Housing & Student Life

Housing & Student Life

Opportunities for University housing accommodations in or near Morningside Heights, where the central campus of Columbia University is located, are diverse but limited. In recent years, the attractiveness and vitality of New York City and the Morningside Heights neighborhood have further exacerbated the housing situation. Back to top

University and Law School Housing

The Law School has a number of University-managed apartments and dormitories for use by students enrolled in its Graduate Program, but does not have enough housing units to accommodate all students. The Law School cannot guarantee housing to Associates or LL.M. and J.S.D. candidates. Special Students are not eligible for Columbia housing.

The Law School housing available to students enrolled in the Graduate Program includes dormitory rooms, studio apartments, one- and two-bedroom apartments, and apartment shares (two or three students in each apartment). Most, but not all, of these units are furnished. Students should note that policies regarding university housing, such as lease extensions, are determined by the University Apartment Housing office (UAH) and not by the Law School. Lease extensions for purposes of taking the New York bar exam are generally not available as most leases end on May 31.

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Application for Housing

Housing information will be sent to all admitted students in the spring. Admitted students who are interested in applying for housing accommodations must submit the housing application to the University Apartment Housing office by the deadline stated in the housing memorandum included in the admission materials. Students who are eligible to receive some form of University housing, but who choose not to apply for it, may find that the Law School is unable to assist them in securing accommodation at a later date.

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Off-Campus Accommodations

Columbia University maintains an office that assists students in obtaining off-campus housing in buildings owned and operated by landlords other than Columbia. Such buildings are not subject to the University’s inspection or approval. Students who wish to explore off-campus housing opportunities may visit the Off-Campus Housing Assistance Office (OCHA), located at 419 West 119th Street, lower level (telephone 212-854-2773), in order to view the listing of apartments available for rent, sublease, or share.

Proof of Columbia affiliation (in the form of an admission letter or a Columbia ID card) is required to use this service. Admitted students who have applied for Columbia housing may also visit OCHA’s Web site (sent to admitted students in the spring). Students are encouraged to begin looking for housing early as reasonably priced apartments in New York City can be hard to find.

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International House

A number of LL.M. and J.S.D. students choose to live at International House, a private residence on Riverside Drive north of West 122nd Street. International House has mostly dormitory rooms, but it also has a number of suites (which several students share) and a limited number of studios and one-bedroom apartments. It accommodates approximately seven hundred students from the United States and other countries in a cross-cultural environment that may be of special interest to students pursuing international studies. A cafeteria, recreational facilities, and varied cultural programs are available to residents.

Students should apply directly to International House, and not through University Apartment Housing, at the address below as early as possible.

International House
Admissions Office
500 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027
Telephone: (212) 316-8436
Fax: (212) 316-1827

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Dining Services

Students may wish to take advantage of Columbia's dining facilities. Meals may be purchased through a contract meal plan, the cost of which is determined by the number of meals per week a student elects to take. For more information, visit the Columbia University Dining Web site at Back to top

Medical Care and Insurance

The University has developed a two-part program of medical care to protect and promote the health of its students. The University Health Services, in John Jay Hall, provides students with complete outpatient care with its own staff of nurses, physicians, and specialists. The Health Services plan includes medical, surgical, and psychiatric consultation in the Health Center as needed; health education and outreach groups organized around topics of interest to students; an extensive program of women’s health care, including gynecological care and birth control and pregnancy options, as well as routine care; coverage for necessary tests and x-rays, and medications and injections for allergy or foreign travel. The full range of services is described in the Health Services brochure issued yearly and available at John Jay Hall. Through its public health services, Health Services also protects the University population from communicable diseases and occupational and environmental hazards, acts as health care provider to the faculty and staff, and supports the campus ambulance service. The full Health Services fee is charged to all law students registered for 10 or more points even if they have other coverage. Any student living in a University residence hall also will be charged the full Health Services fee.

The other half of the program is the Student Medical Insurance that supplements the Health Services by providing emergency room and hospital, accident, and sickness coverage throughout the year, both at Columbia and away from the University. This policy may be extended to a student’s spouse and children by filing an application with the carrier and paying an additional premium. The extensive benefits available under this policy are also described in the Health Services brochure. All full-time and residential students are enrolled in the Student Medical Insurance program unless they provide proof of comparable coverage. Students wishing to waive coverage must satisfactorily complete the insurance waiver questionnaire available at John Jay Hall. Accident insurance is provided by the University to all those who pay the full Health Services fee.

