Psychology Major


Department of Psychology Major Requirements for students following the Foundations Curriculum

View and download the Psychology Major Checklist here (updated Spring 2019)


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. 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. 

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.  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 BC1101/1102. Finally, students should consult with the Departmental Representative before enrolling in any outside statistics course, to be sure it will be an acceptable substitution.   

Core Psychology Lecture Courses
A student must take at least three lectures, from different groups, chosen from our Group A, B, C courses. 

Psychology Laboratory Courses
Psychology majors are required to take at least two PSYC laboratory courses. If a student chooses to use two labs from the group A, B, C labs, they must be taken with their accompanying lectures in the same semester; and the labs must be from different groups. If a student chooses to take BC1010 or BC1015, it must be taken prior to the Group A, B, C labs. For the College lab science requirement, a student can take BC1001, BC1015, and one additional lecture from the A, B, C group of courses; or BC1001, and any lab and lecture from Group A, B, or C. 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.

Senior Requirement
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 your senior year and can be any 3000-level PSYC seminar, including PSYC BC3473, BC3591-92, and BC3601-3608. 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 an abstract of your project to the Department to add to its senior archive of students’ achievements. 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 Spring Research Festival in April. If interested, please speak with your instructor, mentor, or the department administrator for more details.

Additional Psychology Courses
At least two additional PSYC lecture or seminar courses should be taken, in addition to the Senior Requirement, bringing the total to 8 PSYC courses worth three or more credits each.  Only two semesters of the following courses may count towards the major: PSYC BC3465/66, BC3591/92, BC3601-3608 (although more can count toward College requirements).

Courses Outside of Psychology
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. She must also take two lecture courses in a science other than Psychology, one with a laboratory component. You can choose courses in the following disciplines: Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, or Physics. 

Additional Research Experience
A student will need an additional research experience and can choose to fulfill this requirement by taking an additional PSYC lab from any Group (its accompanying lecture can count as one of the 8 three-credit courses required); an additional lab in a science outside of Psychology; one semester of Independent Study (BC3601-3608); or one semester of Senior Research Seminar (BC3591 or 3592). 

Independent Study
This is a four-credit course and requires a Barnard faculty as a mentor. The course will appear on one's transcript as course number PSYC BC3601-3608, depending on the semester it was completed. The criteria for research projects include:

  • A set of original scientific readings of articles that are relevant to the research field.
  • A weekly research meeting with the supervisor.
  • Additional hours in the lab working on the research as approved by adviser.
  • A culminating final project or paper as discussed with adviser. 

All Psychology 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/D/Fail, as long as students receive a Pass.

Course Prerequisites
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.

Course 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 A, B, and C labs, attend the first meeting of the accompanying lecture, and for BC1015 lab, attend the first lab lecture meeting unless otherwise directed by the instructors.

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 (including those taken at Columbia), courses taken abroad, and courses taken at institutions other than Barnard or Columbia during the fall and spring semesters.

Some Additional Reminders about the Barnard Psychology Major Requirements

  • At least 6 of the 8 PSYC 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 Group A, B, C laboratory sections 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.


Department of Psychology Major Requirements for students following the Nine Ways of Knowing curriculum (anyone who entered Barnard prior to Fall 2016)

PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology (or its approved equivalent)*

PSYC BC1101 Statistics (taken with the accompanying BC1102 Statistics Recitation section, preferably before enrollment in any laboratory course)

Three core lecture courses, one from each group:
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 & 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)
PSYC BC2156 Clinical Psychology (BC2155 Clinical Lab)

Two PSYC laboratory courses, either:
PSYC BC1015 Psychology Research Methods Laboratory,* followed by one laboratory course from Group A, B, or C. OR Two PSYC laboratory courses, from different groups (A, B, C).
*This course replaces BC1010 Introductory Laboratory to Experimental Psychology

One senior requirement (any 3000-level PSYC BC seminar, worth three or more credits; with a passing grade for the final assignment)

Additional PSYC lectures or seminars (worth three or more credits each, bringing the total number of PSYC courses to ten) 

One course from a cognate discipline (any course with one of the following prefixes: ANTH, COMS, ECON, LING, PHIL, SOCI, and STEM). 

Two courses in another science, each with a laboratory component, chosen from ASTR, BIOL, CHEM, EESC, or PHYS (both courses must be from the same department). 

*Note: A student who entered Barnard prior to Fall 2016 cannot receive both AP credit towards graduation, and credit for BC1001.