The International Center staff provides comprehensive support services to Columbia College’s international community including students, faculty, staff, and their dependents. The Center also plays a critical role in compliance for the college overseeing reporting requirements for the Department of Homeland Security.
The staff serves as an advocate and liaison for international students at the College relating to interactions with government agencies, community organizations, and campus offices. The staff disseminates information regarding changes in the U.S. immigration law to students and the campus community; advises students of their responsibilities to abide by the regulations governing their status; and assists students in achieving their academic goals and becoming an integral member of the campus community. Information is also provided to students, faculty, and staff on changes in institutional policies and processes that affect international students. A variety of programs and services are developed to enhance understanding, foster dialog and raise cultural awareness in all aspects of campus life.
Students in F-1 student status must adhere to the regulatory requirements outlined in the United States Federal Register, Part 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Students must register for and complete 12 semester hours each semester of enrollment. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes a violation of status and can impose serious consequences.
Upon their initial arrival on campus, international students must attend International Student Orientation and check-in with the International Center. Students must complete the Immigration Check-In Form and bring the following documents: a valid passport, visa (stamp located inside the passport), and all I-20 forms (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student) issued throughout the duration of their studies in the United States. These documents will be reviewed and photocopied for the student’s file. At this time, the International Center staff will register the student in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Under SEVIS reporting requirements, the Designated School Official (DSO) must report the following information for each student no later than 30 days after the program start date:
- Full-time enrollment
- Student dropped below full-time without prior approval by the DSO
- Student failed to enroll
- Current address - defined as where the student is physically residing
- Start date of next term or semester
For students in initial status, the deadline for reporting is 30 days from the report date on the SEVIS I-20 form. For continuing students, the deadline is 30 days from the beginning date of the term.
The DSO at the College enters data and keeps records on all international students as well as their dependents. The DSO is required to update information in SEVIS within a given time period regarding certain events related to a student or the dependent spouse/child. These reportable events include, but are not limited to:
- Change of legal name
- Change of address, both in the U.S. and abroad
- Failure to maintain status or complete the educational program
- Early completion of the program prior to the end date on SEVIS Form I-20
- Disciplinary action taken by the school against the student as a result of a conviction of a crime
- Any other notification about the student’s status
Students must report a change of name or address to the International Center within 10 days of the change. The DSO will update this information in SEVIS within 21 days.
As part of the record-keeping requirements under the F-1 regulations, the College must maintain the following information about each student:
- Date and Place of Birth
- Country of Citizenship
- Residential Address, both in the United States and abroad
- Enrollment status: Full/Part-time
- Date of Beginning of Activities
- Degree Program and Field of Study
- Practical Training Recommendations
- Termination Date and Reason
- Documents Required for Admission to Columbia College
- Credits Completed Each Term/Semester
- Photocopy of Form I-20
Columbia College encourages students to explore opportunities to study outside the United States. Students are afforded the opportunity to earn credit while experiencing the world up close, building cultural awareness and enhancing language skills. The College is a member of the Missouri Study Abroad Intercollegiate Consortium (MOSAIC), the Central College (IA) study abroad consortium and Webster University’s (WINS) network.
The College has exchange partnerships with Canterbury Christ Church University in England; Jeju National University, Kongju National University, Konkuk University and Soonchunhyang University in South Korea; Rangsit University in Thailand; Robert Gordon University in Scotland; and the University of Shiga Prefecture in Japan.
Columbia College students participating in an exchange program must enroll in the ABRD 144 course. Students pay tuition to Columbia College and retain institutional scholarships up to the cost of tuition. Room and board fees are paid to the host institution. Students are responsible for travel costs and incidental expenses related to their study abroad experience.
Students who enroll in study abroad courses at an exchange partner institution can choose to receive a pass/fail letter grade instead of a standard letter grade at time of registration. These students can enroll in multiple non-major specific courses as pass/fail per session or semester, while still being eligible for the Dean’s List. Major courses must be taken for a standard letter grade. For more pass/fail information, please visit the Grading and Academic Standing page.
The College offers a study tour to a different country or region of the world each year. These tours typically take place at the end of the spring semester. Trips last 9-14 days, and students may earn up to six credits of optional coursework.
