Programs of Study
Programs of Study
Planning a Program
The Center for Student Advising, located in 403 Lerner Hall, is the first stop for students to discuss their advising needs as they create and reflect on their program of study at Columbia. Productive advising is built on a true partnership in which the student and the adviser work together. The spirit of an ideal advising partnership is one of mutual engagement, responsiveness, and dedication. Regular advising conversations, the fundamental building blocks of the partnership, enable an adviser to serve as a resource of knowledge and a source of referrals - so that students may plan and prepare, in the broadest sense, over the course of their years at Columbia.
There are many advising opportunities for incoming students in the summer prior to matriculation. In the summer, each incoming student receives the Academic Planning Guide for New Students, which is also available on the website of the Center for Student Advising. This publication helps incoming students plan and create their academic program.
Each first-year student is preregistered for Literature Humanities as well as Frontiers of Science or University Writing. (First-year students are preregistered for either Frontiers of Science or University Writing in the fall term and take the other course in the spring term.) During New Student Orientation, each incoming student is asked to set up an appointment with their advising dean and then is expected to meet with their advising dean in the Center for Student Advising to discuss their fall course selections. On the Friday of the New Student Orientation Program, students register for courses to complete the fall term schedule. Students should continue to meet with their advising deans as they finalize their program in the first two weeks of the term.
Suggested programs directed toward professional or graduate studies are described under Special Programs and serve as guides. Some majors and concentrations require that certain introductory courses be completed before the start of the junior year. Students should read carefully the degree requirements for the majors and concentrations in which they have an interest. All students should:
- Become thoroughly familiar with the requirements for the degree and with the College regulations, including deadlines;
- Plan, if possible, to complete certain required Core and major courses by the end of the sophomore year (Contemporary Civilization COCI C1101-COCI C1102 and Literature Humanities HUMA C1001-HUMA C1002 must be completed by the end of the junior year); and
- Choose a major or concentration in their fourth term. Students must submit the completed major declaration form on-line or to the Center for Student Advising. Some majors and concentrations require departmental review and students can only declare these majors after receiving approval by the department. A major or concentration may be changed at any time as long as the requirements have been fulfilled and the student can still graduate by the end of their eighth semester. If a different major or concentration is decided upon, a new form must be filed with the Center for Student Advising.
On-Line Resources for Planning a Program
The information contained in this bulletin as well as additional information for planning a program is available on-line in the Academics area of the Columbia College website. This includes a fully searchable version of the bulletin course listings, that integrates the University’s on-line Directory of Classes, major advising information, and links to departmental home pages.
Departmental home pages may contain faculty listings as well as fields of specialization and/or research; on-line instructional resources (such as course syllabi, multimedia resources, links to research readings, library resources, and other useful sites); and departmental news, events, and lectures.
Placement and Credit
Language Placement Examinations
First-year students can select appropriate levels in French, German, Hebrew, Latin, Italian, or Spanish on the basis of scores on SAT II: Subject Tests or Advanced Placement Examinations. All continuing language students who have not taken one of these tests must take a Columbia placement exam in order to enroll in language study. The exact exam times and dates are provided in the orientation schedule distributed to first-year students when they arrive on campus. Upperclass students should contact departments before the beginning of each semester to inquire about placement exam options other than those provided during New Student Orientation.
The College grants up to one semester (16 points) of college-level work completed before matriculation at Columbia College. This work may be done under the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program, GCE Advanced Level Examinations, International Baccalaureate Examination, or other national systems. The College also considers a maximum of 6 points for college courses taken after graduation from secondary school and prior to matriculation at Columbia. Entering first-year students are subject to all rules for first-year students in their first two terms, regardless of the number of credits earned from approved advanced standing programs. Students who wish to receive advanced credit or exemption for the language requirement may not take courses at Columbia that cover similar or more basic material than the advanced work already completed, nor may they receive credit for two exams that cover the same material (e.g., Calculus AP and Mathematics GCE Advanced Level Exam). In some cases, credit is awarded when students complete successfully the course into which placement was awarded (or, the College may require a student to complete a particular course in order to receive advanced credit). The actual determination of advanced credit is made after students matriculate in accordance with departmental and College policies and is awarded upon completion of the first year at Columbia.
Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations
College Board Advanced Placement scores cannot be used toward exemption from any of the Core Curriculum courses; however, scores may be used toward satisfying the foreign language requirement (see The Core Curriculum—Foreign Language Requirement). Each year, individual departments review the College Board AP curriculum and determine appropriate placements, credit, and/or exemptions. Students entering in the 2013–2014 academic year may be awarded AP credit in the following subjects. Students should refer to department sections in this bulletin for information on credit granted, placement, and exemptions. The Academic Planning Guide contains a list of placement exam equivalencies as of spring 2013.
Government and Politics
English and Comparative Literature
French and Romance Philology
Spanish and Portuguese
Entering students are granted 6 points of credit for each score of 6 or 7 on IB Higher Level examinations if taken in disciplines offered as undergraduate programs at Columbia College and for a maximum of 16 points total advanced standing credit.
British Advanced Level Examinations
Students with grades of A or B on British Advanced Level examinations are granted 6 points of credit for each if the examinations were taken in disciplines offered as undergraduate programs at Columbia College up to a maximum of 16 points total advanced standing credit. The appropriate transcript should be submitted to the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner.
Other National Systems
Pending review by the appropriate department at Columbia, students who complete secondary school work in other national systems, e.g. French Baccalauréat, may be granted credit in certain disciplines for sufficiently high scores. The appropriate transcript should be submitted to the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner.
Entering first-year students are not granted credit for courses taken at other colleges before graduation from secondary school. Six points of credit is the maximum allowed for college courses taken after graduation from secondary school. The appropriate transcript should be submitted to the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner. Credit is only given upon approval by the Committee on Academic Standing, housed in the Center for Student Advising. A grade of B- or better is required.
For information about SAT II: Subject Tests and courses in other divisions of the University, see Admission and Programs of Study. For information about advanced standing for transfer students, see Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Majors and Concentrations
Interdisciplinary and Interdepartmental Majors and Concentrations
Interdisciplinary and interdepartmental majors and concentrations combine course work in two or more areas of study. Interdisciplinary majors and concentrations are linked to the interdisciplinary programs (see Departments of Instruction). Interdepartmental majors and concentrations are linked to two or more departments (see Departments of Instruction).
Students who wish to arrange an independent major must receive written permission from the Committee on Instruction. Interested students should meet with Elizabeth Strauss (email@example.com) as early as possible in the academic year to discuss procedures for submitting a proposal to the Committee. Formal proposals must be submitted in the sophomore year no later than March 31.
If approved, an independent major would serve as the student's only program of study. An independent major cannot be declared along with a second major or a concentration. At the time of declaring an independent major, all other majors or concentrations on the student's academic record must be removed.
All students attempting to complete double majors, double concentrations, or a combination of a major and a concentration should keep in mind that they must complete separate sets of required and related courses for each field. A single course may not count twice for more than one major or concentration.
Rules and Procedures Governing Programs of Study
Students are expected to attend their classes and laboratory periods. Instructors may take attendance into account in assessing a student’s performance and may require a certain level of attendance for passing a course. Students are held accountable for absences incurred owing to late enrollment. For additional information, see College and University Policies—Religious Holidays.
Points per Term
A student must register for no fewer than 12 points per term. Students must petition the Committee on Academic Standing in order to register for more than 22 points. First-year students may not petition to register for more than 22 points in their first semester. The average load for a Columbia College student is 15-16 points per term.
Supervised Independent Study
Supervised individual work on a special topic is available to qualified students as an alternative or as a supplement to courses and seminars in the field of specialization. Students must develop a plan of study with a faculty adviser and then obtain the approval of the department. Progress reports are submitted as required. From 1 to 6 points of credit may be awarded for this work; the exact number of points is to be determined in consultation with the department.
