While some students may apply for jobs and move on from academia after they graduate, others may be considering graduate school. If you’re looking to expedite that process and stay in New York after completing your undergraduate degree, consider applying to one of the following special programs offered by Columbia and Barnard. These programs allow you to start your Master of Arts or Master of Science requirements during your senior year, so that you can graduate with a B.A. or B.S. and an M.A. or M.S. in 5 years.
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: B.A./M.A. option
Columbia undergraduates across all four schools can apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in their junior year or first semester of their senior year. After getting accepted, you’ll be able to start your master’s courses in your senior year, while you finish your undergraduate requirements.
There are various programs that offer the B.A./M.A. option; a full list can be found here. Undergraduates of all majors are eligible to apply. The application process is similar to that of any other M.A. application with one minor difference: the GRE, or graduate school entry exam, is not required. You must also meet with the director of graduate studies or the program director of your desired program before applying.
In addition to the general application, many of these programs require a writing sample as well as three recommendation letters from faculty. As such, if you are considering applying to a 4+1 program, remember to interact with various professors in the first three years of your undergraduate career. Establishing a meaningful connection with professors teaching relevant courses will allow you to present stronger recommendation letters.
If you’re looking for advice on approaching your professor for a recommendation letter, make sure to check out Spectrum’s article here.
4+1 Pathway: Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences
The Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences (QMSS) Master of Arts Program allows undergraduates from Barnard and Columbia to apply a year early to their M.A. program. Students should apply in their junior year or their first semester of senior year. Acceptance into the program means students can start M.A. coursework in their senior year and finish a year after graduating.
Since this program is one of Barnard’s Accelerated 4+1 Pathways, Beyond Barnard organizes overview sessions for interested Barnard students about eligibility and application requirements. Following the session, students can meet individually with Beyond Barnard and be matched with a faculty advisor to go over course planning. For information on Beyond Barnard’s upcoming events, check out the ‘Events’ tab on Handshake.
4+1 Pathway: Master of International Affairs (MIA) or Master of Public Administration (MPA)
This program with the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) is open to students across all four schools. It is similar to the QMSS Master of Arts Program, where students apply during their junior year and start graduate level courses their senior year. SIPA requires interested students to contact the dean’s office of their respective school to obtain approval before applying. Once again, the GRE is not required to apply.
Since this is also a Barnard Accelerated 4+1 Pathway, Beyond Barnard provides guidance to students as previously outlined.
4+1 Pathway: Harriman Institute
The Harriman Institute allows students to receive their Columbia B.A. and M.S. in Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European studies in five years. Students from all four undergraduate schools can apply in the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year. A 3.5 GPA is required and although there is no major requirement, you must show that you have an interest in Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European studies.
Since this is also a Barnard Accelerated 4+1 Pathway, Beyond Barnard provides the same guidance to students as outlined above.
4+1 Pathway: Mailman School of Public Health
Interested Barnard juniors can apply to complete their B.A. from Barnard and MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health in five years instead of six. It requires a GPA of 3.5 or higher and two academic references, but once again, there is no GRE requirement. More information can be found here and by attending a Beyond Barnard session. The next one is on Nov. 17, so make sure to register here.
Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) Programs
SEAS offers various accelerated paths and programs into their master’s programs. The M.S. Express option allows any student from any of the four schools to apply to their M.S. programs through a simplified application. This option doesn’t allow students to start courses in their senior year; it only provides applicants with an easier application to fill out. Additionally, students are eligible for different programs based on their current undergraduate major. To see which M.S. program you are eligible for, check the chart here.
The Barnard 4+1 Pathway provides Barnard juniors with a 3.5 GPA or higher an opportunity to apply for an M.S. in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering or operations research. The Barnard economics department, along with the computer science and chemistry departments, provide students majoring in these respective fields with sample course plans and tracks to ensure eligibility for the various programs offered through this pathway.
Make sure to visit the department websites linked above to see what courses are required to be eligible to apply. Being aware of the requirements early on can help you plan for your full four years at Barnard and avoid any bad surprises, considering some courses are only available in either fall or spring. Make sure to talk to the 4+1 faculty advisor of the program you’re interested in more academic guidance. The application deadline is Dec. 1 for current Barnard juniors.
Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education Program
This program allows Columbia College students to join the Law School after their junior year and earn both their B.A. and Juris Doctor degree in six years. Columbia College can also nominate one or two students and recommend them to the Law School. For this program, students must take the LSAT or the GRE. Upon enrollment to the Law School, students will be withdrawn from Columbia College and after graduation from the Law School, students will be awarded both a B.A. and a J.D. More information is available here.