Student medical insurance plans are effective September 1 of each academic year.  Students can purchase additional insurance coverage for the months of July and/or August through the Early Arrival Plan.  As the LL.M. Program begins in mid-August, the Law School strongly recommends that all students purchase this additional coverage. 

Fees for Health Services and Student Medical Insurance are described in the Tuition and Fees Section of the catalogue. Since services provided by the Health Services and insurance coverage offered varies from year to year, students are advised to consult the Health Services Web site: for a full and current description of benefits.

Please note that all students born on or after January 1, 1957, must provide proof of immunization against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). (A form will be provided to admitted students for submission of proof of immunization.)

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International Students and Scholars Office

The staff of the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) provides advice and counseling to international students on such matters as English proficiency examinations, housing, personal and financial problems, and Immigration regulations (including visas, extensions of stay, work permission, temporary departure from the United States, transfer from Columbia to another school, and termination of study).  ISSO also provides information about the various international student clubs at Columbia and about opportunities to attend conferences, travel in the United States, and participate in community and cultural activities.

A fee of $50.00 per term is charged to international students. ISSO’s mailing address is Columbia University, Mail Code 5724, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027; telephone: 212 854-3587; fax: 212-854-8579; office location and courier address: 524 Riverside Drive, Suite 200, New York, NY 10027. Web site:

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Disabled Student Services

The Office of Disability Services ensures that students with long-term or temporary disabilities have the opportunity to participate to the fullest extent possible in the activities and programs of the University. Staff members act as advocates, resource and referral agents, ombudsmen, and educators while providing counseling and guidance. Strict confidentiality is maintained at all times.

The services offered include: producing the Access Columbia handbook; sponsoring support groups; coordinating volunteer and work-study students for assistance; developing workshops which bring together disabled and non-disabled students, faculty, and staff; and maintaining a resource collection containing various materials of interest to disabled students. This office also works with representatives from each school who act as liaisons on behalf of disabled students. Disabled students should first take any financial problems or questions to their school representative; at the Law School, students should consult the Dean of Students, Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin, at 212-854-7420.

The Office of Disability Services is located at 2920 Broadway, 8th floor, Lerner Hall, telephone 212-854-2388.  The office’s Web site is

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Career Services

The Law School’s Career Services Office provides assistance to LL.M. and J.S.D. candidates. Those services include career counseling, strategic planning, resume and cover letter review, practice interview sessions, career informational programs and networking opportunities with alumni/ae. The Career Services Office Web site maintains a special section for graduate students which contains employment information. Graduate students also may avail themselves of the Career Services Office’s resources to use law firm information and to receive assistance in the preparation of their job search materials.

In terms of employment timing and strategic planning, it may be helpful to foreign-trained LL.M. students to know that as a general practice, few employers who interview law students at Columbia in the fall are willing to speak with applicants who have not yet established a record at Columbia. In addition, law firms do not wish to interview LL.M.s on the same basis as J.D.s. While large numbers of J.D.s are hired into law firms each year, LL.M.s are hired on a particularized basis, in response to specific needs that firms wish to address. It is, therefore, at the request of the law firms that LL.M.s are not included in the summer and fall J.D. interview programs of participating firms.  They instead participate in the LL.M. recruiting programs which occur later in the year.

J.S.D. students and domestically-trained LL.M. students are provided individual assistance by the counselors in the Career Services Office. Due to their specialized focus of study and their academic interests, it has been more effective to assist students in these programs in designing an individualized job search based upon their experiential background and specific needs.

The Career Services Office works hard to assist graduate students throughout the year. Most students find employment success in the spring after they have established an academic record at Columbia. There is a special interview program at that time to help foreign law graduates who wish to work as associates or trainees in law firms for limited periods of time (usually six months to a year). Students seeking such limited placement are advised, however, that these positions are difficult to obtain and are often dependent upon economic factors, a student’s language skills and experiential or academic background. Students should begin to look into employment possibilities before coming to New York by using any law firm or corporate contacts they have developed.

Columbia Law School’s Web site contains information for students interested in a career in teaching ( Students interested in a teaching position at an American law school should note that the first deadline for submission of their resumes to the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) for the annual AALS hiring conference falls in August. Students may obtain additional information, including application information, for the AALS hiring conference from AALS’s Web site ( or by contacting AALS directly at:

Association of American Law Schools
1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036-2605
Telephone: 202-296-8851
Fax: 202-296-8869

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