Courses of Study 2015-2016 
    Aug 26, 2019  
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Policies and Procedures

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

 Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the heart of intellectual life—both in learning and in research. All members of the university community must support each other’s efforts to master new material and discover new knowledge by sharing ideas and resources, by respecting each other’s contributions, and by being honest about their own work. Otherwise the university will fail to accomplish its most central and important goals.

The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell is one of the documents new students receive. Students should read this booklet carefully and not assume they understand what integrity and cheating are and are not. Academic integrity implies more here at the university than it usually did in high school. The standards of integrity are those that prevail in professional life. This means that students must acknowledge and cite ideas they adopt from others (not just direct quotations) and help they receive from colleagues or parents. With productive emphases on collaborative learning and writing, students must understand the general standards and policies about academic integrity and the expectations in individual courses as well. When in doubt, ask the instructor. For more information, consult

Forgery or Fraud on Forms

Forging signatures or credentials on college forms is an academic offense and constitutes academic fraud. In all cases of forgery on academic forms, the effect of the forged documents shall be negated; such incidents will be recorded in the Academic Integrity Hearing Board’s confidential file for forgeries. If the student forges more than once, or if the forgery would advance the student’s academic standing unfairly or fraudulently, or if for any reason the situation requires some response in addition to the uniform penalty, the Academic Integrity Hearing Board might recommend further action, such as a notation on the student’s transcript, suspension, or dismissal.


The following advisors and offices provide academic advising, help with problems, and information on college procedures and regulations.

Pre-Major Advisors

Each new student is assigned a faculty advisor. Advisors help students plan programs of study and advise them about ways to achieve their academic goals. Advisors may also help students with study or personal problems or may direct them to other offices on campus where help is available. Academic difficulties may frequently be solved or avoided if students and advisors recognize and address problems early.

Advisors and new advisees meet first during orientation week to discuss course selection. New students are encouraged to see their advisors again early in the semester, before it is too late to drop courses, to discuss their academic progress and to become better acquainted. Advisors and advisees should meet at least once each semester to discuss courses for the following semester, and more often if advisees wish to discuss academic or personal issues or to petition for an exception to college rules.

Major Advisors

After acceptance into a major, each student is assigned a faculty advisor in his or her department, with whom the student shapes and directs the course of study. The advisor eventually certifies the completion of the major. Students should consult their major advisor about all academic plans, including honors, study abroad, acceleration, and graduate study. The advisor’s support is especially important if a student petitions for an exception to the normal procedures or requirements of the college.

Student Advisors

Student advisors pass on lore about the college and life at Cornell and help new students become oriented to the university.

Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Advising, and Career Services

This office, located in 172 Goldwin Smith Hall, (607) 255-4833, and 248 East Avenue, (607) 255-5004, is a resource for faculty and student advisors and for individual students and their parents. Advising deans are available to help students define their academic and career goals, to help with special academic options and exceptions to college rules, and to help when problems arise:

David DeVries
  associate dean for undergraduate admissions and advising; undergraduate research, postgraduate fellowships, (607) 255-3386
Ana Adinolfi
  career services - career counselor and health careers advisor, (607) 255-4166
Anne Birien 
  juniors, seniors, College Scholar Program (607) 255-4833
Chad Coates
  first- and second-year students, Pre-freshman Summer Program, Mellon Mays Fellows (607) 255-5004
Juliette Corazón
  juniors, seniors, underrepresented minority students and liaison to Latino Studies Program, (607) 255-4833
Christa Downey
  career services, (607) 255-4166
James Finlay
  first- and second-year students, external transfers, Independent Major Program, and peer advisors, (607) 255-5004
Richard Keller
  juniors, seniors, Rawlings Cornell Presidential Research Scholars, Deans Advisory Council, (607) 255-4833
Ray Kim
  juniors, seniors, internal transfers, students with disabilities, (607) 255-4833
Irene Lessmeister
  first- and second-year students, peer advisors, (607) 255-5004
Clare McMillan (on leave F15)
  first- and second-year students, Tanner Dean’s Scholars, study abroad (607) 255-5004
Diane J. Miller
  career services, (607) 255-4166
Margaret Parmenter
  first- and second-year students, faculty advising (607) 255-5004
Ekaterina Pirozhenko (S15)
  juniors, seniors, student ambassadors (607) 255-5004
Tammy Shapiro
  juniors, seniors, concurrent degree students, (607) 255-4833
Heather Struck
  juniors, seniors, prelaw students, (607) 255-4833
Patricia Wasyliw
  first- and second-year students, academic integrity, study abroad, (607) 255-5004

