and Morgan Stanley gives students an experience they would be hard-pressed to find at any other top business school.

Another feature of the CBS curriculum launched in 2006 are Master Classes, which are project-based experiential learning opportunities for students in their second year. They offer an opportunity to apply the core concepts learned in the prior year to real-world business problems. Master Classes are typically more intensive than the regular class as they require work both inside and outside the classroom. Teams of 3-6 second year MBA students are matched to a project sponsor who provides them guidance and support throughout the semester as well as experienced faculty. In Fall 2016, the Master Class “Retailing: The Design & Marketing of Luxury Products” taught by Ketty Maisonrouge (Adjunt Professor, KM&Co.) case studies were  created specifically for the class by companies such as Carolina Herrera, Maclaren and Oscar de la Renta.

CBS curriculum offers career-focused paths which give students an in-depth look at industries and functions in a more holistic view, combining courses from multiple departments. Some examples of these pathways include Entrepreneurship (through the famous Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center), Health and Pharmaceutical Management, and the Media and Technology Program. Other resources include the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing and the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate give students an established network of faculty, advisors and students to get an in-depth look at their interests and learn from practitioners share their experiences to the classroom.

Extra Curriculars

In addition to all that Columbia’s NYC location can offer, there are numerous student clubs and conferences through which MBA students can develop knowledge and relationships. Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization encourages aspiring and current student entrepreneurs to explore and launch new ventures.  The Investment Management Association offers a community for future investors to host pitch practices and participate in case competitions. Current and former members of the armed forces can find ways to leverage capabilities and experiences through the Military in Business Association. Interested in alternative energy?  Green Business Club prepares students for careers in alternative energy while also encouraging the school to promote environmental responsibility.  Looking for LGBTQ allies? Cluster Q seeks to create an inclusive LGBTQ community at CBS with social, educational and career-related events.  One of the popular new clubs is Columbia FinTech which aims to centralize and develop education, community and innovation in the field of financial technology.

In 2017, CBS hosted the inaugural FinTech Conference – Frontiers of Digital Finance Conference.  The Silfen Leadership Series, a student-run venture, aims to increase access to world-class leaders.  Recent notable speakers include Dominic Barton (Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company), Maureen Chiquet (CEO, Chanel) and Stephen A. Schwarzman (Chairman CEO & Founder of The Blackstone Group). Now in its 23rd year, the annual Columbia Women in Business Conference invites women in leadership roles from around the country to gather and network. The 2016 keynote speaker was Deloitte CEO, Ms. Cathy Engelbert. “Elevate: Building the Black Community from the Boardroom” was the theme for the Black Business Student Association Conference which celebrated its 34th year in 2017. The 13th annual CBS Healthcare Conference centered on the theme “Shaping Healthcare’s Future: Delivering Value along the Continuum of Care” and focused on topics such as aligning incentives across the system, improving health outcomes and bending the cost curve.  For aspiring marketing leaders, the BRITE 2016 Conference: Brands, Innovation, and Technology was hosted by The Center on Global Brand Leadership.


Class Profile

Class Size: 204 (Jan) 552 (Aug)

Average Age: 28

Average Work Experience: 5 years

Women: 39%

Underrepresented Minority: 33%

International Citizenship: 42%

Median GMAT: 732

Average GPA: 3.6

Career Placement

  • Consulting – 23%
  • Energy – 2%
  • Marketing/Media – 11%
  • Financial Services – 25%
  • Private Equity – 7%
  • Healthcare – 3%
  • Manufacturing – 2%
  • Real Estate – 4%
  • Technology – 8%
  • Nonprofit – 5%
  • Military/Govt – 3%
  • Other – 7%

Counselors with CBS Experience

Blogs about CBS

MBAnalysis Blog: Part of a Family Business? An MBA is Right for You! (Part 1)

An estimated 80% of all businesses are considered to be family businesses to some degree. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of business schools have one or more courses focused on the unique challenges of running a business that means a whole lot more to you than making money. If you are already working in a family

Tips on Writing the Columbia Business School Essay: Loving that New York Frame of Mind

(Updated for 2018-2019) Like many of us, Columbia Business School just wants to be loved.  For a successful candidate that means making it clear to CBS that it is your first (and possibly only) choice for business school, and that NYC is the best place for you to spend two years. If this is you

MBAnalysis Blog: Columbia Business School and Rolling Admissions

  And we’re off to the races...if you are applying to Columbia Business School; that is. As of today, the CBS application is open, and as one of the few schools with rolling admissions, it also means that there is some advantage to applying before the deadline. These dates for Columbia get pretty confusing, pretty