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If you think you saw the last of math in high school, you’re mistaken. Many of you will be thrilled to discover that Barnard’s Foundations curriculum requires that all students take one semester of math—and others not so much. This requirement is intended to hone one of the modes of thinking, “Thinking Quantitatively and Empirically”.

It’s all for good reason, though. The Nard wants to make sure we all understand the quantitative and empirical approaches to problem solving. For those who are not math-oriented, this requirement doesn’t have to be a challenge, as Barnard and Columbia offer classes geared toward students with, let’s just say, below-average math ability.

You might be wondering which class to take to fulfill your quantitative requirement––that’s why we compiled a list of the best and easiest math classes offered here.

Note: As you know, some professors are better than others. If you’re considering taking any of these classes, make sure you research the section leader beforehand so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Introduction to Statistical Reasoning (STAT UN1001)

For: Students looking for an easy way to fill their math requirement without doing that much math.

Offered at: Columbia

Times offered:

  • TR 10:10-11:25 a.m. with Guy Cohen
  • MW 6:10-7:25 p.m. with Anthony Donoghue
  • MW 10:10-11:25 a.m. with Joyce Robbins

Prerequisites: None

Course description: “A friendly introduction to statistical concepts and reasoning with emphasis on developing statistical intuition rather than on mathematical rigor. Topics include design of experiments, descriptive statistics, correlation and regression, probability, chance variability, sampling, chance models, and tests of significance.”

The second word in the course description is “friendly,” so that’s a dead giveaway that this class is pretty painless. Instead of focusing on the math behind stats, this course studies the reasoning behind it. That’s a win-win!

Earth, Moon, and Planets (Astronomy UN1403)

For: Students who have an interest in astronomy

Prerequisites: High school level algebra

Times offered:

  • MW 2:40-3:55 p.m. with James Applegate

Course description: “The overall architecture of the solar system. Motions of the celestial sphere. Time and the calendar. Major planets, the earth-moon system, minor planets, comets. Life in the solar system and beyond.”

Some people love this class and others hate it, so it’s a bit of a gamble. That being said, it’s a good option for those who aren’t so mathematically inclined and would rather learn about space.

Psychology labs: Learning, personality, and development

For: Students who are interested in psychology

Corequisites: The lab’s corresponding lecture.

Times offered:

  • Psychology of Learning (Psychology BC1106)
    • T 12:40-3:30 p.m. with Ken Light
    • W 12:40-3:30 p.m. with Peter Balsam
    • W 4:10-7:10 p.m. with Peter Balsam
  • Psychology of Personality (Psychology BC1124)
    • M 1:10-4:00 p.m. with Tara Well
    • M 4:10-7:00 p.m. with Tara Well
  • Developmental Psychology (BC1128)
    • T 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. with Koleen McCrink
    • R 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. with Koleen McCrink

Want to learn how babies learn language or why some people are so rude? These labs give you a hands-on opportunity to explore interesting psychology topics. Not exactly sure where math is involved in these labs, but it definitely isn’t rocket science (see: astrophysics department).

Summer (July 7) note: As of now, these classes look like they're all filled up. See where you sit on the waitlist, but plan to find another class that fulfills this requirement just to be safe.

While not all of these courses are guaranteed for everyone, as they are less math intensive, they are perfect for those who would like to skip calculus. Another good way to find a math class that’s your level is through CULPA. Search for courses on Columbia’s Course Directory, then search for the professor on CULPA. This is a great method for gauging a course’s workload, difficulty, and, ofc, its math content. Still not sure? Just attend the first class—it’s pretty easy to tell if the course is right for your level and interests.

Have math class recommendations? Tell us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Isabella Monaco is Spectrum’s associate editor and a Barnard first-year. Math is the bane of her existence, but she enjoys calculating the tip at restaurants. Reach her at

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