Indulge Your Curiosity and Learn New Skills with Free Course Auditing

Observe Columbia classes about everything from accounting to biology to linguistics through this free program for local residents.

Maggie Barrows
November 07, 2022

Looking for a way to keep your mind sharp this winter? If you live in Upper Manhattan, including Randall’s Island or the South Bronx, haven’t recently attended high school, and aren’t enrolled at a university, you’re probably eligible for the free Manhattanville Course Auditing Program at Columbia.

Auditors can observe one class per semester, but don’t receive credit towards a degree. They also don’t receive a grade or have to take exams or write papers.

Manhattanville auditors have the opportunity to learn professional skills in marketing, accounting, and nonprofit management courses, or they can take a liberal arts approach and seek out classes in comparative literature, philosophy, and even biology and linguistics. The courses available to audit change every semester, and often more classes are opened up for auditing shortly before the semester starts.

Roy Byrd, a retired computer science researcher and Columbia neighbor, has participated in the Manhattanville Course Auditing Program since 2018.

“Throughout my career, I always planned to ‘move to a college town when I retire,’ in order to remain intellectually vital and entertained,” Byrd said. “Living near Columbia helps me achieve that and the courses are part of the intellectual stimulation.”

There are a few steps involved in becoming a Manhattanville Auditor.

  1. First, check your eligibility. The Manhattanville Auditing Program is available to residents of the Manhattanville and Grant Houses, as well as community residents living in the following qualifying zip codes in Upper Manhattan: 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035 (including Randall’s Island), 10037, 10039, 10040 and the following zip codes in the South Bronx 10451, 10454, 10455, 10474.
  2. Fill out the online application through the Columbia School of Professional Studies website by December 15 to audit in Spring and August 15 to audit in the Fall. 
  3. Gather proof of residency. For this application, you’ll need proof of residency in one of the eligible zip codes, like a current utility bill, bank account statement, or residential lease. 

Once you’re accepted, you’ll get information about setting up your university ID, registering for a class, and submitting your documentation to meet Columbia’s immunization requirements, as well as some other administrative requirements. Make sure to check your email for that information!

When that's all done, you can get ready to register for classes by seeing what's available in the Auditing Department in the Columbia Directory of Classes (click into the departments that start with A and then scroll to the bottom). Registration for auditors for Spring 2023 starts on January 4, 2023.

Got more questions before you apply? Reach out to the auditing programs at Columbia School of Professional Studies at 212-854-9666 or via email. Don't miss the tips from current auditing program participants, either!

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