Columbia Business School believes strongly in the
value of its 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 email Exemptions@gsb.columbia.edu.
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.
There are no exemption exams offered for flexible
core courses. Instead, students have a choice of courses within each menu.
Though not a core course, Capital
Markets & Investmentsis 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).
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.
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.
Where can I find information to help me prepare for
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.)
Is it permissible to use materials or notes from
current or past Columbia Business School students as preparation materials for
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.
May I contact the professor directly to ask for
All questions regarding exemption exams should be
directed to the Office of Student Affairs or by email to Exemptions@gsb.columbia.edu.
When do I find out if I've passed an exemption
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.
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.
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.
What should I do if I learn I've passed an
Students who exempt out of core
courses may log into BOSS, Columbia Business School’s online course selection
system, at https://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 email@example.com.
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.
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
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
What electives can I take if I pass an exemption
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 (https://boss.gsb.columbia.edu).
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.
If I fail an exemption exam, does it appear on my
Results are not recorded on students' academic
transcripts; there are no negative consequences to taking and failing an
If I fail an exemption exam, may I retake it at a
A student may only attempt each exemption exam
once; exemption exams may not be retaken.
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.