Courses of Study 2012-2013 
    Feb 25, 2020  
Courses of Study 2012-2013 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Policies and Procedures

In the College of Engineering .

Academic Procedures and Policies

Advanced Placement Credit

The College of Engineering awards a significant amount of advanced placement (AP) credit to entering first-year students who demonstrate proficiency in the subject areas of introductory courses. Students can earn AP credit by receiving qualifying scores on any of the following:

  1. Advanced placement examinations given and scored by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB);
  2. General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced (“A”) Level Examinations;
  3. International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level Examinations; or
  4. Cornell Advanced Standing Examinations (CASE), given during orientation week before the beginning of fall-semester classes.

Advanced placement credit is intended to permit students to develop more challenging and stimulating programs of study. Students who receive AP credit for an introductory course may use it in three different ways. They may:

  1. enroll in a more advanced course in the same subject right away.
  2. substitute an elective course from a different area.
  3. enroll in fewer courses, using the AP credit to fulfill basic requirements.

Acceptable Subjects and Scores for CEEB or CASE AP Exams

The most common subjects for which AP credit is awarded in the College of Engineering, and the scores needed on qualifying tests, are listed below. AP credit is awarded only for courses that meet engineering curriculum requirements.

Mathematics: MATH 1910 , MATH 1920  are required.

First-semester math (MATH 1910 ). AP credit may be earned by:

  • a score of 4 or 5 on the CEEB BC exam, or
  • a passing score on the CASE exam for MATH 1910 .

First-year math (through MATH 1920 ). AP credit may be earned by:

Physics: PHYS 1112  and PHYS 2213  are required.

PHYS 1112 . AP credit may be earned by:

  • a score of 4 or 5 on the mechanics portion of the CEEB C exam, or
  • a score of 5 on the CEEB B exam with successful completion of a high school–level calculus course, or
  • a passing score on the CASE exam for PHYS 1112 .

PHYS 2213 . AP credit may be earned by a score of 5 on the Electricity and Magnetism portion of the AP C exam.

Note: MATH 2930  is a prerequisite for PHYS 2214 .

PHYS 1116 , PHYS 2217 , and PHYS 2218  (honors sequence). This sequence is designed for students with strong experience in physics and calculus, e.g., a 5 on one or both Physics C AP tests and the equivalent of at least one semester of university calculus. Students interested in PHYS 2217  or PHYS 2218  are strongly advised to start with PHYS 1116 . Even for a student with a 5 on both Physics C AP tests, PHYS 1116  will not be boring. Students may not simultaneously receive credit for PHYS 1116  and AP credit for PHYS 1112 , or credit for PHYS 2217  and AP credit for PHYS 2213 . For advice or more information, contact the departmental representative at (607) 255-6016.

Chemistry: CHEM 2090  is required.

CHEM 2090 . AP credits may be earned by:

  • a score of 5 on the CEEB AP exam, or
  • a passing score on the CASE exam for chemistry.

Note: Students who obtain AP credit for CHEM 2090  and who are considering a major in chemical engineering or materials science and engineering should consider enrolling in CHEM 2150 . Those who are offered AP credit for CHEM 2090  and then elect to take CHEM 2150  will also receive academic credit for CHEM 2090 . Students may want to discuss this option with their faculty advisor.

Computing: CS 1110  or CS 1112  or CS 1114  are required. AP credit may be earned for CS 1110 by:

  • a score of 5 on the CEEB A exam, or
  • a passing score on the CASE exam for CS 1110 .

Biology: Biology is not required as part of the core curriculum, although it is a popular elective, especially for students who intend to pursue health-related careers. AP credit may be earned as follows:

  • 8 credits will be offered to students who receive a 5 on the CEEB AP exam;
  • 4 credits will be offered to students who receive a 4 on the CEEB AP.

Those who want to study more biology should contact the Office of Undergraduate Biology, 200 Stimson Hall, to discuss proper placement.

First-year writing seminar: Two first-year writing seminars are required.

  • AP credit for one first-year writing seminar may be earned by a score of 5 on either of the CEEB AP English exams.

Students who earn a score of 4 on the AP English Literature and Composition exam or the AP English Language and Composition exam will be offered 3 credits, which may be applied toward the Literature and Arts (LA) category of the Liberal Studies distribution requirement.

