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Cornell University    
  Sep 25, 2017
Courses of Study 2017-2018

Policies and Procedures

In the Graduate School .

The Graduate School

Graduate study at Cornell permits an unusual degree of accommodation to the needs and interests of the individual student. Degree requirements are kept to a minimum. There are no specific course or credit requirements for the advanced general degrees of master of arts, master of science, and doctor of philosophy but only such general requirements as best accomplish the aim of graduate study: a period of study in residence, mastery of one subject, adequate knowledge of allied subjects, oral examinations to establish competency for presentation of a dissertation or thesis, and a satisfactory dissertation or thesis.

Certain advanced professional degree programs have specific course or credit requirements that are determined by the faculty of the professional school or college in which the degrees are offered. All students must have course enrollment each semester. Students not enrolling in specific courses must enroll for thesis or dissertation research using either Graduate School or, if available, departmental course numbers assigned for that purpose.

The Graduate School requires full-time graduate students to be enrolled in 12 credits each academic semester and 6 credits for summer. To simplify compliance with this this requirement, all research doctoral and masters graduate students are automatically enrolled in GRAD 9010 – Graduate-Level Research, GRAD 9011 – Doctoral Dissertation Research, or GRAD 9012 – Master’s Thesis Research for 12 credits each academic semester. Students requiring registration during the summer can enroll through self-service in GRAD 9016 Summer Graduate-Level Research.

A close working relationship between the student and faculty members is essential to the graduate program at Cornell. For research degrees, students choose a special committee. Under the special committee system, the student is guided by, and works with, at least two or three faculty members chosen by the student to represent his or her major and minor subjects. The major subject representative is the chair of the special committee, who usually has the primary responsibility for directing the student’s thesis or dissertation research.

Requirements for Admission

A successful applicant to the Graduate School must:

1. have received a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from a college or university of recognized standing

2. have adequate preparation for graduate work in the chosen field of study

3. have fluent command of the English language

4. present evidence of promise in advanced study and research and

5. if required by the field, take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test or other specific examinations.

Additionally, international students must provide proof of competency in English as part of the admissions process. The requirement will be waived if the applicant is a citizen of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada (except Quebec). Proof can be:

1. the following minimum scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): writing, 20; listening, 15; reading, 20; and speaking, 22. Individual fields of study may set higher minimums


2. an overall band score of 7.0 or higher on the IELTS English Language Test


3. studied in full-time status for at least two academic years within the last five years in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, or with English language instruction in Canada or South Africa.

Information about the TOEFL exam and the GRE—including examination times, dates, locations, and application forms—is available online from the Educational Testing Service ( or by postal mail at ETS, Princeton, NJ 08541, U.S.A.

Information about the IELTS exam, including examination dates and locations and registration information, is available online at


Each graduate field of study has specific deadlines for fall and spring admission. Many deadlines fall between mid-December and mid-January. Applications should be received no later than those published dates, which are available online at


Applicants should contact the fields of study for answers to specific questions about admission to their graduate programs. Contacts in the fields of study also can answer questions about facilities for advanced study and research, special requirements, and opportunities for fellowships and assistantships. Phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other contact information are available online at

General questions about graduate study can be directed to Graduate School Admissions, 607-255-5820,, or by writing to Graduate School Admissions, 143 Caldwell Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-2602.

For More Information

Detailed information about the admissions process, academic programs, financial aid, and student services is available at the Graduate School web site, The site features links to the Graduate School’s online application (, printable forms, and links to sites of interest to graduate applicants.