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.
 

The Psychology Major requirements changed in 2020. Students entering an undergraduate degree program at Columbia in Fall 2020 or later must complete the new major requirements. Students who entered Columbia prior to Fall 2020 may choose to complete either the new major requirements or the old ones.
 

Below you’ll find lists of all the Psychology courses that can be used to meet the different requirements. To see which courses are being offered this year, take a look at the Year-at-a-Glance page or the Fall and Spring schedule pages.

Students must complete 11 courses in Psychology or an approved cognate discipline. To count toward the major, a course must be taken for 3 or more points. At least 6 of the 11 courses must be in the Columbia Psychology Department.

These 11 courses must include:

  1. Introductory Psychology Course
  2. One Statistics course
  3. One Research Methods course
  4. One Group I Course
  5. One Group II Course
  6. One Group III Course
  7. One course meeting the Seminar requirement
  8. One course meeting the integrative/applied Special Elective requirement
  9. Enough PSYC electives to complete 11 courses

Each course may fulfill only one of these major requirements. See below for details on each of these requirements.

Students must complete 30 or more points to complete the Psychology Major. Those 30 points must include:

  1. Introductory Psychology Course
  2. One Statistics course
  3. One Research Methods course
  4. One Group I Course
  5. One Group II Course
  6. One Group III Course
  7. One course meeting the Seminar requirement
  8. Enough PSYC electives to complete 30 points

 See below for details on each of these requirements. Note that no course may be counted twice in fulfillment of the major requirements. 

 

Foundational Courses

Students should begin their studies with the following 3 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.)

A score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam, or a score of 7 on the IB Psychology exam can fulfill this requirement of the major, but does not count toward the 11 courses.

 

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 spring term of their junior year. Be sure to verify the specific prerequisites for Research 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: 

 

 

Seminar

In addition, students must complete the following: 

One seminar course must be taken for 3 or more points.

All courses offered through the Columbia Psychology Department and numbered in the 3200s, 3400s, 3600s, 4200s, 4400s, and 4600s count toward the seminar requirement. Not all Barnard courses taught in a seminar format fulfill this requirement—see Barnard Courses, below, for more info.

Seminars are usually taken in the junior and 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. No course may be counted twice in fulfillment of the above major requirements: separate courses must be taken to fulfill the seminar requirement and each distribution group.

 

Special Elective (for the New Major requirements)

For students entering Columbia in Fall 2020 or later, one course must be taken to fulfill the integrative/applied Special Elective.

The Special Elective encompasses a wide range of courses: those that cut across and connect different sub-disciplines within psychology; those that integrate psychology with other disciplines; those that apply psychology to real-world problems; those that dig deeper into advanced statistics and methods topics; and those that offer hands-on experience with psychology research.

The following courses are pre-approved to count toward the Special Elective requirement. If you would like to count a course that does not appear on this list, please contact your Program Advisor  prior to enrolling.

  • PSYC UN3950 or UN3920 (taken for 3 or 4 points)
  • PSYC UN1910 Research Ethics in Psychology
  • PSYC UN1930 Behavioral Data Science
  • PSYC UN1990 Global Behavioral Science
  • PSYC GU3615 Children at Risk
  • PSYC GU4612 Frontiers of Justice
  • PSYC GU4930 Fundamentals of Human Brain Imaging
  • STAT UN2102 Applied Statistical Computing
  • STAT GU4243 Applied Data Science
  • PSYC BC1088 The Science of Living Well
  • PSYC BC2175 Addictive Behaviors (overlaps with PSYC 2460 Drugs & Behavior)
  • PSYC BC3155 Psychology and Law
  • PSYC BC3465 Field Work & Research Seminar: Toddler Center
  • PSYC BC3466 Field Work & Research Seminar: Toddler Center
  • PSYC BC3473 Clinical Field Practicum
  • PHIL BC2400 Psychology & Philosophy of Human Experience
  • NSBV BC3387 Topics in Neuroethics

Electives

Once a student has met the specific requirements of the major, any other psychology or approved cognate courses they take to complete the 30-point (or, for students entering Columbia in Fall 2020 or later, the 11-course) minimum constitute electives.

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.

 

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 for a P grade may not be used to satisfy the major or concentration requirements, except for P grades earned in the Spring 2020 semester.

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. Under the new 11-course major, research courses must be taken for 3 or 4 points in order to count toward the major; a maximum of 2 such courses may be applied toward the major. (See below for further restrictions on applying Barnard courses toward the psychology major.)

For students completing the 30-point major: No more than 9 points (minus any transfer credits) from Barnard psychology courses may be applied as credit toward the major.

For students completing the 11-course major: A maximum of 5 courses counted toward the major may be from outside Columbia (i.e., Barnard and/or transfer courses).

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. All Barnard PSYC courses not on the approved list for a specific requirement may be counted as electives, up to the 5-outside-courses limit.

For students completing the 11-course major: Some courses offered outside of Psychology departments can count toward major requirements (e.g., courses taken in the Statistics Department; cognate courses offered through Philosophy, Business, Law, etc.). A maximum of 2 such non-PSYC courses may be applied toward the major. Courses offered in the Barnard Psychology or Neuroscience departments do not count toward this limit.

For students completing the 30-point major: No more than 9 transfer credits (or a combination of transfer and Barnard credits) will be accepted toward the psychology major.

For students completing the 11-course major: No more than 3 transfer courses can be applied toward the psychology major. Any transfer courses thus applied count toward the limit of 5 courses from outside Columbia.

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 submit a Major Requirement Substitution Form 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 30 points (or 11 courses) required for their program; students placing out of the Science of Psychology requirement in this way will need to take an additional elective 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.

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.