Columbia University Archives: Course Descriptions

University Archives

Butler Library postcardColumbia University Archives
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Butler Library, 6th Floor
535 West 114th Street
New York, NY 10027

Phone: (212) 854-3786
Fax: (212) 854-1365
E-mail: uarchives@columbia.edu

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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 archives@barnard.edu.

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 hslarchives@columbia.edu.

Course Descriptions

How to find course descriptions

In-Person Resources

Sometimes, when you are applying for graduate school or the patent bar, the institution requires a description of the courses you completed as a 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. You can request to access a school or division's paper volumes at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) Reading Room using the Columbia University Bulletins finding aid.

How to request a Bulletin:

In order to use the University Archives collections at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), visitors are required to register their own Special Collections Research Account before their visit and to validate the account in person with government-issued photo identification or Columbia ID card. Once you have created your Special Collections Research Account, you will be able to request the materials directly from the Columbia University Bulletins finding aid.

  • Find the school you are interested in.
  • Click on the check box on the right for the volume(s) for the academic year(s) you would like to review.
  • Scroll back to the top of the container list and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top.

This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form. This collection is stored onsite and can be made available on the same day. Materials will be paged when you sign into the Reading Room.

There are additional schools, divisions and programs not included in this collection. This finding aid was created to facilitate access to the most requested volumes and also includes links to either the archived websites or the downloadable files for online access. If you cannot find the volume for the school or program you are interested in, please contact the University Archives at uarchives@columbia.edu.

For more information on how to register and how to request materials, please see the Research & Access section of our website. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact uarchives@columbia.edu.

Online Resources

Most schools, divisions and programs now publish their course information exclusively online. Some schools keep past course description information on their web sites:

To access those years after the end of paper publication or to access information online, you will most likely need to search the web archives. The Columbia University Libraries have been capturing columbia.edu 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. However, if a school only posted online course descriptions in the CourseWorks system, that content has not been collected due to the secure nature of the site. 

  • For course descriptions since 2010, from the 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 www.columbia.edu and then navigating the archived Columbia University website to the appropriate school or department pages to look for online course descriptions.

To learn how to access Columbia's web archives and/or to learn how to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, visit the Web Archives section in the University Archives website. If you still have questions or can’t find what you are seeking, please contact University Archives staff for assistance.

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 #0627). Historical Photograph 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.