Student Computer Recommendations

This page describes the computer hardware and software recommended for students enrolled in each of Columbia’s majors.

Please also note that Columbia students receive free access to all of the following resources:

As a college that prepares future creative professionals, Columbia believes it is essential our students be equipped with the technology that meets the standards for their field. With this in mind, the college has obtained licenses for several software programs students can access, free of charge. Further, faculty in each of our disciplines have recommended specific hardware and software for students to purchase independently.

Some students may qualify to have their educational technology purchases covered by their financial aid packages, or to receive and use equipment on loan from the college. For more information on these programs and to learn about covering technology purchases through financial aid, please contact Columbia Central at or at 312-369-7140.

Educational Discounts

Lenovo student discounts
Apple student discounts

Laptop Tiers

Personal computer requirements for Columbia students fall into one of the five tiers described in this section. You can read the specifications for each tier by clicking on its name. You can find the tier recommended for your major by referring to the table in the section below.

Be sure to also check the FAQ section at the bottom of this page for additional hardware and software requirements specific to some majors.

Any Device : Any device that meets minimal requirements

Creative Baseline : Intel or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster
*Adobe Creative Cloud Minimum Requirements
**Adobe uses minimum specifications per application we use Photoshop as a baseline

Audio / Music : Meets Creative baseline with some additional audio requirements

Media CreationFaster CPU and more RAM helps meet the recommended specs for Adobe After Effects and Premiere. 

3D / Edit : Better Processor and Dedicated GPU for more intensive graphics application. 

Recommended Laptop Tier by Program and Department

Department Major Recommended Laptop Tier 
American Sign Language American Sign Language-English Interpretation
Deaf Studies
Any Device
Art and Art History Art History
Fine Arts
Creative Baseline
Audio Arts and Acoustics Acoustics
Audio Arts
Audio Design and Production
Live and Installed Sound
Music Technology
Audio / Music
Business and Entrepreneurship Advanced Management
Arts Management
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management
Design Management
Entrepreneurship for Creatives
International Arts Management
Live and Performing Arts Management
Music Business
Music Business Management
Sports Management
Visual Arts Management
Any Device
Business and Entrepreneurship Design Management Media Creation
Cinema and Television Arts Film and Television
Interdisciplinary Documentary
Television Writing and Business
3D / Edit
Communication Advertising
Civic Media
Marketing Communication
Multimedia Journalism
Public Relations
Social Media and Digital Strategy
Creative Baseline
Communication Multimedia Photojournalism
Media Creation
Communication Radio Audio / Music
Dance Dance
Dance Movement Therapy and Counseling
Creative Baseline
Design Advertising Art Direction
Graphic Design
Media Creation
Design Interior Architecture 3D / Edit
English and Creative Writing Creative Writing
Creative Writing-Fiction
Fiction Writing
Any Device
Fashion Studies Fashion Business
Fashion Studies
Creative Baseline
Fashion Studies Fashion Design 3D / Edit
Humanities, History, and Social Science Cultural Studies
Early Childhood Education
Any Device
Interactive Arts and Media Animation
Computer Animation
Game Art
Game Design
Interaction Design
Traditional Animation
3D / Edit
Interactive Arts and Media Game Programming
Creative Baseline
Music Composition
Composition and Production
Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music
Music Composition
Audio / Music
Photography Photography Media Creation
Science and Math Art and Materials Conservation Any Device
Theatre Acting
Acting With International Performance Study
Comedy Writing and Performance
Devised Performance Practice
European Devised Performance
Musical Theatre
Musical Theatre Performance
Theatre Design
Theatre Directing
Writing for Performance
Any Device
Theatre Theatre Design and Technology
Theatre Technology
Media Creation
No Department Exploratory
No Major
Any Device


Department-specific Requirements and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)