12 Great Places to Take Graduation Pictures on Columbia's Campuses (Besides Our Favorite, Alma Mater)

Construction for Commencement and Graduation Ceremonies takes place sooner than you think—April 18, to be exact—on Columbia's Morningside campus. Here are some great alternative photo locations for your graduation photos!

By
Kelly Moffitt and Jennifer Pellerito
April 07, 2022

Graduation season is here! Get your cameras ready! At Columbia, everyone wants to grab an iconic photo with Alma Mater, Low Library, and in front of Butler Library in their regalia, but construction for commencement and school ceremonies starts earlier than you think. This year, bleachers will begin to be installed starting April 18. What's a grad to do? Columbia News has you covered. 

Below, find some ideas for alternative grad photo locations all over Columbia's campuses that will make you look your best. And check out the most daring pose above, by Carolyn Rose (CC'22) and Sam Landa (GS'22), taken at Revson Plaza's "Tightrope Walker" statue.

We'd love to see your graduation photos this year! Share them with us here and you might be featured in an upcoming Columbia News article or @columbia post. 

With all this in mind, make sure you order your cap and gown as soon as possible so you can grab pictures wherever you please. For undergraduates and master's students, regalia ordering closes May 1. For doctoral students, regalia ordering closes on April 11. More information here.  

1. The Sundial

Maria Shakespeare, Francesca Crawford, Katherine Barrett, Julia Baran throw their hats on the sundial in front of Butler Library.

O.K., well, we know the sundial in between Butler Library and Low Library isn't exactly alternative for grad pictures, but we couldn't help ourselves—we love a good grad-cap throw there. Make sure you grab your photo before the space fills up!

2. The Columbia Gates

Yaroslava Zaitseva (GS'21) throws a cap in between the Columbia gates.

A celebratory spot with great signage to boot: the Columbia gates. Yaroslava Zaitseva (GS'21) nails the blurry-cap-in-motion moment. 

3. Scholars' Lion

Katherine Liu (SEAS'21) & Michael Grandel (SEAS'21) pose in front of the Scholars Lion statue on Columbia's campus.

Roar, Lion, Roar! We love to see Scholars' Lion incorporated into your grad pictures. By the way, do you know the history of Columbia's Lion mascot

4. Life Force on Revson Plaza

Jon Carlo Dominguez (CC'19) & Hudson the Corgi pose in the Life Force statue on Columbia campus.

First things first: Pets are welcome, nay, encouraged in graduation pictures on campus. We love this one from Jon Carlo Dominguez (CC'19) and Hudson the Corgi in David Bakalar's "Life Force" sculpture on Revson Plaza. 

5. Le Marteleur 

Ari Zingillioglu (SEAS'20)  poses at the Le Marteleur statue on Columbia's campus.

We personally think Constantin Meunier's Le Marteleur (The Hammerman) sculpture in front of the Mudd Building does not get enough love in graduation pictures. A great option for our engineering students, like Ari Zingillioglu (SEAS'20) pictured above, or anyone who enjoys a classic contrapposto pose, really. 

6. The Thinker

Graduates file past the Thinker statue on Columbia's campus.

You've spent years cramming, studying, crunching the numbers, pondering life's big questions and you're NOT going to pose with The Thinker, the most philosophical of statues on campus? Situated on the lawn outside of Philosophy Hall, a pose with this statue is the perfect encapsulation of the academic side of the college experience. 

7. Curl

A bunch of grads in caps and gowns jump in front of The Curl.

Like the ribbon on a graduation present, Meadmore's "Curl" sculpture in front of Uris Hall is a fun and festive spot for a group shot. 

8. Barnard Gate (+Bonus)

Graduates stand under Barnard balloons and the Barnard gate.

Barnard College's balloon game is always top-notch around commencement. You can find these prominently displayed by the Barnard Gate, also pictured. 

Two bonus ideas: The orange elevator at the Diana Center or the Diana Center Staircase has great light.  Below, Anna Fondiller (BC'19) shows us how it's done.

The orange elevator at the Diana Center or the Diana Center Staircase has great light. Anna Fondiller (BC'19) shows us how it is done.

9. Teachers College Views

Graduates pose in front of the Zankel door and overlooking the Teachers College Campus.

We've always thought the Teachers College campus has Harry Potter vibes and that certainly comes through in these photos. Lauren Salazar (TC’21) is at the Zankel Building entrance, and John E. Williams (TC’19) is at the landing on the stairs behind Schapiro Hall. These spots are a lovely addition to your graduation photo repertoire.

10. Vagelos Education Center (CUIMC)

Manpreet Nijjar (NUR'21) adjusts her velvet tam on the CUIMC campus with the George Washington Bridge in the background. 

We adore an iconic New York City landmark in a graduation photo and this shot, featuring the George Washington Bridge, is no different. Taken on Columbia University Irving Medical Center's campus on the balcony of the sleek Vagelos Education Building, we love the velvet tam tip by Manpreet Nijjar (NUR'21) here. 

11. Allan Rosenfeld Building (CUIMC)

Darwin Keung posses in regalia in front of the Mailman building

Good as gold! The Mailman Building entrance offers a gilded backdrop for our public health graduates, like Darwin Keung (MSPH'19), pictured above. 

12. Manhattanville

A view of the Manhattanville campus from under the Harlem overpass.

Graduation photo opps abound on Columbia's newest campus in Manhattanville, including this spot under the Harlem overpass looking back at the Columbia Business School buildings. What could be more iconic than taking your grad pics at the same place that Rihanna announced her pregnancy?


Want more graduation content? Check out our Commencement 2022 Stories landing page here