Psychology Major

Planning your Program

Majors should begin planning a program of study as early as possible. Please see the Advisors page for more information on the resources and advice available to you in your program planning. As soon as possible in your undergraduate career, but certainly prior to the start of your final semester, you must submit a Major Requirement Checklist, which shows all major courses you have taken and plan to take.

Thirty or more points are required to complete the Psychology Major. The program must include: 


Foundational Courses

Students should begin their studies with the following foundational courses: 

UN1001: The Science of Psychology is prerequisite for all other psychology courses.

Lecture course introducing students to the chief facts, principles, and problems of human and animal behavior, through systematic study of a text, lectures, exercises, reading in special fields, and participation in a current experiment. (An alternative to participation can be arranged at the student's request.)

You may choose from the following courses.

You may choose from the following courses.

Majors are strongly advised to complete first the statistics requirement and then the research methods requirement by the fall term of their junior year. Be sure to verify the specific prerequisites for Methods courses, most of which require prior completion of a statistics course. 


Three Courses Meeting the Distribution Requirement

One course (3 points or greater) must be taken from each of the following three groups: 

These are courses numbered in the 2200s, 3200s, or 4200s.


These are courses numbered in the 2400s, 3400s, or 4400s, as well as UN1010.

Courses filling this requirement include: 


These are courses numbered in the 2600s, 3600s, or 4600s.

Courses fulfilling this requirement include: 



Seminars and Electives

In addition, students must complete the following: 

For students entering Columbia in Fall 2013 or later, one seminar course, numbered in the 3000s or 4000s, must be taken for 3 or more points.

Seminars are usually taken in the senior year as a culmination of the major program. Enrollment in seminar courses requires the instructor's permission; students are advised to contact instructors at least one month prior to registration to request seminar admission. Note that Honors and Supervised individual research courses (PSYC UN3920 and UN3950) are not seminar courses and will not meet the seminar requirement. 

As described below, these may include research courses, transfer courses, and Barnard psychology courses not approved for specific requirements.

No course may be counted twice in fulfillment of the above major requirements, with the following exception: a seminar course may fulfill both the seminar requirement and a group requirement if it meets the criteria for both.


Important Information to Consider

A grade of C-, or higher, must be earned and revealed on your transcript in any Columbia or Barnard course — including the first — that is used to satisfy the major or concentration requirements.

Courses taken on a Pass/D/Fail basis may not be used to satisfy the major or concentration requirements unless the grade of P is uncovered by the Registrar's deadline. Students may petition to have their P/D/F grades uncovered after the registrar's deadline for the following three courses only:  PSYC UN1001 Science of Psychology, PSYC UN1010 Mind, Brain, & Behavior (no longer offered), and PSYC UN1610 Introductory Statistics for Behavioral Scientists. Courses taken only on a Pass/Fail basis may not be used to satisfy the major or concentration requirements under any circumstances.

No more than 4 points of Supervised individual research (PSYC UN3950 and UN3920) may be taken in any one term, and no more than 8 points total of research and field work courses (PSYC UN3950, BC3466, BC3473, BC3592 and BC3599) may be applied toward the major. (See below for further restrictions on applying Barnard courses toward the psychology major.)

No more than 9 points (minus any transfer credits) from Barnard psychology courses may be applied as credit toward the major. The table of approved Barnard psychology courses indicates which courses have been approved for specific requirements of the Psychology major. Courses not on the approved list may only be applied toward a specific requirement with prior written approval from a program advisor. Courses not on the approved list for a specific requirement may be applied as elective credit toward the 30 points for the major.

No more than 9 transfer credits (or a combination of transfer and Barnard credits) will be accepted toward the psychology major. Approval of transfer credits on a student's Entrance Credit Report toward general requirements for the bachelor's degree does not grant approval of these credits toward the psychology major. Approval of transfer credits to fulfill psychology requirements must be obtained in writing from a psychology program advisor using the Major Requirement Substitution Form. To be approved for the major, a course taken at another institution should be substantially similar to one offered by the department, the grade received must be a B- or better, and the course must have been taken within the past 8 years. As noted below, if two courses overlap in content, only one will be applied towards the major. With the exception of approved Barnard courses, students should consult their Program Advisor (DUS) before registering for psychology courses offered outside the department.

Students who have completed an introductory psychology course at another institution prior to declaring a psychology major should consult a Program Advisor (DUS) to verify whether or not this course meets departmental standards for major transfer credit. If transfer credit toward the major is not approved, the student must enroll in PSYC UN1001 or PSYC BC1001 to complete this major requirement.

Beginning in Fall 2019, the Psychology Department will accept a score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam, or a score of 7 on the Higher Level IB Psychology exam, to meet the Science of Psychology requirement. The AP/IB Psychology exam does not count as a course or toward a student’s points total for their program; students placing out of the Science of Psychology requirement in this way will need to take an additional course to fulfill the required number of courses or points for their program.

The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) statistics scores do not satisfy the statistics requirement.  Students who have completed AP statistics may opt to take a more advanced statistics course to fulfill this requirement with the approval of one of the directors of undergraduate studies.


How to apply for an exception:

For information about how to apply for a course exception, visit our transfer credit page.

Students will not receive credit for two courses — one taken at Columbia and one taken at Barnard or transferred from another institution — whose content largely overlaps For example, PSYC UN1001 The Science of Psychology overlaps the content of introductory psychology courses offered at many other institutions, including Barnard; only one such course will receive credit. Similarly, PSYC UN2630 Social Psychology and PSYC BC1138 Social Psychology have overlapping content; only one will receive credit. Please consult the Table of Overlapping Courses to check for overlap between Barnard and Columbia courses.

Beginning in Fall 2018, PSYC UN1010 Mind, Brain, & Behavior will no longer be offered. Students who have already taken UN1010 should not take UN2430 as the content of the courses overlap significantly.