Columbia MBA

Rankings | Class Profile | Employment Report | Sample Essays | Interview Questions

Columbia MBA – Introduction


The old saying at Columbia Business School had been as Wall Street goes, so do Columbia. It’s fortunes have been so closely aligned with the financial sector, that a prolonged downturn inevitably has a big impact on the uptown school. But that is now changing as the school and its students have increasingly diversified their career choices.

Among the latest changes, Columbia will now teach some technical components of courses online to free up more classroom time for deeper dives and discussions. The school also will increase the number of electives students can take in the first year to allow them to make a stronger impression on employers during their summer internships. In the second half of the second term, MBA students at Columbia will have no core courses at all but five different elective courses.

Columbia’s new core is made up of two full-term courses–Financial Accounting and Finance– and nine half-term courses that range from Business Analytics to Strategy Formulation. Incoming students at Columbia are assigned to clusters of 65 to 70 students who take all of the first-year core classes together. Before each term, students can opt out of a core course by exam and replace it with an elective.

Dean Glenn Hubbard, who had been chief economic adviser during the Bush administration, has worked hard to get the school a sorely needed new home in the Manhattanville section of New York in West Harlem where Columbia University is developing another campus. The business school will eventually be housed in two new buildings on that 17-acre campus at a cost of $500 million. And it’s location in New York City allows the school to tap into one-of-a-kind executive talent in a world capital.

Until it can occupy its new home, Columbia Business School remains centered in Uris Hall, a 12-story high concrete building that opened in 1964 following protests from architecture students who objected to its design, and Warren Hall, a 1999 facility it shares with the law school. Cramped conditions mean researchers share windowless cubicles and former basement space was cleared out to use as a laboratory. The problem is that the new campus won’t be complete until 2030, though the business school is expected to be among the first to move there years earlier.

Good Facts:

  • The top recruiters at Columbia Business School include McKinsey and Company, The Boston Consulting Group, Amazon, Deloitte Consulting, Bain and Co. and Goldman Sachs and Co.
  • Columbia Business School is home to 42% international students
  • Columbia sends a large number of students into finance; Although Columbia’s 4% placement in the real estate industry may not seem impressive at first glance, this figure is almost triple most business schools, which typically place in the 0.5–1% range into the real estate industry.
  • The overall median salary for the Class of 2018 was $130,000.

Not so good facts:

  • A mba from Columbia will put you back atleast 1.20 Crore.
Financial Times
The Economist
US News Ranking

Early Decision & January Term: 4 October 2019

Merit Scolarship: 3 January 2020

Final Decision: 10 April 2020

Decision 1: Rolling

Decision 2: Rolling

Decision 3: Rolling

Columbia MBA Sample Essays


Columbia Esssay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

I grew up sorting diamonds. While my friends were at the beach I was studying the all-important 4Cs (carat, cut, color, and clarity). My father is past president of the Diamond Exchange and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. My grandfather was a founding father of the industry in my country. They taught me that to excel you must first understand the fundamentals. That is what brings me to CBS.

I have always known I would join the family business. My dream job is more than to become CEO; my goal is to become an exceptional manager, combining my passions for business, technology, and finance, to grow our company in innovative directions. Post-MBA I hope to join our New York office, armed with stronger tools in finance and international management, to implement my vision for the future.

That vision includes guiding the company, which is focused mainly on taking rough diamonds to polished, downstream in a consumer-facing direction. Online sales of fine jewelry are still only a fraction of total sales, but it is growing rapidly. I see huge potential for recent technological advances in the fields of imaging, modeling, augmented reality and virtual reality, to revolutionize the B2C market. I aim to develop pioneering online sales platforms that will service consumer-faced companies, such as the integration of the Diamond Exchange with eBay I am working on now, vigorously seeking solutions to the challenges inherent in this nascent market…Continue Reading Here

Columbia Essay 2: Considering your post-MBA and long term professional goals, why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career? Additionally, why is Columbia Business School a good fit for you?