Committee on Academic Records

The college faculty’s standing Committee on Academic Records has two main tasks: (1) to decide on students’ petitions for exceptions to college requirements or rules and (2) to review the records of students who fail to maintain good academic standing and to take appropriate action. It accomplishes both those tasks without formulae and with attention to each individual situation. Its overriding goal is to help students achieve the best undergraduate education possible.


The college faculty takes graduation requirements seriously, and the faculty’s Committee on Academic Records virtually never waives a requirement outright. However, some students, with the support of their advisors, propose structuring their educations or fulfilling the spirit of college requirements in ways other than the specified norms. The Committee on Academic Records decides on such requests. Students who find that their undergraduate education would be better realized by satisfying requirements or proceeding in a way that requires an exception to normal rules, should meet with an advising dean in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising. The deans are expert in the college’s expectations and procedures and can help the student formulate a petition, if appropriate. The committee decides petitions on the basis of their educational merit.


The College of Arts and Sciences has no minimum grade requirement for graduation beyond the guideline that at least 100 Cornell credits of the 120 total required for graduation be passed with grades of C (not C–) or above. Consequently, only through actions of the Committee on Academic Records, described below under “Academic Standing,” does the college maintain the quality of the degree and attend to individual situations when things academic are not going well.

Registration and Course Scheduling

New Students

New first-year students pre-enroll in courses in the summer prior to their arrival on campus. They attend briefings and other information sessions, meet with their faculty advisors, and adjust their schedules if appropriate.

Continuing Students

Continuing students select and schedule up to 22 credits during the semester before the one in which the courses will be taken. Students who do not pre-enroll during the designated period must wait until the beginning of the semester and may have difficulty securing places in the courses they most want. Before enrolling in courses, students plan their programs and discuss long-range goals with their faculty advisors. In addition, all students are welcome to discuss programs and plans with an advising dean in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising.

At the beginning of each semester, students find their schedules on Student Center. Periodically during the semester, and particularly before the add/drop deadlines, they should confirm the accuracy of their records.

Limits on Numbers of Courses and Credits

To meet the 34-course requirement, students must normally take four courses during each of six semesters and five courses during each of two semesters. To meet the 120-credit requirement, students must average 15 credits per semester. (Note: AP credit and/or summer credits may reduce the average numbers of courses and credits required each semester.)

Minimum number of credits per semester
To maintain good academic standing as a full-time student, students must complete at least 12 degree credits per semester; if for compelling personal or academic reasons students need to carry fewer than 12 credits, they should consult their faculty advisor and an advising dean. Permission is by petition only, and after the first semester, such permission is given only in extraordinary circumstances.

Maximum number of credits per semester
First-semester students, and students for whom the previous semesters’s GPA was < 3.0, must petition to enroll in more than 18 credits; other students may enroll in up to 22 credits if their previous semester’s average was 3.0 or higher and they are in good academic standing. No more than 22 credits may be taken in a regular semester without permission of the college faculty’s Committee on Academic Records. Students who fail to receive approval for excess credits from the committee may count only 18 or 22 credits, depending on their previous semester’s average, toward the degree for that semester. Students taking summer courses may earn no more than 12 credits in any one summer.