Students may participate in study abroad programs offered by other institutions or providers. Any student participating in a study abroad program must submit a Study Abroad Application to the Study Abroad office.
To help defray costs to study abroad, students may apply for financial aid through the Columbia College Registration and Financial Services Office. Federal financial aid, such as the Pell Grant or student loans, can be used to help finance the study abroad experience. Students may also apply for the Columbia College Study Abroad Scholarship.
For questions and more information, please contact Dr. Brian Kessel, Study Abroad Advisor. He counsels students about the availability, value and academic appropriateness of study abroad programs.
International Student Admissions
Columbia College is welcoming of international students and encourages applications from non-citizens. An international student is categorized as a foreign-born person who is not a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States, nor individuals who have been granted asylum or refugee status. Applicants who have applied for residency or citizenship must provide all application materials necessary to be considered for international admission until residency or citizenship has been granted. The College does not extend admission to undocumented persons (students who are currently granted classification as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are exceptions).
International students seeking a SEVIS I-20 Form from the College for an F-1 visa are eligible for undergraduate admission through the Day Campus, Elgin Campus, Denver Campus, or Salt Lake Campus only. International students who are accepted for admission will receive a housing contract and I-20, if applicable. International students not seeking an I-20 from the College may apply for admission to any venue so long as the current visa status of the applicant allows for academic study while in the United States. Persons in F-2 status may apply for admission to the College only as non-degree students and are limited to part-time avocational and recreational studies. There are several other visa types that are eligible for full-time study at the College. International applicants should contact the Admissions Office for enrollment eligibility information.
New International Freshmen
International applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must complete a full sequence of university-preparatory studies that would qualify for admission to post-secondary studies in their home country. In general, students who present a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average from university preparatory studies are considered for admission. This requirement is equivalent to the twelve-year program of elementary, middle, and high school in the United States.
International Transfer Students
Columbia College welcomes international students with academic credit from other institutions. In general, students who present a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average from previous university-level coursework are considered for admission. University-level coursework completed at appropriate international institutions will be considered for transfer credit on a course-by-course basis. Academic performance at international institutions will be converted to a 4.0 scale for U.S. equivalency. If a transfer student does not present a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0, the student may be considered for admission through the Admissions Review Committee process.
International Student Application Process
International applicants to the must provide complete application materials as outlined below. All documents must be received by the College no later than four weeks from the start of the fall semester and no later than five weeks from the start of the spring semester respectively. To be considered for admission to the College, an international student must:
Submit the application for admission to with a one-time, non-refundable $35 (U.S. dollars) application fee. Checks should be made payable to Columbia College.
- Submit the SEVIS Supplement form.
- Request official, original secondary school records in the native language and an official English translation to be sent directly to the Admissions Office. The College evaluates advanced secondary school education from other countries, such as the British Advanced Level Examinations, the French Baccalaureate, the German Abitur, and the Canadian CEGEPs. Students who successfully have completed advanced secondary school education may receive advanced standing or transfer credit at the College. Such credit is evaluated on a course-by-course basis. Students may be asked to submit course descriptions and/or course syllabi for evaluation purposes.
- Request official, original transcripts (in the native language) from each college/university attended and an official English translation to be sent directly to the Admissions Office.
- Submit official bank documents to provide evidence of adequate financial support (in U.S. dollars) for one year of study at the College.
- Demonstrate evidence of English language proficiency.
- Complete a Transfer Recommendation Form and furnish a copy of a valid passport, visa, I-94, and I-20 from the last school attended if transferring to the College from an institution in the U.S.
English Proficiency Requirements
All applicants whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency. Appropriate scores from the following exams demonstrate English language proficiency:
|TOEFL-iBT* (internet-based test)
||Score of 48 (with no subset score lower than 10)
||Score of 61 or above; scores of less than 15 in any individual subset will require enrollment in a corresponding EAP course during student’s first semester.
|TOEFL-PBT* (paper-based test)
||Score of 460 (with no subset score lower than 46)
||Score of 500 or above; scores of less than 50 in any individual subset will require enrollment in a corresponding EAP course during student’s first semester
||Score of 4.5 (with no individual band score lower than 4)
||Score of 5.5 or above; scores of less than 5 in any individual band will require enrollment in a corresponding EAP course during student’s first semester
||Critical Reading subset score of 380
||Critical Reading subset score of 430 or above
||Subset score of 15 in English
||Subset score of 17 or above in English
|*Submitted results cannot be older than two years prior to the desired enrollment date.
