In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .
Graduation Requirements for the Bachelor of Science
1. Credit Requirements:
- Minimum total credits: 120 academic credits are required for graduation.
- Repeated courses increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the course. These credits do count toward the minimum 12 credits required for full-time status.
- Review or supplemental courses (e.g., 1000- to 1099-level) increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the course. These credits do not count toward the minimum 12 credits required for full-time status.
- Physical education courses do not count toward 120 academic credits for graduation. They do not count toward the minimum 12 credits required for full-time status.
- Minimum credits at Cornell: 60 academic credits must be successfully completed at Cornell.
- Maximum non-Cornell credits: 60 non-Cornell credits (AP, CASE, IB, GCE, French Baccalauréat, course work completed at other accredited institutions, and Cornell Abroad) can be applied toward degree requirements. A first-year student is able to earn up to 30 non-Cornell credits before his or her first semester in CALS.
- Minimum credits from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: 55 CALS credits are required for graduation. CALS credits include all courses from departments within CALS and courses offered in the Biological Sciences, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Information Science, and Nutritional Sciences Departments. Specifically, courses offered under the following subject prefixes count as CALS credits: AGSCI, AIS, ALS, AEM, ANSC, BEE, BIOG, BIOAP, BIOEE, BIOMG, BIOMI, BIOMS, BIONB, BIOSM, BSOC, BTRY, COMM, DSOC, EAS, EDUC, ENTOM, ESS (SNES), FDSC, IARD, INFO, LA, NS, NTRES, PLBIO (BIOPL), PLBRG (PLBR), PLHRT (HORT), PLPPM (PLPA), PLSCI, PLSCS (CSS), SEA, STSCI, VIEN.
- Minimum letter-graded credits (course work taken with a grade of A, B, C, or D): 100 (prorated based on non-Cornell credits).*
- Minimum Structured/lectured credits (course work not earned through independent study, research, teaching assistantships, and/or internships): 105 (prorated based on non-Cornell credits)
*The prorated formula is available at cals.cornell.edu/academics/registrar/policies#prorated-tuition.
2. Physical Education Requirement:
- Pass two PE Cornell courses with a satisfactory grade.
Exception: External transfer students are credited with one course of physical education for each semester previously enrolled full-time (12 or more credits) at another college before matriculation.
- Pass a required swim test, administered during orientation. External transfer students who are exempt from 2 PE are exempt from the swim test.
- Students are expected to complete the physical education requirement in their first two semesters at Cornell.
3. Residency Requirements:
- Eight semesters of full-time study are expected. Transfer students are credited with one semester in residence for each full-time semester earned at another institution.
- Internal transfer students must be enrolled in CALS for at least two full-time semesters. This includes the conditional term for internal transfer students.
- The final semester before graduation must be completed in a Cornell program as a full-time student. (The School of Continuing Education does not count towards a final semester in residency.)
- Students in the ninth and final semester may apply for prorated tuition. The eligibility criteria are listed below. The student will be charged by credit hour (student’s tuition/12 academic credits = charge per credit hour).
All of the following conditions must be met in order for a student to be considered for prorated tuition:
- The prorated semester is the ninth and final semester of study.
- The student is in good academic standing with the college and the major.
- Maximum of 9 credit hours of course work are allowed under prorated tuition. Students cannot exceed the number of credits approved or full tuition will be charged, and no refund will be allowed if fewer credits than applied for are completed.
- Approval of the student’s faculty advisor, the college registrar, and the university registrar is required for all requests. Note that approval is conditional until grades are finalized at the end of the semester immediately preceding the prorated semester. Should those grades indicate that more than the requested number of prorated tuition credits are required for graduation, prorated tuition will be adjusted accordingly.
Students applying for prorated tuition are encouraged to submit the application by March 15 for the Fall Semester and by October 15 for Spring Semester.
Please be advised that prorated tuition may impact the student’s financial aid, student loans, scholarships, non-Cornell health insurance programs, athletic eligibility, or other considerations. It is the responsibility of the student to investigate and resolve these situations prior to submitting this application.
4. Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirements:
Minimum cumulative GPA: 2.00 or above must be maintained for good standing and to meet the degree requirements. The cumulative GPA includes all grades earned at Cornell.
