Courses of Study 2013-2014 
    Apr 23, 2024  
Courses of Study 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Academic Options

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

Degree Programs

The following four programs allow students to alter the regular college or major requirements or to work toward more than one degree.

College Scholar Program

The College Scholar Program is meant to serve students whose interests and talents would benefit from a little more academic freedom than other students have, who demonstrate exceptional promise, and who show the maturity to plan and carry out, with the help of their advisor, a well-designed program of study. College Scholars design idiosyncratic programs: some pursue diverse courses in a variety of disciplines that relate to a core research interest; others pursue great depth within a single discipline on a particular aspect of the field. Up to 40 students in each class are accepted into the program.

College Scholars must complete 120 credits of course work (100 in the college), 34 courses, the university’s physical education requirement, and, unless they receive permission from the program to accelerate, eight full terms of undergraduate study but are not required to fulfill the other usual college requirements for the degree. All College Scholars must complete a senior project. Although they are not required to complete or fulfill the general education requirements, members of the College Scholar Advisory Board believe that the spirit of those requirements is good.

Each applicant to the College Scholar Program is asked to write an essay, which is due shortly before the end of term in the spring of the freshman year. Students should contact Dean Anne Birien or Dean Clare McMillan, Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 55/172 Goldwin Smith Hall, for further information.

Concurrent Degree Program with Other Colleges

The Concurrent Degree Program enables especially ambitious undergraduate students to pursue programs of study in two colleges. Concurrent degree candidates may earn both a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and (1) a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Engineering; or (2) a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning; or (3) a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Studies from the Department of City and Regional Planning in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning; or (4) a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural History from the Department of Architecture in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Students enter one of these colleges as freshmen or sophomores and begin the Concurrent Degree Program with the second college in the second or, in some cases, the third year. The Concurrent Degree Program ordinarily takes five years to complete, and students are eligible for 10 semesters of financial aid. For further information contact Dean Tammy Shapiro in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Independent Major Program

The Independent Major Program allows students to design their own interdisciplinary majors and pursue a subject that cannot be found in an established major. Proposals for an independent major must be equivalent in coherence, breadth, and depth to a departmental major, well suited to the student’s academic preparation, and consistent with a liberal education. Proposals must also be supported by a faculty advisor and are assessed by a board of faculty members. Independent majors substitute for established majors, but students must still satisfy all the other requirements for the bachelor’s degree. Students should contact Dean James Finlay, Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 55 Goldwin Smith Hall, for further information. Deadlines for submitting independent major proposals are listed on the calendar supplement for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Double Registration with and Early Admission to Professional Schools

Registration in the senior year of the College of Arts and Sciences and the first year of Cornell Law School or the Johnson Graduate School of Management is occasionally possible. A very few exceptionally well-prepared students who have earned 105 credits before the start of the senior year and have been accepted by one of the above-named professional schools may be permitted to register simultaneously in the college and in one or another of these professional schools during the seventh and eighth terms. They earn the B.A. degree after the first year of professional school.

Students with 8 or fewer credits and two or fewer courses to complete may apply to enter the master of engineering program during (but no earlier than) their eighth semester; concurrent degree students may enter this program no earlier than the ninth semester. They earn the bachelor degree(s) after one semester of graduate school.

Students interested in the joint program with the Law School, the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA), or the Graduate School of Management, or in early admission to the master of engineering program should apply to the relevant program. All candidates should confirm their eligibility with an advising dean, Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Double-registered students must, of course, complete all requirements for the B.A. degree, including 100 credits in Arts and Sciences courses.

