Master of Science Admissions FAQs

Our website is the best resource to learn about our programs! If you are unable to find an answer below or on our website, you may contact us. If have submitted an application, kindly include your AMP ID/APP ID # with your inquiry.

How long does it take to complete the MS program?

Students typically complete our programs in 3 semesters. Our MSBA, MSFE, & MS&E programs are 36 points. For our 30-point MS programs in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, students can complete the program in 2 semesters by taking 15 points (usually five courses) per semester.

What is the class profile?

The Columbia IEOR graduate programs look for candidates with a background in engineering, mathematics, computer science, statistics, economics, finance, or other similar quantitative fields. 

Are your programs STEM-certified?

All 5 of our MS programs are STEM-certified and eligible for F-1 STEM OPT extension.

Is the GRE test required?

For future admission cycles, we recommend preparing the GRE exam as it has historically been a hard requirement.

Is the GMAT test required for admissions?

The GMAT exam is not a requirement for the application, though it may be included as supplementary material. If you would like to submit the scores as additional material, you should submit the score report with your personal statement file.

Am I eligible to apply with a 3-year bachelor degree?

You are welcome to apply to our programs with only 3 years of undergraduate experience. However, we recommend having a 4-year degree in order to cover all the prerequisites for the program. While there are no official prerequisites for our programs, we do ask that our students have a background in multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, and probability & statistics. It would also help if you have some knowledge of computer languages C++, Python, and Matlab. Overall, we place the highest priority on quantitative skills, followed by programming experience, and internship/work experience. If you are interested in applying, you may find the application requirements here.

Can I submit expired test scores?

Expired test scores are not accepted. All standardized test scores need to remain valid through the start of your first semester.  If your scores will expire prior to this, we strongly encourage you to retake the exam. 

How do I submit my scores?

The Columbia University code 2111. It is not necessary to enter the department code.

Is there a minimum required English Language Test score?

There are no minimum test score requirements to apply for admission consideration. However, it may be necessary to improve your English proficiency if you scored:

  • 99 or lower on the TOEFL internet-based test; or
  • 6.5 or lower on the IELTS
  • 68 or lower on the PTE Academic
  • 130 or lower on the Duolingo English Test

Can I waive the English Language Test requirement?

One can waive the English language test requirement (ex. TOEFL, IELTS) if they have completed or will complete the entirety of their undergraduate or graduate degree in an English speaking country. Further, in the application, there is a section which guides applicants as to whether this exam is required for them based on their provided information. Please refer to the application for further details.

Should my recommendation letters come from academic or professional references?

You are required to submit 3 letters of recommendation. All applicants are required to submit at least 2 academic references, unless that applicant received a bachelor’s degree more than 5 years prior to the date of the application. Applicants who received a bachelor’s degree more than 5 years prior to the date of the application are strongly encouraged, but not required, to submit an academic reference.

Is there an interview process? 

After submitting the application, applicants will have the access to submit the video interview in the application. You will be asked three random questions, and will have three minutes to answer. Please answer as if we were having a face-to-face conversation, you should not stress about the interview - it's just a way for us to get to know you better. Please submit your interview by the deadline listed in your interview link email.

What type of students do you look for?

The Columbia IEOR graduate programs look for candidates with a background in engineering, mathematics, computer science, statistics, economics, finance, or other similar quantitative fields.

What are the prerequisites coursework or knowledge for your programs?

A background in a variety of quantitative courses is helpful to your success in the program.  The quantitative coursework includes: multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability, statistics and some knowledge of computer programming (such as C/C++, Python, and Matlab). We place the highest priority on quantitative skills, followed by math performance, programming experience, and professional experience. 

  • For MS in Operations Research and MS in Industrial Engineering:

    All applicants to all our graduate programs should have a solid foundation in mathematics, including multivariate calculus, linear algebra (MATH V2010 or its equivalent) and probability and statistics (IEOR E3658 & IEOR E4307, IEOR E4150 or their equivalent). Some programming proficiency is desirable, such as Python, R, etc. 
    • 1 course on multivariate calculus
    • 1 course on linear algebra 
    • 1 additional math course (for example, differential equations, discrete math, analysis of algorithms, real analysis)
    • 1 course on probability (or a joint course in probability and statistics)
    • Programming experience preferred (admitted students without sufficient experience will be required to take a programming-based course)
  • For Master of Science program in Business Analytics (MSBA) applicants