5. Schedule Requirements:
- Students are expected to enroll in at least one CALS course each semester until 55 CALS credits have been earned.
- Freshmen may not enroll in more than 18 credits, not including physical education.
- Freshmen are limited to one optional S–U course per semester.
- PE and supplemental course work do not count toward the 12-credit minimum required for full-time status.
- Students wishing to enroll in more than 22 academic credits (to a maximum of 25 academic credits) must submit an online petition through DUST by the end of the add deadline if the following criteria has been met:
- Have completed two terms of study at Cornell
- Have a minimum GPA of 3.300 in their previous two semesters
- Are in good standing with the university
- Have no incompletes
- Attain approval from academic advisor
6. Distribution Requirements:
The purpose of the distribution requirement is to provide a broad educational background and to ensure a minimum level of competency in particular skills. Through study of the physical and life sciences, students develop their understanding and appreciation of the physical sciences, enhance their quantitative reasoning skills, and gain an appreciation of the variability of living organisms. The social sciences and humanities give students perspective on the structure and values of the society in which we live, and prepare them to make decisions on ethical issues that will affect their work and role in society. Written and oral expression is designed to help students become competent and confident in the use of oral and written communication to express themselves and their ideas.
- Courses taken with the S/U grading option can be used to satisfy the distribution requirements and you may want to check with your faculty advisor if this course overlaps with a major requirement.
- Courses will not be counted towards more than one college distribution requirement (example: ENGL 2800 can be included in either the Humanities and Social Sciences distribution requirement in the LA category or the Written Expression distribution requirement, not BOTH).
- Credits received for independent study, field, teaching, research, work experience, and internships cannot be used to fulfill the distribution requirement.
- Courses that are review or supplemental in the discipline, such as 1000- to 1099-level courses, will not be counted in the distribution areas.
For a comprehensive search engine of the college distribution requirements, please go to oap.cals.cornell.edu/searchDist.aspx.
Physical and Life Sciences:
18 credits in at least three disciplines with a minimum of 6 credits in introductory life sciences/biology, a minimum of 3 credits in chemistry or physics, and a quantitative literacy course.
Courses to complete the minimum 3 credits of chemistry/physics:
- all courses with a CHEM and/or PHYS prefix (excluding courses that are supplemental, independent study, research, TA, internship, and First-Year Writing Seminar). Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements (oap.cals.cornell.edu/searchDist.aspx) for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.
Quantitative Literacy Requirement:
Faculty legislation requires minimum competency in quantitative literacy to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This requirement can be satisfied in one of three ways:
- Earning a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus exam or the AP Statistics exam; or
- Transferring an approved calculus or statistics course with a grade of “C” or better; or
- Taking an approved math or statistics course at Cornell.
A complete listing of approved math and statistics courses is available online at oap.cals.cornell.edu/searchDist.aspx.
Other Physical/Life Sciences:
Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements (oap.cals.cornell.edu/searchDist.aspx) for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.
Social Sciences and Humanities:
Students must complete four courses of at least 3 or more credits in at least 3 different categories including the human diversity (D) category.
- No more than two courses in the same department will be counted toward the distribution requirement.
A list of courses that can be applied toward the humanities and social sciences distribution can be found on dust.cals.cornell.edu/SearchCourses.aspx.
- Human Diversity (D)
- Cultural Analysis (CA)
- Historical Analysis (HA)
- Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM)
- Literature and the Arts (LA)
- Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA)
- Foreign Language (FL)
Detailed descriptions follow.
Human Diversity (D):
These courses address several of the college’s stated goals for undergraduate education, specifically, the expectation that in the course of earning a degree, students will enhance their abilities to communicate with people of different cultural perspectives; to listen carefully and respectfully to the views of others, especially views with which they disagree; and to employ ethical reasoning in judging ideas, actions, and their implications. These courses explore the challenges of building a diverse society, and/or examine the various processes that marginalize people and produce unequal power relations in terms of race, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, gender, age, or economic status. For transfer credit to be awarded a petition must be completed. Please follow the instructions outlined on the following site: cals.cornell.edu/academics/registrar/degree-requirements/human-diversity/.