Ordinarily, only seniors are allowed to register for independent study, although other students may be admitted at the discretion of the departmental representative. Acceptance depends on the quality of the proposal and the student’s qualifications.
Study Outside Columbia University
Permission to study at another school for a term or a year is granted only for study at institutions outside of the United States and must be part of an approved study abroad program. Exceptions may be granted for study during the summer. See Programs of Study—Summer School Courses Taken Outside Columbia, for more information.
The Columbia Summer Session
Normally credit for summer school is given to College students only for courses taken in the Columbia Summer Session. There is a 16-point limit for the entire Summer Session, with no more than 8 points in any Summer Session period or in overlapping periods.
All students registered in Columbia College during the regular academic year may elect one course each semester during the regular academic year on a Pass/D/ Fail basis. This is in addition to any courses that are given only on a Pass/D/Fail basis. Students who do not utilize both Pass/D/Fail options during the academic year may elect, in the summer immediately following, to take one Summer Session course on a Pass/D/Fail basis. For additional information on and restrictions governing Pass/D/Fail credit, see Programs of Study—The Pass/D/Fail Option, in this bulletin.
Students who plan to take any courses in the summer toward their major or concentration must consult with their major department. Not all courses in the Summer Session Bulletin are accepted by Columbia College for credit. Students should also consult the annually updated List of Approved Summer Courses in the Office of the Dean, 208 Hamilton, or in the Center for Student Advising.
Summer School Courses Taken Outside Columbia
Students are not normally permitted to earn credit toward their degrees outside of Columbia except in the case of approved study abroad programs. Students who nevertheless wish to request permission to receive credit for summer school courses taken outside Columbia must:
- Obtain a copy of Columbia College's Summer Credit policy and accompanying forms. These are available in the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner.
- Read carefully the procedures to follow to apply for such credit. Please note that permission to take classes outside of Columbia is normally given only when a student has fallen behind in credits, when the student is taking a language course, or when the summer course is a prerequisite for a course that must be taken in the fall.
- Fill out the necessary forms obtained from the Center of Student Advising. Students must outline their reasons for wishing to take summer courses and list the specific courses in which they wish to enroll. This form is submitted to the Committee on Academic Standing, which determines whether or not summer school courses are approved for credit.
- Students may not receive credits for study abroad during the summer except in Columbia-sponsored programs, or approved foreign-language, archaeology, and field-studies programs. Students seeking summer study abroad credits must receive permission from the Office of Global Programs, 606 Kent Hall.
- Students applying for summer school credit for courses that they wish to use in partial fulfillment of the science or Global Core requirements must submit a science or Global Core course approval petition for approval by the appropriate faculty committee. Approval to receive credit for summer school courses does not ensure approval of the course toward one of these requirements.
Courses Taken in Other Columbia Undergraduate Schools and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
None of the courses listed in this bulletin nor in the bulletins of Barnard College and the School of General Studies require any special approval for enrollment unless so indicated in various programs and course descriptions.
Courses are open only to students enrolled in the Education Program.
The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
A maximum of four courses may be taken on a space-available basis. The four-course limit does not apply to students in the 3-2 Program.
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Courses may be taken by qualified undergraduates with the permission of the director of undergraduate studies in the department in which the course is taught.
Courses Taken in Other Divisions of the University
Students have available to them a number of courses offered by some professional schools of the University and may take a maximum of four courses for elective credit and apply those points toward the 124 points necessary for their degree.
Students who wish to take such a course and not count it toward the 124 points necessary for the undergraduate degree need only receive the permission of their advising dean. In either instance, students must follow the policies established by the various professional schools, must have the permission of the instructor of the course they wish to take, and in some instances, must have the permission of the school in which the course is offered. Following is a list of schools and programs that allow undergraduates to register for courses, with their policies regarding the enrollment of Columbia College students. Students who wish to take a course in a Columbia school not listed below should first consult with their advising dean.