Attendance in classes is expected. Absences are a matter between students and their instructors. If a student cannot attend classes because of illness or family crisis, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising will notify instructors at the request of the student or the family. Nonetheless, the student must arrange to make up examinations or other work with each instructor. A student who will be absent because of religious holidays or athletic competitions must discuss arrangements for making up work with his or her instructors well in advance of the absence. A student who must miss an examination must also consult with the professor in advance. Alternative arrangements are at the discretion of the instructor.

Student athletes should discuss scheduled absences with their instructors at the beginning of the semester. Courses vary in their tolerance of absences. Instructors are not obligated to approve absences for purposes of participating in extracurricular activities, although most will be as flexible as is sensible for a student’s academic program.

Adding and Dropping Courses

After course enrollment (also known as “pre-enrollment”), students may not adjust their schedules until just before the new semester begins. During the first fifteen calendar days of the semester, students may change courses without petitioning.

After fifteen days, students must petition their advising dean to add courses. They may drop courses through the 57th calendar day of the semester if no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Between the seventh and 12th weeks students may petition to withdraw from courses, if (1) the instructor approves; (2) the advisor approves; (3) an advising dean approves; (4) the drop does not result in fewer than 12 credits; and (5) no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Students must meet with an advising dean to obtain petition forms.

Courses officially dropped after the seventh week will be noted on the transcript by a “W” where the grade would normally appear. This is a matter of record and cannot be petitioned. Petitions to withdraw from courses may not be submitted after the end of the 12th week in the semester. Deadlines for short courses will be adjusted according to the length of the courses.

The effective date of all course changes will be the day the student submits all completed paperwork to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising.


Letter Grades

See “Grading Guidelines .”

S–U Grades

The S–U (satisfactory–unsatisfactory) option allows students to explore unfamiliar subjects or take advanced courses in subjects relatively new to them without being under pressure to compete with better-prepared students for high grades. Students are expected to devote full effort and commitment to a course and complete all work in a course they take for an S–U grade. The S–U option is contingent upon the instructor’s willingness to assign such grades. Students must select their grading option by the 57th calendar day of the semester. No exceptions to this deadline are permitted, and consequently students adding courses after the seventh week of the semester must add them for a letter grade. After the seventh week of the semester, students may not petition for a grade option change, unless the course in question has been taken for S–U and is now part of the student’s major. Students should note that a grade of S is equivalent to a grade of C– or higher; a grade of U, which is equivalent to any grade below C–, is a failing grade equal to an F. S means the student receives the credit specified for the course. U means no credit is given. A few courses in the college are graded exclusively S–U; in that case, the final grade appears on the transcript as SX or UX.

Prerequisite courses for graduate school and courses counting toward the major (and some minors) should not be taken for an S–U grade unless the department grants permission. Students may elect the S–U option in courses used to satisfy distribution and elective requirements, provided that such courses do not also count toward major requirements or serve as prerequisites for admission to the major. First-year writing seminars and most language courses disallow the S–U option. In any case, students are advised to use the S–U option sparingly, if they intend to apply to graduate school or for transfer to another college. In addition, second-semester seniors in particular are advised to use the S–U option carefully: A student receiving a D in a nonmajor course he or she needs for graduation will still be graduated if that course has been taken for a letter grade. If, however, the student has taken the course S–U, the D will be recorded as a U and the student will be unable to be graduated on the desired degree date. There is no limit on the number of courses each semester for which students may elect the S–U grade, but within the 120 credits required for the degree, a minimum of 80 credits must be in courses for which a letter grade was received.

Note of Incomplete

An incomplete (INC) signifies that a course was not completed before the end of the semester for reasons beyond the student’s control and acceptable to the instructor. Students must have substantial (normally at least 50 percent) equity in the course, be able to complete the remaining work, and have a passing grade for the completed portion. When a grade of incomplete is reported, the instructor submits a form stating what work must be completed, when it must be completed, and the grade (or permanent—”frozen”—incomplete) earned if the work is not completed by that date. When a final grade is determined, it is recorded on the official transcript with an asterisk and a footnote explaining that this grade was formerly an incomplete.