My long-term professional goal is to start my own medical technology venture. Many of the projects I have been working on in the Technology Unit of the Intelligence Directorate utilize technologies that are applicable to medical devices. Over the years, out of research and personal interest, I have come up with several innovative ideas that I believe can improve diagnosis and procedures in fields of dental health and cardiology. The roles I have held in 10 years of military service have required me to implement and develop my teamwork, management and leadership skills, as well as my cognitive and engineering skills.

My strong understanding of the challenges introduced by technology, gained through all levels of involvement in interdisciplinary technological projects, from an engineer, through team and department leader, to project manager, will contribute to the success of the initiative. However, I need an MBA to learn how to transform my ideas into a viable business. I must learn skills related to finance, marketing and strategic planning, in order to participate in the entire process of developing new technologies, and I believe that Columbia Business School offers unparalleled opportunities in the fields of entrepreneurship, product management and healthcare. I feel now is the right time for me to take all that I gained from my significant military service experience, as well as my initial foray into entrepreneurship, and take it forward with me to the world of business. Since I feel that my military service has already enabled me to make a significant contribution, and since I have grown and developed over the past 10 years, I have now decided to challenge myself in new ways. An MBA at Columbia Business School is the best way for me to transition from the military arena to the world of business, with the help of such organizations as the Military in Business Association…Continue Reading Here

Columbia MBA Interviews


I received an invitation to interview and was matched with one alumnus in my area. The match was definitely not random since we are in the same under-represented industry, similarly sized companies, and have worked with the same people at some points in our careers.

I reached to my interviewer via email and he suggested two days to meet. After agreeing on date and time I also sent him my resume. Before the interview, I spoke to 10+ students and prepared extensively. On the day of the interview, we met at a cafe near his office. The atmosphere was very casual and friendly.

He read my resume in advance and just had a couple of clarifying questions specific to my background. Otherwise, questions asked were very typical for Columbia interviews.


  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. Why MBA and why now?
  3. Why Columbia?
  4. Do you have any questions for me?

I asked several questions about his career and MBA experience, and my last question was whether he had any advice for prospective students. This question ended up launching a second phase of the interview… He expressed concern about my goals being unclear (I failed to explain properly and at this point said goodbye to Columbia), and started asking follow up questions:

5. What impact / achievement have you had in your current job?


He seemed unsatisfied with my answer and kept pressing until I gave him a quantifiable answer.
He said he will submit feedback to school and tell them my interest in Columbia seems genuine.
After the interview, he submitted feedback the same day. I was certain I failed the interview, but I got a call from admissions two business days later…Continue Reading Here

Columbia MBA Application Essay Tips


Columbia Business School has released the application and essay questions for candidates beginning at the MBA program in 2020. These essay questions have been updated for this year. The new MBA essay questions include a new question about leadership and your fit with Columbia Business School. Columbia asks you to choose a leader you admire, which could be anyone from Melinda Gates to Columbia professor Bruce Craven‘s choice, Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones.

What is the admissions team looking for in Columbia MBA applicants?

We have heard from the MBA admissions committee at CBS that authenticity is key. The committee is looking for candidates who are a great fit for the program. Another aspect is the academic background to handle the rigor of Columbia.

Additionally, desire to attend Columbia is also an important part of the Columbia MBA application process. Columbia is a fast-paced program in a fast-paced city. The kind of MBA student who is a good fit for Columbia and its setting in New York City will be those that plan to take full advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the setting. It’s up to you to prepare your case for admission with thorough research into the school.

To accomplish this, speak to current students, alumni and research the classes and faculty at the school to understand the full offering at Columbia. Columbia is looking for students who have big plans for their lives, MBA or not. Therefore, before you get started with this set of essays it will be helpful to brainstorm your career objectives, strengths and weaknesses, and to think about your overall future dreams.

Columbia offers several flexible options for admission, from full time MBA programs starting in the Fall, to a January entry session and an excellent executive MBA program. Columbia also offers an early decision option for candidates that are committed to attend the school.

Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a strategy consulting firm.”
“Launch a data-management start-up.”