Columbia College will also consider the following evidence of English language proficiency for applicants:
• A grade of C or higher from an English composition course completed at a regionally-accredited U.S. institution and deemed equivalent by the Office of the Registrar to the Columbia College ENGL 111 course.
• Successful completion of a U.S.-based English for Speakers of Other Languages Program (EAP) or Intensive English Program (IEP) and a letter of recommendation from the institution endorsing full academic admission.
Applicants from the following countries are required to submit SAT/ACT scores in lieu of English proficiency: Australia, Canada (English speaking provinces), Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Please note that credentials are reviewed carefully to confirm that applicants have the requisite English language proficiency to succeed academically at Columbia College. Therefore, the Admissions Office reserves the right to require additional documentation to verify English language proficiency.
Transcripts and Credentials
Applicants must inform the College of all institutions of higher learning attended and whether or not academic credit was earned at these institutions. Falsification of application information, including failure to identify all post-secondary institutions attended, may result in denial of admission or dismissal if discovered after enrollment.
An official transcript and official English language translation from each college and university attended must be submitted to the College before transfer of credit can be accomplished. An official transcript is marked as such and sent directly from the institution attended to the Columbia College Office of the Registrar. A transcript marked official and hand delivered in a sealed envelope of the institution by the applicant will be accepted as official. Transcripts marked unofficial or student copy will not be considered official even if delivered in a sealed institution envelope. Faxed transcripts are not considered official. Credit will not be evaluated nor considered acceptable for admission for one institution from another institution’s transcript. Only grades of ‘C’ or higher are accepted in transfer. The following is a list of examinations and test scores that must be submitted for an official evaluation: CLEP, DANTES (DSST), AP and IB.
Appeals may be made for an exception to having all transcripts/credit documents submitted prior to an evaluation. An appeal must include a statement of why the transcript/credit document is unavailable and/or why the applicant wishes to proceed without it for the initial evaluation. A waiver/disclaimer statement must also be signed by the applicant indicating that he understands that he is responsible for any consequences incurred due to the late receipt of all documents. Areas of consequence include, but are not limited to, enrollment for a subsequent term, advising and academic level.
Appeals will not be approved nor exceptions made for the following reasons:
- Applicant owes money at another institution and is therefore unable to procure an official transcript;
- Poor grades at the previous institution and therefore courses may not be transferable to Columbia College;
- Applicant does not believe that previous coursework is applicable to Columbia College;
- Applicant does not want to pay transcript fees.
Applicants who are unable to obtain transcripts because the previous institution has closed, had a fire or other records catastrophe may include a letter from the institution or the Department of Education for the state or the Ministry of Education where the school is located indicating that the transcript is not available. If the letter is provided along with the application and other transfer documents, then an appeal is not necessary and there will be no delay in the evaluation process.
Applicants may also submit a letter of appeal if a previous institution attended is not currently nor has ever been accredited by one of the accrediting bodies recognized by Columbia College.
International bachelor’s degrees awarded by institutions that are chartered and recognized by their centralized government educational body, or their national ministry of education, will be accepted as meeting the qualifications for a general education waiver if these criteria are met:
- 33 hours of general education course work (as defined by Columbia College)
- Of the 33 hours, representation in these areas must be met:
- Humanities general education course(s)
- Social and behavioral sciences general education course(s)
- Mathematics/science general education course(s)
- ENGL 111 and ENGL 112 must be completed at Columbia College
- Requests to allow domestic transfer of ENGL 111 and/or ENGL 112 must be submitted in writing via the Course Waiver/Substitution/Appeal form, found on The Office of the Registrar Forms web page.
International students must meet all of the above criteria in order to be eligible for a general education waiver. Once the criteria are met, a request for evaluation must be submitted by your advisor to the Office of the Registrar.