Teacher Education

Students at Cornell who want to teach high school agriculture, biology, chemistry, earth science or physics may pursue teacher certification through the Cornell Teacher Education program. Students earning a base certificate in biology, chemistry, earth science or physics may also complete additional coursework/fieldwork to add extension certificates for teaching grades 5-6 and general science. Cornell students from any college are encouraged to apply for admission to the Cornell Teacher Education program during their sophomore or junior year. Those who are admitted complete an undergraduate major in agricultural science or an appropriate life science or physical science and also complete a minor in education. They are then able to complete a master of arts in teaching (MAT) in one year and earn certification in New York State. Students in agricultural science may be able to complete all certification requirements as undergraduates, although completion of the MAT is encouraged. Non-science majors who complete a minor in education at Cornell and who wish to pursue certification in the subject of their major may be able to do so through an articulation agreement with Ithaca College. For contact, program and application information, visit:

Special-Interest Options

The following options enable students to pursue special interests within the usual degree programs.

Independent Study

Independent study affords students the opportunity to pursue special interests or research not treated in regularly scheduled courses. A faculty member, who becomes the student’s instructor for the independent course, must approve the proposed study and agree to provide continuing supervision of the work. Students must prepare a proposal for independent study (proposal forms are available in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 55 and 172 Goldwin Smith Hall). In one semester students may earn up to 6 credits with one instructor or up to 8 credits with more than one instructor. Students who are being paid for assisting faculty in research cannot earn course credit for that work.

Undergraduate Research

An excellent way to benefit from being an undergraduate at a research university, at Cornell in particular, is to become an apprentice in ongoing faculty research. About 400 students participate each year in creating new knowledge and earn independent study credit for what they learn and contribute. They sharpen their critical and creative abilities and test their interest in pursuing a research career. Sometimes they publish their work.

The Cornell Undergraduate Research Board, an undergraduate organization, conducts an annual open house to help students get started in research and an annual forum at which undergraduates present their work. See

Students interested in research should consult the director of undergraduate studies in the department of interest to find out about available opportunities. For more general information on the process of research or on petitioning for independent study credit for research, students should consult Dean Maria Davidis or Dean David DeVries, in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, or consult

Language Study

IMPAC (Intensive Mandarin Program At Cornell). Formerly part of Cornell’s FALCON Program, IMPAC is designed to help students develop “copability” in Mandarin Chinese by bringing them to the level where they can make progress on their own even with no further instruction. This summer language program provides over 200 hours of language exposure—which exceeds even the exposure that students living in China typically receive. This allows students to develop levels of fluency, accuracy, and control that are not achieved in other academic settings. For more information and application forms, please contact the IMPAC office, 388 Rockefeller Hall; e-mail:

IAP (Intensive Arabic Program). Not offered 2013-2014. Modeled in part on the FALCON program in Chinese at Cornell University, the Intensive Arabic Program is designed to help students attain proficiency in Arabic in both its spoken and written forms in a condensed period of time. The program consists of three phases: 1) The first phase covers the equivalent of elementary Arabic I and II, and can be taken during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year, or as part of the Arabic summer intensive program. 2) The second phase covers the equivalent of Intermediate Arabic I and II and Advanced Arabic I and II and is taken in a total immersion environment at Cornell. During this phase, up to 12 students, will take only Arabic classes for the duration of the fall semester. 3) The third phase takes place at an affiliated university in Jordan during the following spring semester. The students who successfully complete the second phase will spend the spring semester in Jordan with one of the teachers in the Cornell Arabic program. The coursework will be taught entirely in Arabic and will focus on Arab society and culture, the Arabic language, and the modern Middle East. Students interested in this program should contact the Department of Near Eastern Studies, 409 White Hall; e-mail:

Prelaw Study

Law schools seek students with sound training in the liberal arts and sciences; they neither require nor prefer any particular program of study. Students should therefore study what they love and do well. While doing that, they should also develop their powers of precise, analytical thinking and proficiency in writing and speaking. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are applying to law school may consult Dean Heather Struck in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall (

The college offers a minor in law and society. This program offers a broad scope, complements almost any major, and attracts many students not intending to become lawyers as well as some who do.

