In the Loop
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Katherine Gerberich / Senior Staff Photographer

At first glance, the list of Barnard requirements may seem quite daunting. Within your four years as a Barnard student, you have to complete your first-year courses, distributional requirements, Modes of Thinking, a major, and take electives for a total of 122 points. However, it’s not nearly as bad as it may seem. To help you understand how it all works, here is a crash course on Barnard requirements.

The first-year requirements

Barnard students have to fulfill three requirements during their first year: first-year writing, first-year seminar, and physical education. You can complete your P.E. requirement either semester by taking anything from tai chi to a ballet class. As for your first-year writing and first-year seminar, you take one each semester. The first-year seminars range from learning about volcanoes to debate and to just about anything else. For first-year writing, you choose between Legacy of the Mediterranean, Women and Culture, and the Americas. If any of the first-year writing classes sound especially interesting to you, you can take it for both semesters to fulfill both your first-year writing and first-year seminar requirement.

Distributional requirements

Each Barnard student is required to take two courses in languages, arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The distributional requirements are pretty straightforward. The only thing is that you have to take the same language for both semesters, although you don’t have to take the language two semesters in a row, and for the science requirement, one of the two courses has to include a lab.

Modes of Thinking

According to Barnard, there are six modes of thinking, each requiring one course: Thinking Locally—New York City, Thinking through Global Inquiry, Thinking about Social Difference, Thinking with Historical Perspective, Thinking Quantitatively and Empirically, and Thinking Technologically and Digitally. A wide range of courses on a variety of subjects can satisfy each Mode of Thinking requirement so don’t worry if you’re not, for example, a computer science major. You can fulfill your Thinking Technologically and Digitally requirement, for example, with anything from a history class to a dance class.

Major and electives

At Barnard, you have over 50 possible majors to choose from. The number of courses you take for each major is slightly different, but it is normally around 12 courses, sometimes more. You fulfill the remainder of the 122 point requirements with elective courses that can either be within or outside of your major department. You can even choose to declare an optional minor, which requires at least five courses. Note: A course can only count toward your major or minor if you get a C- or higher.

The catch

At this point, most of you are probably wondering: How do students complete so many requirements in only four years??!!?? Luckily, there is a catch: One course may count for a requirement in two different categories, which makes it significantly easier. For example, a course may count for both one of your major requirements as well as one of your modes of thinking. Thanks to this rule, it’s totally possible to finish all your requirements in four years. So, try not to worry too much, relax, and enjoy your classes and your time as a Barnard student. As long as you’re somewhat conscious of which requirements you haven’t fulfilled yet, you’ll be fine.

Barnard Foundations
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