Columbia University Archives: Course Descriptions

University Archives

Butler Library postcardColumbia University Archives
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Butler Library, 6th Floor
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New York, NY 10027

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Related Collections

Barnard College
The Barnard Archives and Special Collections serves as the final repository for the historical records of Barnard College, from its founding in 1889 to the present day. For more information, please contact

Health Sciences Library
The Archives and Special Collections at the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library of Columbia University can help you find information about the schools of the Medical Center: College of Physicians & Surgeons, School of Nursing, College of Dental Medicine (formerly the School of Dental & Oral Surgery), Mailman School of Public Health, and the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences. For more information, please contact

Course Descriptions

How to find course descriptions

Sometimes, when you are applying for graduate school or the patent bar, the institution requires a description of the courses you completed as student at Columbia. This information is not included in your transcript, which is maintained by the Office of the Registrar. In these instances, the University Archives can provide you with the tools to find course descriptions and other curricular information.

The Bulletins of Information or Announcements contain the course information for each school or division. In the following pages, you will learn how to request each school or division's paper volumes for access at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) Reading Room. Please note that the schools listed here are only those most frequently requested.

There are additional schools, divisions and programs not included in this guide as well as some older editions of the bulletins not listed here. If you cannot find the volume you are looking for, please contact

Most schools, divisions and programs now publish their course information exclusively online. To access those years after the end of paper publication, you will need to search the web archives. To learn how to access Columbia's web archives and/or to learn how to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, see the Online Sources tab here or visit the Web Archives section in the University Archives website.

Some schools keep past course description information on their web sites:

In addition, the Columbia University Libraries have been capturing domain websites via the Archive-It service since June 2010. As schools moved course description information from annual published paper catalogues to online-only distribution, we have found that our web archiving efforts often provide the only publicly available access points to old, online course descriptions. Although not every course description for every school has been captured, one can usually find descriptions for courses offered by Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of General Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), Graduate School of Architecture and Architectural Planning (GSAAP), and the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). If a school only posted online course descriptions in the CourseWorks system, that content was not able to be collected due to the secure nature of the site. 

  • For course descriptions since 2010, from University Archives Archive-It collection page, select the course bulletin from the Group list on the left side menu to help your search. You will be able to further narrow your search by selecting the School and Department from the left side menus.
  • For online course information created prior to 2010, we recommend using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to search for older captures of and then navigating the archived Columbia University website to the appropriate school or department pages to look for online course descriptions.
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About the image

Banner above names of Greek and Roman male writers at Butler Library with names of women authors: Sappho, Marie de France, Christine de Pizan, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Bronte, Dickinson, Woolf, 1989 (scan 627). Buildings and Grounds Collection, University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries. For more information on this project by Laura Brown GS 1989, look for the additional coverage in the Columbia Spectator Digital Archive.