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If one of your New Year's resolutions is to have a 10-year plan, what better way to get cracking on that goal than to make sure you'll be able to graduate on time? Your advisor outlined your requirements during NSOP, but whether you're a senior or a first-year, that probably seems like a distant, foggy memory.

In case you need a refresher or are trying to figure out your schedule for this semester without reading through bulletins and long lists, here's a quick reminder.


In order to graduate from Columbia College, you'll need to complete all major requirements, the Core Curriculum, and have a credit total of 124.

As a CC freshie, you'll be taking UWriting and FroSci in different semesters. You'll also have to take two semesters of Lit Hum in your first year and two semesters of Contemporary Civilization (usually in your second year, if you're not a transfer student). CC kiddos also have a four-semester foreign language requirement, but this can be fulfilled with placement tests, SAT II scores, or AP scores.

The rest of the CC required classes (that you can take whenever) are Art Hum, Music Hum, two sems of Global Core, and two other approved science classes (dw, Physics for Poets is an option for those who are not science geeks). Also, who could forget the two-semester PE requirement and the infamous swim test?


In order to graduate from SEAS, you'll need to complete all major requirements, the technical core, and have a credit total of at least 128 (for some majors, it's greater) with a GPA of at least 2.0.

SEAS-lings have a shorter liberal arts core (UWriting your first year, either Art Hum or Music Hum, and two semesters of Lit Hum, CC, or the Global Core requirement). Don't rejoice too soon, though, because you'll have an expanded technical core.

As a first-year, you'll take The Art of Engineering (in lieu of FroSci), at least two semesters of physics, and at least one semester of chemistry. You'll also have a semester of physics or chem lab, and at least one comp sci class. (You may not have the CC language requirement, but hey, comp sci is a foreign language in itself.)

On the phys ed front, you're exempt from knowing how to swim, but you'll still have the two-semester PE requirement.

Not to be completely *technical,* but you'll also have a semester of Principles of Economics (if you have the AP scores, you can place out) and nine to 11 points of other non-technical electives.


In order to graduate from GS, you'll need to complete all major requirements, GS core requirements, electives, and have a credit total of at least 124 with a GPA of at least 2.0.

GS has a lot of the same requirements as CC (like the four-semester language requirement), but you may qualify for exemptions based on your prior courses and/or experiences. Talk to your advisor to work out the kinks.

Other than UWriting and two semesters of Global Core, GS students are not technically required to take any of the CC core classes. Instead, you can choose other courses that cover the same material: You don't need to suffer through Lit Hum, but you must take at least one literature class and one humanities class. You also don't have to take Contemporary Civilization, but instead get to choose two social science classes. You get the idea.

Other requirements include a semester of quantitative reasoning (which you can place out of with a test or credit transfer) and three semesters of science courses (again, Physics for Poets is an option).


Pre-2020 Barnard

In order to graduate from Barnard pre-2020, you'll need to complete all major requirements, all Nine Ways of Knowing requirements, and have a credit total of at least 122.

The Barnard course requirements are where things get a little dicey. All Barnard students must take First-Year English and a First-Year Seminar, and at least one semester of PE (usually taken during your freshman year).

However, for Barnard '19 and earlier, you have the 9WoK (nine distribution requirements with really obscure titles = nine things you have to know before graduating).

Like CC and GS, pre-2020 Barnardigans will have a four-semester language requirement. The other 9WoK reqs are:

  • Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning
  • Ethics and Values (a mix of philosophy, religion, history, and English courses)
  • Social Analysis (some political science, some sociology, etc.)
  • Historical Studies
  • Cultures in Comparison (art, history, english, anthropology, religion, etc. from around the world)
  • Literature
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Laboratory Science (two semesters of a science with a lab requirement)

Does it matter when you finish these requirements? Not in the slightest. For the full list of which classes satisfy which distribution, click here.

Post-2020 Barnard

In order to graduate from Barnard if you've entered Fall 2016 and onward, you'll need to complete all major requirements, all Foundations requirements, and have a credit total of at least 122.

For current first-year Barnardigans, you have the shiny new Foundations curriculum. This is made up of four distribution requirements, and six "modes of thinking" courses. One course can fulfill a maximum of two requirements, and those requirements are:

  • Two semesters of language classes
  • Two courses in the arts and humanities
  • Two courses in the social sciences
  • Two science courses, one of which must have a lab component
  • Thinking Locally in NYC (all things NYC, all the time)
  • Thinking through Global Inquiry (more offerings than Cultures in Comparison)
  • Thinking about Social Difference (more offerings than Social Analysis)
  • Thinking with Historical Perspective
  • Thinking Quantitatively and Empirically
  • Thinking Technologically and Digitally

Like for the pre-2020 Barnardigans, does it matter when you take these? Nope. For the full list of which classes satisfy which requirement, click here.

No matter which college you're in, it's probably a good idea to have a rough four-year plan of when you're going to knock out all your requirements. (Remember, you also have your major requirements to worry about!) Hopefully this will help you avoid being that person who has to overload on reqs in their fourth year.

Have some graduation requirement gripes? Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Victoria Yang is a SEAS first-year and Spectrum staff writer. She is very good at planning out her courses well in advance and then randomly changing them during registration. Reach her at

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