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?

The 2019 Lede Program final application deadline is March 1Apply 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 do not dedicate time to basic reporting skills/interviewing/etc. In terms of similarity, some Lede 12 coursework is also shared with M.S. Data students.

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?

Lede 12 is summer only, while Lede 24 continues onto the fall with an additional semester of coursework. You can find detailed course information on the Columbia Lede site.

I’m not sure if I should apply for Lede 24 or Lede 12. When do I have to decide?

If you’re considering Lede 24, we suggest that you apply for it now, and let us know your plans as you progress through the first half of Lede. It will be easier to leave the program early, than to try to extend loans, visas, etc., once you’re already enrolled.

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

You should consider the Lede Program a full-time program – courses are from 10am-1pm five days a week, with (highly recommended) lab hours following at 2pm-5pm.

What are the dates for the Lede Program 2019?

Friday, May 24: Orientation

Tuesday, May 28: Summer classes begin (Lede 12)

Thursday, August 14: Last day of summer classes

Tuesday, September 3: Fall classes begin (Lede 24)

Monday, December 9: Last day of fall classes

Friday, December 13-Friday, December 20: Final exams

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

For Lede 12, classes will be held five days a week from 10am-1pm. For some of the summer semester, one of those class days will be on Saturday.

Lab hours will be held after class from 2-5pm (lab hours are optional, but it is highly recommended that you attend).

Lede 24 scheduling will depend on your course selection.


When will applications open for the Lede Program?

Applications are now open – 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
  • Transcript(s)
  • Current resume/CV
  • Contact information for two recommenders, who will submit letters on your behalf
  • TOEFL score, if applicable

The Lede does not require a GRE score.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for early admissions is January 15, with rolling applications accepted until March 1. Scholarship aid applications are available until March 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 professional certification (rather than a degree) program, 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.

If you’re staying for the Fall semester, Columbia also offers this payment plan (fall only, not summer).

International Students

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is not required of anyone who holds a US bachelors or masters degree, or who is currently enrolled in another US university. The minimum score required is 100.  It can take up to 10 days to get the results, so please keep that in mind when you are scheduling your appointment time to take the exam.

Is this program visa eligible?

Yes, the Lede Program is eligible for an F1 Visa. Should you be accepted, the university’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) will work with you directly to sort out all visa-related issues. If you’re interested in further info, see here.

Is this program J1-Visa eligible?

You may be able to extend a J1 visa, but you will not be able to renew it. Contact your sponsor to confirm if you’d be allowed to enroll in Lede prior to graduating from the principal program associated with your visa. It’s unlikely that you’d be permitted to enroll in Lede if you have already graduated from that program.

Is the Lede Program OPT eligible? How about the STEM extension?

Lede 12, the one-semester summer program, is not eligible for OPT.

Lede 24, the two-semester summer + fall program, is eligible for OPT. As of June 2016, Lede 24 is not eligible for the 17-month STEM extension.

I completed OPT for my Bachelor’s degree. Will Lede grant me additional OPT?

Short answer: No, you are not eligible for additional OPT.

Long answer: USCIS generally does not grant OPT for a certification after already granting OPT for a Bachelor’s degree. As a result, Columbia’s ISSO does not provide I-20 forms for students who have completed certifications after already being granted OPT for a Bachelor’s degree.

Other questions

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