How to Get Permission for Exceptions to Psychology
Major or Concentration Requirements

Please read the following instructions carefully before completing the
Major Requirement Substitution Form.

You need the signature of your Psychology Program Advisor (also known as a Director of Undergraduate Studies, or DUS) for all exceptions to the departmental major or concentration requirements. In the case of a psychology course taken at another institution prior to your admission to Columbia, the fact that you were given transfer credit upon entrance does not imply that the course is approved for credit toward the major or concentration.

With your Psychology Program Advisor's (DUS's) approval, up to nine points may be transferred for Psychology Major credit (or five points for credit toward the Psychology Concentration) from courses taken outside the department—including points taken at Barnard College.

IMPORTANT! As soon as you decide to pursue a major or concentration in Psychology, you should complete the steps below to verify that any exception you are counting on has been authorized and is on record in the appropriate offices. It is not necessary to wait until you have declared a Psychology major or concentration. Under no circumstances should you wait until your final semester to submit your transfer credit requests! Starting this process too late could prevent you from graduating on time.

Barnard courses. Without special permission from your Program Advisor, you may apply up to nine credits from Barnard psychology courses toward the 30-point requirement of the Psychology Major, or up to five Barnard credits toward the 18-point Psychology Concentration. Please note the following:

  • Only certain pre-approved Barnard courses may be used to fulfill the major requirements without advanced permission from your program advisor—if you are planning to use a Barnard course to fulfill a requirement, check this list before you enroll.

  • The limits of nine (for the major) and five (for the concentration) credits from outside the department apply to any combination of Barnard and transfer courses. For example, if you have applied one 3-point transfer class to a major requirement, you may only use up to 6 additional points of Barnard courses towards your major. (Note: if you have completed more Barnard and/or transfer credits than you are able to apply to your major or concentration, CC or GS will still allow you to count those additional credits toward the total needed for graduation.)

  • Some Barnard Psychology courses overlap substantially in content with courses offered in the Columbia Psychology Department; see a partial list here. If you have taken two courses whose content overlaps significantly, you may not count both courses toward the major. (Note: if you have taken two courses that overlap substantially, CC and GS will likely NOT allow you to count both of those courses toward graduation.)

Criteria for granting exceptions. The requirements for the psychology major or concentration are relatively light. In light of this fact, courses taken in other departments at Columbia cannot be applied to Psychology major or concentration requirements (with the exception of Barnard courses; see above). Courses taken at other institutions will only be allowed to substitute for psychology courses in the Department if:

  • you are a transfer student to Columbia and had already taken suitable psychology courses before you transferred, or
  • you have a compelling reason, such as study abroad, for taking a course elsewhere.

In either case, the course taken elsewhere should be very similar to the course for which it is substituting, it should have been completed within the last eight years, and the grade you received must be B- or better.

How to apply for an exception.

1. Before you apply:

  1. If you are a transfer student and you are seeking credit toward the major or concentration for a psychology course taken elsewhere, you must first obtain transfer credit through CC or GS. If you have not already received approval from CC or GS to apply the course(s) in question toward your total number of credits needed to graduate, you will need to visit your Dean first to obtain the relevant forms and complete that process.
  2. If you are studying abroad, consult with your Program Advisor (DUS) prior to registering for classes at another institution. Provide your DUS with the syllabus for any psychology course you would like to have (conditionally) approved towards the major. Your Program Advisor (DUS) can then advise you regarding the eligibility of the course. If a syllabus is not available, provide your DUS with as much information about the course’s content and requirements as you can. You may need to contact your study-abroad institution and/or your prospective instructor to get this information.
  3. If you are a Columbia College student taking a course at another institution in the United States over the summer, you will need (conditional) advance approval. You should obtain a copy of Columbia College's Pre-Approval for a Course Taken at Another U.S. Institution form, available in the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner and discuss your plans with your advising dean.

2. Assemble all required materials for each course you want us to consider.

  • The Major Requirement Substitution Form with top half completed
  • A course syllabus that clearly indicates weekly topics and reading assignments as well as course requirements
    • If the syllabus is not sufficiently detailed you may be asked to bring in the textbook, quizzes and tests, and/or term papers.
  • Course description from school bulletin
  • Your transcript showing grade received
  • The appropriate Dean's form (typically, a transfer credit report for courses completed elsewhere)

3. Take assembled materials to 406 Schermerhorn where the Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant will check them for completeness. IMPORTANT: If you are a GS Student, you must submit all required paperwork in the same semester in which you declare a major; failure to meet this deadline may result in the loss of eligibility for transfer credit toward the major or concentration.

4. Answer any questions from your Program Advisor. The UCA will pass your submission on to your advisor, who will contact you if he or she has any questions or requires additional materials in order to review your request. You may also request to meet with your Program Advisor at this point if you have an unusual transfer situation or any other issues you’d like to discuss (e.g., if you have taken several courses you could potentially transfer, and need help deciding which of those courses would be most advantageous to apply toward your total of nine transfer credits).

5. If permission is granted. Once your Program Advisor has reviewed your request, the UCA will let you know whether or not permission has been granted. If it has, you will need to visit the Psychology Department Office to pick up a copy of the signed form.

  • The Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant in 406 Schermerhorn will keep one copy on file in the Psychology Department office. It will be used to document that you have an approved transfer credit shortly before you graduate, when the Department is required to certify that you have completed the requirements for the major or concentration.
  • The UCA will also give a copy of the form to the program advisor who signed it.
  • Be sure to pick up one copy of the signed permission form. You are responsible for keeping one copy of the form to produce in the (very unlikely) case that the original form cannot be found when it comes time to certify your major or concentration for your graduation.
  • The UCA will contact the registrar to inform them that your transfer credit has been approved for the major. Once this is done, you should be able to see the approved transfer credit on your Degree Audit Report (DAR) on SSOL.

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This page is maintained by lep1, kjt2111, and the UCA. It was last modified by kjt2111 on November 20, 2015 .