Frequently Asked Questions about Lede

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Prefer asking your questions to an actual human being?

Sure, no problem!

Hi, I'm Jonathan Soma, Lede Program director and professor at the Journalism School. Grab a spot on my calendar and we can chat over Zoom or the phone.

Will there be a remote or hybrid option in 2024?

Yes! You can participate in Lede 2024 remotely, in-person, or a combination of the two – some students might come by for the first few weeks or for final presentations at the end. Find more information in the Hybrid learning section.

What is the Lede Program’s application deadline?

You can find the application deadlines on the How to Apply page.

Meeting the early or standard application deadline is suggested (but not required) for those interested in applying for financial aid.

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, visual storytelling, and communicating numbers; and do not dedicate time to 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 are the dates for the Lede Program 2024?

Lede 2024 will begin on June 3 and run through August 9.

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

Live classes will typically be held Monday through Friday, from 10am-1pm, with Friday sessions being focused on guest speakers and project mentorship.

Due to the realities of remote instruction, recordings of class sessions will be offered to all students to support asynchronous participation.

In-person office hours are typically available 2-5pm Monday through Thursday. Online office hours are also offered by teaching assistants at other times, including evenings and weekends. As an international program with students participating from time zones all around the world, we try to accommodate as many students as possible.

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

The Lede Program is a very demanding program, and it is strongly recommend that you do not try to work while participating in the program. But we know plenty of you are going to try to juggle work and Lede regardless!

Realistically, if you're going to work during the program you're going to need to figure out what content is and isn't important to you. Maybe you'll skip the data visualization homework to focus on analysis, or pass on scraping until you really really need to learn it.

You can email me, Program Director Jonathan Soma, at to discuss how Lede might best fit into your schedule.

We spend plenty of time early on in the program chatting with students about what to spend their time on. You get to keep the material and class videos forever, and we're always posting new material in our program's Slack, so there's plenty of time and support to eventually learn it all!


When will applications open for the Lede Program?

Lede applications are now open for Summer 2024.

Please note that the financial aid application is a separate application available through the same application portal.

What is required for the application?

Beyond the basic application details, applying to the Lede program only requires a current resume/CV.

You can find the full list of additional (optional) documents on the How to Apply page, but we also strongly recommend the statement of purpose and inspirational summary. It's how we know who you are and what you're interested in!

The Lede Program does not require a GRE score or TOEFL.

What do you look for in an application?

Lede is a demanding program, both intellectually and time-wise, and it's important to know you're driven to succeed.

For many applicants the personal essays do the best job of conveying this, by outlining why you're interested in the program and that you've given thought to what you'd do with your new data journalism skills.

When is the application deadline?

Please refer to the How to Apply page for up-to-date admissions deadlines.

When will final admissions and scholarship aid decisions be announced?

Admissions decisions should be available 2 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.

Hybrid Learning

Lede 2024 will be offered as both an in-person program as well as a remote program.

Do remote students have separate classes?

In-person and remote students participate in the same classes at the same time, with remote students joining via Zoom.

Do I have to be located in the United States to attend the program?

No, you can participate in the remote version of the program from anywhere in the world.

Will classes be recorded and offered asynchronously? For example, if I live in Shanghai, will I have class at 11PM?

Yes, recordings of each class session will be available, and we will be offering additional support for students participating asynchronously from other time zones. While real-time attendance is recommend it will not be required.

For sessions that require in-class participation, students will be encouraged to instead participate on Slack or through classroom messageboards.

Additionally, teaching assistants will be available at many times throughout the day in addition to our “normal” scheduling.

Will office hours with teaching assistants be in-person or remote?

Office hours will be a mix of in-person and remote to allow for the most accessible experience. It's great to sit around a table discussing an assignment with a TA after class, but it's also helpful to be able to get assistance while you're sitting at home working on homework after dinner!

Will all classes happen in-person?

No, some class sessions will be hosted remotely, even for in-person students. Lede 2021 showed us how remote learning can allow instructors from all over the world to share their knowledge with our students, and we intend to keep this up.

In-person students are welcome to participate in these remote sessions from the classroom or from their homes.

Will applying for remote or in-person classes affect my ability to be accepted?

No, your method of instruction should not change your admittance decision. Due to space constraints we do have a limited number of in-person slots available, but we intend to keep the class roughly balanced between the two groups.


How much does the program cost?

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

What fees exist outside of tuition?

As Lede is now a non-academic program, the cost of tuition is the full cost of the program, with no additional University fees.

Is there financial aid available for applicants?

We do have scholarship aid available. Aid priority goes to students in earlier application rounds, so it is recommended that students interested in aid not wait for the final deadline.

Information about the aid application is available through the application portal.

Will I be eligible for a full scholarship?

Scholarship aid for the Lede Program generally only covers partial tuition. A common alternative source of support is educational grants from employers or journalism-related foundations.

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.

When is tuition due?

Details on payment can be found on the Tuition and Fees page.

International Students

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.

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is not required.

Is the Lede Program OPT eligible?

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

Health and vaccinations

What vaccinations are required for attendance?

Lede has no vaccination requirements.

Is health insurance required?

No, health insurance is not required. In previous years health insurance (r a waiver was required to attend the program, but this is no longer a requirement due to Lede's transition to a non-academic program.

Other questions

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