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.

* Indicated a course will be offered in the 2017-18 Academic Year.

You may choose from the following courses.

* Indicated a course will be offered in the 2017-18 Academic Year.

Majors are strongly advised to complete first the statistics requirement and then the laboratory methods requirement by the fall term of their junior year. Be sure to verify the specific prerequisites for laboratory 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: 

* Indicates offered in 2017-18

These are courses numbered in the 2600s, 3600s, or 4600s, as well as UN1450 or UN1455. 

Courses fulfilling this requirement include: 

* Indicates offered in 2017-18


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. The grade of P will not be accepted for psychology major, psychology concentration, or neuroscience and behavior major credit. 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. Courses offered on a mandatory Pass/Fall 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. Note that College Board Advanced Placement (AP) psychology scores will not satisfy the PSYC UN1001 requirement, nor will they confer elective credit toward the major.

How to apply for an exception.

1. Before you apply:

  1. If you are a transfer student and you are seeking credit toward the major or concentration for a psychology course taken elsewhere, you must first obtain transfer credit through CC or GS. If you have not already received approval from CC or GS to apply the course(s) in question toward your total number of credits needed to graduate, you will need to visit your Dean first to obtain the relevant forms and complete that process.
  2. If you are studying abroad, consult with your Program Advisor (DUS) prior to registering for classes at another institution. Provide your DUS with the syllabus for any psychology course you would like to have (conditionally) approved towards the major. Your Program Advisor (DUS) can then advise you regarding the eligibility of the course. If a syllabus is not available, provide your DUS with as much information about the course’s content and requirements as you can. You may need to contact your study-abroad institution and/or your prospective instructor to get this information.
  3. If you are a Columbia College student taking a course at another institution in the United States over the summer, you will need (conditional) advance approval. You should obtain a copy of Columbia College's Pre-Approval for a Course Taken at Another U.S. Institution form, available in the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner and discuss your plans with your advising dean.

2. Assemble all required materials for each course you want us to consider.

  • The Major Requirement Substitution Form with top half completed
  • A course syllabus that clearly indicates weekly topics and reading assignments as well as course requirements
    • If the syllabus is not sufficiently detailed you may be asked to bring in the textbook, quizzes and tests, and/or term papers.
  • Course description from school bulletin
  • Your transcript showing grade received
  • The appropriate Dean's form (typically, a transfer credit report for courses completed elsewhere)

3. Take assembled materials to 406 Schermerhorn where the Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant will check them for completeness. IMPORTANT: If you are a GS Student, you must submit all required paperwork in the same semester in which you declare a major; failure to meet this deadline may result in the loss of eligibility for transfer credit toward the major or concentration.

4. Answer any questions from your Program Advisor. The UCA will pass your submission on to your advisor, who will contact you if he or she has any questions or requires additional materials in order to review your request. You may also request to meet with your Program Advisor at this point if you have an unusual transfer situation or any other issues you’d like to discuss (e.g., if you have taken several courses you could potentially transfer, and need help deciding which of those courses would be most advantageous to apply toward your total of nine transfer credits).

5. If permission is granted. Once your Program Advisor has reviewed your request, the UCA will let you know whether or not permission has been granted. If it has, you will need to visit the Psychology Department Office to pick up a copy of the signed form.

  • The Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant in 406 Schermerhorn will keep one copy on file in the Psychology Department office. It will be used to document that you have an approved transfer credit shortly before you graduate, when the Department is required to certify that you have completed the requirements for the major or concentration.
  • The UCA will also give a copy of the form to the program advisor who signed it.
  • Be sure to pick up one copy of the signed permission form. You are responsible for keeping one copy of the form to produce in the (very unlikely) case that the original form cannot be found when it comes time to certify your major or concentration for your graduation.
  • The UCA will contact the registrar to inform them that your transfer credit has been approved for the major. Once this is done, you should be able to see the approved transfer credit on your Degree Audit Report (DAR) on SSOL.

You can find the Major Requirement Substitution Form here

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.