Joint Bachelor's Degree Program with Columbia University

An international undergraduate educational experience spanning two continents

Dean Yan with CB students in front of the Library of Columbia University

The College of Business Joint BBA Degree in Business Economics with Columbia University School of General Studies in New York City is up and running, and the mood is upbeat.

"It's a potentially life changing opportunity for our students," says Program Leader Dr Kui-wai Li.

"Graduating from a world premier school with such great exposure to multicultural experience is a massive benefit."

The first cohort from the College of Business began their studies at Columbia in September 2014. Students in the program are supported by both institutions and faculty and staff from the two universities are in regular contact. In the latest series of visits, Dean Houmin Yan was part of a CityU delegation to New York in October 2015.

"I was delighted to visit Columbia and meet with our BBA students," says Professor Yan.

"It was heartening to hear how quickly our students are adapting, and how much they are benefiting from the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program, and we are actively working to expand our partnership with Columbia."

Later in the month, a Columbia delegation visited the College of Business at the CityU campus. Dean Yan introduced the College to Mr Curtis Rodgers, Vice Dean of the School of General Studies, and Ms Jessica Sarles-Dinsick, Senior Assistant Dean of International Program, School of General Studies.

During the delegation's visit, CB discussed with Columbia the possibility of adding an additional major to the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program: The BSc in Computational Finance, which is aimed at attracting top undergraduates in Hong Kong and internationally.

"It is labour intensive work," continues Professor Yan, "but hugely worthwhile. At the end of the day we are offering our students an avenue to elite global education."


The Joint Bachelor's Degree Program between CityU and Columbia University now includes eight majors. Apart from Business Economics, students from the following majors are currently eligible to apply for the program: Applied Biology, Applied Physics, Applied Sociology, Environmental Science and Management, Computer Science, Computing Mathematics, and Psychology.

"The beauty of the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program is that it integrates CityU's emphasis on professional education with Columbia's tradition of liberal arts education," says Dr David Cheng, Associate Vice President of the Global Service Office of CityU, "Nearly one hundred years ago, Columbia pioneered the concept of general education – and their core curriculum is renowned for its scope and rigour."

The Columbia Core Curriculum still maintains this tradition of communal learning, with all students encountering the same texts and issues at the same time. As part of the Contemporary Civilization core, students encounter ancients such as Aristotle, and Plato, down to 20th century authors like Virginia Woolf.

"By reading these texts, students get a chance to look at the very roots of cultural philosophy. Students have to have broad horizons, and they have to be able to contribute; all these texts are discussed in small class environments. It remains relevant to the present, as they get exposure to wider social issues."

The emphasis on critical thinking complements CityU's own Discoveryenriched Curriculum. And the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program is proving to be a big draw. "So far we have had very positive feedback," says Ms Zoe Mak, External Liaison Officer at Global Services.

"Joint degree programmes are in high demand – even potential entrants from high school are asking about them. The number of applicants to the program is on the rise."

Sharing insights

One of CB's students in the 2015 Columbia cohort, Eric Sun, tells of his experience so far: "Studying at Columbia is very intense but enjoyable. Every week I have different problem sets or readings. The homework expands on what is taught in the lecture room, and requires me to think deeper to integrate different sets of knowledge."

"Another thing I am enjoying is discussion with my classmates. They share their insights in class freely. The diversity of opinions broadens the picture and has made me more open to new ideas."

And the standout benefit? "The Joint Bachelor's Degree Program is giving me the chance to develop as a globalized student – and I intend to use my ability to pursue greater goals."

The College of Business is intent on building on our overseas connections, and offering increasing numbers of our students the avenue to an unparalleled global education.