Liberal studies distribution: Six courses beyond two first-year writing seminars are required. Students may earn AP credit toward the liberal studies distribution by taking CEEB AP tests. AP credit earned in the liberal studies distribution cannot be used to fulfill the “upper-level” liberal studies requirements.

Languages: Students may earn AP credit for competence in a foreign language by taking the CEEB AP test or by taking the CASE. Those who score 4 or 5 on the CEEB AP test in French, German, Italian, and Spanish are entitled to 3 credits. To qualify for the CASE exam (in any language), the student must score at least 65 on a college placement test (taken either in high school or at Cornell during Orientation Week). A passing score on the CASE entitles the student to 3 credits. Language credit, earned via AP or CASE, may be used to satisfy part of the liberal studies distribution in the foreign language category, or may meet an approved elective requirement, contingent on discussions with the faculty advisor.

Advanced Placement and Credit for International Credentials

Students who have successfully completed either a General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced (“A”) Level Examination or an International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level Examination may be eligible for advanced placement credit in the College of Engineering as follows:

General Certificate of Education Advanced Level Examination (GCE “A”)

Hong Kong Advanced Level examinations and the joint examination for the Higher School Certificate and Advanced Level Certificate of Education in Malaysia and Singapore—principal passes only—are considered equivalent in standard to GCE “A” Levels.

Subject Marks Credit
Biology A or B 8 credits
Chemistry A 8 credits (CHEM 2090  and CHEM 2080 )
  B 4 credits (CHEM 2090 )
Mathematics or Pure Mathematics A, B, or C 4 credits (MATH 1910 )
Physics A or B 4 credits for PHYS 1112 ; 4 additional credits for PHYS 2213  are granted to a combination of grades of A or B and a minimum of 4 AP (or advanced standing) credits in mathematics (MATH 1910 ).


International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level Examination

Subject Marks Credit
Biology 7 8 credits
  6 4 credits
Chemistry 6 or 7 4 credits (CHEM 2090 )
Computer Science 6 or 7 4 credits (CS 1110 )
Physics 6 or 7 4 credits (PHYS 1112 )


Mathematics: No credit is given for the IB exam; students are encouraged to take the Engineering Mathematics Advanced Standing exam during orientation.

Note: Advanced placement credit based on GCE or IB results may also be awarded for courses that satisfy the liberal studies requirement in the College of Engineering. In such cases, the College of Engineering follows the AP guidelines found earlier in this publication under “Advanced Placement .”

General Policies for Advanced Placement

The general policies in the College of Engineering governing awards of AP credit are as follows:

  1. AP credit will not be offered in any subject area without a documented examination.
  2. All AP examinations are normally taken and scored before fall-semester classes begin. Students who take CEEB AP tests in high school should have an official report of their scores sent directly to Cornell as soon as possible. Students who have completed either GCE “A” Level or IB Higher Level Examinations must present the original or a certified copy of their examination certificate to Engineering Advising, 167 Olin Hall. Those who wish to take CASE examinations should do so during Orientation Week.

For more information on the college’s policies regarding advanced placement credit and its use in developing undergraduate programs refer to the 2012 Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.

General Policies for Transfer Credit

Undergraduate students who have completed courses at recognized regionally accredited, degree-granting colleges may, under certain conditions, have credits for such courses transferred to Cornell. Such courses must represent academic work in excess of that required for the secondary school diploma and must be documented as such in writing by the secondary institution. Courses deemed acceptable for transfer credit must be equivalent in scope and rigor to courses at Cornell. Transfer credit will not be awarded for courses taken during a semester in which the student is enrolled at Cornell.