Cultural Analysis (CA):
These courses study human life in particular cultural contexts through interpretive analysis of individual behavior, discourse, and social practice. Topics include belief systems (science, medicine, religion), expressive arts and symbolic behavior (visual arts, performance, poetry, myth, narrative, ritual), identity (nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality), social groups and institutions (family, market, community), and power and politics (states, colonialism, inequality).
Historical Analysis (HA):
These courses interpret continuities and changes—political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, artistic, scientific—through time. The focus may be on groups of people, dominant or subordinate, a specific country or region, an event, a process, or a time period.
Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM):
These courses investigate the bases of human knowledge in its broadest sense, ranging from cognitive faculties shared by humans and animals such as perception, to abstract reasoning, to the ability to form and justify moral judgments. Courses investigating the sources, structure, and limits of cognition may use the methodologies of science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, or philosophy. Courses focusing on moral reasoning explore ways of reflecting on ethical questions that concern the nature of justice, the good life, or human values in general.
Literature and the Arts (LA):
These courses explore literature and the arts in two different but related ways. Some courses focus on the critical study of artworks and on their history, aesthetics, and theory. These courses develop skills of reading, observing, and hearing and encourage reflection on such experiences; many investigate the interplay among individual achievement, artistic tradition, and historical context. Other courses are devoted to the production and performance of artworks (in creative writing, performing arts, and media such as film and video). These courses emphasize the interaction among technical mastery, cognitive knowledge, and creative imagination.
Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA):
These courses examine human life in its social context through the use of social scientific methods, often including hypothesis testing, scientific sampling techniques, and statistical analysis. Topics studied range from the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes of individuals to interpersonal relations between individuals (e.g., in friendship, love, conflict) to larger social organizations (e.g., the family, society, religious or educational or civic institutions, the economy, government) to the relationships and conflicts among groups or individuals (e.g., discrimination, inequality, prejudice, stigmas, conflict resolution).
Foreign Language (FL):
These courses are taught by the following departments: Africana Studies and Research Center (ASRC—language only), Asian Studies (BENGL, BURM, CHIN, HINDI, INDO, JAPAN, KHMER, KOREA, SANSK, TAG, THAI, and VIET), Classics (GREEK, LATIN, SANSK), German Studies (GERST—language only, DUTCH, and SWED), Linguistics (LING— languages only), Near Eastern Studies (NES—languages only), Romance Studies (CATAL, FREN, ITAL, PORT, QUECH, and SPAN), and Russian Studies (RUSSA, HUNGR, POLSH, SEBCR, and UKRAN).
Written and Oral Expression:
9 credits total, of which at least 6 must be in written expression. Oral expression is not required by the college (it may be for some majors).
Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements (oap.cals.cornell.edu/searchDist.aspx) for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.
Non-Cornell Credit Policies
- Non-Cornell credit includes:
- advanced placement credit;
- credit earned at an accredited college or university;
- credit earned through the Ithaca College and Wells College Exchange Programs;
- credit earned through Cornell Abroad.
- Non-Cornell credit is accepted by CALS when:
- the credits are earned at an accredited institution;
- the credits do not duplicate course work already completed at Cornell;
- the credits have not been applied toward high school graduation requirements (Please note, a student earns credit in high school for successfully completing the AP class. If the student would like to earn credit in higher education they are required to take the AP exam administered by the College Board. If the student receives a sufficient score on their AP exam as approved by the respective department, the score on the AP exam will award the student credit/exemption out of a course.)
- the grade earned is “C” or better; and
- an official transcript is sent directly to the CALS Student Services Office from the college/university where the credits were completed.
- A student may apply a maximum of 60 non-Cornell credits toward his or her graduation requirements.
- If more than 60 non-Cornell credits have been completed, the CALS Registrar will work with the student to determine which credits best fulfill CALS graduation requirements.
- Advanced placement credits (this includes all non-Cornell credit earned before a student’s first semester in a college/university) are limited to 30 credits.
- Cornell Abroad (not CALS exchange) credits are limited to 15 credits per semester, 30 per academic year.
- Non-Cornell credits are recorded and can be applied toward CALS credits, distribution requirements, and major requirements.
- Non-Cornell courses that are similar to courses offered in CALS are recorded as CALS credits and count toward the minimum of 55 CALS credits required for graduation.
- Non-Cornell courses that are equivalent to Cornell courses that fulfill distribution requirements are recorded under the appropriate distribution area.
