Application Components FAQ
How long should my personal statement/essay be?
While there is no official page limit, a good guideline is two double-spaced pages, using readable fonts and margins. Your personal statement/essay should be a clear and concise example of your best writing. It should also be free from spelling and grammatical errors.
How many letters of recommendation should I submit and from whom?
Columbia requires two letters of recommendation to complete your application. We expect applicants currently in school or recently graduated (within two years of applying) to submit two academic letters from faculty who can provide insights about their candidacy. We suggest that applicants use their own best judgment when determining the appropriate number of letters of recommendation to submit.
Please be advised that, unless we are otherwise notified in response to Question 9.2 of the application, we will complete your application with two letters of recommendation.
I have been out of school for a while and am no longer in contact with any of my professors. Do I still need academic letters of recommendation?
You may submit letters of recommendation from professional references (i.e., former supervisors) if you are unable to locate former professors. However, the Committee does prefer academic letters of recommendation, so please make every attempt to obtain at least one.
Does Columbia require the submission of a dean’s certification?
Columbia will require admitted applicants to submit a dean’s appraisal/certification form, or an equivalent certification, from every educational institution at which he/she has been matriculated toward a degree (regardless of whether a degree was conferred) throughout his/her educational career. Matriculation at the Law School is contingent upon the satisfactory completion of the dean’s appraisal/certification form(s), which will be made available once an applicant has been notified of acceptance into Columbia Law School.
Withholding information regarding disciplinary history from your initial application will be considered by the Admissions Committee as a violation of the Law School’s principles of academic integrity. If you answer yes to questions 8.1—8.2 on the application, then you will need to furnish a statement from the administration at your school regarding your disciplinary history.
Are there any instances in which I need to submit a dean’s certification with my initial application?
Yes. If you have been subject to disciplinary censure by any educational institution you attended or if there are any disciplinary charges pending against you, then you will need to submit a dean’s certification or letter that includes an explanation of the incident, as well as a statement of current standing at that academic institution at the time of your initial application. If you have ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor parking violation or if there are any criminal charges pending or expected to be brought against you, then you must provide a detailed, complete and truthful written explanation with your initial application, irrespective of advice you may have received to the contrary.
I completed a study abroad program while I was in college. Do I need to submit a dean’s appraisal/certification Form from the institution abroad?
The dean’s appraisal/certification form is required only from institutions at which you were matriculated toward a degree. Since during most study abroad programs students continue to be matriculated at their home institutions, a dean’s appraisal/certification form is generally not required from the institution abroad. This rule of thumb also extends to summer classes, continuing education courses, evening courses, and/or any other classes taken for a reason other than the completion of a degree (i.e., personal interest, professional development).
Can I submit an addendum or additional written materials along with my application?
Yes. The Admissions Committee believes that candidates should be able to expand upon aspects of their candidacy that are otherwise not represented in the required materials. Some examples include diversity statements, statements of strong interest in Columbia Law School, explanations of undergraduate and/or LSAT performance, etc. We strongly suggest that applicants use their best judgment, in terms of content and length, when considering the submission of supplemental materials.
How do I submit a request for a deferral?
Columbia Law School maintains a liberal deferral policy—one to two years after admission. Admitted students who have submitted a seat deposit must notify the Office of Admissions of their wish to defer no later than June 1, 2014.
Admitted students who have been granted deferred admission are required to:
- Submit an additional, nonrefundable deposit that will be applied to tuition at the time of matriculation; and
- Sign an agreement that indicates the individual has withdrawn all prior applications to other law schools, does not currently hold deferred status at another law school, and will not make new applications to other law schools.
Applicants admitted from our Reserve category cannot defer admission.