Once a document has been submitted it becomes the property of Columbia College. Neither the original nor a copy will be given to the applicant.
Main Campus Day Only
Enrollment in Online Courses
International Main Campus Day students who are approved to enroll in online courses may only count one course, three semester hours, toward the total required to maintain a full course of study. Other courses must be traditional and in-seat. Note: Students are not limited to take only one online course; however, only one online course counts toward maintaining a full course of study. Student enrollments will be checked each semester for compliance. For example, an undergraduate student taking nine semester hours of in-seat course work and three semester hours through online has met the full course of study requirement while a student taking six hours of in-seat course work and six hours of online courses has not. Please refer to the Registration Processes section for academic eligibility requirements to enroll in online coursework.
In order to maintain F-1 status and ensure compliance with U.S. immigration law, it is imperative that students communicate with the International Center staff through the duration of their studies at the College.
To ensure that non-immigrant students are able to cover any medical expenses in the U.S., it is required that all international students purchase the insurance plan provided through the College. Students in F-1 status will be charged for this insurance on their Columbia College student account upon enrollment for any number of credit hours. Students pursuing Optional Practical Training will be given the opportunity to continue insurance coverage. Payments will be divided in two segments and are due at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. For questions and details about the mandatory insurance program, please contact the International Center staff.
Withdrawing From Classes
If an emergency develops and an international student must withdraw from the College prior to completing the program, the International Center must update SEVIS to indicate that the student has been authorized to withdraw. If the SEVIS record is updated with an approved early withdrawal, the student has a “grace period” of 15 days within which to depart the United States. Without DSO approval for early withdrawal, the student has no grace period and must depart immediately. For more information on the Total Withdrawal process, please see the section of the catalog Grading and Academic Standing and click on Withdrawal.
English for Academic Purposes Program
The Columbia College English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program is an academic unit of the Humanities Department. It is offered only through the Day Campus. Because it begins at the high-intermediate level, prospective students must meet the proficiency requirements set by the College in order to qualify for admission (see English Proficiency Requirements).
The mission of the Columbia College EAP program is to provide quality language instruction and shared cultural experiences to non-native speakers of English with an emphasis on the skills necessary for academic success and integration into the American college experience.
To carry out the mission, the goals of the program are to:
- Enhance the English language and study skills of students that will enable them to transition to mainstream academic courses;
- Develop intercultural awareness and understanding among students;
- Provide students, faculty, and staff at the College with opportunities for international learning and experiences; and
- Offer support, including services related to admission, advising, academics, and student life, which helps students take full advantage of the College experience.
English Classes for Credit
English classes at many colleges and universities do not carry any credit. Other colleges and universities offer credit only for a few select classes. All EAP classes carry academic credit at Columbia College.
EAP Tuition Grant
All students admitted to the EAP program and who register for at least twelve (12) semester hours of EAP coursework are eligible for an EAP Tuition Grant worth fifteen percent (15%) tuition per semester. The grant is limited to two consecutive semesters only.
Columbia College’s EAP program provides the following two 16-week levels of English study during the fall and spring semesters for non-native speakers of English:
- Level 1: High Intermediate
- Level 2: Advanced
Placement is determined by the internet-based Compass ESL Placement Exam. This exam is administered to students prior to the start of classes, usually during orientation. Students in each level will have core (required) classes, totaling up to 19 contact hours of English study each week.
Core classes are the foundation of the EAP program. They are designed to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing and are offered each semester at both levels and consist of the following:
Advanced-level students, when qualified, may be permitted to enroll in a selected (non-EAP) course. Enrollment in evening or online classes during the fall and spring semesters is strictly prohibited.
In order to pass each course, students must earn a grade of “C” or higher. Students may repeat a course once. After a second semester in the same course, a student must pass to the next course in order to continue study in the EAP program.
Students advance from one level to the next as a result of their final reported grades. If a student fails his/her Oral Communication Skills course but passes his/her Written Communication Skills course, for example, the student is permitted to advance to the next level in only the Written Communication Skills course. The student must repeat the Oral Communication Skills course the following semester. In this case, s/he will be a split-level student the following semester.
Certificate of Participation
A certificate of participation is officially awarded to students who complete courses in the EAP program.