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Lectures may be taken on a space-available basis by qualified undergraduates. Undergraduates are not allowed to enroll in any seminars or studio courses.
School of the Arts
Graduate courses may be taken on a space-available basis by qualified undergraduates.
Graduate School of Business
Courses designed specifically for undergraduates can be found in Departments of Instruction—Business in the on-line Columbia College Bulletin. Other Business School courses may only be taken on a space-available basis by seniors who have completed the required prerequisites. Students must have signed permission from the Center for Student Advising. Deadlines are often earlier than the College registration and change-of-program periods.
School of Continuing Education
Columbia College students are not allowed to enroll during the academic year in courses offered through the School of Continuing Education. The School of Continuing Education sponsors the Summer Term at Columbia. For additional information on taking courses at Columbia during the summer, please see the Columbia Summer Term section of this bulletin.
School of International and Public Affairs
Open Enrollment Courses are open to all Columbia students unless the class is full. Students interested in registering for a SIPA Open Enrollment Course may receive permission to enroll by completing a Registration and Drop/Add form and submitting it to the SIPA Registration site on the 6th floor of the International Affairs Building. If the class is not full, approval will be granted.
School of Journalism
Courses may be taken on a space-available basis. Students must have signed permission from the School of Journalism Office of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, 407E Journalism.
Courses may be taken only by students in the AILE program. Students must have signed permission from the Law School Office of the Assistant Dean of Academic Services, 500 William and June Warren Hall.
Mailman School of Public Health
Courses may be taken by qualified undergraduates on a space-available basis with the permission of the department in which the course is taught. Students must complete the Public Health Cross Registration Application Form and receive signed permission from the department, as well as the School of Public Health's Office of Student Affairs, 722 West 168 Street, Suite 1014. Once Public Health permissions are secured, students must also receive signed permission from the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner, before proceeding to register for the course at the Registrar's Office, 205 Kent Hall.
The Public Health Cross Registration Form may be found here: http://www.mailman.columbia.edu/students/student-academics/registration-course-info/downloadable-forms
School of Social Work
Courses may be taken on a space-available basis.
Normally, students are not allowed to enroll in courses offered through Teachers College. Exceptions to this policy may be granted under the following circumstances by submitting a petition to the Dean of Academic Affairs of Columbia College, 208 Hamilton Hall:
- Courses that are not offered at Columbia but are deemed essential to a student’s undergraduate program of study.
- Instrumental music instruction course (e.g., piano). In this instance, students are charged per credit for the course over and above their Columbia tuition.
Graduate Courses Taken by Undergraduates for Graduate Credit
An undergraduate in the College may take graduate courses at Columbia and
apply the earned credit toward a Columbia M.A. or Ph.D. degree, assuming
admission to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, under the following
- The work must be in excess of the 124 points required for the B.A. degree.
- The student must obtain the approval of both the graduate department(s) offering the course(s) and the undergraduate department in which he or she is majoring or concentrating.
- A course used to fulfill a requirement for the B.A. degree may not be counted toward graduate credit.
- The maximum amount of graduate credit that an undergraduate can earn is two Residence Units toward the Ph.D. degree requirement, only one of which may be applied toward the M.A. degree requirement.
- Courses that a student completes while registered in the Columbia Summer Session may not be credited toward the completion of degree requirements in the Graduate School.
These are generally scheduled by instructors in late October and the middle of March.
These are given at the end of each term. The Master University Examination Schedule is available on-line at http://ssol.columbia.edu/. This provides a tentative guide to final examinations. The definitive schedule of final examinations is usually available by November 1 for the fall term and by April 1 for the spring term. This schedule is sent to all academic departments and is also available for viewing on ColumbiaNet, as well as ColumbiaWeb. Examinations are not rescheduled to accommodate travel plans.
If a student has three examinations scheduled during one calendar day, as certified by the Registrar, the student may ask the faculty member(s) for permission to take that examination at another, mutually convenient time during the final examination period. This refers to a calendar day, not a twenty-four hour period.
