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16 things every Columbia Business School MBA student should know

Columbia Business School MBAColumbia Business School offers the opportunity to gain an Ivy League MBA degree in the heart of the American commercial hub.

We look at everything that makes the bschool special – including the advantages provided by its location, its academic uniqueness, its career transforming capabilities, its elite and powerful alumni network that can help you long after you’ve graduated from the MBA program and more.

Towards the end, you’ll find some CBS applicant and student stories to help you get a better picture.

16 things every Columbia Business School applicant should know about



The Columbia Business School (CBS) is about 12 km from New York City’s LaGuardia airport and is part of the 32-acre main campus of Columbia University in the Morningside Heights locality of Upper Manhattan.

NYC is among the most exciting cities in the world, with a wealth of business leaders who live and work there and often drop by at CBS.

The city has a humid subtropical climate with cold winters and hot (average 29 degrees Celsius) and wet summers (June to August).

Spring, which arrives by mid-May, is pleasantly warm (25 degrees Celsius). Autumn is NYC’s best time of the year, with mild temperatures and not-so-high humidity.


CBS is situated in an oasis of peace in the middle of Manhattan’s busy Upper West Side.

Classes are mainly conducted at Uris Hall, in the center of Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus, and at Warren Hall, an auxiliary space that CBS shares with the university’s law school.

The campus has for its boundaries Riverside Park, abutting the Hudson River, and Morningside Park, which slopes to nearby Harlem, giving the university lung space amidst urban turbulence.

The campus comes alive to fun events, too, from the weekly Happy Hours and Fall Ball to the Follies show put up by students.

Buoyed by $100 million donated by Henry Kravis (MBA, 1969), co-founder of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (a top private equity firm), in 2010, and by $100 million pledged by the investor Ronald Perelman in 2012, a new site is being constructed in NYC’s Manhattanville section, where the university is extending its campus.

Campus traditions, student clubs, and community service enrich campus life for local as well as international students.


CBS was ranked (all ranks from 2019) ninth in FT’s Global MBA Ranking and tenth in QS Global MBA Rankings.

It took the seventh position in Forbes’ list of Best US Business Schools and sixth in US News’ Best Business School (US) list.


The CBS faculty, comprising about 150 full-time, academic staff members, is organized into five academic units: accounting; decision, risk, and operations; finance and economics; management; and marketing.

CBS professors are in the forefront of shaping and refining new ideas for businesses and constantly interact with companies around the world.

They update students about new ideas in their industry of choice and teach them how to use these ideas at their companies. They share classes in the MBA core curriculum, cross-connecting traditionally separated disciplines.

Top corporate executives from NYC take classes, provide advice, and help with students’ networking, laying the foundation for relationships that often last a lifetime.


CBS runs MBA, executive MBA, executive education, doctoral, and Master of Science programs.

As part of the MBA program, faculty teach students to create innovative solutions based on their research and industry experience.

Incubated in an international environment that is a favorite haunt of top business leaders for programs such as Executives in Residence, Master Classes, and conferences, CBS students have the added advantage of easy access to New York City.

The school philosophy condenses the best of entrepreneurship, and students interested in various sectors are able to fuel their individual initiatives.

Curriculum (MBA)

The MBA core curriculum, based on case-based lessons and collaborative learning, lays the foundation for business knowledge, while electives help students to understand specialty areas.

Master Classes; the Industry, Business, and Society Curriculum; and Columbia CaseWorks make the MBA a versatile program.

The cluster system encourages academic interaction among students.

Classes are 90 minutes long with a 15-minute break between them.

The core curriculum comprises two full-term courses, and eight half-term courses. Before each term, exemption exams enable students who have expertise in particular areas to replace core curriculum with electives.

The core courses include corporate finance, managerial statistics/economics, leadership, and business analytics, among others.

There are over 325 electives on offer, and students have a choice of 4,000 graduate-level classes and dual-degree programs to attend.

Popular electives include applied value investing, family business management, healthcare, impact investing, and managing brands.

Application requirements

The CBS MBA admission officials look for candidates with strong work ethics, an eagerness to build personal and professional relationships, and a determination to make an impact on the world.