  • To apply for transfer credit, submit a transfer credit form (one form for each request), accompanied by a course description. (Forms are available from Engineering Advising or the Registrar’s office and should be submitted before enrollment in the course to be transferred.) An official transcript from the offering institution (bearing the institutional seal and Registrar’s signature) must be sent to the Engineering Registrar’s office before official transfer credit will be awarded.
  • Applications for transfer credit to satisfy requirements in math, science, engineering courses, or first-year writing seminars require approval from the department offering an equivalent course at Cornell. The department may require course materials, textbooks used, etc., in addition to the course description before approving the course.
  • Departmental approval is not required for transfer credit that satisfies liberal studies distribution requirements. The course will be reviewed for approval by a representative of the Committee on Academic Standards, Petitions, and Credit (CASPAC) in Engineering Advising.
  • Cornell does not award credit for courses in which a student has earned a grade less than C; schools and departments may stipulate a higher minimum grade.
  • College courses completed under the auspices of cooperative college and high school programs will be considered for advanced placement credit only if students demonstrate academic proficiency by taking the appropriate AP or Cornell departmental placement examination (CASE), as described in the “Advanced Credit” section.
  • Following matriculation, students may apply up to 18 credits of transfer and/or Cornell extramural credit toward B.S. degree requirements.
  • At most 72 total transfer credits (taken both before and after matriculation) may be used to meet graduation requirements.
  • Summer session courses taken at Cornell are not considered transfer credit.

For more information on the college’s policies regarding transfer credit and its use in developing undergraduate programs refer to the 2012 Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.

Transfer Credit for Transfer Students

Transfer students may transfer up to 36 credits for each year spent in full-time study at another institution, up to a total of 72 credits, provided that the courses are acceptable for meeting graduation requirements. Transfer credit awards are determined by the majors/departments. Students must complete the transfer credit award process by the end of their first semester at Cornell, or their registration will be blocked for the next semester until the process is completed.

Academic Standing

Full-time students are expected to remain in good academic standing. The criteria for good standing change somewhat as a student progresses through the four years of the engineering curriculum. At all times, the student must be making adequate progress toward a degree, but what this means depends on the major.

Engineering students not yet affiliated with a major must meet the following standards at the end of each semester to be considered in good academic standing. Failure to meet these standards will result in a review by the Committee on Academic Standards, Petitions, and Credit (CASPAC), and the actions of warning, stern warning, required leave of absence, or withdrawal from the College of Engineering may be taken.

  1. At least 12 credits passed, including at least two courses from math, science, and/or engineering (phys. ed. courses and courses below the 1100 level—except ENGRG 1050  and Academic Excellence Workshops—do not count). Military Science courses do not count, with the exception of those approved as liberal studies or approved electives. (Please contact Engineering Advising , 167 Olin Hall, for details.)
  2. At least C– in the math course
  3. Semester GPA ≥ 2.0
  4. No F, U, or INC grades

Academic Progress

The total number of credits required for graduation range from 123 to 134, depending on the major. Therefore, an average semester credit load ranges from 15 to 17 credits.

Because math is pivotal to the study and practice of engineering, students must earn at least C– in their four required math courses. If at least C– is not attained, the course must be repeated immediately. Failure to achieve at least C– the second time will generally result in withdrawal from the College of Engineering. Physics and advanced math courses often have math prerequisites, and having to repeat the prerequisite course may delay progress in the physics and math curricula. Students are expected to continue the core engineering math courses each semester until completed.

Dean’s List

Dean’s List citations are presented each semester to engineering students who have exemplary academic records. The dean of the college determines the criteria for this honor. For 2012–2013, the requirement is a semester GPA ≥ 3.5 (without rounding); no failing, unsatisfactory, missing, or incomplete grades (even in physical education); and at least 12 letter-grade credits (not S–U). Students may earn Dean’s List status retroactively if they meet these criteria after making up incomplete grades. Students who earn Dean’s List status receive certificates from the Engineering Registrar’s office, and the honor is noted on the transcript.

Class Rank

The College of Engineering does not compute class rank.

Graduating with Distinction and Honors

Graduating with Distinction

Meritorious students graduating with a B.S. degree from the College of Engineering may also be designated cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.

  • Cum laude will be awarded to engineering students with a GPA ≥ 3.5. Cum laude will also be awarded to engineering students who received a semester GPA ≥ 3.5 in each of the last four semesters at Cornell; in each of these semesters, at least 12 letter-graded credits must be taken with no failing, unsatisfactory, missing, or incomplete grades. If the student is an engineering co-op student, then the engineering co-op summer term will count as one of the last four. Students who were approved for prorated tuition in their final semester will be awarded cum laude if they received a semester GPA ≥ 3.5 in their last semester and meet the conditions above in the prior four semesters.
  • Magna cum laude will be awarded to engineering students with a GPA ≥ 3.75 (based on all credits taken at Cornell).
  • Summa cum laude will be awarded to engineering students with a GPA ≥ 4.0 (based on all credits taken at Cornell).

