Literature courses expose students to  writers recognized for their ability to convey ideas, feelings, and images through the power and play of words. The study of literature provides students with an opportunity to deepen their critical reading and writing skills.

The literature/humanities requirement is fulfilled by the completion of at least one literature course at Columbia and either an additional literature course or one in the humanities. In addition to the rich variety of courses offered by the Department of English and Comparative Literature, students may choose from among the many literature courses found in Columbia's foreign language and literature departments.

To fulfill the literature requirement, the course must focus exclusively on the study of poetry, fiction, drama, or related genres. Courses on literature in translation, as well as literature courses in foreign languages at the 3000 level or above, may satisfy the literature requirement. Courses that focus primarily on literary theory, film, music, creative writing, or other non-literary interdisciplinary topics may not count for the literature requirement, even though they may be taught within the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Humanities courses offer ways to understand the development of cultures and how the human experience is expressed in art, music, literature, architecture, drama, and religion.

A course from one of the following departments or interdisciplinary programs may count toward the second part of the literature/humanities requirement. (In foreign language departments, only courses at the 3000 level or above will be considered.)

  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Art History and Archaeology
  • Classics
  • English and Comparative Literature
  • Film Studies
  • Germanic Languages
  • History*
  • Italian
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages
  • Spanish and Portuguese

Courses from the Department of History may be counted toward the social science or the humanities requirement, but in no case may more than two courses from one department be used to fulfill Core requirements.

GS students may also elect to take the two-semester course Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy, HUMA F1001-HUMA F1002 (commonly known as "Lit Hum"), to fulfill the literature or humanities requirement. This year-long course is particularly recommended for students who are planning to major in English literature or philosophy. Refer to/Print the 2014-2015 Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy syllabus.

GS students may also elect to take the two-semester course Contemporary Civilization, COCI F1101-COCI F1102, to fulfill one social science and one humanities requirement. This year-long course is highly recommended for students planning to major in political science.

Note: Only the first semester of Contemporary Civilization may be applied to either the humanities requirement or the social science requirement (but not both). The second semester may only be applied to the social science requirement.

Interdisciplinary Programs

The following interdisciplinary programs offer courses in both humanities and social sciences. GS advisors must determine the appropriate category for a course when taken to satisfy a GS core requirement.

  • African Studies
  • African-American Studies
  • American Studies
  • Ethnicity and Race Studies
  • Comparative Literature and Society
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Hispanic Studies
  • Human Rights
  • Jewish Studies
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Medicine, Literature, and Society
  • Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Women's and Gender Studies

Registration and Petitioning

Students interested in registering for Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy or Contemporary Civilization should review the Core Registration and Petitions page.