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This page addresses frequently asked questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on the 2021-2022 academic year. Additional information can be found on the COVID-19 Resources page.
Mask Guidelines

All GSAPP students must wear masks at all times in indoor settings in Columbia facilities, regardless of vaccination status.

Acceptable face coverings include:

  • Cloth masks that contain at least 2 layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric that 1) provides an acceptable level of protection (based upon a research study) and 2) blocks light when held up to a light source (bandanas and single-layer gaiters do not meet these requirements and should not be worn)
  • Surgical or medical procedure masks that contain multiple layers of non-woven material

More information can be found on the University’s COVID-19 Health Protocols website.

The Student Accountability Plan includes procedures for reporting violations, and sanctioning individuals that fail to comply and violate University Policies.

Please keep our community safe, and If you have any questions or concerns contact me.


What is the format of instruction for the Fall 2021 semester?

  • As outlined in President Lee Bollinger’s message of March 17, 2021, Columbia University expects to have the capacity and supply to vaccinate all Columbia affiliates by the fall, and has the goal to resume in-person academic activities across its campuses.
  • The University is requiring all students to return to campus for the Fall 2021 semester and looks forward to safely returning for in-person instruction and activities.
  • Please check the frequently updated Columbia University FAQ page, where additional information related to the Fall 2021 semester will be posted as it becomes available.
Facilities and Resources

How do I access on-site laboratories including the Making Studio?

  • Following Columbia University and New York State health and safety guidelines relating to academic instruction, technology labs and the Making Studio are open based on established procedures for cleaning and sanitizing as outlined on the University website.
  • The spaces are available to GSAPP students by online reservation for specific timeframes to ensure occupancy thresholds are not exceeded, and spaces will be supervised by staff.
  • Before being able to use the shop, new and returning GSAPP students need to complete a full new safety orientation. Detailed procedures are posted on the Making Studio website.

How do I access the Avery Library or other libraries at Columbia?

  • At the start of Fall 2021, all libraries will reopen for all users for general use and study. Butler Library will resume 24-hour operations and Butler Cafe will reopen. The full return of in-person, physical library services will be complemented by robust online resources and activities that will continue to be in place to support users no matter where they are learning. See the full announcement here.
  • Please continue to check the Library website for the latest updates.
  • Remote access is also available for millions of items on CLIO, including 40% of print holdings that are temporarily available digitally.
  • Please reference the Avery Library homepage for more details and additional updates.

How do I prepare for arriving on campus safely?

  • Please see the five steps that are required for students to freely access University campuses and facilities starting this fall on the University website.
  • Please reference the University’s COVID-19 Resource Guide for the latest information and detailed articles and resources that can be filtered by audience type, categories, or keywords.
  • Columbia University has developed public health protocols including symptom screening, testing, and promotion of healthy hygiene, among others. You can learn about the details of these protocols on the University’s regularly updated COVID-19 Public Health Protocols page.

Does Columbia require and provide COVID-19 vaccines?

  • “On the strong recommendation of our public health colleagues, who have advised us so ably throughout this process, President Bollinger and the Columbia University COVID Task Force have decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all students who are present on campus, starting this fall. We will provide religious and medical exemptions, as we do for the influenza and measles vaccines, in accordance with New York State public health laws.” Please read the full letter of April 19, 2021 regarding Columbia’s updated vaccination policy.
  • The University is currently operating seven locations that provide vaccinations to Columbia affiliates, five of which can offer vaccine to their family members, as well as to other patients, as long as they are a resident of the United States.
    Morningside campus appointments at Lerner Hall (2920 Broadway) are available to students, faculty and staff, and can be made through Columbia Health. Booking an appointment can be done via the scheduling section of the Columbia Health Patient Portal. You may also use the New York Vaccine Finder for additional locations.
  • Please see the University’s Vaccine Information page and Vaccine FAQ page for the latest updates regarding COVID-19 vaccine information, eligibility, and distribution.
International Students

How does Columbia support international students and their visa needs?

ISSO hosts regular events and webinars for new and continuing students to share updates and information.

International graduate students should review their home country’s specific guidance regarding:

  • permission to engage in online education while outside of the U.S., and
  • accreditation/certification of their degree by their home country should part or the entirety of their program be pursued online.

If you are an international student and have additional questions and concerns, please contact the ISSO via email at isso@columbia.edu


Has the deferral policy changed?

  • GSAPP’s deferral policy remains unchanged. Deferrals are only considered in the case of personal medical emergencies and additional documentation would be required.

What is the policy for continuing students to request a Leave of Absence?

  • Leave of Absence for continuing students can be requested through an online form. Requests must be made by July 15 for leaves beginning in September. Due to spatial constraints, students are not guaranteed an authorized personal leave of absence, and priority will be given to medical leaves.

Please see the GSAPP Policies and Resources page for additional policies. An extensive repository of policies applicable to Columbia University can be found on the University Policies page.

updated September 27, 2021