The core science requirement aims to develop critical awareness of the methods and limits of scientific inquiry, while fostering observational and analytical skills, particularly in reference to the natural and physical world. When choosing a science course, students should make sure they have reviewed and met the specified prerequisites for the course prior to enrollment.

Students who are considering careers in science-related fields, including health-related professions, are urged to begin their study of science within the first two semesters after matriculation at GS. 

Science Requirement

To fulfill the science requirement, students must successfully complete three courses selected from two of the following Columbia departments or from the list of approved courses below, no more than two of which should be from the same department:

  • Astronomy
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences 
  • Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
  • Physics
  • Psychology (Columbia department only, excluding courses numbered at the 2600, 3600, or 4600 level)

Students may also use international high school leaving exams for which they received at least three transfer credits on the Entrance Credit Report (ECR) in one of the disciplines listed above to fulfill one of the three science requirement courses.

List of Approved Science Courses

The list of approved courses that fulfill the science requirement includes recommended sequences, science courses for non-science majors, and approved courses from departments not listed above and Barnard.

The following two courses may satisfy both the QR requirement and one science requirement when passed with a letter-grade of C or above. The P/D/F grading option is not available for either of these two courses.

  • Foundations of Science (SCNC UN1212)
    Using modern, student-centered, active and collaborative learning techniques, students will engage — through field observations, in-class experiments, computer simulations, and selected readings — with a range of ideas and techniques designed to integrate and anchor scientific habits of mind. Topics covered will include statistics, basic probability, a variety of calculations skills, graph reading and estimation, all aimed at elucidating such concepts as energy, matter, cells, and genes in the context of astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, neuroscience, and physics.

  • Frontiers of Science (SCNC CC1000)
    The principal objectives of Frontiers of Science are to engage students in the process of discovery by exploring topics at the forefront of science and to inculcate or reinforce the specific habits of mind that inform a scientific perspective on the world. Sample topics include the evolution of human language, brain dynamics, global climate change, the nanoworld, and biodiversity, among others. 

GS students interested in taking this course should have earned a minimum score of 16 on the GS Quantitative Reasoning Exam and/or meet the specific criteria listed for this course in the Quantitative Requirements Core section of the website by the specified timelines. Prior to enrolling in the course, students should also read the first chapter of the electronic textbook Scientific Habits of Mind and take the self-exam.

Courses Designed For Nonscience Majors

ASTR UN1234The Universal Timekeeper: Reconstructing History Atom by Atom
ASTR UN1403Earth, Moon and Planets (Lecture)
ASTR UN1404Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology (Lecture)
ASTR UN1420Galaxies and Cosmology
ASTR UN1453Another Earth
ASTR UN1610Theories of the Universe: From Babylon to the Big Bang
ASTR UN1836Stars and Atoms
ASTR BC1753Life in the Universe
ASTR BC1754Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
Recommended Sequences:
 - ASTR UN1404
Earth, Moon and Planets (Lecture)
and Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology (Lecture)
 - ASTR UN1420
Earth, Moon and Planets (Lecture)
and Galaxies and Cosmology
 - ASTR UN1836
Earth, Moon and Planets (Lecture)
and Stars and Atoms
 - ASTR BC1754
Earth, Moon and Planets (Lecture)
and Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
 - ASTR UN1404
Life in the Universe
and Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology (Lecture)
 - ASTR BC1754
Life in the Universe
and Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
BIOL UN1002Theory and Practice of Science: Biology
BIOL UN1130Genes and Development
Computer Science
COMS W1001Introduction to Information Science
COMS W1002Computing in Context
Earth and Environmental Engineering
EAEE E2100A better planet by design
Earth and Environmental Sciences
EESC UN1001Dinosaurs and the History of Life: Lectures and Lab
EESC UN1003Climate and Society: Case Studies
EESC UN1011Earth: Origin, Evolution, Processes, Future
EESC UN1030Oceanography
EESC UN1053Planet Earth
EESC UN1201Environmental Risks and Disasters
EESC UN1401Dinosaurs and the History of Life: Lectures
EESC UN1411Earth: Origin, Evolution, Processes, Future: Lectures
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
EEEB W1001Biodiversity
EEEB UN1010Human Origins and Evolution
EEEB UN1011Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates
EEEB S1115SThe Life Aquatic
Recommended Sequences:
 - EEEB UN3087
and Conservation Biology
 - EEEB UN1011
Human Origins and Evolution
and Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates
Electrical Engineering
ELEN E1101The digital information age
Food Studies
FSEB UN1020Food and the Body
PHIL UN3411Symbolic Logic
PHIL GU4424Modal Logic
PHYS UN1001Physics for Poets
PHYS UN1018Weapons of Mass Destruction
Recommended Sequences:
 - PHYS C1002
Physics for Poets
and Physics for Poets
Columbia Department only:
PSYC UN1001The Science of Psychology
PSYC UN1010Mind, Brain and Behavior
Recommended Sequences:
 - PSYC UN1010
The Science of Psychology
and Mind, Brain and Behavior
PSYC UN1001The Science of Psychology ((and any PSYC course numbered 22xx or24xx***))
SCNC UN1212Foundations of Science
SCNC UN1800Energy and Energy Conservation
STAT UN1001Introduction to Statistical Reasoning
STAT UN1010Statistical Thinking For Data Science

Additional Courses Approved for the Science Requirement

Most of the following courses have required prerequisites and/or require instructor approval. Prerequisite and instructor approval requirements can be found in the course descriptions for each course or on the department website.

Any 3-point course numbered 2000 or higher
Any 3-point course numbered 2000 or higher
CHEM UN1404General Chemistry II ( Lecture)
CHEM UN1500General Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM UN2507Intensive General Chemistry Laboratory
Any 3-point course numbered 3000 or higher
Computer Science
COMS W1004Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Java
COMS W1005Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in MATLAB
ENGI E1006Introduction to Computing for Engineers and Applied Scientists
COMS W1007Honors Introduction to Computer Science
Any 3-point course numbered 3000 or higher
Computing Science - Philosophy (CSPH)
CSPH G4801Mathematical Logic I
CSPH G4802
Earth and Environmental Sciences
EESC UN2100Earth's Environmental Systems: The Climate System
EESC UN2200Earth's Environmental Systems: The Solid Earth System
EESC UN2300Earth's Environmental Systems: The Life System
Any 3-point course numbered 3000 or higher
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
EEEB UN2001Environmental Biology I: Elements to Organisms
EEEB UN2002Environmental Biology II: Organisms to the Biosphere
EEEB UN3087Conservation Biology (Any 3-point course numbered 3000 or higher except EEEB GU4321 or EEEB GU4700)
History-Applied Math
HSAM UN2901Data: Past, Present, and Future
Any 3-point course numbered 1100 or higher
PHYS UN1201General Physics I
PHYS UN1202General Physics II
PHYS UN1401Introduction To Mechanics and Thermodynamics
PHYS UN1402Introduction To Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics
PHYS UN1403Introduction to Classical and Quantum Waves
PHYS UN1601Physics, I: Mechanics and Relativity
PHYS UN1602Physics, II: Thermodynamics, Electricity, and Magnetism
Any 3-point course numbered 2000 or higher
Any 3-point course numbered 32xx, 34xx, 42xx, or 44xx **
Any 3-point course except STAT W3997

Special Summer Program

The following special program fulfills two of the three terms of the science requirement.

Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability [EICES]