Students should be aware that incompletes are interpreted as credits not passed during a given semester. If a student’s incomplete takes his or her record below 12 credits in a given semester, the student risks being placed on warning or on leave by the Committee on Academic Records. If placed on leave, the student must complete the INC before being allowed to return, and readmission will be permitted only at the beginning of a given semester. If the incomplete is not completed by the beginning of a regular academic term, the student may not register for that term. Students must resolve (make up or “freeze”) any incompletes with their instructors before graduation.

Note of R (Yearlong Courses)

R is recorded for satisfactory progress at the end of the first semester of a two-semester course. Students enroll in such courses both semesters. The grade recorded at the end of the second semester evaluates the student’s performance in the course for the entire year and will replace the grade of “R” for the first semester of the course.

Students enrolled in an R course for the thesis may occasionally wish or feel compelled not to complete that thesis. In order to drop the thesis but continue with an independent study, the student should contact their advising dean.

Grade Reports

Grade reports are available online on Student Center; they are not mailed to students. Students should periodically check their courses and grades to be sure that they are recorded correctly.

Class Rank

The college does not compute class rank.

Dean’s List

Inclusion on the Dean’s List is an academic honor bestowed by the dean of the college semester by semester. Based on grades, the criteria include about the top 30 percent of students and vary with the number of credits the student completes. The criteria are subject to slight changes from semester to semester and are available at and in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Academic Standing

Students are in good academic standing for the semester if they successfully complete at least 12 degree credits by the end of the semester and earn no more than one D and no F or U grades. If a student completes only three courses, all grades must be above D. In addition, students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward satisfying requirements for the degree and to earn grades of C (not C–) or better in at least 100 of the 120 credits for the degree. Courses listed under “courses that do not count toward the degree” do not count toward good academic standing in a semester (

Academic Actions

Students who are not in good academic standing will be considered for academic action by the college faculty’s Committee on Academic Records or by one of the advising deans of the college. Students are urged to explain their poor academic performance and submit corroborating documentation. Students may appeal a decision or action of the committee if they have new relevant information and documentation. They must consult an advising dean about appealing.


Any student who fails to maintain good academic standing will, at a minimum, be warned. A warning is posted on a student’s college record but is not reported to the university registrar and does not appear on official transcripts.

Required leave of absence

A student in serious academic difficulty may be required by the faculty Committee on Academic Records to take a leave of absence, normally for a full year. Usually, but not always or necessarily, the Committee on Academic Records warns students before requiring them to take a leave of absence. Before being allowed to return and re-register in the college, students must document what they did on leave and how they resolved the problems that led to the leave of absence, and they must submit a plan for completing the degree. In some cases students are required to furnish evidence that they are ready to return or satisfy other conditions before being allowed to re-register in the college. Students who request to return in less than a year must present to the committee extraordinarily convincing evidence of their readiness to return. “Required leave” is posted on the student’s official transcript.

Required withdrawal

The faculty Committee on Academic Records may dismiss a student from the college because of a highly unsatisfactory record for one semester or for failure to make satisfactory overall progress in grades, credits, or degree requirements. This action expels the student permanently from the college. “Withdrawal” is posted on the student’s official transcript.

Leaves of absence (LOAs)

Most leaves of absence are not required. Taking time off from college to gain experience or funds, or to find direction, is sometimes useful. In general, students arrange in advance for leaves to take effect the following semester. Students in good academic standing must see an advising dean to obtain and submit a leave of absence form, to be approved by the advising dean. Students may take a personal leave of absence up to the beginning of the semester (defined as the first day of classes). Students not in good academic standing may pursue a conditional leave of absence from the college up to the first day of classes. If health issues are involved, students must consult Gannett Health Services about the advisability of a health leave of absence. Any student who wishes to take a leave of absence must consult with an advising dean in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising.

Students sometimes find it necessary to take a leave of absence at some point during the semester. In addition to the serious financial consequence of taking leaves after the semester has begun (see the Proration Schedule for Withdrawals and Leaves of Absence ), all leaves taken during the semester are granted at the discretion of the college and must, if granted, be conditional leaves of absence. Students must discuss their need for a LOA with an advising dean.