- Non-Cornell courses that are equivalent to endowed courses can be applied toward distribution requirements or general electives.
- If a course has no comparable course at Cornell, the CALS Registrar will determine how the credit should be applied.
- Faculty advisors determine how non-Cornell credit will be applied toward major requirements; the CALS Registrar determines how non-Cornell credit will be applied toward CALS graduation requirements.
- Students who plan to take courses at another institution should complete a transfer credit pre-approval form located on DUST transferequiv.cals.cornell.edu/ under the link transfer equivalency.
- Students may concurrently enroll in courses at both Cornell and another institution. However, a student must maintain the 12 academic credit minimum at Cornell to remain in good academic standing.
College Credit Earned While in High School
If you completed college courses while in high school, documentation is required to confirm that the courses meet the transfer credit criteria set forth by both the college and the university. When applying for such credits, students should submit both a high school (cals.cornell.edu/sites/cals.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/academics/Transfer-Credit-High-school-form.pdf) and college verification (cals.cornell.edu/sites/cals.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/academics/Transfer-Credit-college-form.pdf) form. The high school form confirms that the course work was not applied toward high school graduation requirements. The college verification form confirms that the course work consisted of standard college courses open to all college students.
Please note Cornell’s Policy on Course work completed while in high school: “Cornell University does not accept credit for courses sponsored by colleges but taught in high schools to high school students, even if the college provides a transcript of such work.”
CALS does not accept College Now, SUPA or University in the High School credits.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell University reserve the right to determine, in their sole discretion, whether course credit earned at other schools, either secondary or post-secondary, meet the College’s and the University’s academic standards and will therefore be eligible to be applied toward Cornell degree requirements. Applicants and matriculated students should not assume that, because a particular course taken at another school is listed as a recommended course or a foundational course, it will necessarily be eligible for Cornell credit.
College Credit Earned by Homeschooled Students
If a student is enrolled in college or university courses during his or her homeschool experience non-Cornell credits will be awarded only if the criteria below are met. Transfer credit cannot be awarded toward courses used to satisfy secondary school requirements.
The courses cannot be used to fulfill CALS published Freshman Admissions Requirements for Secondary-School Subjects. Transfer credit will be awarded above and beyond the following secondary school requirements:
- 4 courses in English
- 3 courses in Math
- 3 courses in Science (including 1 biology, and 1 of chemistry or physics)
Additional College Requirement:
- 4 courses in Social Sciences or Humanities
- The progress of each student toward meeting the degree requirements is recorded each semester. Students can review their degree progress online at dust.cals.cornell.edu.
- Students who have been in residence for eight semesters and who have met the graduation requirements will be graduated. Students are expected to attend for the full eight semesters even if they have completed the graduation requirements in fewer semesters. A student who wishes to either graduate early or delay graduation must complete an additional application online through DUST the second semester of their junior year.
- A student must complete the Application to Graduate. In a student’s final fall semester, he/she must complete and file an Application to Graduate with the CALS
Submission Deadlines For the Application to Graduate:
January graduates: October 15
May graduates: December 15
Failure to meet these deadlines could result for May candidates a student’s name being omitted from the commencement program and/or a delay in a student receiving their diploma.
Student Responsibilities: It is the student’s responsibility to complete Part I of the Application to Graduate available online at dust.cals.cornell.edu; schedule a meeting with his/her faculty advisor(s) to complete Part II of the application; submit Part II of the application to the CALS Student Services Office, 140 Roberts Hall; and seek clarification from his/her advisor and/or the CALS Registrar if graduation requirements are unclear.
Note: If a student is completing more than one major and/or a minor, the student must meet with and complete Part II of the Application to Graduate with all advisors.
Faculty Advisor Responsibilities: It is the faculty advisor’s responsibility to complete Part II of the Application to Graduate with the student, listing any outstanding requirements on the application (including courses in which the student is currently enrolled); and answer any student questions regarding major requirements.
CALS Student Services Office Responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the CALS Registrar to update the graduation summary of seniors before each student’s final fall semester. The CALS Registrar is available to review degree requirements by appointment.
Commencement Information: Commencement information will be provided to all graduating seniors directly by the Commencement Office. Information is available at www.commencement.cornell.edu.