Transcripts of bachelor’s degree, GPA/GMAT score or Executive Assessment, essays (one short question and three essays), two recommendations (one from the candidate’s current supervisor and another from a former direct supervisor, conforming to two guidelines given by CBS), and an application fee of $250 are required.

Interviews are conducted by invitation and held in the candidate’s geographic area.

Fee, expenses

The fees and other expenses for a student (2019-20) living a moderate lifestyle come to $114,309 for the first year.
This includes tuition ($77,376), mandatory fees ($3,848), health services and insurance ($4,601), room and board ($21,375), and personal expenses ($6,066).

The budget of the January-entry student (as opposed to August-entry and continuing students) varies slightly as the first year is only eight months.

Scholarships, aid

Scholarships at CBS are mainly need-based, with the school providing partial tuition scholarships to many students. Merit-based scholarships are also available. Awards amounts are usually between $7,500 and $30,000.

Fifty percent of applicants receive need-based scholarships of an average of around $20,000. Awards are generally renewed for a second year.

However, need-based awards are not guaranteed, and CBS encourages students to look for external scholarships from foundations and corporates.

The school, in partnership with external organizations, awards the Forté Foundation scholarships and the Toigo Fellowship, which are merit-based.

MBA students may also be eligible for merit- and need-based awards from Columbia University.

Admission statistics

Here are some statistics on the MBA class entering 2019.

Applications received 5,876
Admitted 1,122
Enrolled 754, in 11 clusters (January entry – 203, August entry – 551)
Average GMAT score 727 (range 560-790)
Average undergraduate GPA 3.6 (middle 80% 3.2-3.9)
Average work experience 5 years (middle 80% 3-8 years)
Average age 28 (range 22-51)
Women 38%
International citizens 47%
Undergraduate majors Business 32%, Economics 19%, Engineering 17%, Social science 14%, Humanities 8%; Sciences 7%; Technology 1%;
Previous industries Financial services 29%, Consulting 23%, Marketing/media 15%, Technology 7%, Healthcare 5%, Nonprofit 5%.


Career development

The Career Management Center at CBS helps students transform their career in private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
Through one-on-one sessions, workshops, and seminar, it helps students improve their job candidature and secure internships.

Very often, visiting corporate representatives include school alumni, who provide useful tips and connections. The center also reviews resumes and assists in interview preparation.

Recruiting events, interviews, corporate programs, networking sessions, and educational presentations with student clubs enable company representatives to identify potential candidates at the school.

Campus interviews are conducted at Uris Hall every fall, and internship interviews every January. CBS Hub is a new resource for students and alumni to stay in touch with colleagues who can share their knowledge.

Jobs after MBA, employers

Of the Class of 2018 (39% women), 94.1% received a job offer within three months after graduation; 70% of offers were facilitated by the school, through campus interviews, networking, and proprietary job postings and postings on COIN, the school’s career management portal.

Placement outside the US included 44.9% in Asia, 32.2% in Europe, and 17.3% in Central and South America.

Top employers included McKinsey (55 recruitments), Bain (22), BCG (21), Amazon (18), Deloitte (17), Goldman Sachs (16), and PwC (12). Other employers ranged from Adobe to Apple and Samsung to Uber.


The mean average salary of the Columbia MBA class of 2018 (total students 727, women 39%, average undergraduate GPA 3.5, GMAT range 680-760, average age at entry 28 years) was $130,000 (range $52,000-$308,000).

The signing bonus was $30,000, median, and the range $3,000-$130,000. The median “other guaranteed compensation” was $28,500 and went up to $215,624.

The base salary range by industry was as follows:

Industry / Sector Salary range
Consulting (strategy management) $80,000-$233,500
Financial services (commercial, consumer banking, credit cards) $100,000-$125,000
Investment management (hedge funds, mutual funds) $125,000-$175,000
Private equity $100,000-$308,000
Venture capital $90,000-$160,000
Manufacturing (consumer products such as beverages and food) $103,000-$125,000
Media technology (entertainment) $58,000-$135,000
Hardware/software/telecom $70,000-$179,000
E-commerce, Internet services $63,000-$200,000


Alumni network

Eighty domestic, international, and affinity clubs around the world make up the CBS alumni network, comprising of over 44,000 alumni from all programs. Activities include reunions, annual dinners, and pan-international events.