Leaves of Absence are of four types:

  1. Personal leaves impose no conditions concerning reentering the college except for the five-year limit (see “Return from Leave,” below). Readmission is automatic upon written request made by the student to his or her advising dean by June 1 for a fall semester, or October 1 for a spring semester. The college is not obliged to re-admit any student who does not meet the deadline for a given semester.
  2. Conditional leaves are granted by the college for students who wish to take a leave but are not in good academic standing, or for students who wish to take a leave during the current semester. In consultation with the student, an advising dean and the Committee on Academic Records set the conditions for the student’s return. Students may not return from conditional leaves for at least two semesters and/or until specific and individual conditions, such as completing unfinished work, have been met, and permission to return must be granted by the Committee on Academic Records. Students may be granted conditional leaves after the 12th week of a semester only under extraordinary circumstances and with the approval of the faculty’s Committee on Academic Records.
  3. Health leaves are granted by the college only upon the recommendation of Gannett Health Services, and are usually issued for at least six months. The college may attach additional conditions appropriate to the individual situation. The student’s academic standing is also subject to review at the time of the leave and on return. Students must receive clearance from both Gannett and the college to be readmitted to study. Students wishing to return from a health leave should contact Gannett several months in advance to initiate the return process, and only then contact the college.
  4. Required leaves. The Committee on Academic Records may require a leave of absence if a student is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree. See “Academic Actions.”

Students on conditional or required leaves of absence (LOA) may not attend any classes at Cornell through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. Students on a health LOA may not register for classes at Cornell unless they obtain the permission of the college and a recommendation from Gannett. Courses taken without college permission will not count toward degree requirements.

Return from Leave
Students wishing to return from leave must contact the college and, where appropriate, provide documentation that all conditions for readmission have been satisfied. All requests for readmission must be received by the college by June 1 for the fall semester and October 1 for the spring semester. In the case of conditional and/or health leaves, students must consult well in advance of those dates with both the college and Gannett. On readmission, the student’s graduation date will be recalculated to account for the time spent away. Five years is the maximum length of time a student may be on leave before being withdrawn from the college.

Transferring Credits Earned While on Leave
Students who take courses elsewhere in the United States while on leave may petition to have credits transferred. Applications for transfer credit are available in 172 Goldwin Smith Hall and at Approval depends on acceptable grades and the judgment of the relevant departments about the quality of the courses. If approved, these credits may be applied toward the 120 credits and 34 courses needed for graduation, but not toward the 100 credits required in the college. They may be applied to elective requirements or to the major, as allowed by the department, but not to any of the breadth or distribution requirements. Credits earned during a leave do not count toward the eight semesters of residence and may not be used to reduce the terms of residence below the required eight. See “Residence .”

Study Abroad and International Students on Leave of Absence

Study abroad undertaken during a leave of absence will not receive academic credit. International students on leave of absence from the College of Arts and Sciences may enroll in courses at a college or university in their home country only, as such enrollment is not defined as study abroad. They may petition for transfer of credit upon return to Cornell. If approved, the credit will count as described in the previous paragraph.


A withdrawal is a permanent severance from the university and from candidacy for the degree. Students planning to withdraw should consult an advising dean. Students not requesting a leave and failing to register for a semester will be withdrawn from the college. The college faculty’s Committee on Academic Records may require a student to withdraw because of a highly unsatisfactory academic record, and the college may require a student to withdraw because of failure to register in a timely fashion.

Transferring within Cornell (Internal Transfer)

Cornell students may wish to transfer from their home college to another of Cornell’s colleges for many reasons. Regardless of the reason for internal transfer, it is the transfer applicant’s responsibility to familiarize him- or herself with the regulations of the College of Arts and Sciences prior to applying to transfer. Applicants should especially take note of the rules pertaining to acceleration (graduating early), courses not eligible for credit, courses that have been repeated, declaring a major, and residency requirements.

