Columbia College, the original core of the university, is now a coeducational undergraduate school. The school of medicine (est. 1767), which awarded the first M.D. degree in America in 1770, was absorbed into the independent College of Physicians and Surgeons (chartered 1807), which in turn was absorbed into the university in 1891. Also included in the university are the schools of law (1858); architecture, planning, and preservation (1896); and engineering and applied science, founded (1864) as the school of mines; the graduate school of arts and science, founded as the graduate faculties of political science (1880), philosophy (1890), and pure science (1892); and the schools of general studies (1904), journalism (1912), business (1916), dental and oral surgery, (1917), public health (1921), nursing (1937), social work (1940), international and public affairs (1946), and the arts (1948). Columbia has in the past operated schools of pharmacy (1904–76) and library science (1926–92) and offered professional courses in optometry (1910–56). Affiliates of the university are Teachers College (founded 1889, incorporated into the university 1898) and Barnard College (founded 1889, incorporated into the university 1900).
Much of Columbia's work in the fields of political science and international relations is carried on through a large group of research institutes (e.g., the East Asian, the European, and the Russian, now Harriman, institutes). At Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y., are the university's Nevis physics laboratories. At Palisades, N.Y., the university operates the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which has extensive facilities for research in geophysics, geochemistry, and oceanography. At Oracle, Ariz., Columbia manages Biosphere 2. The university enrolls some 22,000 students.
Columbia has formal educational ties to the Juilliard School of Music and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, to Oxford and Cambridge universities in England, to the Univ. of Paris, to Kyoto and Tokyo universities in Japan, and other educational institutions. It operates the Arden House conference center at Harriman, N.Y., and Reid Hall, an academic facility in Paris. The university library system, among the nation's largest, has many important manuscript and rare book collections. Columbia Univ. Press was founded in 1893.