Notable alumni

The list of Columbia MBA alumni include:

  • Mitch D. Albom (American author, journalist, MBA 1983)
  • Robert M. Bakish (CEO, Viacom, MBA 1989)
  • Fred P. Hochberg (former Chairman of the US Exim Bank, MBA 1975)
  • Elle Kaplan (American entrepreneur, MBA 2005)
  • Henry Kravis (founder, KKR& Co., MBA 1969)
  • Vikram Pandit (former CEO, Citigroup, MBA 1980)
  • Benjamin M. Rosen (former Chairman, Compaq, MBA 1961)
  • Harvey M. Schwartz (former president and COO, Goldman Sachs, MBA 1996)
  • Diana L. Taylor (former Superintendent, New York State Superintendent of Banks, MBA 1980)
  • Ira Trivedi (novelist, MBA 2008)
  • Seungpil Yu (Chairman, Yuyu Pharma, South Korea, MBA 1971)

to name only a few, randomly chosen former students.


The CBS MBA provides students with the ability to immediate apply skills gained at the school. It also helps them build and nurture an entrepreneurial mindset.

Other features of the school include the diverse community of students from 90 countries, its location in NYC, the opportunity it gives to identify one’s own interests, and its vast and resourceful alumni network.
Also read:
How this ivy league grad got into Columbia MBA in Round 2 after 4 rejections
My journey from Columbia MBA to McKinsey
Wharton, Columbia, Yale and Kellogg MBA admits for social worker
References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

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5 thoughts on “16 things every Columbia Business School MBA student should know”

  1. Hey im bharat jadhav from india im looking for MBA or masters in marketing program in ur university i got 6 bands in ielts pls help me.

  2. Hi

    I have completed my B.Tech In Computer Science Engg. in 2013 and since then i am into my family business of Solar Power Generating Systems, Solar Water Heating Systems, Water Purification and Water Cooling all for domestic, commercial and Industrial Applications. I was into Manufacturing, Sales And Direct Import.

    Now i want to persue MBA

    Please suggest me good University where it would be easy for me to get admission. I had scored 74% in B.Tech

  3. Dear Sameer,

    I am an IT Professional with 5.2 years of experience as an SAP Consultant. I want to pursue MBA and have been going through various MBA Programs offered at different esteemed premiere institutes. Upon some initial research, I came across, ISB PGP and ISB PGP Pro, programs. The Eligibility criteria for ISB PGP Pro on the ISB website is given as >5 , 6/>7 yrs. Kindly suggest would it be ideal for me to apply for ISB PGP Pro program or ISB PGP ?

  4. Hi Sameer,

    I am a civil engineer from NIT, working with a PSU for last 11 years. Had been longing to do an MBA because of a poor work profile, but cud not do a 2 year MBA. Took sabbatical to complete my one year MBA from IIM two years back. Tried my luck with campus placements but was not satisfied with the job offers. Joined back the same PSU with a role change as a business development manager. However, things remain same for me in terms of job satisfaction and a feeling of low self-worth because of a vanilla CV. I really don’t know the way forward.

    I have reached out to you with lot of hope. Hope some of your gyaan can sort me out.

  5. @Bharat: We don’t represent Columbia University. You can check out their website to see the admission requirements for MS and MBA programs.

    @Asher: Here’s how to select the right business schools for your MBA:

    @Nikhila: With your current experience, ISB PGP will be a better fit.

    @Mohil: Many mature students overestimate the difference that an MBA can make to their careers, especially when they are on the wrong side of 30. What they’ve done before their MBA matters much more than it does for younger students looking for a career change. Since you admit that you had a poor profile to begin with, I’m guessing that possibly played a role in the post-MBA recruitment.
    Companies hiring someone with your experience would typically have mid-management level roles to offer. If your PSU experience hasn’t already taken close to that goal after 11 years, an MBA will not bridge the gap in 1 year.
    I don’t think there’s any quick solution to it, other than trying for better roles on the basis of your skills if not the degree. Which means you’ll have to re-visit the process that should’ve ideally happened before you took the plunge i.e. have a complete self-diagnosis of the skills you have, and the skills that your target companies need. There are plenty of free online courses to learn new skills, and opportunities to put them into practice.


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