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Columbia University, School of Professional Studies

Program Overview 

Location: New York City, New York

Culture: Energetic, globally engaged
Neighborhood: Urban, cosmopolitan
Housing: On-campus dormitory
English level: High beginner - high advanced 

As the oldest institute of higher learning in the state of New York, Columbia University has had a long history of fostering academic excellence and learning. Through its diverse faculty and student body, it seeks to support the process of learning at every level of the world renowned institution. Eighty-two alumni and past and current faculty have been Nobel Prize winners, which bolsters its mission and focus on advancing knowledge in the learning experience.

SAF Scholars can study in one of the oldest intensive English programs in the U.S. founded in 1911. The campus and its resources reside in an urban environment, as it is situated in Manhattan in the neighborhood of Morningside Heights. Students who attend Columbia live on and off campus, so campus life is intertwined with the neighborhoods and communities around it.

With over eight and a half million residents, New York City is the largest city in the country. The abundant diversity in the city helps to provide students with opportunities for activities and events that meet every interest. From Wall Street, the financial hub for the country, to the headquarters of the United Nations, from Broadway to the Village, the city demonstrates the width and breadth of what it offers individuals who reside in it. 

Student Profile

SAF Scholars seeking a rigorous academic experience in an urban environment would be well suited for Columbia. Right-fit students would also want to interact with diverse individuals on and off campus.

Other Programs at University

Columbia University also offers SAF Scholars the opportunity to complete an Academic Program through either Columbia College or the School of Professional Studies.

Other Comparable Programs

Program Details

Program Dates by Term Availability

Fall (August –December)
Spring (January–May)

Program Strengths

One of the strengths of this program is its dedication to quality language courses and support in the learning process. Instructors expect students to engage in the classroom and with the community around it, as it is an essential part of English language learning.
Highlights of the program include:
  • Academic English - preparing students to study at the academic level Integrated skills – each class focuses on more than one skill
  • Thematic learning – grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation learned in context
  • Error correction – feedback on spoken and written communication is encouraged 
  • Team teaching – each intensive course it taught by two or three instructors who work together
  • Critical thinking – teaches students to engage with themes and topic in individual ways while encouraging inquisitiveness and curiosity in its learners
  • Authentic materials – newspaper and magazine articles, novels, plays, lectures, movies and music are used on a daily basis in the classroom
  • U.S. Culture – learning about the city and country enhance the students’ learning experience

Number of Classroom Hours Per Week

18 hours each week during a 14-week term. Courses may include:
  • English Grammar
  • Pronunciation
  • Fluency
  • Listening
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing

Number of Levels

Nine levels of instruction from pre-intermediate to very high advanced. Each level is mapped to the Common European Framework approximated below:
  • Level 1 = A1
  • Level 2 = A2
  • Levels 3-5 = B1
  • Levels 6-7 = B2
  • Levels 8-9 = C1

Elective Courses Offered

Students take courses in a range of areas in order to increase their English language skills.

Progression or Concurrent Notes

There are no progression or concurrent options at Columbia


Housing Type

On-campus dormitory


Meals are left up to the students. The residence halls have access to kitchens, so scholars are able to self-cater their own meals. Scholars also have the option of purchasing on-campus meal plans at their own expense.

Type of Room


Student Life

Co-/Extra-Curricular Opportunities or Programs

SAF Scholars have advising assistance while attending their language courses at Columbia. Furthermore, they can also join the Language Exchange Program (LEP), which will pair them with a fluent speaker of English who wished to practice the native language of the SAF Scholar. These interactions allow students a different way to learn English while also meeting individuals outside of their classes.

Life on Campus

The campus is located in Morningside Heights, a neighborhood in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Its urban identity is apparent and affords campus life to be intermingled with life in the adjoining neighborhoods and communities.
Last Updated: 1/9/19