Psychology Major Requirements
Eight PSYC/NSBV courses, worth three or more credits, including: Introduction to Psychology, Statistics, three lectures from Groups 1 & 2, a 3000-level course senior year, and two electives; Additionally, one cognate course, and two courses in an outside science; Plus four lab courses: two PSYC labs, one outside lab, and one lab (experience) in any science. These requirements apply to all students regardless of what year you entered Barnard.
Note: As of Academic Year 2021-22, the requirements for a Major in Psychology will slightly change. The following updates will apply to students who enter Barnard in or after Fall 2021: PSYC BC1020 Behavioral Research Methods and Analysis will be a third required core lecture and will be a pre-requisite for 2000-level lab courses; and the additional research experience/lab course will no longer be needed.
Two Core PSYC courses:
PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology
PSYC BC1101 Statistics (lecture + recitation)
Three Core PSYC lectures, at least one from each group:
Two PSYC laboratory courses:
Chosen from the following: 1010/1015 (“Intro Lab”), 2106, 2109, 2114, 2118 (pre-AY20-21), 2124, 2128, 2137, and 2155
One Senior Requirement:
Includes Capstone Project written in any PSYC/NSBV 3000-level seminar, or Independent Study course (3 or 4 credits) taken during the final two semesters
Additional PSYC/NSBV courses:
Either one or two courses, bringing the total to 8 PSYC courses worth 3 or more credits each
One course from a cognate discipline:
Selected courses chosen from the following departments: ANTH, COMS, ECON, LING, PHIL, SOCI, and STEM
Two lecture courses in outside sciences, one with a laboratory:
Selected courses chosen from the following departments: ASTR, BIOL, CHEM, EESC, or PHYS
One additional research experience/lab course in any science (including PSYC/NSBV)
Major Requirements in Detail
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. When appropriate, approval for an equivalent introductory course taken at another school can be granted by the Departmental Representative. A student who receives a score of a 4 or a 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in Psychology, or a score of a 5 or a 6 on the International Baccalaureate (IB) exam in Psychology may be exempt from PSYC BC1001, and also receive college credit (three points) toward graduation; however, another PSYC lecture or seminar course must be taken in its place.
PSYC BC1101 Statistics, a requirement for the Major, is comprised of a lecture and a recitation section, 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. Majors are highly encouraged to take this course by the end of the sophomore year. Those who take a course outside of Barnard Psychology to fulfill this requirement cannot also receive credit towards the major for PSYC BC1101. Finally, students should consult with the Departmental Representative before enrolling in any outside statistics course, to be sure it will be an acceptable substitution.
A student must take a minimum of three Core PSYC lecture courses; at least one from Group 1 and one from Group 2.
PSYC BC2107 Psychology of Learning
PSYC BC2110 Perception
PSYC BC2115 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC BC2119 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (as of AY20-21, no longer offered)
NSBV BC1001 Introduction to Neuroscience can be used as a Group 1 course
PSYC BC2125 Personality
PSYC BC2129 Developmental Psychology
PSYC BC2138 Social Psychology
PSYC BC2156 Clinical Psychology
Psychology majors are required to take a minimum of two PSYC laboratory courses. If a student chooses to use two labs from Groups 1 and 2, they must be taken with their accompanying lectures in the same semester; and the labs can be from the same or different groups. If a student chooses to take BC1010 (or BC1015 when offered), it must be taken prior to the Group 1 and 2 labs. For the College Laboratory Science requirement, a student can take BC1001, BC1010, and BC1020, or one additional lecture from Groups 1 and 2 courses; or BC1001, and any lab and lecture from Group 1 or Group 2. Students are strongly advised to take only one laboratory course per semester. When enrolling in a Barnard Psychology laboratory course, 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, you must arrive on time, and you must be present for the duration of the meeting. You are allowed two excused absences.
NSBV BC2001 Laboratory in Neuroscience can be used as a Group 1 lab (or an additional research/lab experience) for the PSYC major. However, be aware that NSBV BC2001 has prerequisites (NSBV BC1001 Introduction to Neuroscience, BIOL BC1502 Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology, and1503 Introductory Lab in Cell and Molecular Biology).
NOTE: We are amending our rule that our 2000-level labs and their corresponding lectures need to be taken concurrently (in the same semester). For Academic Year 2020-2021, you are permitted to take a laboratory course whose lecture you have previously completed in a past semester; and/or you may take the lecture in one semester, and the lab in a subsequent semester.
