Program Requirements

The Athena Scholars Program is designed to complement students’ majors of study, study abroad semesters, and other Barnard opportunities. Many Scholars will find it difficult to complete their Athena electives solely through their major – which is in many ways the point. We want you to take courses that will get you thinking about women and leadership through many disciplines, not simply what you are already studying. Students agree to complete the Program Requirements in a timely fashion as outlined in the Scholar Benchmarks. Scholars are required to complete:
  • Five Courses (Three electives, Women and Leadership, Senior Seminar)
  • Six Leadership Labs (Please note: students who joined the Scholars program prior to Fall 2017 only need to complete 3 leadership labs).
  • Practicum

The largest portion of the Scholars Program is the Specialized Academic Courses: The Athena program offers a range of academic courses that examine aspects of women’s leadership in both historical and social situations.  Scholars take five courses, two of which are specifically created by the Athena Center: Women and Leadership and the Athena Center Senior Seminar.  The main component of the senior seminar is the designing and implementation of individual social action projects.  The other three courses are electives. Electives expose students to the interdisciplinary nature of leadership, the history and culture of women and leadership within society and organizations, and leadership skills.  For a list of the approved courses, see the Barnard course catalog.

To fulfill one elective requirement, students may identify another course (not on the approved list) that fulfills the outlined learning objectives and petition the Director of Student Programs for approval using the appropriate form. You have two options for requesting approval for a course not listed on the Athena Approved Electives list. If you would like to request approval for a non-approved elective prior to taking the course, please submit the Elective Approval Request Form within the first two weeks of the semester. Otherwise, please submit the Special Dispensation Form after completing the course, no later than January 10th for the Fall Semester and June 10th for the Spring.  There is no guarantee the course will be approved in either case.  Students cannot take their electives on a Pass/Fail basis (P/D/F) and they must receive a grade of C or better in their Athena-related courses.  Students must submit a Course Reflection Form for each elective taken, which will be circulated at the end of each semester. 

Scholars are also required to complete six Athena Leadership Labs: The Athena Center offers professional development workshops to teach women the practical elements of leadership.  More on current workshops

Finally, scholars are also required to complete a Practicum: Internships and pre-professional experience are a crucial experience in today’s world, where employers are interested not only in analytical and problem solving abilities often learned in college but in one’s ability to adapt quickly to the professional environment.  Students must first complete two Leadership Labs before participating in a practicum. In order to complete the practicum, scholars must participate in a ten week reflective assessment program. Scholars must complete the practicum by the summer before senior year. Scholars will not be able to register for the senior seminar if not completed. 

For more information on the Athena Scholars Program requirements, please contact Sarit Abramowicz at