Frequently Asked Questions | VISP
Application and Visa
How do I apply to VISP?
An online application is available only to students nominated by the designated coordinator from the following universities. The deadline is September 15 of each year. There are several requirements for admission.
What if my TOEFL/IELTS score does not meet Barnard’s minimum requirements?
The most competitive candidates for admission generally receive a score of 7.5 or higher on the IELTS, a TOEFL score of 105 or higher, or a 135 or higher on the Duolingo English Test. Please note that we do not accept the TOEFL Essentials test nor do we consider TOEFL's MyBest score. If you fall below these levels, applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. The College may require you to take a placement test through Columbia's American Language Program as part of an admission offier. Depending on the score you receive, you may be required to take an English language course through ALP, in addition to the academic courses you would be taking during your time at the College.
What kind of visa do I need in order to come to Barnard through VISP?
All VISP students come to Barnard on J-1 visas. Once you have been accepted, you will be asked to submit a number of personal and financial documents. We will review these materials and issue you a DS-2019. This is a formal U.S. government document you need to present to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country in order to be issued a student J-1 visa for study in the U.S. For more information about the process to obtain your student visa once you are admitted, click here.
Can I extend my time in New York or the United States beyond the end of the semester?
Students may stay in the United States up to 30 days after the program end date as indicated on their DS-2019. If a student wishes to stay longer, she must extend her J-1 visa. For more information, please contact Diana Sierra.
Can I work and earn money while I am there?
Yes, you may only work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week if you are in good academic standing. You must first be approved to do so by Diana Sierra. You may be able to work off-campus if there is demonstrated economic necessity, but you must first discuss this with the Office of International and Intercultural Student Programs.
Can I get a summer internship? If so, how do I get my visa extended?
On your DS-2019, the program end date is listed as June 1, after which you have 30 days to leave the country. However, you may apply to extend your visa if you:
- apply for and are offered a summer job or internship IN YOUR MAJOR FIELD OF STUDY (this is called Academic Training)
- submit proof of this internship offer and other application documents to the Office of International and Intercultural Student Programs by May 1
- are in good academic standing
- get a letter of support from your academic adviser
- maintain a valid passport, I-94 card, and DS-2019
- can prove that you have sufficient funds to subsist in the US for the duration of the internship (at least $1500/month, + return travel to home country)
Housing and Meals
Can I get an apartment in New York while I am there?
All VISP students are required to live on-campus for the length of their stay. No exceptions will be made.
What type of campus housing should I request?
Assignments in the residence halls are based on space availability. Note: the number of single rooms is limited and most VISP students are assigned to shared bedrooms with other students.
What is the guest policy in the residence halls?
Residential students are permitted to host affiliate and non-affiliate guests in the residence halls. Read more information regarding the Barnard guest policy
Will I be living just with other international students?
VISP students will be housed throughout all of Barnard’s residence halls, as room availability permits. We ask that students submit their housing preferences by a date provided so that we may try to accommodate requests. However, we cannot guarantee that requests will be granted.
Will Barnard provide bedding and supplies for me? If not, where will I be able to buy bedding and things for my room?
You should either bring bedding or order online and have it shipped to Barnard or pick up once in New York. During Orientation week (prior to classes beginning), you will have the opportunity to purchase items. There are many stores throughout New York City that sell bedding and dorm room supplies. Target, Ikea, and Amazon are popular among students and also deliver.
How long after the semester finishes can I stay in my dorm room?
The latest possible date a student would be able to stay in her dorm room is the day exams finish. If you wish to remain in Barnard housing for the summer, you will need to pay additional housing fees and you may need to change rooms. Learn more about summer housing.
What type of meal plan should I select?
Where you live will determine what meal plan you may choose. You will also want to consider the level of flexibility if you plan to cook your own food. If you want to live in a suite with a kitchen (for example, in Plimpton, 600's, Cathedral Gardens, etc.), you might want a plan that would allow you to prepare your own food. If you know that you want to eat in the dining halls and do not want to cook your own food, the Platinum Plan might be best for you. More on meal plans can be found on the Dining site and on the Bursar site for costs under "Meal Plans".
What is the difference between "meals" and "points"?
Meals can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Barnard's or Columbia's dining halls. Meals are buffet, all-you-can-eat style. Points are more flexible - they are loaded onto your student ID card and can be used just like dollars on Barnard's campus. Points cannot be used on Columbia's campus, but students can purchase dining dollars once they arrive on campus. Dining dollars are also loaded onto your student ID card and can be used on both campuses.
How difficult are the courses?
Barnard is an elite, highly-competitive liberal arts college and offers courses that seek to challenge and inspire its students. Barnard students take courses at both Barnard and Columbia, and they take a range of courses from large lectures to small seminars. While the emphasis placed on classroom participation varies among professors, in general, student involvement is encouraged and comprises a considerable part of a student’s final grade. Students may visit professors and lecturers during office hours, which are typically held for 2-4 hours each week. Faculty may also be available by phone or email, or by consulting the Department Assistant.
Can I take any course offered through Barnard/Columbia?
