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Overview of the Department
Columbia University’s Psychology Department has a proud history of excellence in the science of psychology. Dating back to 1890 as a discipline of study at Columbia, it is one of the oldest and most influential of the American psychology departments. In the early nineteen hundreds, the scientific approach it took to the study of psychology was so well known that it was referred to as the Columbia School of Psychology (versus Behaviorism or Gestalt or Psychoanalytic). Remaining a relatively small department, it has been ranked among the top programs, having more renowned faculty and graduate students than programs many times its size (see Timeline and Fun Facts in the History section).

The faculty, who have received many of the top honors in their fields (see Grants and Awards), have been not only outstanding researchers but also dedicated teachers, receiving teaching awards in recognition of their contributions. They are also actively engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration with various other departments including: Biology, Business Management and Marketing, Psychiatry, Neuroscience and the fMRI Research Center, leading to exciting new frontiers in training and research.

The Department of Psychology is strongly represented as an undergraduate major in the university, also offering an honors program and the neuroscience and behavior major co-sponsored with Biology. The curriculum offers a broad spectrum of courses and, in line with its history, supports an experimental orientation to learning about the many areas within psychology. Undergraduate majors often become involved in faculty research, thereby learning firsthand about the scientific method.

The Postbaccalaureate Program, a relatively recent addition to the department (since 1998), has been enormously popular and successful in preparing students—who previously majored in other fields—to apply successfully to graduate programs in psychology.

The Graduate Program aims to train doctoral candidates to become accomplished researchers and teachers, providing them the opportunity to collaborate with several faculty members while pursuing their personal interests and “burning issues.” The low student/faculty ratio creates a richly rewarding learning environment for students who benefit from the flexibility of delving into a wide range of research areas covered by the faculty (see Research Labs), often creating their own linkages across areas. Twenty-five percent of our graduate students have received fellowships to support their research pursuits (see Fellowships).

In addition to graduate training, many of our faculty attract postdoctoral students who either get their stipends from a faculty member’s research grant or come with their own funding.

To learn more about the various offerings in the department, please visit the relevant sections on our web site. While the undergraduate program has strong offerings for students with an interest in clinical and abnormal psychology, the department has no graduate clinical program. For those graduate-bound students interested in pursuing a clinical Ph.D., we suggest looking into the clinical program at Teacher’s College.