Learn About Purchasing Methods


There are a variety of ways to purchase goods and services, depending on the type of good and/or service, the cost, and the relationship the supplier has with Columbia.

We strongly encourage the use of suppliers with University-Wide Purchasing Agreements (UwPA), in particular those available in the CU Marketplace. Visit our Goods and Services Catalog to find out if there is a UwPA supplier for the good and/or service you are trying to buy.

The CU Marketplace provides users with specialty access to contracted, enabled suppliers only available within the CU Marketplace platform. 

The CU Marketplace is powered by Jaggaer, the leading eProcurement solution used by 85% of R1 institutions and seven of the eight Ivy League schools, and integrates with ARC, Columbia’s financial system. Users are uniquely able to create requisitions and obtain purchase approvals within the platform instead of through ARC.

P-Cards can be used for items less than $2500. P-Cards are used to purchase goods only.

For the full list of items that cannot be purchased on the P-Card, visit the Purchasing Card Policy.

Any purchases with a UwPA do not have purchasing thresholds and do not require Central Purchasing approval. If you cannot use the CU Marketplace to make your purchase, you should create a requisition in ARC to purchase using a non-Marketplace UwPA. This requisition will trigger an auto-sourced purchase order, which is immediately sent to the supplier.

Requisitions for a central purchase order should be used in the following cases:

  • For items/goods over $500 where the following is true:
    • A UwPA in the CU Marketplace or ARC cannot be utilized.
    • A P-Card cannot be used.
  • For all services or contracts that require Central Purchasing review and approval.

Requisitions for Central Purchase Orders will require additional documentation depending on the funding source and dollar threshold, and the category of good or service being procured. Refer to the Goods and Services Catalog and the Purchasing Process Toolkit for details.

If the requisition is approved by Purchasing, a central purchase order will be created and sent to the supplier.

Some services do not require a requisition and can be purchased, then paid for, using an Accounts Payable voucher. This is called a "Voucher Only" purchase.

Please consult the Goods and Services Catalog for goods and services that can be paid for with a voucher. Certain voucher services will require additional documents, such as a Scope of Work or Performance Agreement. These are submitted with the invoice as part of the AP process in ARC.

Refer to the Procurement Mechanism Excel spreadsheet listing the various payment methods for goods and services.

Refer to the following pages for special conditions and requirements for our purchasing categories:



Find general guidance on how to create non-Marketplace requisitions in ARC.

University Policy

View the following policy pages on our University Policies site for additional information: