Academic Advising and Registration

The many faces of Barnard advising

As a Barnard College student, you will have both a Faculty Adviser and a Class Dean to provide guidance as you develop your educational plans and make thoughtful and informed decisions about your academic and life goals.

For your first two years at Barnard College, you will work with the faculty adviser who was assigned to you the summer before your first year. This adviser will help you to find the information you need to make numerous choices each semester and to think about those choices in light of your short-term and long-term goals. These two years are the time for you to explore the curriculum so that you can determine the area of study most suitable for you, and your academic adviser will be on hand to help you think about your intellectual development and how course selection fits into that.

When you declare your major toward the end of your sophomore year, you will be reassigned to a faculty adviser who specializes in that field and who will guide you through the remainder of your time at Barnard and assist you as you choose the advanced coursework in your department or program. Students who choose to double major will have two major advisers, one in each field.

The Class Deans are a part of Dean of Studies Office located in 105 Milbank. The Class Deans - one for each year of your Barnard career - provide information and guidance via meetings, workshops, and blog postings, and you can meet with them individually during walk-in hours or appointment times to talk about questions that may arise or concerns that you may have. The Class Deans can also help you identify the many people on campus who can help answer your questions, and can provide assistance if you experience an emergency or difficult extenuating circumstances during the year. Visit the Deans and Directors for information on how to meet with your Class Deans.

Make the most of your advising relationships

Remember that this is your college career, so you should give some thought to what kind of guidance and advice you may want or need. It’s important to see yourself as the active party in the advising relationships. To be an active and engaged advisee, you should be ready to:

  • Initiate meetings with advisers by dropping by office hours or by emailing or calling to schedule an appointment;
  • Prepare for meetings by writing down the questions or ideas that you have before you go to an adviser’s office;
  • Ask about policies, procedures, prerequisites, deadlines, or requirements – if your adviser doesn’t know the answer, he/she can direct you to the right person or office. It is your responsibility to keep track of deadlines and requirements, so check with an adviser, dean or registrar if you’re unsure.
  • Inform your advisers of experiences that you are having that are shaping your thoughts about your academic path;
  • Talk frankly with your advisers about your successes and your challenges;
  • Reflect on your experiences, your plans, and your goals between your meetings with advisers.

You are required to meet with your assigned academic adviser at least twice every semester: once during the first weeks of the semester to finalize the courses that you are taking, and another time during the latter part of the semester when you create a plan for the following term. Once the semester begins, you will not be able to add or drop courses online until you have met with your adviser and discussed your options together. You should also feel free to meet with your adviser throughout the semester when you have questions about your current classes or your future plans. It is especially important to let your adviser know if you have concerns about your performance in any of your courses; your adviser can help you think about what questions you might ask or what actions you might take to improve.

Remember that your academic advisers want to be helpful to you, but it is your responsibility to ask for their guidance and assistance.

Types of Major Advising

During the sophomore year, you will declare a major and select an adviser who will work with you for the next two years. If you choose to double major you will have two major advisers. If you know which major you would like to pursue but are unsure how to select an adviser, consult the chair of the department. You may also contact particular faculty members in order to decide if they would be a good match. Each semester, most departments hold meetings or open houses to help students make informed decisions about majors. These meetings provide an opportunity to meet faculty members within a department.

Special and Combined Major 

If you wish to apply for a special or combined major you should discuss requirements and procedures with your Class Dean. Once you are at the point of making application, follow the instructions on the Special Major Form or the Combined Major Form, and obtain the necessary approvals, conveying support for your proposed major.

Petition for Changes to a Combined or Special Major

This petition is only for requests for changes to special or combined majors that have already been approved. You should return the completed Petition for Changes to a Combined or Special Major Form (with all required approvals) to the Registrar's Office, 107 Milbank.

Transfer Student Advising

Barnard has a long and happy tradition of welcoming transfer students. Christina Kuan Tsu is the Class Dean for Transfer students. If you are a transfer student, you should schedule an appointment or email her at  The Registrar's office also assists new transfer students, helping them negotiate the particulars of the Barnard curriculum course selection process.

Students who transfer after two full years of study at another institution typically move directly to major declaration. Those who are classified as first-year or sophomore students will continue with their initial advisers until the appropriate time (see above section about the major). Visiting students are assigned advisers to assist with procedures and to act as a general resources during the student's stay at Barnard. Please contact the Office of the Dean of Studies for more information.