Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve compiled a handful of answers to common questions here. If you don’t see your answer listed, feel free to use the live chat below or email us at


What is the Lede Program’s application deadline?

Applications for the 2021 Lede Program have an early application deadline of February 14, 2021, and a standard application deadline of April 1, 2021. Meeting the early application deadline is suggested for those interested in applying for financial aid. Apply now at the Columbia Journalism School application portal.

How is Lede different from the 3-semester M.S. in Data Journalism?

Along with being a much shorter program, Lede does not teach you how to be a journalist. We focus on programming and visual storytelling, and do not dedicate time to basic reporting skills/interviewing/etc.

If you’re interested in learning journalistic techniques along with coding skills, we recommend you take a look at the M.S. in Data Journalism.

What’s the difference between the Lede 12 and Lede 24 programs?

As of 2020, there is no longer a Lede 24 program. Lede is now only a full-time, 10-week professional program over the summer.

Do I need a visa for the Lede Program? Will Columbia sponsor a visa?

Lede is a short-term, not-for-credit professional program that meets fewer than 18 classroom hours per week, and not an academic or certificate program. While the program is fully operated by the Journalism School, you will not be enrolled as a student of Columbia University during this course. As a result, we do not require a visa of any kind.

If you are able to travel to the USA on any kind of a visa or permit of passport, including a foreign media or tourist visa, this should be sufficient for most students.

Can I work while I participate in the Lede Program? What is the schedule like?

The Lede Program is an intellectually demanding program, and it is strongly recommend that you do not try to work while participating in the program.

What are the dates for the Lede Program 2021?

Lede 2021 will begin on June 7 and run through August 13.

What does the day-to-day schedule look like?

Classes will be held Monday through Friday, from 10am-1pm.

Lab hours will be held after class from 2-5pm. Lab hours are optional, but many students find them very helpful to attend.

What will COVID-19 preparations look like?

Lede 2021 is scheduled to be an in-person program, but will adhere to all standards established by Columbia University and Columbia Journalism School, including a socially distanced classroom. Find out more at Columbia’s COVID-19 resource guide.


When will applications open for the Lede Program?

Applications will open in late 2020 – visit the Columbia Journalism School application portal to apply.

What is required for the application?

Beyond the application itself, applying to the Lede program requires the following documents:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Inspirational Summary example
  • Transcripts (optional)
  • Current resume/CV
  • Contact information for two recommenders, who will submit letters on your behalf (optional)
  • TOEFL score (optional, if applicable)

The Lede does not require a GRE score.

When is the application deadline?

For 2021, the deadline for early admissions is February 14, with applications being accepted until April 1. Scholarship aid applications are available until April 1, but it is recommended to apply for aid early.

When will final admissions and scholarship aid decisions be announced?

Admissions decisions will be available 2-3 weeks after the deadline. Rolling admissions response times will be variable.

If you applied for financial aid, that same message will include news of any potential scholarship offer we are able to make.

Will you have a wait-list?



How much does the program cost?

You can find detailed information regarding pricing on the Tuition & Fees page.

Is there financial aid available for applicants?

We do have a limited amount of scholarship aid available. It is recommended that students interested in aid should apply by the early deadline.

Is the Lede Program FAFSA-eligible?

As a non-credit professional program rather than a degree, Lede is unfortunately not eligible for federal student funding. Past students have had no problem taking out private loans, though – in case it’s useful, we can point you to this detailed list of suggested lenders and other information.

International Students

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is not required, but is recommended for anyone who does not hold a degree from an English-speaking institution, or who is currently enrolled in another US university. The minimum recommended score is 100.

We understand financial and time constraints, and welcome international applicants without TOEFL scores. If necessary, we will conduct interviews to ascertain English-language skills.

Is the Lede Program OPT eligible? 

As a short-term, non-degree program, Lede is not eligible for OPT.

Other questions

Please don’t hesitate to reach out at or using the live chat widget below.