Psychology Major


Department of Psychology Major Requirements

The student majoring in Psychology is exposed to the diversity of the discipline through the required core courses and the selection of appropriate electives.

The major includes at least 11 courses in Psychology (PSYC), and at least 3 courses outside of Psychology:

(1) PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology (lecture; prerequisite for other PSYC courses)

(2) PSYC BC1101 Statistics (taken with the accompanying BC1102 Statistics Recitation section, preferably before enrollment in any Laboratory courses)

(3, 4, 5) Three Core Lecture Courses, one from each group below:

Group A
PSYC BC1107 Psychology of Learning (BC1106 Psychology of Learning Lab)
PSYC BC1115 Cognitive Psychology (BC1114 Cognitive Lab)

Group B
PSYC BC1110 Perception (BC1109 Perception Lab)
PSYC BC1119 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (BC1118 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience Lab)

Group C
PSYC BC1125 Personality (BC1124 Personality Lab)
PSYC BC1138 Social Psychology (BC1137 Social Lab)
PSYC BC1129 Developmental Psychology (BC1128 Developmental Lab)

(6, 7) Two Psychology Laboratory Courses. Either:

  • PSYC BC1015 Psychology Research Methods Laboratory,* followed by one laboratory course from Group A, B, or C. 
  • Two laboratory courses, from different groups (A, B, C) 

*As of FA16 BC1010 Introductory Laboratory to Experimental Psychology will be replaced by PSYC BC1015 Psychology Research Methods Laboratory

(8)  An Additional Research Course, selected from the following categories:

  • A psychology laboratory course from a group other than those already taken (A, B, C)
  • A laboratory course in a science outside of Psychology
  • One semester of BC3601-3608 Individual Projects (with supervisor approval)
  • BC3591 Senior Research Seminar (the first semester of a year-long course)

(9) One Senior Requirement. Either:

  • Any 3000-level PSYC BC seminar 
  • Individual Projects (worth 3 or 4 points; course # and call # are given by Registrar)
  • Senior Thesis (a year-long committment)

(10) Two Additional Psychology Lectures or Seminars: (worth three or more credits each) 

(11) One Course from a Cognate Discipline (anthropology, computer science, economics, linguistics, philosophy, sociology, and STEM). 

(12, 13) Two courses in another science, one with a laboratory, chosen from astronomy, biology, chemistry, environmental science, or physics.

Reminders & Guidelines:

  • Six of the required PSYC courses (worth three or more credits each) must be taken at Barnard College (Columbia is not Barnard). 
  • A letter grade of C- or better must be earned in all PSYC courses applied to the major. The three required courses outside of Psychology can be graded P/D/F, as long as a student receives a “Pass.”
  • A student cannot receive credit for two courses that are considered to be equivalent. Refer to our Overlapping Courses list. 
  • A student with accepted AP or IB credit is not exempt from BC1001.
  • The Statistics course can be taken outside of Psychology (i.e., ECON BC4211), however a major must still complete 10 PSYC courses.
  • BC1010/BC1015 must be taken as the first lab; Group A, B, C labs must be taken with their accompanying lectures in the same semester. 
  • PSYC BC3473 Field Work Seminar in Psychological Services and Counseling is the only 3000-level course that does not satisfy the Senior Requirement.
  • Only two semesters of the following courses may count towards the major: BC3465/66 Toddler Center Seminar, BC3591/92 Senior Research Seminar (senior thesis), BC3599, 3601-3608 Individual Projects.

Detailed Notes

Courses in Psychology
BC1099 Science and Scientists and all of our Group A, B, C laboratory sections are worth fewer than three credits each.

Credit for Introductory Psychology Courses
The program in Psychology at Barnard emphasizes research, and PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology is designed to prepare the student for this orientation in middle and upper level courses. Approval for an equivalent introductory course taken at another school can be granted by the Departmental Representative when appropriate. A student who receives a score of a 4 or a 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in Psychology, or a score of a 5 or a 6 on the International Baccalaureate exam in Psychology, may receive college credit, however, this score does not exempt her from taking PSYC BC1001. 

Statistics, a requirement for the Major, is comprised of a lecture PSYC BC1101 and a recitation section PSYC BC1102, together counting as a single course, and is offered every semester. The techniques of statistics are applied in laboratory courses, and are among the fundamentals of graduate training in all areas of psychology.  Enrollment is determined through an on-line lottery held once per semester, for courses held the following semester. Majors are encouraged to take this course by the end of the sophomore year. Those who take a course outside of the Barnard Department of Psychology to fulfil this requirement cannot also receive credit towards the major for PSYC BC1101/1102. They will also need an extra psychology course to achieve the 10 total psychology courses required for the major (or the six courses required for the minor). Finally, students should consult with the Departmental Representative before enrolling in any other statistics course, to be sure it is accepted towards the major or minor.  

