Founded in 1936, Columbia College first offered high school completion programs to hundreds of students. In 1965 the College added university transfer courses to its offerings, and in the 1970s introduced an English as a Second Language Program to meet the needs of the increasing number of international students.
In 1985 Columbia College moved from downtown Vancouver to Burnaby, to a location near Metrotown Centre. Over the next twelve years the College's programs expanded significantly; in particular, the College broadened its offerings in the areas of business and engineering. During this period Columbia College established its reputation as Canada's premier university-preparatory school for international students.
In 1997 Columbia College returned to a downtown Vancouver location, to share a new facility with the British Columbia Institute of Technology. In this building (the BCIT Downtown Campus) the College was able to provide improved science laboratories and classrooms and expanded library facilities, as well as a refurbished Tutorial Centre.
In 2011, Columbia College celebrated the 75th anniversary of its founding. This year also saw Columbia College start to recruit significant numbers of students from around the globe. While Columbia continued to recruit students in its traditional areas in East Asia, the College now saw an influx of students from South Asia, the Middle East and West Africa, creating a truly international student body.
In April 2013 Columbia College moved from its downtown location to a brand new 5-storey building just east of Vancouver’s downtown core on Terminal Avenue. The new building provides improved facilities to students and staff, including science laboratories (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science and Physics), library and student lounges. Tenants on the ground floor (Subway, Taco del Mar and the soon-to-open Well Tea) provide food services to students. Underground parking is available, and there is easy access to Skytrain at the nearby Main Street Station.
The College operates as a Non-profit Society, and currently has an enrollment of about 1,000 students drawn from around the world. Over the years many thousands of Canadian and international students have completed their qualifications at Columbia College and proceeded to university. The College will continue to provide excellent preparation for university entrance in the years to come.