Barnard students are free to enroll in classes on both the Barnard and Columbia campuses. Like all Barnard students, VISP students are eligible to take the following courses during the spring semester:
- Courses designated BC, C, V and W
- Courses numbered from 1000 through 4999
- VISP students are not eligible to take any course designated G, K, I, J U or any other letter, or any course number beginning with 6000 or higher
Can I register for classes before I arrive?
VISP students cannot sign up for classes before they arrive; course registration (called “program filing”) at Barnard begins after students arrive on campus. The first two weeks of the semester are considered a “shopping period”, during which students can try out various courses, in consultation with their advisers. All students must have their final programs approved by their advisers by the second Friday of the semester.
What types of classes should I be choosing?
VISP students can take courses in a wide variety of departments while at Barnard. Ultimately, student course choices will be influenced by home department policies. Please note that generally speaking, the number of a course (1000 through 4999) indicates the level of the course. Courses numbered 1000-1999 are generally less advanced that courses labeled 2000-2999, which are less advanced than courses labeled 3000-3999. Courses labeled 4000-4999 are hybrid undergraduate/masters courses. Also note that generally within the ranges just described, there is no difference in level (for example, a course labeled 3900 is not necessarily more advanced than a course labeled 3002). For more detail about individual course offerings, see the Columbia Course Catalogue.
How many points should I be taking?
Your J-1 visa status requires you to take a minimum of 12 points.
What if I want to take more than 12 points of course work?
You may certainly take more than 12 points, but keep in mind the following: courses at Barnard may require more frequent written assignments and quizzes than you are accustomed to at your home institution, and, therefore, may well require more time on your part. If you overload on courses, you may not be leaving yourself enough time to explore New York City, extracurricular activities at Barnard and U.S. culture in general. You will of course want to verify the number of credits required by your home institution, but in most cases our VISP partners are aware of the tremendous workload required in a 12-point program at Barnard.
There are two courses that I am very interested in taking, but they overlap by ten minutes; the e-Bear system let me enter both on my program. Does this mean that I can leave one class early to attend the other?
Even though the e-Bear system may not “catch” the time conflict, you may not take classes that overlap with one another. Check this carefully when you are planning your program. Leaving a class early or arriving late on a regular basis may result in your failing the class. If you wish to petition to take two back-to-back courses or two courses with a minimal time conflict, you need to petition the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS) through the Registrar’s office.
I would like to take most or all of my classes using the Pass/D/Fail option; may I do that?
Although there is nothing written in Barnard policy that prevents this, taking more than one class Pass/D/Fail per semester is seriously frowned upon, except in cases of extraordinary personal problems or illness. Students who opt to take more than one course Pass/D/Fail are flagged by the Registrar’s office and will be asked to explain their reason for doing so to the academic dean for VISP students. Please also be sure to research your school's policy on accepting Pass/D/Fail credits. Note that once a course is declared P/D/F, it is final and unchangeable.
Can I take Engineering courses through VISP?
VISP students are not allowed to take Columbia Engineering courses while at Barnard. Students may choose courses from among the many liberal arts departments Barnard offers.
What documentation will I get after my semester at Barnard?
VISP students will receive an official transcript of the classes taken while at Barnard and Columbia. The transcript will be sent to the coordinator at the student’s home university. You may request an additional transcript through the Registrar's Office for a fee of $7.00 plus shipping costs.
Can I get involved in campus activities while I am there?
Barnard offers a wide range of events, and cultural, performance, pre-professional and special interest clubs and organizations that are available to all students. A full listing of these clubs and organizations is available.
Are there male students at Barnard?
Although Barnard is an all-women's college, almost all classes are available to both Barnard and Columbia students. For this reason, many classes are co-ed, as males from Columbia have the freedom to explore academic options here at Barnard and vice versa.
When is the earliest I can arrive at Barnard in January?
Classes begin on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 and move-in to the residence halls and our Orientation program will be held the week prior (exact date has not yet been released). You will need to arrange for your own transportation from the airport to Barnard; please email VISP@barnard.edu for more information about transportation, check-in, etc. If you cannot arrive by 5 pm, you will need to stay in a hotel or hostel for the night, and arrive the following morning after 9 am. For a list of possible places to stay, email VISP@barnard.edu.
Am I guaranteed an internship while I am at Barnard?
While students are not guaranteed internships, there are plenty of opportunities for student employment on campus and unpaid internships throughout New York City. Students should consult the Office of Career Development to find a listing of potential internship positions.
When does the semester start and end? What about vacations?
Please see the Academic Calendar.
Can I stay beyond the initial semester at Barnard?
Currently, VISP is only a one-semester program, which takes place during the Spring semester. For this reason, students will not be able to remain at Barnard for additional semesters.
Is there someone who can answer my questions specifically about Barnard and VISP?
Please email all questions to VISP@barnard.edu, and someone will respond to you shortly.
My university is interested in becoming involved in VISP; how can I get more information on creating a VISP partnership with Barnard?
For further information, please contact VISP@barnard.edu with information about your university and why you are interested in participating in VISP.