Cornell offers accredited general undergraduate business degree programs as well as world-renowned business-related programs. Because the choices are so broad, students are encouraged to explore the offerings carefully to identify the program that best matches their business career goals. (Graduate study is available in the Johnson Graduate School of Management as well as in graduate fields associated with each of the undergraduate options.)
Applied Economics and Management The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (AEM) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers a broad, flexible curriculum that reflects its analytical, applied economics approach. Students choose among 10 concentrations: finance, marketing, strategy, accounting, entrepreneurship, agribusiness management, food industry management, environmental and resource economics, international trade and development, and applied economics (dyson.cornell.edu).
Arts and Sciences Many of the liberal arts majors offered by the College of Arts and Sciences provide students with a background for a successful business career. In particular are majors in economics, mathematics, sociology, and psychology. Economics focuses on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services; monetary systems; and economic theories. Students interested in the human dimensions of business can choose sociology or psychology. Mathematics majors can choose concentrations in computer science, operations research, statistics, or economics to prepare for careers in areas such as actuarial science or finance (as.cornell.edu).
Engineering Many of today’s business executives hold engineering degrees. Each of the College of Engineering’s 13 majors prepares students for business careers. Operations research and engineering, and information science, systems and technology are the most business-oriented engineering majors that prepare graduates for careers in areas such as investment banking and process engineering. Engineering students can take a business-oriented engineering minor in areas such as industrial systems and information technology, and operations research and management science. A business minor for engineering majors is also offered by the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (www.engineering.cornell.edu).
Hotel Administration The School of Hotel Administration offers the world’s premier hospitality management program. Its rigorous core business curriculum includes courses in finance and accounting; real estate development; facilities management; planning and design; food and beverage management; marketing, tourism, and strategy; information systems; operations; managerial and organizational behavior; human resource management; managerial communication; and law. The school also offers the undergraduate minor in real estate that is available to any Cornell undergraduate. The school’s conference hotel gives students the opportunity to apply what they learn in a real-world business and its Practice Credit requirement further ensures a balance between theory and practical experience (www.hotelschool.cornell.edu).
Human Ecology The College of Human Ecology offers three business-oriented majors. The fashion design management concentration in the fiber science and apparel design major prepares students for such careers in the fashion industry as a retail executive or merchandise buyer. Students majoring in design and environmental analysis can prepare for careers as facility planners and workplace strategists in consulting and real estate firms and large corporations. The policy analysis and management major focuses on analyzing problems in the public domain, ranging from the processes of making, implementing, and evaluating government policies to the ethical evaluation of contemporary social problems (www.human.cornell.edu).
Industrial and Labor Relations The School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) focuses on the study of people and policies in the workplace. Students learn how individuals, groups and organizations address workplace issues affecting businesses, society, the economy and international affairs. ILR’s curriculum balances structure and flexibility. Foundation courses provide a comprehensive view of the historical, legal, management and economic issues that define and influence workers and the workplace (www.ilr.cornell.edu).
Continuing Education and Summer Sessions The School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions offers a wide variety of opportunities for business studies and professional development, ranging from precollege programs to executive education. Summer College’s three-week precollege programs, The Business World and Hotel Operations Management, acquaint high school students with the principles of business management. For college students, Campus-to-Career programs such as the Cornell University Prelaw Program and Internship in New York City and Cornell in Washington Summer Program pair internship opportunities with courses taught by distinguished experts. College graduates interested in health care may apply for the Cornell/Division of Nutritional Sciences Post-Baccalaureate Program in Health Studies. For business professionals, seminars and trainings such as the Administrative Management Institute, the Cornell University Viticulture and Enology Experience, and the Institute for Internet Culture, Policy, and Law provide opportunities to hone skills, increase effectiveness, stay abreast of changes in the work world, and network with colleagues (www.sce.cornell.edu).
Entrepreneurship at Cornell This university-wide program is open to all Cornell students interested in eventually starting their own businesses or working for venture capital firms. Entrepreneurship-related courses are offered by all seven of Cornell’s undergraduate colleges and schools as well as by the Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Cornell Law School (eship.cornell.edu).
International Programs Several additional programs allow business students to focus on a particular geographic area. Majors and minors are offered by the College of Arts and Sciences in Latino Studies, Latin American Studies, German Studies, European Studies, Asian American Studies, China and Asia-Pacific Studies, Asian Studies, East Asian Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, Near Eastern Studies, and Africana Studies. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers a major in international agriculture and rural development.
