Admission Timeline 

Cohort Admission

Our graduate programs use a cohort model. A cohort is a group of students who begin and complete the program together. We operate on a rolling admission basis, which means we make admission decisions as applications are completed. An invitation to join a cohort is extended to the first 24 qualified applicants, so some target start dates may vary. 

You don't have to wait to start your degree. Our cohort start dates vary by degree. View our current Academic Calendar.

Please contact us at 803.786.3871 with any questions about cohort start dates. 

How Do I Apply? 

1. Complete Your Application

Start Your Application

As a first-time applicant, you'll be prompted to set up an account. You can always take a break and come back to your application.


Access Your Application

Already started your application? Please use the following button to view your application, submit documents, check the status of your application, and see a checklist of any missing documents you might have.

Application Status

2. Submit an Application Essay 

Essay Instructions

  1. Must be at least 2 full pages, but no more than 4 pages.
  2. Must be typed using Time New Roman 12 point font, double-spaced and with one-inch margins. 
  3. Any cover page, lines used for identifying information (such as name and address), or citations will not count towards your page total.
  4. Once you are ready, submit your completed essay to:

Choose one of the essay scenarios listed below. Be sure to review the scoring rubric before you write your essay—the rubric is how we score your essay.

Essay Scenarios (Pick One)

  1. Explain why you are choosing this particular program of study. Also, discuss your plans upon completion of the graduate degree.
  2. Choose one important personal achievement to discuss. Share how this achievement has made a significant impact on your life choices and aspirations.
  3. Describe a situation within your professional experience where leadership succeeded or failed. In your assessment, explain the “forces” which contributed to the foundations for or obstacles to success.
  4. Describe in detail how you perceive the role of a leader in your field.
Essay Rubric

Writing successfully presents the topic in a novel or unique way. Writing includes excellent and specific concrete detail and insightful commentary

Writing has a compelling and logical flow of ideas.

Writing consistently and effectively shows rather than tells through specific and vivid details.

Writing reveals a unique personality and view of the world, leaving the reader to want to know more about the writer.  Writing uses words that are striking and fresh but natural, varied, and vivid.

Writing uses proper grammar. Sentences flow well and vary in construction and length. Writing uses correct punctuation and spelling.


*Official transcripts are required before you attend your classes. 

Request an official copy of your transcript. Official transcripts should be sent directly from each high school you've attended. Already have college credits? Check out our application steps for transfer students

Indicate on your application if you are interested in having your previous graduate studies evaluated for transfer credit. You may receive up to nine hours of credit.

4. Submit Recommendations

Submit two recommendations. Please follow the instructions on the recommendation forms.

Download Recommendation Form

5. Eligibility Requirement Documentation

Graduate students must submit one of the following:

  • Official documentation of a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Official documentation of an earned graduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0

Divergent Learning, Organizational Leadership, and Higher Education applicants may also submit the following if they don't meet the GPA criteria above: 

  • Copy of a teacher’s certificate that is current on the first day of class of the semester of enrollment
  • MAT (Miller Analogy Test) score with a date no older than 5 years prior to the first day of class of the semester of enrollment
  • GRE (Graduate Record Exam) score with a date no older than 5 years prior to the first day of class of the semester of enrollment

Please use the following address for transcripts, recommendations, and other application documents: 

Office of Graduate Admissions
Columbia College
1301 Columbia College
Columbia, SC 29203

Admission Decision 

In most cases, we evaluate an application and respond with an admission decision within five days of receiving all the required documents. Admitted students are notified by mail and will receive follow up information about the next steps, like financial aid, orientation, and registration. 

Financial Aid 

If you would like to apply for Stafford Federal Loans (the only financial aid available to graduate students), we recommend that you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. Submissions are accepted beginning October 1. Learn more about our low tuition rates and your financial aid options.