You are here

Exemption Exams

We're strong believers in the value of our core curriculum. However, we recognize that many of our students have considerable background in certain areas of our academic program, and we wish to grant them the flexibility to take additional electives in place of fixed core courses whose content they have already mastered. Such mastery is determined by passing an exemption exam, which is comparable to a final exam in a given subject.

We have created the following FAQs to help you navigate the exemption process. If you have questions that are not addressed here, please e-mail exemptions@gsb.columbia.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be exempted on the basis of my previous academic work? Why do I have to take an exemption exam?

Exemptions are only granted upon passing the exam, not on credentials. Students have to pass an exemption exam to prove proficiency in a course based on the standards of the materials taught at Columbia Business School, since content can vary from school to school. Through this process, we ensure that Columbia MBAs have a consistent level of knowledge in our core curriculum when the program is completed.

Back to top

Can I exempt from elective pre-requisites?

Though not a core course, Capital Markets & Investments is a prerequisite for most upper-level finance courses. Students may attempt to waive this course by taking an exemption exam at any time the exemption exam is offered (typically at the beginning of a new term).

Back to top

When are the exemption exams offered?

Exemption exams for all fixed first- and second-semester exemption exams are offered prior to the start of the relevant term's classes.

Back to top

What if I'm not available when an exam is being offered? May I take it at another time?

There are several exam seatings offered during the exemption exam period. Students must take exemption exams when they are offered. To ensure against an unforeseen event preventing them from attending an exam, students should take the exam at the earliest available seating.  We do not reschedule exemption exams or allow make-ups.

Back to top

Where can I find information to help me prepare for the exams?

Entering students will have access to an Exemption Exams course link on their home page in Angel once they've registered for the Pre-MBA Program and been notified by email that they can log on to the site. There they will find materials for each of the fixed-core courses, which may include a syllabus, sample class notes, sample assignment and sample exam. Students may use textbooks from prior courses, library books, etc. The amount of information posted to the page is at the faculty's discretion.  There will also be information regarding the format of the exam and what materials can be brought into the exam room. (See Pre-MBA information on the admitted students website.)

Back to top

Is it permissible to use materials or notes from current or past Columbia Business School students as preparation materials for exemption exams?

No, this would be considered a violation of the Honor Code. You should refer to the exemption exam information on Angel, which provides the necessary background and has been approved for use by the faculty.

Back to top

May I contact the professor directly to ask for additional information?

All questions regarding exemption exams should be directed to the Office of Student Affairs or by email to Exemptions@gsb.columbia.edu.

Back to top

When do I find out if I've passed an exemption exam?

The faculty will submit exam results for exemption exams to the Office of Student Affairs shortly after each exam seating. Students will be emailed as soon as their exam results are available, usually within 5-7 business days.

Back to top

Should I still attend my core course after I've taken the exemption exam?

While awaiting results of exemption exams, students will remain registered in their core courses. Students should continue to attend all core courses and also sit in on possible replacement courses.

Back to top

What grade is required to pass the exemption exam?  Does everyone pass?

The grade required to pass the exemption exam is at the discretion of the grading faculty.  All decisions are final.  Please be aware that while we encourage students to attempt to exempt, there is no guarantee of passing the exam. 

Back to top

What should I do if I learn I've passed an exemption exam?

Students who exempt out of core courses may log into BOSS, Columbia Business School’s online course selection system, at boss.gsb.columbia.edu to select courses during the add/drop period. Instructions on how to use BOSS can be found by clicking the MBA Selection Guide tab to the left. If you would like additional guidance on courses to take or information on how to use the system, please visit the Office of Student Affairs in Uris 105.  Student Affairs can also be reached at 212-854-5563 or osa@gsb.columbia.edu

Students who exempt out of second semester core courses will be given additional points with which to bid on electives during online course bidding for future semesters. Please note: students do not receive additional bid points for exempting out of Capital Markets & Investments, which is an elective.

Back to top

Does passing an exemption exam reduce the number of courses I need to take in order to graduate?

No, exemptions do not reduce the number of credits required for the MBA degree; they simply enable students to take additional electives.

Back to top

If I pass an exemption exam, do I receive additional bid points?

Students who exempt out of first-semester core courses are given the opportunity to enroll in electives in add/drop which is a point-free enrollment round; they do not receive additional bid points because they do not need to bid for these electives. Students who exempt out of second-semester core courses will be given 500 additional points with which to bid on electives during online course bidding. Additional bid points are not given for exempting out of Capital Markets & Investments, which is an elective.

Back to top

What electives can I take if I pass an exemption exam?

Many students take Capital Markets & Investments because it's a prerequisite for most upper-level finance courses. However, students may take any elective that has seats available, as long as they’ve fulfilled that course’s prerequisites. Course descriptions and prerequisites are found in the MBA Course schedule located on BOSS).  You must be logged into BOSS to see full course descriptions. Both the class schedule and a list of suggested electives for first-term students can be found in the MBA Selection Guide on BOSS.

Back to top

If I fail an exemption exam, does it appear on my transcript?

Results are not recorded on students' academic transcripts; there are no negative consequences to taking and failing an exemption exam.

Back to top

If I fail an exemption exam, may I retake it at a later date?

A student may only attempt each exemption exam once; exemption exams may not be retaken.

Back to top

What should I do if I'm not satisfied with the grade I received on my exemption exam?

Exemption grades are final — there are no grade appeals.

Back to top

 

Watch the Video:
At the Very Center of Business

See how Columbia Business School puts you at the very center of business, where chances for success revolve all around.

Watch the video

Google+

Expand >

Since 1916, Columbia Business School has lived at the heart of the business world, New York City, building symbiotic relationships with leading innovators and global trendsetters and offering students exposure to the very pulse of industry.