To have a course count towards fulfilling the Senior Requirement of the psychology major, you must first submit the Senior Requirement Declaration Form to the department administrator by the drop date of the semester in which you are taking the course. The course is to be taken in one of your last two semesters at Barnard, and can be any 3000-level PSYC/NSBV seminar, including PSYC BC3465-66, BC3473, and BC3601-3608 (taken for 3 or 4 credits). You may fulfill the Senior Requirement with a Columbia Psychology seminar or supervised individual research but you should consult with your major adviser first. The final assignment in this course will serve as the capstone project. This project represents the culmination of academic work in the major. The form of the project may vary across courses, but capstone projects generally allow students to develop records of individual research that include theoretical engagement, the development of creative projects or research, or original empirical and interpretative analysis. You will submit the project to your instructor, and may be asked to submit an abstract of your project to the Department to add to its senior archive of students’ achievements. For this final project, you will receive (in addition to the letter grade for the course) a grade of Pass (P), Pass with Distinction (PD), or Fail (with “P” and “PD” appearing on your transcript). Additionally, many Psychology majors have the opportunity to celebrate their capstone project by presenting it at the annual Psychology Spring Research Festival in April. If interested, please speak with your instructor, mentor, or the department administrator for more details.
At least two additional PSYC (or NSBV) lecture or seminar courses must be completed. Please note the following:
- These additional courses must be worth three or more credits each.
- No more than two semesters of Independent Study (PSYC BC3601-3608) may count toward the major requirements.
- Students participating in the Toddler Center Seminar (PSYC BC3465/66) can count a maximum of three semesters towards the major using either (1) up to two semesters at the Toddler Center, or (2) up to two semesters of Independent Study.
A student must take one cognate course, which is a lecture or seminar from one of the following departments: Anthropology, Computer Science, Economics, Linguistics, Philosophy, Sociology, and STEM.
A student must also take two lecture courses in a science other than Psychology, plus one laboratory course. You can choose courses in the following disciplines: Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, or Physics. Please be aware that the Psychology Department will accept only science courses the College approves as satisfying General Education Science Requirements for the Foundations Curriculum. Refer to the Snowbird course listing here; and also always confirm with your advisor and the home department about the suitability of a course.
NOTE: NSBV courses that are cross-listed with the Psychology Department (like NSBV BC2001 Laboratory in Neuroscience) cannot be used as outside courses.
A student will need an additional research experience, worth at least 1.5 credits, and can choose to fulfill this requirement by taking:
- an additional PSYC lab from either Group 1 or Group 2 (its accompanying lecture can count as one of the PSYC "electives"); or
- an additional lab in a science outside of Psychology; or
- one semester of Independent Study (PSYC BC3601-3608); or
- the second semester of the Toddler Center Seminar (PSYC BC3466) which includes a research project
- As of SP20, the course number will now be PSYC BC3606 every semester (we previously offered a range of course numbers BC3601-3608).
- A student may enroll in this course more than once but remember that only two semesters can be used towards the major requirements.
- Each full-time faculty member has his or her own section of Independent Study.
- As of SP20, students have the option of taking this course for 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits.
- There is a "drop down" menu in Student Planning for students to choose (note that if no choice is made the course defaults to 1 credit)
- The course will be taken for a letter grade, regardless of whether the student chooses 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits.
- If a student will use this course toward her major requirements, it must be taken for 3 or 4 credits.
- All students will be asked to produce a final product by the end of the term. This "Research Report" is a document submitted to the person grading the student (the instructor of record for the section in which the student has enrolled).
- If a student is working off-site, then input from the off-site research mentor will inform the grading.
- The expectations for the Research Report for each of the credit options are as follows:
- 1 credit, 3h/week commitment, 5-10 page Research Report at the end of the term
- 2 credits, 6h/week commitment, 5-10 page Research Report at the end of the term
- 3 credits, 9h/week commitment, 15-20 page Research Report at the end of the term
- 4 credits, 12h/week commitment, 15-20 page Research Report at the end of the term
- The "Research Report" can take a variety of forms: progress reports on data collected, training received, papers read, skills learned, etc.; or organized notes for lab notebooks, lab meetings, etc.; or manuscript-like papers with Intro, Methods, Results, Discussion; or some combination thereof, depending on the maturity of the project.
- A student should complete an Independent Study Form with her research mentor or advisor. Please note that this is an internal department document and should not be submitted to the Registrar's office.
All PSYC (or NSBV) courses that are required for the major must be taken for a letter grade. To satisfy departmental requirements, the grade must be C- or better. The required courses outside of Psychology (cognate and outside science) can be graded Pass/Fail, as long as students receive a Pass.
All of our courses require BC1001 or its equivalent. Most middle and upper level courses have additional prerequisites that are listed in the Barnard College Course Catalogue. Students who have not fulfilled the prerequisites for a particular course may ask the course instructor for permission to enroll. The instructor retains discretion for this enrollment.
Final enrollment in all courses is determined the first day or week of classes, depending on the particular course. To secure your seat you must attend the first meeting of the class; for Group 1 and 2 labs, attend the first meeting of the accompanying lecture; for BC1010, attend the first lab meeting, unless otherwise indicated by the instructor.