This is a deceptively simple question that requires you to condense your career goals into one clear career vision statement. As part of the question Columbia provides a few examples, which are concise and to the point. If your goal is to work at an investment bank after graduation you could always just say: “Work in finance.” To try to add a bit more detail, consider adding a little more color. Something like: “Work in real estate finance for a private equity firm” tells the admissions committee far more about your interests and goals than just “work in finance” and sets the tone for the first essay.

Columbia Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

This a question that drives at your short- and long-term goals and plans. The word “imagination” conjures up your aspirational dreams, not just your practical plans. Therefore, those who seek a top tier MBA at a school like Columbia have big dreams. You will be exposed to people and opportunities that will expand your horizons. Think about your true passions, and feel free to explore your big dreams. As you talk about your future you may need to refer to your past career and personal experiences.

As you consider what to say make sure you are citing only relevant examples from your career. Also, think about the experiences you can describe that were truly pivotal and can support your future goals. Your goals should have some logical progression from your past, but you can (and should!) show you plan to change and adapt.

For example, perhaps you want to be a general manager of a company or division, and right now you have been working primarily in marketing. Subsequently, you might spend your time at Columbia learning about finance and strategy, being part of consulting projects and interning at a start-up to round out your experience and start on your general management path. Most importantly, Columbia wants to know who you are and how you are different from other applicants. Don’t try to be an ideal applicant, instead reveal your real personality, motivations, goals, and plans.

Columbia Essay 2: Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

This essay question is revised for this year’s application. In prior years Columbia has posted a video about Columbia’s location in New York city, and Columbia’s access to industry leaders in industries including finance, media, fashion and technology though this question does not ask you to watch a video and respond, thorough school research will help you answer the question well.

The best way to research a school is to visit, talk to current students, and attend classes. If you are unable to visit Columbia before you submit your application, see if you can network with alumni and research the school online. The question posed here is how will you, specifically, benefit from the opportunities unique to Columbia? Will you take classes from an industry expert you admire? Intern at a target company or within an industry that interests you? What other resources in New York City or within Columbia are interesting to you? Columbia takes advantage of the location by employing adjunct professors from industry, encouraging internships during the school year for MBA students, and frequent lectures and mentoring from executives in various businesses. You might mix personal and professional interests in this topic. You could emphasize either one of those angles depending on the answers you present to the other core questions. Specifics, specifics and specifics help you set yourself apart with this essay. Know yourself and know the school. As you address this question make sure your answer is tailored to your individual goals for learning and career along with your knowledge of Columbia’s academic and professional opportunities.

Columbia Essay 3: Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words)

This essay question is new for the class entering in 2020. In prior years Columbia asked for a team failure, while this question focuses specifically on leadership.The type of leader you admire will reveal what you are working towards in your own leadership development. There are many different types of leaders, and endless ideas about which type of leader is best. One leadership filter is from the business classic by Jim Collins, “Good to Great.” Collins describes a Level 5 leader, who is motivated by an organization and its cause, not by personal gain. A Level 5 leader exhibits a mix of personal humility and persistence. Level 5 leaders are not the only kind of leader that is effective, so consider some leaders you have read about, worked with, or admired and why. Once you have chosen your admired leader, consider why you chose this person. What are the attributes that you particularly appreciate? Does this leader know people within the team on a personal level? Connect your work with the organization’s purpose? Or persist despite overwhelming odds? Describe what you admire and why that quality is particularly appealing to you. Maybe because you are working on those qualities yourself, or because you share some of the same qualities and want to use those strengths.

Optional Essay: Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

Note that this question is completely optional and you do not need to answer if there is nothing more that needs to be communicated if you do choose to write an optional essay, we recommend keeping this essay brief. Focus only on specific areas of concern. These may be lack of demonstrated quantitative abilities, lack of a recommendation from a current supervisor, gaps in work experience, or particularly low grades. It is best to explain the issue factually and succinctly, then explain how you have addressed the issue. Make sure to explain why it should not concern the admissions committee in terms of your aptitude for the program and studies.

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