The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 70 million people are currently living as refugees or asylum-seekers, or have been internally displaced due to wars and natural calamity – the largest such population in human history. A significant number of these individuals have had their education interrupted, severely impacting their potential for future success. The Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students (CUSDS) is an effort to combat this unprecedented humanitarian and economic loss by providing displaced students with the opportunity to pursue higher education at Columbia University, one of the leading educational institutions in the world.
Started in 2016 by the Columbia Business School’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, and now administered by the Columbia Global Centers, the Scholarship supports displaced students from anywhere in the world who are unable to complete their higher education. These students will receive full tuition, housing, and living assistance while pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees across all 18 Columbia schools and affiliates, reflecting Columbia’s full institutional commitment to addressing this global crisis. As the first-ever Columbia-wide scholarship, and the world’s first scholarship of its kind, this program will commit up to $6 million annually in support, per cohort, for up to 30 students each year. Mentoring and support will be provided by the Scholarship, as well as by schools and student groups at Columbia.
The Scholarship aims to shift the global dialogue surrounding displaced persons, from one that views them as a burden to one that recognizes them as vital contributors to global innovation and prosperity. Currently, there is no initiative like this at any university in the world, despite the obvious desire for education on the part of these displaced student populations. The Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students aims to be a leader in filling this pressing humanitarian need and will hopefully encourage other universities to follow suit.
Eligibility and Criteria
- This scholarship program is for foreign nationals with refugee status living anywhere in the world, or who have received US asylum or submitted a US asylum application, or are in the US under Temporary Protected Status.
- There are no age restrictions on the scholarship.
Types of displacements
- Refugee – one who has been forced to flee their home country due to persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (e.g., members of the LGBTQ community). The persecution a refugee experiences may include harassment, threats, abduction or torture. They have received official recognition as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR).
- Asylee – one who is already present in the United States and has received official legal recognition as an asylee from the United States government due to persecution in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (e.g., members of the LGBTQ community).
- Asylum Seeker – one who is already present in the United States or has sought admission at a port of entry due to persecution in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (e.g., members of the LGBTQ community), and is seeking safe haven in the United States, but has not yet received official legal recognition as an asylee from the United States government. NOTE: Applicant’s petition for asylum must have been placed prior to the time of application to the Scholarship in order to be eligible.
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – a temporary immigration status provided to nationals of certain countries experiencing problems that make it difficult or unsafe for their nationals to be deported there.
Awards and Benefits
- Full tuition, plus student’s housing and living expenses, for the number of terms necessary to complete the student’s degree.
- Applicants must apply to and be accepted to one of the degree programs listed below to be eligible for the scholarship.
- (The application requirements and criteria for scholarship applicants are the same as for normal admissions, and students cannot receive the scholarship if they are not first accepted to a Columbia degree program.)
- Each school and degree program maintains their own acceptance requirements and specific application deadlines. Applicants must complete the scholarship application form no later than the deadline for the application for their degree program. (There is no single deadline for the scholarship application – the scholarship application deadline is the same as the respective degree program the student is applying for.)
- Students will only be evaluated for the scholarship if they are admitted to the degree program for which they applied. Students will be informed regarding the scholarship only after degree admissions decisions are made.
- This is a competitive scholarship with limited awards per school, so students may be accepted to Columbia and not receive funding through the scholarship. Acceptance to an academic program does not guarantee funding, through the scholarship or otherwise. Degree program application fees can be waived in extraordinary cases by e-mailing CUSDS@columbia.edu at least two weeks before the student plans to submit their degree application.
- Only degree programs listed below are eligible for the scholarship. Dual degrees (degree programs with more than one Columbia school or with another university) are not eligible for the scholarship. Transfer applications are not eligible for the scholarship.
How To Apply
To apply please click here