Columbia Medical School in the City of New York

October 21, 2013
Jennifer Marsh

Columbia Medical School awarded the United States’ first M.D. in 1770 in New York City. The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons has since been considered one of the best in the nation.

Dissecting the Facts and Figures

  • The school enrolls 169 students in each M.D. Class, and about 775 PhD students in total.
  • Columbia Medical School is world-renowned for surgery and medical research.
  • Tuition is $49,504/year, plus living expenses. About 65% of each class receives some grant aid.
  • Salaries at graduation are generally above the average for doctors nation-wide, but vary by speciality. Expect at least $150,000.
  • Almost all students are employed at graduation.
  • Anesthesiology, orthopaedic surgery and emergency medicine are top industries.
  • On average, an admitted student had an undergraduate GPA of 3.78, an MCAT composite of 11.9: 11.2 verbal, 12.2 physical sciences, and 12.3 biological science.

Culture of Competition

As a top-of-the-top school, Columbia Medical School is definitely competitive. Students are ambitious and eager to grab the highest honors in medicine: the best residency programs, and prestigious research funding. At the same time, campus is highly diverse, attracting top students from across the world.

Columbia in the Big Apple

Just recently Columbia revamped its curriculum. Rather than structure the curriculum based on year, academics are now structured by three major subjects: Fundamentals, Major Clinical Year and Differentiation & Integration. This inspires students to own their educational experience, and is based on cutting edge research in adult learning styles.

When students aren’t busy preparing for clinical or boards, they take advantage of America’s largest city. Located in Washington Heights, Columbia Medical Center is surrounded by restaurants and bars. Students often say that, because Columbia is surrounded by a major city, much of the school’s social life happens off-campus. In the medical school’s case, many outings actually happen away from Washington Heights, which isn’t considered an appealing part of New York City. The Upper West Side, however, is a short subway ride away.

Regardless of the dispersed social life, students often meet closer to campus. This includes the Jou Jou Cafe, where students get together for a quick coffee break. It’s conveniently located right on campus. Alternatively, for a lunch or post-class meal, Dallas BBQ is right across the street from the medical center. It has both take-out and eat-in options. It’s considered campus’ prime wings location.

Up and down Broadway, just near campus, there are a series of restaurant options. Multiple ethnic options, from La Dinastia to Empire Szechuan Noodle House to Galicia Restaurant allow students to take a world tour of cuisine.

Columbia Medical Center

The Columbia Medical Center is a modern and cutting edge facility. It is considered one of New York City’s premier teaching hospitals. While the Washington Heights location isn’t loved for its social life, it does provide a great opportunity for community service. The Dominican and Spanish-speaking population nearby frequents the Medical Center, and students are able to provide community services to Washington Heights residents. Groups like the Columbia Student Medical Outreach (CoSMO) lead these efforts.

New York City’s climate is seasonal, with four distinct times of year. Fall is comfortable in the mid-50’s, and spring is similar. Summers are warm and humid, while winters are cold and snowy. The weather never becomes too uncomfortable – neither too warm, nor too cold – providing a nice medium sure to please anyone.

Landing the Job

Career planning at Columbia Medical School begins at matriculation. The primary focus of career services at Columbia is the selection of a speciality. To help students make this crucial decision by the end of their first year, the school offers shadowing opportunities, mentoring and group and individual advising sessions.

At Columbia, these opportunities are integrated right into the curriculum. Students participate in career planning as a matter of course, not as an optional opportunity. Each year offers different levels of career exploration, culminating in the third year year with residency applications. Student receive ample coaching in this process.

Additionally, the new CourseWorks portal is Columbia career equivalent of Blackboard. It provides access to webinars, course materials and other information that is critical to landing a student’s first job.

If a world-class education at an Ivy League university in the city of New York appeals to you, then Columbia Medical School may be the right fit. For those hoping to embark on careers in research or surgery, there is no better school than Columbia. Consider the possibility of a medical degree from Columbia University!


Jennifer Marsh I've personally taken the GRE and MCAT tests. I'm currently studying for the PCAT, because I am not sure if I want to go into a biotech graduate program (GRE) or pharmacy school (PCAT). Medical school is too expensive, so I have decided not to apply to medical schools. I'm familiar with the tests, preparation, the practice exams, and the preliminary courses one should study before taking the tests.

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