Departments and Programs


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Philosophy is an effort to see how things – not just objects and persons, but also ideas, concepts, principles, and values – hang together. Philosophical questions explore the foundations and limits of human thought and experience. What is there? What can we know? What is good? How should we live? What is a person? What is reason? How do words have meaning? The philosophy major introduces students to central concepts, key figures, and classic texts so they may broaden and deepen their own understanding as they learn how others have approached foundational questions in the past. An education in philosophy also teaches students to think and write with clarity and precision – intellectual resources essential to future study and rewarding professional lives.

The Physical Education Department subscribes fully to the College’s commitment to help women realize their full potential. Through regular participation in guided physical movement, the student gains enhanced physical fitness, improved self-esteem, and stress management techniques. Physical Education and the extra-curricular programs address the body-mind connection as the student learns skills that will influence the quality of her life currently in academic achievement and in all future endeavors.

In cooperation with the faculty of Columbia University, Barnard offers a thorough pre-professional curriculum in both physics and astronomy. The faculty represents a wide range of expertise, with special strength and distinction in theoretical gravitational and condensed matter physics, and observational astrophysics.

Separate majors in physics and astronomy are offered. A major in astrophysics is also possible. Furthermore, there are many special interdisciplinary majors, such as biophysics, chemical physics,engineering physics, mathematical physics, and astrochemistry. There is a physics minor as well. Students should consult members of the department early on in their undergraduate careers in order to plan the most effective course of study.

Political science explores questions about power: what it is, where it comes from, who exercises it, and how it is legitimized and challenged. We work to understand how political institutions and processes developed in history, how they operate today, and how they might change in the future--here in the United States, in other countries around the world, and internationally in the global system. Key topics include democracy and authoritarianism, good governance and corruption, inequality and protest, conflict and cooperation, and war and peace.

The Department of Psychology offers a rigorous exposition of the study of the mind in action. In classroom courses, in instructional laboratories, and in research conducted with the faculty, students explore intellectual perspectives and empirical methods expressed across the discipline of psychology. The department also links our students to many forums in the College and University for discussion and refinement of scientific work.