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.

Exemption from the Art Humanities Requirement

All Columbia College and General Studies students are required to take Art Humanities. In limited circumstances, however, students may be eligible for an exemption from this requirement.

Students requesting an exemption must have completed at least four semester-length, college-level Art History Courses with a grade of C or higher. (Please note that visual arts courses do not qualify.) Coursework must cover multiple historical periods, with at least one course on art of the Renaissance era (or an earlier era) and one course on art of a post-Renaissance era.

Students who meet these requirements should submit to their advisers a transcript of previous coursework, a statement explaining why the exemption is requested, and copies of the syllabi for all Art History courses completed. The exemption request must be made during the student’s first semester of enrollment at Columbia. Deadlines: November 1 for Fall matriculates; March 1 for Spring matriculates.