A student’s major adviser must approve all tentative and final programs.
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 (including those taken at Columbia), courses taken abroad, and courses taken at institutions other than Barnard or Columbia during the fall and spring semesters.
- At least six courses worth 3 or more credits each must be taken at Barnard or Columbia. This is a College-wide rule, and applies to transfer students as well.
- PSYC BC1099 Science and Scientists and all of the PSYC laboratory courses are worth fewer than three credits each.
- A letter grade of C- or better must be earned in all PSYC courses applied to the major. Any required courses from 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 (please refer to our Overlapping Courses list).
- A single semester of a course cannot count toward more than one major requirement.
A student fulfills the Senior Requirement by completing one of the following courses and completing a final Capstone paper or project during one of her final two semesters at Barnard:
- PSYC BC3465, BC3466 Fieldwork and Research Seminar: The Barnard Toddler Center (8 points total; a two-semester commitment)
- PSYC BC3473 Clinical Field Practicum (4 points, one semester; requires securing a clinical externship prior to the spring semester beginning)
- PSYC BC3601-3608 Independent Study (3 or 4 points, one semester)
- PSYC BC3617/BC3618 Senior Research Thesis (2 points total; a two-semester commitment) + BC3601-3608 (6-8 points total, two semesters)
- any other 3000-level PSYC or NSBV seminar (4 points, one semester)
A Barnard Psychology Major may elect to fulfill her Senior Requirement with a Columbia University Psychology Department seminar with advisor pre-approval.
A student must complete a Senior Requirement Declaration Form, available from the Department Administrator, during the semester she is enrolled in the course she is using to fulfill this requirement. This form requires both the student's and the instructor's signatures.
If enrolling in a seminar to complete the Senior Requirement, a student must receive a passing grade (a C- or better) for the course, as well as a passing grade ("Pass" or "Pass with Distinction") for her final paper or project. Completing the course, but failing to complete and pass the final written assignment will prevent a student from graduating.
Senior Thesis Research
Start planning in your Junior year!
PSYC BC3617-3618 Senior Research Thesis, is one option for Psychology majors planning to fulfill their Senior Requirement.
The Senior Research Seminar involves conducting a year long research project that is sponsored by a member of the Psychology Department or a researcher from another institution. In addition to working closely with a sponsor, students enroll in BC3601-3608 Independent Study for 3 or 4 points each semester, and PSYC BC3617 and 3618 for 1 point each, during their Senior year. The purpose of the seminar is to assist students in designing, implementing, writing-up and presenting their year-long research project.
During the fall semester, each student conducts a literature review, designs a project, and begins their data collection. In the early spring, data collection is completed and the rest of the semester devoted to analyzing the data, writing the thesis, and creating a professional presentation. The course culminates with the presentation of the Senior theses as part of 1 to 2 day long event for an audience of members of the Psychology department as well as other faculty, mentors, students, family and friends.
Because of the nature of scientific research, each project will be different in terms of its timing and emphasis on particular aspects of the research process. Each student must complete her project by the end the Spring term and deliver the finished research project in two forms: a written thesis and an oral presentation. The thesis is to be written in APA style which is the standard format for a research paper submitted for publication to a journal. The only difference between writing the thesis and writing a paper to submit to a journal is that the thesis is written with more details. In the thesis, enough background information must be provided so that a non-specialist can understand why the work is important, what was done, and what was found. In the literature review, the thesis should be placed in a broad intellectual context and return to the broader context in the discussion.
Finding a sponsor
Students are responsible for finding their sponsor, preferably during their upper junior year. Students who have already done an Independent Study project (BC3601-3608) may be better prepared for the Senior Thesis experience, as they have established a relationship with a faculty member and are familiar with his or her research. Students who have worked with outside mentors and established a working relationship may ask that person to be their sponsor.
Working with sponsors outside of Barnard
Often a student may be conducting psychological research with a researcher outside of Barnard as part of an internship. It may be possible to use this experience as the Senior thesis. There are some specific guidelines to working with sponsors outside of Barnard. First, it is important to have a working contract with the outside mentor that insures that he or she is willing to help you with your thesis. Researchers often work on large scale projects that may take years to complete. It might be possible to take some aspect of a larger research project that the mentor has underway, and work with it as the Senior thesis. Second, it is important to make sure that what your project can be completed within a year. (Students may continue to work with their mentor on other projects, but for her Senior thesis, she must be able to finish the project within a year.) Your mentor will be invited to your presentation at the end of your Senior year.
The course grade is based on both an evaluation of research work and the performance in the seminar. Seminar attendance is mandatory.
Please consult with your psychology advisor if you have further questions about the senior thesis.