Note: All GPA calculations are minimums and are not rounded.

Major Honors Program

To be eligible to enter a major honors program, a student must be on track to graduate with distinction. A student must be in the program for at least two semesters before graduation. If the student’s major has an approved honors program and the requirements for (1) distinction, (2) Bachelor of Science degree, and (3) major honors program are fulfilled, the faculty of the major may recommend that the student graduate with the additional diploma and transcript notation of “With Honors.”


Grades are granted under the authority of each course instructor. Please refer to the Cornell University Faculty Handbook for additional information.

S-U Grades: Many courses may be taken either for a letter grade or for an S–U (satisfactory or unsatisfactory) grade designation. Under the S–U option, students earning the letter grade equivalent of at least C– in a course will receive a grade of S; those earning less than C– receive U. A course in which a U grade is received does not count toward graduation requirements.

Engineering students may choose to receive an S–U grade option under the following conditions:

  • The course in question must be offered with an S–U option.
  • The student must previously have completed at least one full semester of study at Cornell.
  • The proposed S–U course must count as either a liberal studies distribution or an advisor-approved elective in the engineering curriculum.
  • Students may enroll S–U in only one course each semester in which the choice between letter grade and S–U is an option. (Additional courses offered “S–U grades only” may be taken in the same semester as the elected S–U course.)

The choice of grading option for any course is made initially during the pre-enrollment period and may be changed until the end of the seventh week of classes. After this deadline, the grading option may not be changed, nor will a student be permitted to add a course in which he or she was were previously enrolled (in the current semester) under a different grade option. (Grading options may be changed online for most courses. A properly completed add/drop form must be used to change a grade option for a permission-only course.)

Incomplete Grades: Incomplete grades are granted entirely at the discretion of the course instructor. If a student believes an incomplete is appropriate they must discuss it with the instructor and make specific arrangements under which the missing work is to be completed within a defined time frame. Generally deadlines are one-year, but instructors may require shorter deadlines, and may, at their own discretion extend the deadline.  However, once an engineering student has graduated any remaining incompletes are permanently frozen on the transcript and no additional coursework can be completed.

To receive an incomplete, students must:

  • Have an extenuating reason that prevents them from completing the course in the time allotted
  • Have passing equity in the course at the time of the request. (This is generally defined as completion of at least half the course work at a passing level.)

Evidence of an incomplete remains permantently on the transcript. When the course has been completed, a grade is entered with an asterisk, indicating that it was not completed during the regular semester.

Grade Changes: Each semester’s work is an entity, and grades are assigned for work completed during the official semester period. Grade changes after the end of the final exam period may be made only in the event of a calculation error on the part of the instructor. Grades changes based on additional work submitted by a student will not be accepted.  Upon graduation all courses and grades on a student’s transcript are frozen and cannot be altered.

Residence Requirements

Candidates for an undergraduate degree in engineering must spend at least four semesters or an equivalent period of instruction as full-time students at Cornell, including at least three semesters affiliated with an engineering major.

Students on a voluntary leave of absence may register for courses extramurally only with the approval of their major (or the college, for unaffiliated students). No more than 18 credits earned through extramural study or acquired as transfer credit (or a combination thereof) after matriculation may be used to satisfy the requirements for the B.S. degree in engineering. Students may not complete their last semester extramurally.

Degree candidates may spend periods of time studying away from the Cornell campus with appropriate authorization. Information on programs sponsored by other universities and on procedures for direct enrollment in foreign universities is available at the Cornell Abroad office. Programs should be planned in consultation with the staff of Engineering Advising, who can provide information on credit-evaluation policies and assist in the petitioning process.

Transferring within Cornell

It is not uncommon for students to change their academic or career goals after matriculation in one college and decide that their needs would be better met in another college at Cornell. While transfer between colleges is not guaranteed, efforts are made to assist students in this situation.

The office of Internal Transfer is responsible for assisting students with the transfer process. Students who wish to transfer out of the College of Engineering to another college at Cornell should consult initially with Engineering Advising.