Internal transfers must spend four semesters on campus as an Arts and Sciences student and complete the College’s major and distribution requirements in order to graduate. College requirements include 120 overall credits, 100 A&S credits, and 100 overall credits at C or above. Please consult the Arts and Sciences Advising Website or Courses of Study for detailed information on the College’s degree requirements.

Ideally, applicants should be in good standing in their home college with a cumulative GPA of 2.7, and must earn at least a 2.7 in the semester they apply. Freshmen are eligible to apply at the end of their first semester and must have a GPA of at least 3.0 in their first semester. We will review the high school records of all first semester freshman applicants to ensure appropriate strength in their preparation for the liberal arts.

Because of the College’s four-semester residency requirement, juniors are not eligible for internal transfer if they have not applied by the end of their sophomore year. Students transferring into the College as juniors may not be able to participate in Study Abroad or other off-campus programs because of the on-campus residency requirement.

The College of Arts and Sciences requires that students gain acceptance into at least one major by the end of their sophomore year. If you are applying as a second-semester sophomore, you must submit documentation that you have been accepted (or provisionally accepted) into an Arts and Sciences major. No decision will be rendered without this documentation.

External transfers are not eligible to apply for internal transfer to Arts and Sciences until the end of their second semester at Cornell. Because of the College’s four-semester residency requirement, students who externally transfer into Cornell as second-semester sophomores or later are not eligible for internal transfer.

Students who are currently withdrawn or on required leave of absence from their home colleges may not apply for internal transfer without the permission of Dean Ray Kim, chair of the Arts and Sciences Internal Transfer Committee.

To be eligible for direct transfer, applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 (3.0 for first-semester freshmen) and be enrolled in at least eleven Arts and Sciences credits in the semester they apply. Only students who earn a GPA of 2.7 in the semester of application will be considered for direct transfer. Please be aware that meeting the minimum GPA is only one component of the criteria necessary to transfer into the College of Arts and Sciences. Meeting that minimum requirement does not guarantee acceptance into the College.

Applicants who do not meet the criteria for direct transfer may be offered conditional acceptance into Arts and Sciences for one semester. These students must work with the Office of Internal Transfer and Dean Ray Kim to enroll in a schedule of courses that will position them for successful internal transfer while remaining in good standing in their home college. The conditional student is officially admitted to Arts and Sciences upon completion of the semester at a GPA of 2.7 or higher. The conditional semester counts toward the four-semester residency requirement.

Prospective applicants with academic records that do not meet the requirements for internal transfer should contact Dean Ray Kim to discuss their circumstances and the possibility of transfer.

Contact Info:
Dean Ray Kim, chair of the A&S Internal Transfer Committee, can be reached at or 607-255-4833. Prospective internal transfers are encouraged to stop by walk-in hours, Wednesdays and Fridays, 2:00-3:00 in 172 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Calendar Supplement

All of the dates in the university calendar apply to all Cornell students. Listed below are additional dates that are of importance for students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

  Fall 2015 Spring 2016
Last day for adding Seven-Week 1 courses Sept. 1 Feb. 3
Last day for adding courses without a petition (including FYWS) Sept. 8 Feb. 10
Deadline for applying to the College Scholar Program (sophomores only) Sept. 15  
Last day for dropping Seven-Week 1 courses Sept. 22 Feb. 24
First deadline for submitting independent major requests. Go to 248 East Avenue for further information. Sept. 28 Feb. 29
Last day for changing grade option to S-U or letter Oct. 20 March 23
Last day for dropping courses without petition Oct. 20 March 23
Last day for adding Seven-Week 2 courses Oct. 21 March 28
Last day for dropping Seven-Week 2 courses Nov. 11 April 18
Last day to petition to withdraw from a course Nov. 20 April 29
Second deadline for submitting independent major requests. Go to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 248 East Avenue, for further information. Nov. 9 April 18
Deadline for requesting internal transfer to the College of Arts and Sciences for the following semester. Dec. 4 May 11
Deadline for applying to study abroad See Cornell Abroad, 300 Caldwell Hall