Columbia University

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#4, overall score 81.25/100

Fun Fact:

The Columbia Queer Alliance is the oldest LGBTQ student organization in the world. It was founded as the Student Homophile League in 1966.

Why should Jewish students attend Columbia? Jewish life at Columbia University is rich and diverse. Students can connect to Jewish experiences through Hillel, which is based out of the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life and offers multiple programs daily. There is a Chabad on campus, options to connect through Greek life, and a world renowned Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies. - Brian Cohen, executive director, Columbia/Barnard Hillel

Columbia University is home to an exciting, eclectic mix of Jewish students from diverse backgrounds and Chabad is a place that unites them all. At Chabad, there is something for everyone, and each student that comes through our doors is part of our family. Since moving out here almost 20 years ago, Chabad has become a place for social, educational and cultural events; and a haven to turn to when a student is stressed or lonely and needs a friend to talk to — at any time of day or night. - Chabad at Columbia University


  • Location: New York, N.Y.
  • Region: Mid-Atlantic
  • Campus type: Big city
  • Public/Private: Private
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 6,113
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 650
  • Jewish population share: 11%
  • Student origin: 22% in-state / 78% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: Columbia Daily Spectator, The Current
  • NCAA Division: I
  • NCAA team: Lions
  • Ultimate Frisbee teams: Uptown Local / PANDEMIC

What Students Say:

“Columbia is diverse in its makeup, in terms of class, race, and opinion.”

COST & AID Score: 12.5/15

  • Score: 12.5/15
  • Tuition: $57,208
  • Room & board costs: $13,618
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $55,687
  • Average loan debt: $25,402
  • Starting median salary: $66,000
  • Scholarship for Jewish students: No

ACADEMICS Score: 20/20

  • Score: 20/20
  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Student/faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Median SAT range: 1450-1580
  • Jewish Studies program: Yes
  • Jewish Studies major: Yes
  • Hebrew major: No

What Students Say:

“Be ready to be challenged and not coddled.”…“There is a stress culture, Eurocentric core and inadequate mental health support.”…“The brilliant professors and classmates are the best part of Columbia.”

ISRAEL Score: 17/20

SAFETY Score: 3.67/11

  • Score: 3.67/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 3
  • Campus crime rate: 1.67/1,000 students (low)
  • City crime rate: 20.36/1,000 people (low)
  • LGBT center: Yes

What Students Say:

“There are Jews working together to combat Zionism and white supremacy, and working in solidarity with Palestinian students in the process. It’s super well organized.”

JEWISH LIFE Score: 28.08/34

  • Score: 28.08/34
  • Hillel: Columbia/Barnard Hillel
  • Chabad: Chabad at Columbia University
  • OU-JLIC: Yes
  • Jewish fraternities: AEPi, ZBT
  • Jewish sororities: SDT
  • Jewish dorm: Beit Ephraim Food Co-op
  • Jewish a capella groups: Pizmon, S’madar
  • Can you get kosher food on the school meal plan? Yes
  • Chicken soup hotline: No
  • Active Hillel clubs: 23
  • Hillel Friday night services: 4
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Hillel: 350
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 137 (95 Orthodox, 20 Conservative, 22 Reform)
  • Eruv: Yes
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Allen Ginsberg
  • Where do Jewish students come from? All over the world.
  • Kosher food details: Kosher food is available through the kosher meal plan, other on-campus vendors, and at multiple off-campus stores.

What Students Say:

“The Jewish community is immense; you’re likely able to find your community regardless of your affiliation or politics.”…“My specific Jewish community at CU (and there are many) is unique because it’s very thoughtful, very silly, and very committed to introspection and open to growing and learning, especially about our Jewishness.”…“I have visited a number of other campuses and the Jewish life, especially Orthodox Jewish community, of Columbia is unparalleled.”

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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