The grading system is as follows: A, excellent; B, good; C, fair; D, poor but passing; F, failure (a final grade, not subject to reexamination). Plus and minus grades may also be used, except with D or F. Pass (P) is used for students who elect this option.
The Committee on Instruction of Columbia College has instructed the Registrar to calculate a cumulative grade point average for external purposes such as official transcripts. The Registrar also calculates term and cumulative grade point averages for internal purposes such as determining eligibility for the Dean’s List.
Percentage of A Grades Calculation
College transcripts note the percentage of grades in the A range in all lecture classes with at least twelve students and in all Colloquia and seminar classes with at least twenty-three students, in accordance with the grading policies of the Faculty of Columbia College. (R grades are excluded from this calculation.)
When the Registrar computes a student’s Columbia College grade point average, only grades earned while enrolled in the College in the fall, spring, and summer terms are counted. Courses are weighted according to the number of credits.
The following scale is used:
A+ = 4.33
B+ = 3.33
C+ = 2.33
|D = 1.0|
A = 4.0
B = 3.0
C = 2.0
|F = 0|
A- = 3.67
B- = 2.67
C- = 1.67
The Pass/D/Fail Option
All students registered in Columbia College during the regular academic year may elect one course each semester during the regular academic year on a Pass/D/Fail basis. This is in addition to any courses that are given only on a Pass/Fail basis. Students who do not utilize both Pass/D/Fail options during the academic year may elect, in the summer immediately following, to take one Summer Term course on a Pass/D/Fail basis. Courses used to meet the stated degree requirements (except those only given on a Pass/Fail basis) may not be taken Pass/D/Fail. All courses used to meet the requirements of a major or concentration, including related courses, are also excluded from this option, except the first such one-term course taken by the student in his or her eventual major, unless otherwise specified by the department.
The purposes of this option are to encourage students to take courses of interest to them outside of the field of specialization and to permit those who have not decided upon a major to test their talents in a particular field that may be of interest. Students who wish to exercise the Pass/D/Fail option must designate a course for the grade of Pass/D/Fail when registering for each term in the College. During the academic year 2013-2014, a Pass/D/Fail course may be changed to a regular course or a regular course to a Pass/D/Fail course until November 14 in the fall term and until March 27 in the spring term, regardless of whether a student has received a midterm grade for the class before that date.
In order to encourage students to engage more fully in the courses they elect to take for a grade of Pass/D/Fail, students are allowed to uncover a grade of Pass within two weeks of the start of the semester immediately following that in which the grade of Pass was received. Students have until the end of the add period in the spring semester to uncover the grade of a fall course and until the end of the add period in the fall semester to uncover the grade of a spring or summer term course. Seniors who graduate in May have until June 1 to uncover the grade of a final spring course.
The grade of Pass is not used in calculating grade point average; the grades of D and Fail are used.
The Grade of D
No more than 6 points of D may be credited to the degree in any academic year and no more than a cumulative total of 12 points of D may be credited toward the degree. Degree credit for D work is awarded only for courses listed in this bulletin and for other courses taken while the student is enrolled in Columbia College. The decision as to whether or not a D may be used to satisfy the requirements for the major is made in each department.
The Grade of UW (unofficial withdrawal)
Given to students who have not officially dropped a course and who have not completed any substantive work in the course. However, for students who have not officially dropped a course but who have completed substantive work, such as a paper or a midterm examination, the uncompleted work may be averaged into the final grade as a “zero’’ or an “F,’’ and the instructor may compute and award a final course grade. A UW is a permanent grade and will remain on the transcript even if the student repeats the course. As of spring 2014, the grade of UW is no longer available.
The Mark of W (withdrawal)
Columbia College students are not permitted to have a course deleted from their academic record after the drop deadline (the fifth week of the semester). If a student withdraws from a course after the drop deadline and no later than the Pass/D/Fail deadline (the eleventh week of the semester), the transcript will show a mark of W for that course. This is a permanent mark, and will remain on the transcript even if the student repeats the course.
