Columbia-Barnard Intercorporate Agreement

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The Columbia-Barnard relationship is governed by an Intercorporate Agreement. There have been a number of such agreements between Columbia and Barnard in their shared history. The first was established in 1900[1]. The last major negotiated agreement was in 1973 when Columbia was recovering from a financial free fall, with a major amendment in 1983- when Barnard forfeited its "monopoly" on women's undergraduate education.

The principal points of the current relationship are listed in this article.

Course registration

Columbia and Barnard students are allowed extensive cross-registration, with the only exceptions applying to certain Core requirements at both schools. This was originally a Columbia proposal in 1973, when the cash-strapped University expected Barnard to pay a fee for the net imbalance of credit flow. Columbia expected more Barnard students to enroll on Columbia courses than vice versa, thus creating a new revenue stream. This was initially the case though in recent years the trend has been reversed, and Columbia has had to pay Barnard for the imbalance of Columbia students taking Barnard courses. This can be partially attributed to Barnard's deliberate decision to develop departments that have no counterpart across the street, such as Urban Studies, and the undergraduate Theater and Dance programs.


Barnard does not have a major research library, though Barnard College Library serves as the school's collection. Instead, its students and faculty have access to the world caliber research library resources of Columbia (and Columbians have access to Barnard's collections). Because Barnard had access to Columbia's library, it never had incentive to invest much in it's own. In 1973 Columbia demanded payment for that access, based on an estimate of what Barnard would have had to pay to maintain a library equal to that of one of its Seven Sisters peers. Barnard still pays a fee for that access.

Faculty appointments

Though Barnard College has its own faculty, the tenuring process requires that Barnard faculty appointees be reviewed by an ad hoc committee consisting of equal numbers of Barnard faculty and Columbia faculty, with a fifth member from the outside. In 1973 Columbia demanded and received full control over tenure, with the president of Columbia making the final decision to hire. The incorporation of Barnard faculty into the tenuring process was negotiated into the agreement in 1983 as compensation for Columbia College going co-ed. In 1973, both schools also agreed to cooperate in order to avoid redundancies in appointments and programs. This went hand-in-hand with the greater cross-registration agreement.


One of the more contentious points of the agreement between the schools (at least among petulant Columbia students), Barnard college degrees are officially granted by the Trustees of Columbia University, the same body that grants degrees to all Columbia students. This is despite Barnard's status as an affiliate school as opposed to an undergraduate school of the university itself. The fact that their diplomas say "Columbia University" is often used as evidence by Barnard students to justify claiming that they are "Columbia students." This particular aspect of the relationship is possibly the legacy of Columbia's first foray into the education of women, the 1883 Plan for the Education of Women in Connection to Columbia College.


Barnard pays Columbia for access to power and utilities and access to other facilities that it otherwise would have to provide for itself.