Art Humanities

The Core Curriculum is the centerpiece of the first two years of undergraduate study at Columbia. It entails four required courses—Contemporary Civilization, Literature Humanities, Music and Art Humanities—which focus on masterpieces of western civilization and build upon the notion, as Lionel Trilling put it, that "there is a certain minimum of our intellectual and spiritual tradition which a man must experience and understand if he is to be called educated."

By now the Core is so well established that we easily forget its radical roots as a grand experiment in undergraduate education. Before World War I Columbia College had been overshadowed by the University's graduate and professional schools, and its educational mission was undefined. Rejecting the emphasis on preprofessional training, the College forged a new identity after the war based on a liberal arts curriculum.

Read more about the history of Art Hum.

Art Humanities Exemption

Students request exemption by petition to the Office of the Core Curriculum (418 Hamilton Hall). The petition includes: 

  1. A cover page with the date, your name, CUID, class/year, school (CC, SEAS, or GS), local address and phone, home address, e-mail, course title and number (of course comparable to Art Humanities taken at other institution), semester and year the course was taken, and institution where course was taken.
  2. A one page essay requesting exemption based on a comparable course taken at another COLLEGE or UNIVERSITY (not college level work taken during high school).
  3. The syllabus for the comparable course.
  4. Graded papers (if possible). 

Send/drop off documents 1 through 4 to the Office of the Core Curriculum at 202 Hamilton Hall. 

The Director of Art Humanities will review this material and, if necessary, interview the student. The student and the appropriate class dean/advisor will be informed of the Director's decision, usually within three weeks of the receipt of the completed petition. 

Historically, exemption from Art Humanities has been granted infrequently. However, in the past, students petitioning on the basis of courses similar to Art Humanities taken at Emory University, New York University, CUNY Baruch College, Hampshire College, and Sarah Lawrence College have been granted exemption.