Physical Education

200 Barnard Annex 
Department Assistant: Susan Campbell


The Physical Education Department subscribes fully to the College’s commitment to help women realize their full potential. The diversity of the curriculum and the specialization of the faculty permit the student to focus on personal interests and learn the importance of regular participation in physical activity as a lifetime choice. These opportunities instill the basic principles of physical activity in the pursuit of wellness.

The curriculum is driven by the seven components of wellness: physical, occupational, social, intellectual, environmental, emotional, and spiritual, using the physical dimension as a foundation. Through regular participation in guided physical movement, the student gains enhanced physical fitness, improved self-esteem, expanded sport-specific skills and stress management techniques. Physical Education and the extra-curricular programs address the body-mind connection as the student learns skills that will influence the quality of her life currently in academic achievement and in all future endeavors.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an exercise to increase muscular endurance;
  2. Identify methods of assessing body composition;
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of a method for monitoring cardiovascular fitness;
  4. Perform pertinent warm-up and cool down exercises;
  5. Recognize the benefit of physical activity in reducing stress;
  6. Demonstrate increased kinesthetic awareness in chosen activity;
  7. Demonstrate proper safety techniques in chosen activity;
  8. Demonstrate an exercise to increase muscular strength; and
  9. Perform pertinent movement activities to increase flexibility

Chair: Laura Masone (Senior Associate)

Senior Associates: Lisa Northrop

Adjunct Associates: Eve Bernstein, Stephen Shulman, Kate Thompson

Degree Requirement

One Physical Education course is required and must be completed by the end of the first year. One point will be earned for this one course. Students in the Barnard/JTS dual program must complete one Physical Education course by the end of the junior year.  One additional point of elective Physical Education may be counted towards the 122 points required for graduation. Transfer students must complete one semester of Physical Education by the end of the junior year and are not eligible for the second point of credit.  One-point studio courses in the Dance Department also fulfill the Physical Education requirement.

Health Status: Students with permanent or temporary disabilities will be individually advised and placed in a suitable activity, based upon the recommendations of the Director of Health Services or Disability Services.

Curriculum: The curriculum is organized and administered by the faculty of the Department of Physical Education. Instruction is offered in the areas of  fitness, mind/body, and self-paced courses. Courses are designed to promote the development and enjoyment of lifetime motor skills, which will afford opportunities to realize one’s potential and to provide vigorous exercise to release tensions often generated by strong academic commitments and intense urban life.

Sports Recreation: The Physical Education Department offers a Sports Recreation program, which features basketball, indoor soccer, and volleyball. The program offers different levels of competitive play and emphasizes participation in a friendly atmosphere; activities are open to all members of the college community.

Extracurricular Fitness: Recreational use of the Barnard Fitness Center and Fitbear group fitness program is encouraged. All students, faculty, and staff are eligible to use these programs.

Intercollegiate Athletics: The Barnard/Columbia Athletic Consortium provides the opportunity for eligible undergraduate women to compete together as members of University-wide athletic teams. Fifteen varsity sports are currently sponsored: archery, basketball, crew, cross country, fencing, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field, and volleyball. Governed by NCAA and Ivy League rules, all teams are Division I. Competition is scheduled with teams from the Ivy League, the metropolitan area, and the eastern region. In addition, students are eligible to qualify for regional and national championships. Physical Education credit may be earned through satisfactory participation on a varsity team.

Registration: Registration takes place at the beginning of each semester. Information is available in the Physical Education office or on the department’s web site. Incoming students receive information in their registration packets. After confirming registration with the Physical Education Department, students should include the Physical Education course by number, section, title, and I.D. number on final programs filed with the Registrar.

Cross Registration: Barnard students may receive credit for a Columbia Physical Education course. Admittance is at the discretion of the Columbia Physical Education Chair.


Group Fitness Sampler (PHED BC1500)

A survey of group fitness techniques taught with choreography and music. Three-week modules in the following disciplines: Cardiovascular Fitness (Aerobics, Step, Kickboxing), Body Sculpting, Pilates, and Yoga.

Cardio Sculpt (PHED BC1591)

Combination class combining cardiovascular workouts with muscle-toning workouts performed to a variety of music.


Karate (PHED BC1680)

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of traditional Japanese karate including stances, body conditioning, and self-defense.

Self-Defense (PHED BC1690)

Introduction to the essentials of street self-defense; physical activities and mental preparation.

T'ai Chi (PHED BC1691)

This series of classes will provide the practice of T'ai Chi Chuan as a moving meditation and health maintenance exercise. This process involves both physical and nonphysical work and introduces T'ai Chi as an exercise of consciousness. There will also be recommended reading selections in the history and philosophical underpinnings of T'ai Chi. No pre-requisite for this course. Each class will consist of physical practice of the T'ai Chi sequence of movements / postures, also discussion including history of and principles of T'ai Chi.

Qigong/Chinese Yoga (PHED BC1692)

An introduction to Chinese Yoga which emphasizes the harmony of breathing and movement; typically used for health promotion, martial arts and in combination with meditative techniques.

Yoga (PHED BC1693)

An introduction to Hatha Yoga focusing on the development of the physical body to increase flexibility and strength. Breathing practices and meditation techniques that relax and revitalize the mind and body are included.

Yoga-Meditation (PHED BC1696)

Instruction in beginning levels of Hatha Yoga postures, with greater attention on breath work and concentration, to prepare for sitting meditation. Every class will eventually include 5-19 minutes of silent contemplation.

Yoga Practice (PHED BC1800)

This is a beginning level traditional Hatha Yoga course adapted to an at-home practice format.  A combination of online resources in Panopto/Canvas and in-person meetings will be used to track student practice and progress.  

Yoga Sculpt (PHED BC1694)

A combination of muscle toning and yoga for greater strength and flexibility.  Basic yoga postures and relaxation are taught in addition to Body Sculpting with weights, bands and bars.


Personal Fitness (PHED BC1102)

Participation in fitness activities addressing cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and muscular endurance.

Core Strength (PHED BC1532)

A combination of Pilates-based mat exercises class to strengthen "core" (abs, back and hips) and sculpting techniques for entire body using various equipment. Emphasis on proper breathing and alignment.

Body Sculpting (PHED BC1581)

Muscle definition exercises using weights, bands and bars for the whole body, set to music.

Women's Strength (PHED BC1589)

Introduction to principles of weight training. Use of Cybex resistance machines and free weights. Programs tailored to individual needs.


Total Body Conditioning (PHED BC1510)

Hybrid course including instructional group training and self-paced individual workouts using multiple locations on campus. All areas of physical fitness are included: cardio, core, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Students in this course meet with an instructor once per week. The second workout is completed individually. Requires self-motivation and focus.

Advanced Fitness (PHED BC2518)

Prerequisites: Requires a pre-test at the beginning of semester. Participation in fitness activities addressing cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and muscular endurance. Pre-tests: 1.5 Mile Run, 3min Step Test, 1RM Chest Press, 1RM Leg Press, Crunches/minute, Pushups/minute.

Independent Study (PHED BC2799)

Enrollment in a college-level course of instruction. Individual workouts or classes, and/or participation in club sports do not qualify. A written proposal must be approved prior to the first day of the Physical Education registration period.

Cross-Listed Courses

There are currently no cross-listed courses for your department.