Columbia University School of General Studies

Columbia University History

One of the world’s leading research centers, Columbia University in the City of New York offers a distinctive and distinguished learning environment. Columbia seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time through its mission of educating students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

School of General Studies History

Founded in 1947, in large part to accommodate the wave of veterans returning from World War II, the School of General Studies (GS) is the liberal arts college at Columbia created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university. At GS, nontraditional students include students who have interrupted their educations or who have never attended college before, those who can only attend part-time, and students enrolled in dual degree programs, such as the Joint Program with the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program with City University of Hong Kong, the Dual BA Program with Sciences Po, the Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin, or the Dual Degree Program with Tel Aviv University. GS students are fully academically integrated and take the same courses, with the same professors, as students in Columbia’s other undergraduate colleges.

GS Undergraduate Enrollment

Note: The following enrollment statistics are based on 2022-2023 official reporting.

  • More than 2,200 undergraduate students
  • 73% full-time; 27% part-time
  • 46% women; 54% men
  • 30% of American students are Asian American, African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American
  • 27% international students (non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident)
  • Average age: 27

Visit the Columbia University Office of Planning and Institutional Research website to view our Common Data Set

Student Life


University Resources

  • 13 graduate and professional schools, 3 undergraduate colleges, and 4 affiliated institutions
  • More than 31,000 students enrolled
  • 16 Columbia libraries and 3 affiliate libraries
  • More than 100 centers and institutes for specialized research
  • Endowment of more than $13 billion
  • Galleries, theaters, performance spaces, and art and architecture studios
  • Extensive network of support services

After Graduation

  • More than 70 percent of GS graduates go on to earn advanced degrees
  • More than 300 employers recruit on campus each year and approximately 1,000 advertise employment opportunities to our students
  • Students have access to a global network of more than 250,000 alumni throughout the US and in 180 countries