Law schools do not prescribe any particular prelaw program, nor do they require any specific undergraduate courses as do medical schools. Law touches nearly every phase of human activity, and there is practically no subject that cannot be considered of value to the lawyer. Therefore, no undergraduate course of study is totally inappropriate. Students contemplating legal careers should be guided by certain principles, however, when selecting college courses.
Interest encourages scholarship, and students will derive the greatest benefit from those studies that stimulate their interest.
Of first importance to the lawyer is the ability to express thoughts clearly and cogently in both speech and writing. First-year writing seminars, required of nearly all Cornell first-year students, are designed to develop these skills. English literature and composition, and communication courses, also serve this purpose. Logic and mathematics develop exactness of thought. Also of value are economics, history, government, and sociology, because of their close relation to law and their influence on its development and ethics, and philosophy, because of the influence of philosophic reasoning on legal reasoning and jurisprudence. Psychology and human development lead to an understanding of human nature and mental behavior. Some knowledge of the principles of accounting and of the sciences, such as chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering, is recommended and will prove of practical value to the lawyer in general practice in the modern world.
Cultural subjects, though they may have no direct bearing on law or a legal career, will expand students’ interests; help cultivate a wider appreciation of literature, art, and music; and make better-educated and more well-rounded persons.
Certain subjects are especially useful in specialized legal careers. For some, a broad scientific background—for example, in agriculture, chemistry, physics, or engineering—when coupled with training in law, may furnish qualifications necessary for specialized work with the government, for counseling certain types of businesses, or for a career as a patent lawyer. A business background may be helpful for those planning to specialize in corporate or tax practice. Students who anticipate practice involving labor law and legislation might consider undergraduate study in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Whatever course of study is chosen, the important goals are to acquire perspective, social awareness, and a critical cast of mind; to develop the ability to think logically and analytically; and to express thoughts clearly and forcefully. These are the crucial tools for a sound legal education and a successful career.
The presence of the Cornell Law School on campus provides the opportunity for a limited number of highly qualified undergraduates registered in the College of Arts and Sciences at the university to apply and be admitted to the Law School. At the time of entry they must have completed 105 of the 120 credits required for the bachelor of arts degree, including 92 credits of course work in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students considering this option should consult with the prelaw advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences (Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall) early in their sophomore year.
It may be possible for exceptionally well-qualified students in other Cornell undergraduate colleges to apply to enter the Law School after three years. In addition, members of the Cornell Law School faculty sometimes offer undergraduate courses such as The Nature, Functions, and Limits of Law, which are open to all undergraduates.
Medical and dental schools, while not requiring or recommending any particular major course of study, do require that particular undergraduate courses be completed. These courses usually include general chemistry and organic chemistry, general biology, biochemistry, and physics. Some medical schools do not accept AP credit. A year of English composition (or two semesters of first-year writing seminar) is also required. In addition, many medical schools require or recommend mathematics, statistics, sociology, and psychology. Other useful courses include genetics, embryology, histology, or physiology.
No major is best for those considering medical or dental school, and students are therefore encouraged to pursue their own intellectual interests. Students are more likely to succeed at and benefit from subjects that interest and stimulate them, and there is no evidence that medical colleges give special consideration to any particular undergraduate training beyond completion of the required courses. In the past, most successful Cornell applicants to medical and dental schools have come from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Ecology, and Engineering. Even students from the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Schools of Hotel Administration and ILR have gained admission to medical schools. The appropriate choice depends to a great extent on the student’s other interests.
Cornell offers many advising resources to support students who are interested in the health professions.
There is no specific preveterinary program at Cornell, and students interested in veterinary medicine as a career should select a major for study that fits their interests while at the same time meeting the entrance requirements for veterinary college as listed below. Many preveterinary students at Cornell are enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which offers several applied science majors, including animal science, which can lead to related careers if the student does not go to veterinary college. Some enter other divisions of the university, especially the College of Arts and Sciences, because of secondary interests or the desire for a broad liberal arts curriculum.
The college-level prerequisite courses for admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell are a full year each of English composition/literature, biology or zoology, physics, and general chemistry; and a semester each of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and advanced life sciences. These requirements will vary at other veterinary colleges.
For information on additional preparation, including work experience and necessary examinations, students may consult the admissions website of the College of Veterinary Medicine.