    Applicants should have a solid foundation in mathematics with two college level calculus courses and one linear algebra course. Students should also have had exposure to at least one programming language, either through a college level programming course or through work or through an internship. 
  • For Master of Science in Management Science & Engineering (MS&E) applicants

    All applicants to the MS&E program should have a solid foundation in mathematics, including multivariate calculus, linear algebra (MATH V2010 or its equivalent). Exposure to a programming language is a plus. 
  • For Master of Science in Financial Engineering (MSFE) applicants

    Applicants aspiring to join the MSFE program are expected to possess a strong foundational knowledge of essential subjects such as calculus, linear algebra, probability, and statistics. Familiarity with differential equations would also be advantageous. Proficiency in coding and the ability to work with financial models, conduct scenario simulations and analyze and mine data are integral to the program. Therefore, a mastery of programming languages like Python is not just valuable but essential. It's noteworthy that the IEOR department offers programming bootcamps to bolster your programming skills.

    A robust comprehension of finance concepts is indispensable. This includes a solid understanding of derivatives, risk management, portfolio theory, and the dynamics of financial markets. Immersing yourself in financial news and staying attuned to market trends can greatly enhance your perspective.

    The field of financial engineering has been substantially transformed by the advent of big data and artificial intelligence. It is highly recommended that you stay abreast of how machine learning and AI are being harnessed in this domain to drive data-centric decision-making. By keeping a pulse on these advancements, you can better equip yourself to contribute effectively to the evolving landscape of financial engineering.

Do you recommend preparatory math classes?

For applicants who have not taken a math course for several years, we do recommend some type of refresher course in order to excel in the program. If you are required to take a math course as part of conditional acceptance to the program, we will accept the grades from any accredited college or university. For high quality courses offered online, we recommend Columbia Video Network.

Is there a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) for application?

Yes, a 3.0 (out of 4) GPA is preferred. Most successful applicants have a GPA higher than 3.0. 

When will I know the decision?

The MS programs (Financial Engineering, Management Science & Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) applicants for the Fall semester will be notified of their admissions decision or contacted for more information mid-March to late-April.

Is work experience required?

While not required, we do recommend that prospective students have some professional experience, either in the form of a full time position or an internship.

Which programs are available for Spring admissions?

Our MSOR and MSIE programs have Fall and Spring Admissions. Our MSBA, MS&E, & MSFE programs begin in the Fall.

Do you have rolling admissions? When can I expect a decision?

The IEOR Department does not have rolling admissions. Applications are reviewed immediately after the priority deadline date. The review process typically requires 6-10 weeks after the priority deadline date for a decision to be provided. Be assured, you will be notified of the result of your application review as soon as possible. Our Programs are typically filled each intake so it is important that you apply timely!

Can I defer enrollment if admitted?

Columbia Engineering does not have a deferral policy. You should apply for the term that you expect to begin your program.

Can I apply to two programs during a given application cycle?

You may only apply to one program in Columbia Engineering; however, you may apply to more than one program in the same application cycle provided the other program is not in Columbia Engineering. Further, you may only have one active Columbia Engineering application at a time. Since our MS programs (MSOR, MSIE, MSBA, MS&E, MSFE) are in the Engineering School, you may only apply to one of our MS programs per cycle.

Are there any upcoming admissions events?

Our admissions events and information are posted and updated on our website. 

Am I admissible? Can someone on your team evaluate my candidacy prior to applying?

Unfortunately, we cannot evaluate your candidacy prior to submission of a complete application. If you are interested in admission, we encourage you to submit a complete application along with the required documents.

Where can I find more information about careers after IEOR?

This information, including a listing of companies where our graduates work after graduation, please see the careers page for the Masters programs.

What kind of professional development opportunities are there within the department?

Career placement and career development opportunities are offered by the IEOR Department, the Professional Development & Leadership team, and the Graduate Career Placement team. Many resources are available to Columbia Engineers and Scientists in their job search and career exploration. The Department expects all students to fully engage in the required ENGI E4000 Professional Development and Leadership course that educates students to enhance their professionalism, maximize performance and achieve their full potential to become engineering leaders. The course offers over 300 sessions annually covering many topics to enhance our students' marketability and skillset.

In addition, the IEOR Career Placement Team offers one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, mock interviews, employer info sessions, an exclusive job board, and student-alumni networking events and mentorship programs. These resources contribute to the growth and development of each of our students—something we take great pride in. The team is also continually forging strategic industry partnerships so that students are exposed to a broad range of professional growth opportunities.