How To Get Into Columbia

Business School

CBS 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.


 Important Insights about CBS


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.


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.

Sample Counselors with CBS Experience


CBS MBA, Marketing, Statistics, Community involvement, International Development, Sustainability


Sloan MBA, MBB, Private Equity, Finance, Energy, Politics, Green Energy


Wharton MBA, Private Equity, Finance, Sports and Entertainment, Health and Wellness

 Important Facts about CBS


J-Term 2018 and August 2018 Early Decision (binding)

  • Deadline: 10/4/17

August 2018 Entry (Rolling Admissions)

  • Merit Fellowship Deadline: 1/5/18
  • Final Deadline: 4/11/18
Class Profile

Class Size: 558 (August Entry), 218 (J-Term)

Average Age: 28

Average Work Experience: 5 years

Women: 38%

Minority: 31%

International Citizenship: 48%

Average GMAT: 717

80% GMAT Range: 680-760

Average GPA: 3.5

80% GPA Range: 3.1-3.9

Career Placement


  • Financial Services: 37%
  • Consulting: 35%
  • Technology/Media: 10%
  • Manufacturing: 8%
  • Other: 11%

CBS Resources

Admissions Tips & Advice for Getting Accepted

Essay Questions

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.

Short Answer Question:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Essay 1:
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2:
The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)

Essay 3:
Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)
a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.
b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?

Optional Essay:
Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

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