Marine Corps Partners with Columbia University

college graduation ceremony

Columbia University recently announced that eligible Marines planning to exit the U.S. Marine Corps will for the first time have formalized, national program to access a top-tier undergraduate education. Through the Leadership Scholar Program, a partnership developed by the U.S. Marine Corps and leading colleges and universities, qualified Marines are identified by their commanding officers and are then shepherded through the college admissions process on their respective Marine Corps bases. The first Ivy League college and one of the program’s founding partners, Columbia University School of General Studies recently admitted all six Marines who applied through the program—after interviewing more than 25 Marines at Camp LeJeune and Camp Pendleton this past spring—adding to the more than 200 student-veterans currently enrolled.

According to Beth Morgan, LSP director of higher education initiatives, Columbia University School of General Studies—founded largely to accommodate the thousands of GIs returning from World War Two—is one of 190 top colleges and universities participating in the Leadership Scholars Program.

“As one of the founding university partners of the Leadership Scholar Program, Columbia has proven that they believe Marines are not only competitive in the classroom, but that they also excel in a rigorous academic environment. Through in-person, on-base interviews and individualized attention throughout the application process, Columbia’s partnership is a model for how we would like all LSP partnerships to function,” Morgan said.

According to Curtis Rodgers, Columbia University School of General Studies dean of enrollment management, the U.S. Marine Corps-Columbia University partnership began years before the Leadership Scholar Program was formed.

“The Leadership Scholar Program is a formalization of a process that began when I met with prospective students at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as a part of the Troops to College Summit. During that visit, Maj. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert, former commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, expressed his vision of seeing talented and bright Marines complete their undergraduate degrees at top U.S. colleges and universities. I’m thrilled that his vision has been realized,” Rodgers said.

In addition to being a founding member of the Leadership Scholar Program, Columbia University School of General Studies was also one of the first schools to participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program and continues to provide $7,000 per year for up to 300 eligible student-veterans. Columbia University boasts the highest student-veteran enrollment among New York state private colleges and universities and in the Ivy League.

The School of General Studies of Columbia University is a liberal arts college in the United States created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds seeking a rigorous, traditional, Ivy League undergraduate degree full- or part-time. GS students take the same courses, with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other Columbia undergraduates. For more information about Leadership Scholar Program or the School of General Studies, contact Anna O’Sullivan at 212-854-7671, or email

Story Continues