Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts

Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts

Policy on Degree Requirements

The Committee on Instruction and the faculty of Columbia College review College degree requirements and curricular matters each year. The bulletin reflects these faculty recommendations and curricular changes in its yearly reprinting. College policy requires students to fulfill the degree requirements as stated in the bulletin of the first year of their matriculation into the College.


Every student must complete 124 points. The last two terms must be taken while enrolled in the College for study on this campus, at Reid Hall in Paris, the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, the Columbia in Beijing Program at Tsinghua University, or the Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona.

One course may not normally be taken to fulfill more than one requirement for the degree. However, a course that satisfies the Global Core, the science, or the foreign language requirement may also be used to satisfy a student’s major or concentration requirements.

Courses may not be repeated for credit, nor may course credit be earned in subjects for which Advanced Standing (AP, IB, GCE, etc.) has been granted. Students also cannot receive credit for previous courses in which the content has been substantially duplicated, at Columbia or elsewhere. For example, credit cannot be earned for two first-term calculus courses, even if one is more theoretical in approach than the other; credit cannot be earned for two comparable terms of a science or foreign language even if one has a Barnard course number and the other a Columbia course number. In some courses only partial credit may be counted toward the degree. Courses not listed in this bulletin must be approved by the advising dean, since such courses might not bear College credit (e.g., MATH W1003 College algebra and analytic geometry). A student who has a question about whether degree credit may be earned in a course should consult their advising dean.

Columbia College students must be registered for a minimum of 12 points by the end of the change-of-program period each term. See Academic Calendar.

The Core Curriculum

The following required courses constitute the Columbia College Core Curriculum. They include general education requirements in major disciplines and, except for Physical Education, must be taken for a letter grade. The entire Core can be summarized as follows:

Literature Humanities HUMA C1001 and HUMA C1002
Frontiers of Science SCNC C1000
University Writing ENGL C1010
Art Humanities HUMA W1121
Music Humanities HUMA W1123
Contemporary Civilization COCI C1101 and COCI C1102
Science Requirement SCNC C1000 and two terms from the List of Approved Courses
Global Core Requirement Two terms from the List of Approved Courses
Foreign Language Requirement Four terms or the equivalent
Physical Education Requirement Two terms and a swimming test

Students are generally required to complete Literature Humanities, University Writing, and Frontiers of Science in the first year. Additionally, the College strongly recommends that students complete Contemporary Civilization by the end of the sophomore year, and Art Humanities and Music Humanities by the end of the junior year.

Students considering a major in the sciences should, in their first two years, focus on required introductory science courses in addition to their Core requirements.

Students considering a major in the humanities and social sciences should, in their first two years, take a combination of Core requirements and introductory level courses in the departments in which they are interested in majoring.

Courses in fulfillment of the Core Curriculum must be taken in Columbia College, with the exception of the foreign language requirement, which, in some instances, may be satisfied at Barnard College or in the School of General Studies. Other exceptions to this rule are granted only with the approval of the Committee on Academic Standing, except for Global Core and the Science Requirement, which must be petitioned to the appropriate faculty committee through the Office of the Dean (208 Hamilton). Students who wish to satisfy degree requirements with courses taken at other universities in the summer must receive the approval of their advising dean in advance. All students should consult with their advising deans and departmental advisers, who will assist them in selecting appropriate courses and planning their programs.

The Departmental Major or Concentration Requirement

All students must complete either a major or a concentration as described in the departmental sections of this bulletin. Students should check for both the minimum and maximum points allowed for a major, as well as for any restrictions on courses in which a student earns a grade of D or which are taken on a Pass/D/Fail basis. 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 their proposed major or concentration.

The purpose of the major or concentration requirement is to give each student the experience of doing sustained and advanced work, including individual research, in a field of special interest. A major consists of intensive study in one department involving the satisfaction of a variety of requirements; a concentration demands fewer departmental course points or requirements than a major. Whether the student chooses a major or concentration depends on their particular aims and needs, as well as on the offerings of the particular department in which they plan to work.

It should be emphasized that this requirement is not designed to produce professionally trained specialists, nor is it assumed that students will ultimately be employed in work related to the subject in which they are majoring or concentrating. In the spring of their sophomore year, students should confer with faculty members in the department, advising deans, or advisers in the Center for Career Education while choosing a major or concentration. Information about the process for declaring a major or concentration is sent to students in the spring of the sophomore year.

Normally, courses for a major or concentration, including related courses, may not be used to satisfy the course requirements for a second major or concentration. However, a student may petition the Committee on Instruction for a waiver of this policy. The Committee will base its decision on such petitions on what it regards as intellectually compelling grounds.

Length of Candidacy

A student is normally permitted eight terms in which to earn the Columbia B.A. degree. A student may continue to work for the degree past the eighth term only with permission in advance from the Committee on Academic Standing. (Please obtain request forms from the Center for Student Advising.)

Modification of Requirements

The requirements for the degree may be modified or waived in individual cases by the Committee on Instruction acting for the Faculty. Students wishing to petition the Committee are advised to discuss their requests with their advising dean.

Requirements for Transfer Students

Columbia College offers transfer students the opportunity to experience a wide ranging liberal arts education that includes its Core Curriculum and a myriad of course offerings in major departments. Upon admission to Columbia College, transfer students should familiarize themselves with the regulations below pertaining to their special status.

Regulations on Transfer Credit

In order to receive the Columbia College degree, transfer students must complete a minimum of 60 points while enrolled in the College. Transfer students may apply a maximum of 64 points toward advanced standing at the College. Credit granted on the basis of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other standardized examinations are counted toward the 64-point maximum, as are credits earned on study-abroad programs outside of Columbia. Courses taken on Columbia-sponsored programs abroad earn students credits toward the 60-point minimum requirement. Credit is not granted for college courses taken while in high school.

Credit Toward the Degree and Core/Major Requirements

Transfer students receive credit for non-Columbia courses that are substantially similar to Columbia College courses only when the grades received are C- or better. Transfer students must supply course descriptions and syllabi for all courses they would like considered for transfer credit. Once a transfer student is admitted, a credit review is conducted, and a tentative credit evaluation is sent to the student. A final credit evaluation is conducted when the student has matriculated in Columbia College, received all appropriate approvals from the departments, and a final official transcript, course descriptions, and syllabi have been received.

Degree Completion

Transfer students are expected to graduate in eight semesters, including terms completed before entering Columbia. Extended time is not granted to finish a particular major, therefore transfer students should be especially careful to meet with advisers to plan out their academic schedule. Some majors may be difficult to complete for certain transfer students based on the number of credits required to complete the major and the number of terms remaining for the student to complete all Core and major requirements.