The School of General Studies offers a traditional liberal arts education designed to provide students with the broad knowledge and intellectual skills that foster continued education and growth in the years after college, as well as providing a sound foundation for positions of responsibility in the professional world. Requirements for the bachelor's degree comprise three elements: (1) core requirements, intended to develop in students the ability to write and communicate clearly; to understand the modes of thought that characterize the humanities, social sciences, and sciences; to gain familiarity with central cultural ideas through literature, fine arts, and music; and to acquire a working proficiency in a foreign language; (2) major requirements, designed to give students sustained and coherent exposure to a particular discipline in an area of strong intellectual interest; and (3) elective courses, in which students pursue particular interests and skills for their own personal growth or for their relationship to future professional or personal objectives. Students are required to complete a minimum of 124 points for the bachelor's degree; 60 of these may be in transfer credit, but at least 64 points (including the last 30 points) must be completed at Columbia. In addition to the usual graduation honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude), honors programs for superior students are available in a majority of the University's departments.
Majors and Degrees Offered
The School of General Studies grants a B.A. degree and offers more than eighty majors and concentrations, which include: African studies; African American studies; American studies; ancient studies; anthropology; applied mathematics; archaeology; architecture; architecture, history and theory; art history; art history-visual arts; astronomy; astrophysics; biochemistry; biology; biophysics; business management; chemical physics; chemistry; classics; comparative literature and society; computer science; computer science–mathematics; computer science-statistics; creative writing; dance; drama and theater arts; earth and environmental science; East Asian studies; ecology, evolution, and environmental Biology; economics; economics-mathematics; economics-philosophy; economics-political science; economics-statistics; education; English; environmental biology; environmental chemistry; environmental science; ethnicity and race studies; evolutionary biology of the human species; film and media studies; financial economics; French; French and Francophone studies; German literature and cultural history; Hispanic studies; history; human rights; information science, Italian cultural studies; Italian language and literature; jazz studies; Jewish studies; Latin American and Caribbean studies; Latin American and Iberian culture; linguistics; mathematics; mathematics-statistics; medieval and renaissance studies; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies; modern Greek studies; music; neuroscience and behavior; philosophy; physics; political science; political science-statistics; Portuguese studies; premedical sciences; psychology; regional studies; religion; Russian language and culture; Russian literature and culture; Slavic language and culture; sociology; statistics; sustainable development; urban studies; visual arts; women's and gender studies; and Yiddish studies.
GS is home to the oldest and largest Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program in the United States, as well as dual-degree programs with the French university Sciences Po, Hong Kong's City University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Students enrolled in these interdisciplinary programs can earn two bachelor’s degrees from two schools over four years.
The Dual BA Program is an intensive, transatlantic course of study in which undergraduate students earn bachelor's degrees from both Sciences Po and Columbia University in four years. Students will spend two years at one of three Sciences Po campuses, each of which is devoted to a particular region of the world and offers a heavy linguistic and cultural focus. After completing Sciences Po's interdisciplinary social-sciences curriculum, Dual BA students matriculate at GS to complete the requirements for a major, as well as fulfill core distribution requirements in a variety of disciplines, including literature, art, music, science, and the humanities. Upon graduation, Dual BA Program students are eligible for guaranteed admission to a graduate program at Sciences Po. Admission to the program is highly competitive, and high school seniors are eligible to apply. The Joint Bachelor's Degree Program between City University of Hong Kong and Columbia University offers students an international undergraduate educational experience a program spanning two continents, in cosmopolitan cities that allow students to engage directly with the world around them. Joint Bachelor's Degree Program students will earn two bachelor's degrees-one from City University of Hong Kong and one from Columbia University. Students who wish to be considered for admission to the Joint Bachelor's Degree Program must first apply and be accepted to the City University of Hong Kong, at which time they will be eligible for consideration for the Program.