Today, we continue to enjoy daily insights from the influential figures driving current practices. Our renowned faculty members are leaders in their fields, producing groundbreaking research across areas, and our worldwide alumni network continues to grow and impact change. At the Business School today, we’re celebrating our place at the very center of it all.

< Collapse

Surf the Social Stream

Follow the School's social conversation on our Connect Online page, which puts #CBSAtTheCenter of social media.

Connect online

Expand >

The strength of our School lies in our community, and the community connects online. Our Connect Online page makes it easy to see what the community says about what puts #CBSAtTheCenter of so many lives.

< Collapse

The Core: Experience the Impact of Knowledge

The Columbia Core Curriculum imparts unparalleled perspectives that inspire and challenge, and connect the dots to success.

More about the Core

Expand >

The Columbia Core Curriculum is informed by thought leadership from the world’s leading-edge business environment. Our faculty's groundbreaking research influences business practices in every sector while our curriculum develops leaders who can create opportunity in any situation.

In an MBA program at the very center of business, you’ll learn to respond dynamically to any challenge. You'll gain the skills you need to succeed in a fast-moving, competitive business environment and see how to create opportunities where they once seemed impossible. At Columbia, at the heart of New York City, you’ll learn it all from the most influential figures in industry today.

< Collapse

Diversity

Diversity

At Columbia Business School, we believe that diversity strengthens any community or business model and brings it greater success.

Learn more about how diversity is simply a part of who we are.


Discover and share your tips on making the most of Columbia Business School.

Visit Notes >

The Curl Ideas to wrap your mind around

Tunisia's Fight for Democracy

The new Prime Minister explains how revolution is leading to freedom and a country of laws.

Read More >

Healthy Living 2.0

Startups in the health and wellness space are pioneering innovative ways to boost your health and happiness.

Read More >

Competing With Bias

Research shows how discrimination works in the hiring process and suggests that science and tech firms that leave it unaddressed may overlook talented female candidates.

Read More >

The Long View

As part of our new At the Center Q&A series, Mary Jane McQuillen ’07 (EMBA) of ClearBridge Investments chats with Uzayr Jeenah ’14 about the real returns of investing in a sustainable future.

Read More >

Katherine Phillips Named Senior Vice Dean

Effective July 1, 2014, Phillips will succeed Gita Johar, the Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business, whose three-year term as senior vice dean is ending.

Read More >

Financing China’s Future

China’s rapid urbanization strategy requires a financing system that can keep up. Shusong Ba of the State Council of China lays out economic and policy reforms that will help local governments cope with cities bursting at the seams.

Read More >

University Professors Awarded 2014 Eccles Prize

Two University professors have been awarded the 2014 George S. Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing.

Read More >

How Can You Succeed in Your New Role?

Executive coach Ethan Hanabury ’85 has tips to help you survive — and thrive — in your new position.

Read More >

Turkey's Hot-Money Problem

Ongoing financial volatility in emerging economies is fueling debate about whether the so-called “Fragile Five” — Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey — should be viewed as victims of their excessive integration into global financial markets.

Read More >
 

Top Ten Questions Asked

Here are the most frequently asked questions by current students.

Expand >

Information on courses and all bidding-related information (including statistics) can be found on BOSS (Business Online Selection System). To see important dates for the Business School, navigate to the MBA Academic Calendar tab in BOSS.


More information regarding independent studies can be found on the Indepedent Study webpage , and you can pick up the required form, as well as additional information, in Uris 105. Students may register for up to 3 credits of independent study per term (the study can be either 1.5 or 3 credits). Independent studies are designed to be independent of the classroom experience and may not be used as a means of adding a seat to a full course.


More information can be found on the Cross-Registration webpage. MBA students may count up to six credits of graduate-level coursework at other schools within the University toward the MBA degree. Graduate-level courses are denoted by a number of 4000 or higher. Undergraduate courses may be taken as long as they are in addition to the 60 credits of graduate-level course work required for the MBA degree. Although the credits from an undergraduate course will not count toward the MBA degree, the grade earned in an undergraduate course will be included in calculating student GPA.


Membership on the dean's list is awarded at the end of the first term to students who achieve a 9.0 weighted GPA. In subsequent terms, membership is awarded to all students who achieve a 9.25 weighted term GPA.


First, meet with a club advisor in OSA, who will connect you with the GBA’s VP of clubs and careers. You’ll be required to fill out an application form, collect signatures from potential club members, plan out your first year’s budget, and make a presentation to the GBA’s club committee.


Many local vendors accept a voucher in lieu of cash payment. You can pick up the voucher from Financial Planning in Uris 216. Vouchers are essentially blank checks that you give to the delivery person upon arrival and can include a tip. Vendors send the voucher is sent back to Financial Planning as an invoice and the funds are debited from your club account.


Only students pursuing an MBA degree can join Business School clubs. Business School students seeking MS and PhD degrees are not eligible.


All loan funds - federal or private - are sent to the University's Student Financial Services (SFS) office electronically via EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). Once the SFS office is in receipt of the funds, they place the amount(s) onto your tuition bill as a "credit" to your account. You do not need to pick up any physical checks. Any loan amounts above tuition and fees will be refunded to you. Direct deposit helps to expedite the refund process.


Refunds are issued within 7–10 days of funds arriving at the University. Assuming your loans are in place for the earliest federally allowable date, your refunds should reach you within a week following the first day of classes. For the fastest refund processing, please sign up for direct deposit on ssol.columbia.edu.


Students who face higher costs due to extenuating circumstances may request a budget increase by submitting a formal appeal along with appropriate documentation. If approved, the budget increase allows students to borrow additional loan funds, subject to lender or Department of Education approval. Appeals are not an entitlement and can be turned down by the Appeals Committee. Learn more about appeals and download the appeal form.

< Collapse