Student Technology Toolbox

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

Starting in Fall 2022 these technology recommendations will become requirements for new students as we start the Technology Toolbox program.

The Technology Toolbox identifies:  

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 many 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 need to use their financial aid package to purchase their educational technology. To discuss your financial plan, please contact Columbia Central at or at 312-369-7140.

Educational Discounts

Lenovo student discounts Standard Student Discount Page with fully customizable configurations

Lenovo Partner Discount Site Lenovo Partner Discount Site with limited selection, better discount, quick shipping but no customization. These models meet the requirements of some tiers but not all. *NOTE: some off these laptops can also be upgraded after purchase to meet requirements.

Apple student discounts Apple Education Site standard education discount with customizable configurations.

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 basic courses. 
*The Chromebook, and iPad option may not run software required for all courses and may require use of Virtual Desktop software to access some course software.

Creative Baseline : Intel, AMD or Apple M! 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
* additional tech requirements
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
* additional tech requirements
Communication Advertising
Civic Media
Marketing Communication
Multimedia Journalism
Public Relations
Social Media and Digital Strategy
Creative Baseline
Communication Multimedia Photojournalism
Media Creation
* additional tech requirements
Communication Radio Audio / Music
Dance Dance
Dance Movement Therapy and Counseling
Creative Baseline
* additional tech requirements
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
* additional tech requirements
Fashion Studies Fashion Design 3D / Edit
* additional tech requirements
Humanities, History, and Social Science Cultural Studies Any Device
Interactive Arts and Media Animation
Computer Animation
Game Art
Game Design
Game Programming
Interaction Design
Traditional Animation
3D / Edit
* additional tech requirements
Music Composition
Composition and Production
Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music
Music Composition
Audio / Music
* additional tech requirements
Photography Photography Media Creation
Science and Math Environmental and Sustainability Studies 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)