Students who wish to transfer into the College of Engineering can apply at Engineering Advising, 167 Olin Hall or online at It is preferred that students apply in the semester in which they are completing affiliation criteria for the desired major. Transfer students who would enter the college must be accepted by a major as part of the admission process.

Students who wish to transfer into engineering should take courses in math, chemistry, computer science, physics, and engineering that conform to the requirements of the Common Curriculum. Students should discuss their eligibility with an advisor in Engineering Advising, 167 Olin Hall.

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence may be voluntary, health-related, or required. A description of each follows:

Voluntary leave: Students sometimes find it necessary to suspend their studies. To do this, they must petition for a leave of absence for a specified period of time and receive written approval.

Affiliated students request leave through their majors. Unaffiliated students request leave through Engineering Advising; the first step is an interview to establish conditions for the leave and subsequent return. Those who take a leave before affiliating with a major and while not in good standing may be given a “conditional leave.” This requires them to meet specific conditions, established at the time the leave is granted, before they will be reinstated.

A leave of absence is granted for at least six months and not more than two years. A leave of absence granted during a semester goes into effect on the day it is requested. If a leave is requested after the 7th week of a semester, the courses in which the student was registered at the time of the request are treated as having been dropped (i.e., a “W” will appear on the transcript for each course). Students who owe money to the university are ineligible for a leave of absence. Courses taken during a leave to satisfy Cornell degree requirements must be approved in advance through a formal transfer petition. (See previous section, “Transfer Credit,” for details.)

Students who intend to take a leave of absence should check with the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment to discuss financial implications; this is especially true for those who have educational loans. Medical insurance eligibility may also be affected.

To return after a leave of absence, the conditions established when the leave was granted must be satisfied, and the college must be notified in writing at least six weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to return.

Health leave: Health leaves are granted by the college only upon recommendation by a physician or therapist from Gannett Health Center. Although circumstances may vary, such leaves are generally granted for at least one full academic year with the understanding that the student may return at the beginning of any semester after the medical condition in question has been corrected. Students must satisfy the Gannett Health Center that the condition has been corrected before they may return. The student’s academic standing will also be subject to review both at the time the leave is granted and upon the student’s return.

Required leave: A required leave of absence is imposed in cases in which the academic progress of a student is so poor that continuing into the next semester does not appear prudent. An example of this might be failure in key engineering courses in a semester. Unless the student is ahead in the curriculum, returning later to repeat the semester makes better academic sense than continuing without the necessary background. In many cases, the leave is dictated by courses that are offered only in the fall or spring semester. Leaves are given when the probability of success is increased substantially by deferring the student’s return by one semester (or, in unusual circumstances, one year). Required leaves take precedence over voluntary leaves.

Rejoining the College

Students wishing to rejoin the college who have not yet affiliated with a major should request permission to rejoin in a letter to Engineering Advising; affiliated students should contact their major office. This must be done at least six weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the student wishes to return. The letter should describe the student’s activities while away from Cornell, detail any academic work completed during this time, and specify the courses the student intends to take upon return.

Withdrawal from the College

A withdrawal from the College of Engineering may be voluntary or required. Following is a description of each:

Voluntary withdrawal: Students who voluntarily withdraw from the college sever all connection with the college. Unaffiliated students who wish to withdraw should do so through Engineering Advising. Affiliated students should contact their major office. If a withdrawal is requested during the semester, courses in which the student is enrolled must be dropped in accordance with applicable regulations.

A student who fails to register in the first three weeks of the semester, without benefit of a leave of absence or permission for study in absentia, will be deemed to have withdrawn.

Students who withdraw from the College of Engineering are eligible to apply for admission to one of the other six colleges at Cornell. The intrauniversity transfer process should be followed.

A student who has withdrawn and subsequently wishes to return must make a formal application for readmission. This is rarely granted. It is subject to a review of the student’s academic background and depends on available space in the college and in the student’s major.

Required withdrawal: Students are required to withdraw from the college only when their overall record indicates that they are either incapable of completing the program or not sufficiently motivated to do so. This action withdraws them only from the College of Engineering and does not, in and of itself, adversely affect their ability to transfer and complete a degree in one of the other colleges in the university. Required withdrawals take precedence over voluntary withdrawals.