Courses of Study 2012-2013 
    Feb 24, 2024  
Courses of Study 2012-2013 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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.

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. hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent granted by a faculty 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, students whose primary language is not English must provide proof of competency in English as part of the admissions process. 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.

  1. evidence of at least two years of study in a college or university in a country where English is both the primary language and the language of instruction.

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.


Each graduate field of study has specific deadlines for fall and spring admission. The earliest deadline is December 1; 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 Student Services, (607) 255-5820, or or or by writing to Graduate School, 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.