Laboratory Courses
Psychology majors are required to take two laboratory courses in Psychology (with corresponding lectures; and from different groups, A, B, C), and two semesters of laboratory in the same sequence in another science discipline. Students are strongly advised to take only one laboratory course per semester. Note: together with BC1001 Introductory to Psychology lecture, BC1010 Introductory Laboratory to Experimental Psychology (& BC1015 as of FA16) fulfills one half of the two-semester laboratory science requirement for both the general education and major requirements, but it must be taken as a student's first psychology lab course. The other half of the requirement is fulfilled by subsequently taking any lab course (and its corresponding lecture) from Groups A, B, or C.

Enrollment in psychology laboratory courses is determined through an on-line LOTTERY held once every semester, for courses held the following semester. 

Students should check their calendars of commitments and review the lab attendance policy before signing up for a lab. Each laboratory follows the same policy about attendance:

  • You must attend every Laboratory meeting, and you must be present for the duration of the meeting.
  • You may not arrive late.
  • You may not depart before you complete the day's procedure.
  • If you miss more than a single Laboratory session you will be dismissed from the Laboratory and you will not be permitted to remain enrolled.

Senior Requirement
Majors may elect to fulfill the Senior Requirement with a Columbia Psychology Department Seminar or Supervised Individual Research. Those who elect this option should consult with her major adviser. Students who choose to use one of our 3000-level courses must notify the professor at the beginning of the semester that the course will be used as your senior requirement. Please note that BC3473 Field Work Seminar in Psychological Services and Counseling cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.

Additional Psychology Courses
Additional lecture or seminar courses (chosen from any course offered by the Department that is three or more credits each) should be taken to bring the total number of Psychology courses to ten, including the Senior Requirement. For example, either two courses and a 3000-level seminar (as the Senior Requirement), or one course and a Senior Requirement that is two semesters long. A maximum of two of the following may count toward the major (though more could count toward College requirements):

o   Psychology BC3465 Field Work and Research Seminar: The Barnard Toddler Center

o   Psychology BC3466 Field Work and Research Seminar: The Barnard Toddler Center

o   Psychology BC3591 Senior Research Seminar (senior thesis)

o   Psychology BC3592 Senior Research Seminar (senior thesis)

o   Psychology BC3599/3601-3608 Individual Projects

Independent Study
To complete an Individual Project students obtain permission during the program filing period from the Departmental Representative, and submit the Individual Project Form to the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar gives students a call number to add to their programs. The course will appear on one's transcript as course number BC3601-3608, depending on the semester it was completed. If a student files for a second Individual Project in the same semester, the second one will appear as course BC3599. 

Courses Outside Psychology
A student may use AP credit towards the outside science requirement if the corresponding department (i.e. Biology) and the College also accept it as fulfilling the College GED science requirement.

All Psychology courses which are required for the major must be taken for a letter grade. To satisfy departmental requirements, the grade must be C- or better. The three required courses outside of Psychology can be graded Pass/D/Fail, as long as students receive a Pass.

Course Prerequisites
Most middle and upper level courses have prerequisites that are listed in the Barnard College Course Catalogue. Students who have not fulfilled the prerequisites for a particular course should ask the course instructor for permission to enroll. The instructor retains discretion for this enrollment.

Course Enrollment
Final enrollment in all courses is determined the first day or week of classes, depending on the particular course. Please note that (preliminary) enrollment in all psychology lab and statistics courses is determined through a lottery held once every semester, the semester before the course is to be taken. To secure a seat you have won in the lottery you must attend the first meeting of the class: for Group A, B, and C labs, attend the first meeting of the accompanying lecture; and for BC1010 lab, attend the first lab meeting.

Program Approval
A student’s major adviser must approve all tentative and final programs.

Transfer Credit Approval
There are two steps in obtaining approval for courses taken at another institution. First, you must receive Barnard College credit for the course from the Registrar. Second, you must obtain approval from the Psychology Departmental Representative to count the course toward your major requirements, by completing a Transfer Credit Approval Form and submitting it to the Departmental Representative. (Approval from the Registrar will ensure College credit, but will not ensure that the course can count toward the major.) Students already enrolled at Barnard who plan to fulfill major requirements with a course from another institution are strongly encouraged to seek approval from the Department Representative prior to filing their program. This applies to summer courses (even at Columbia), courses taken abroad, and courses taken at institutions other than Barnard or Columbia during the fall and spring semesters.

Keep in mind the requirement that a minimum of six courses (of three credits or more each) must be taken in the Department of Psychology at Barnard College, and transfer students are also held to this College policy. This means that a transfer student may in fact need to take more than the usual 10 psychology courses in total to fulfill all of the majors requirements.