Students may not drop or withdraw from a Core Curriculum course (i.e., Literature Humanities, Frontiers of Science, Contemporary Civilization, Art Humanities, Music Humanities, and University Writing) after the Core drop deadline. This does not apply to courses taken to fulfill the global core, science, or foreign language requirements.
Students may not drop or withdraw from any course after the Pass/D/Fail deadline. After that point, a student will receive the letter grade earned in the course.
Students should be aware that, in order to remain in good academic standing, they must successfully complete no fewer than 12 points in a given semester. Students who do not earn at least 12 points in a semester will face academic probation, suspension, or dismissal.
To withdraw from a class, students may submit a Withdrawal Request Form to the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner Hall.
The Mark of AR (administrative referral)
Given to students as a temporary grade in circumstances when a student's irregular academic behavior in class merits something other than grades A through F. A grade of AR will alert the Dean of Academic Affairs, whose staff will follow up with the instructor to help determine what final grade is appropriate.
Ultimately, the decision as to what the final grade should be will rest with the individual instructor. AR is not a permanent grade but, rather, is designed to allow faculty a reasonable default grade for use until an appropriate permanent grade can be submitted.
The Mark of INC (incomplete)
Granted by the Committee on Academic Standing for students who cannot complete their course work or are unable to take a final examination. The only reasons for which an INC will be granted are incapacitating illness, as certified by Health Services at Columbia, serious family emergency, or circumstances of comparable gravity. Students who wish to receive the mark of INC must petition the Committee in writing (petition forms are available in the Center for Student Advising) before the last day of classes, in the case of course work, or no later than the day before the final examination when requesting permission to miss the examination. To be granted an INC, it is expected that students will have completed all work in the class with the exception of the final project or exam. If a student has not completed all work in the class up to the final project or exam, an INC will not be granted.
Students who are granted an INC are assigned a deadline for completion of the overdue work or a date by which a deferred examination must be taken. Those who fail to meet the assigned deadline or miss the deferred examination will receive the contingency grade. All other marks of INC that remain unresolved by the end of one calendar year will be converted to the final grade of F, unless there is a documented reason to do otherwise. Questions may be directed to advising deans in the Center for Student Advising.
The Mark of R (registration credit)
The "R" credit option is available only to Columbia College seniors. Students who wish to audit a class can request permission from the Committee on Academic Standing in the Center for Student Advising to take a course for R credit. No point credit is given for R credit, and the GPA is unaffected by the mark of R. Students who take a course for R credit must have the permission of the instructor. Students may be required to complete certain work as specified by that instructor. The exact nature of the work should be determined by the instructor when the student registers for the course. An instructor may fail a student who has not completed assigned work. During the academic year 2013-2014, the deadline for registering for R credit is November 14 in the fall term and March 27 in the spring term. Registering for R credit is allowed only when:
- The courses are in excess of the 124 points required for the B.A. degree;
- The courses are taken in the last two terms of the student’s attendance in Columbia College;
- The courses are not used to fulfill a requirement for the B.A. degree;
- The student has the permission of the advising dean and the instructor involved.
The Mark of YC (year course)
A mark given at the end of the first term of a course in which the full year’s work must be completed before a qualitative grade is assigned. The grade given at the end of the second term is the grade for the entire course.
The Mark of CP (credit pending)
With specific permission of the Columbia College Committee on Instruction, certain seminars may allow students to complete their research over the winter break and submit their final papers on a pre-arranged date after the start of the spring term. In such instances, a grade of CP will appear on the students’ transcripts until the final grade is submitted. Please note that the grade of CP cannot be used for individual students but, rather, can only be granted on a course-wide basis.
Report of Grades
Grades are available via the Web (http://ssol.columbia.edu) on the first business day after they are received by the Registrar. Transcripts (no fee) may be ordered by currently enrolled students in 205 Kent or via SSOL. Students who find discrepancies in or have questions about their records should visit or write to the Academic Records and Grades Division, Student Service Center, 205 Kent, as soon as possible.