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

including credit for courses taken elsewhere

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

You need the signature of your Psychology Program Advisor 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 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.

Barnard courses. In general, you should consult with a Psychology Program Advisor before registering for psychology courses offered outside the department. However, without special permission 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. Note that these Barnard courses can not be used to satisfy the laboratory, statistics, or distribution requirements of the psychology major or concentration. Further note that the number of Barnard credits you can count will be reduced by any transfer credits that are being applied to your major or concentration.

Criteria for granting exceptions. The requirements for the psychology major or concentration are relatively light. In general, therefore, courses taken outside the Columbia Psychology Department will only be allowed to substitute for required 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 for taking a course elsewhere.

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

How to apply for an exception.

1. In many cases, you will need to see the Dean first before seeing your Program Advisor. If 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. You also need (conditional) advance approval for a course to be taken outside Columbia University during the summer. See the Dean first and obtain the relevant forms before seeing your Psychology Program Advisor.

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

  • The Major Requirement Substitution Form with top half completed
  • Course syllabus clearly indicating 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
    • transfer credit report for course completed elsewhere
    • conditional advance approval form for summer course

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 will result in the loss of eligibility for transfer credit toward the major or concentration.

4. See your Program Advisor during posted office hours and bring all necessary materials with you. Your advisor will usually evaluate the course(s) while you wait.

5. If permission is granted. Once you have received signed permission of the Psychology Program Advisor, you need to make copies of the Major Requirement Substitution form and see that it gets filed in the necessary places:

  • In the Psychology Dept office. Return the original signed copy of the permission form to the Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant in 406 Schermerhorn, so that it can be filed in your docket. Permissions for exceptions to major requirements are kept on file in the Psychology Department office. They will be consulted shortly before you graduate, when the Department is required to certify that you have completed the requirements for the major or concentration.
  • In your own files. Be sure to keep one copy of the signed permission you have received for any exception.
  • In the Program Advisor's files. Give one copy of the signed permission form to the Program Advisor who signed it.
  • In the Dean's Office. If the exception you have been granted involves advance (conditional) approval to take a course elsewhere, you should take one copy of the permission form to the appropriate Dean's office to be processed.

IMPORTANT! As soon as you declare your major or concentration you should complete the above steps to verify that any exception you are counting on has been authorized and is on record in the appropriate offices. Under no circumstances should you wait until your final semester to do this!


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This page is maintained by lep1 and the UCA. It was last modified by the UCA on September 24, 2010 .