Established in 1754, Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It was established as King’s College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain and renamed Columbia College in 1784 following the American Revolutionary War.
With an undergraduate acceptance rate of 5.8 percent, Columbia is currently the third most selective college in the United States and the second most selective in the Ivy League after Harvard. Its first president was none other than the literary great Samuel Johnson, and over the years Columbia has produced numerous distinguished alumni, from Oscar winners and Nobel laureates to Supreme Court judges. Three US Presidents and the authors of the Declaration of Independence and American Constitution were also schooled at Columbia. It also runs the highly distinguished Pulitzer Prize, an annual award for achievements in journalism, literature and musical composition.
The university is organized into 20 schools, including undergraduate schools such as Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies, as well as graduate schools such as Columbia Law School, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia Journalism School and Columbia Business School. It also had global research outposts across the world. Its total student body numbers around 28,000 and is comprised mainly of postgraduates, with roughly 8,500 undergraduate students.
Columbia’s main campus is Morningside Heights, occupying around six city blocks in the Morningside Heights district of New York. It’s home to the neo-classical Butler library, one of the largest buildings on campus, and almost two dozen undergraduate dormitories. The university also owns 7,800 apartments in the local area, which house faculty members, students, and staff.
The campus was designed along Beaux-Arts principles and was a late 19th century vision of a campus where all disciplines could be taught. Some of its standout features include the Low Memorial Library, a National Historic Landmark, the site of the invention of FM radio, and the location where the nuclear fission of uranium first took place.
More significant for students are The Steps, a long series of granite steps which are a popular hangout and meeting place, and the bronze figure of Alma Mater, a female figure draped in an academic gown who serves as a daily reminder to students of their scholarly duties.