Premedical Study

The breadth and depth afforded by a liberal arts education are invaluable for students planning medical careers, whether they intend to practice or go into research. Such education has a profound effect on the doctor’s understanding of the world and hence usefulness to patients, and it affords the flexibility of mind that is needed for major research undertakings. Medical and dental schools do not prescribe or even prefer a particular major; they do, however, require particular undergraduate courses, and most students are well advised to begin chemistry in their freshman year. Students who are interested in medical careers are urged to meet with Ana Adinolfi, Health Careers advisor in the College (55 Goldwin Smith Hall, 607-255-4166), or visit the Health Careers Office, 203 Barnes Hall.

Off-Campus Programs

Many students find it important to their majors or to their overall academic programs to study off-campus or abroad for one or two semesters. When it makes academic sense, the college encourages its students to pursue such studies and grants credit toward the degree for work satisfactorily completed. Students wishing to participate in any off-campus program must petition their advising dean with a list of courses they wish to take during the program and a well-reasoned explanation of why the proposed semester is crucial for their course of study.

Study Abroad

The College of Arts and Sciences encourages study, both on campus and abroad, that provides a greater understanding of the world’s peoples, cultures, economies, and environments, and prepares graduates for the challenges of international citizenship in the twenty-first century. Study abroad programs approved by Arts and Sciences provide educational immersion through study at foreign institutions alongside degree candidates rather than in self-contained programs with courses specially designed for foreigners. The college approves only those study abroad proposals demonstrating realistic and coherent academic goals consistent with the philosophy of a liberal arts education.

Requirements for College Approval

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher and good academic standing
  • Language study at the required level
  • Area Studies course work
  • Acceptance into major
  • Fulfillment of Arts and Sciences residence requirement
  • Fulfillment of foreign university or program requirements

The application process is coordinated through Cornell Abroad with the approval of the college. Detailed information on the application process, program approval forms, and links to specific programs can be found on the Cornell Abroad website. All students must complete the Cornell Abroad application. Students applying to non-Cornell programs and for direct enrollment in foreign institutions must complete Cornell Abroad applications along with those of the host institution or program.

All study abroad in English-speaking countries is undertaken through direct university enrollment. Arts and Sciences students will engage in a full course of study alongside regular degree candidates in the host country. For study in the UK especially, substantial academic work in the major field will be considered essential for university acceptance, and will expect visiting student to select half of their courses at the advanced level in their majors.

For all study abroad in non-English-speaking countries, students must complete at least two semesters of language study at the 2000-level at Cornell, specifically the 2090-2190 sequence for French, Italian and Spanish. Approved programs in Spain and Latin America may require at least one semester of additional language study. The Cornell-Michigan-Penn program in Seville will admit students who have completed SPAN 2190 , but backup programs in Seville and elsewhere, as well as the Barcelona Consortium, require one semester of additional language study.

Approved programs for study abroad in French-, Spanish-, Italian-, German-, Portuguese- and Russian-speaking countries must offer all academic instruction in the language of the host country, with direct access to regular university courses alongside degree-seeking students at that institution. Students may enroll in program courses offering upper-level language instruction and topical courses taught in the host language, but at least 50% of academic coursework must be completed in regular university courses. University-based courses that are offered exclusively for foreign students and are not part of the degree structure for regular degree-seeking students will not be considered eligible for credit. The college requires a minimum of two semesters of language study at the 2000-level prior to departure. As noted above, most programs in Spain or Latin America require six semesters of formal language study, equivalent to at least one course at the 3000-level.

Study abroad in Africa follows direct-enrollment rules for Anglophone countries, and language immersion rules for Francophone countries.

For study abroad in Asia and the Middle East, course work entirely in the host language is not always practical even after two or more years of language preparation at Cornell. For these world regions, students may be approved for programs that combine upper-level language study with additional subject course work in English.

Cornell University directly administers study abroad programs in Paris, Seville and Nepal, and maintains consortium agreements with top programs in Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna and Kyoto. Students applying to these destinations are required to list the Cornell-affiliated program as their top choice, and may choose comparable programs as back-ups in case the Cornell program cannot accommodate all applicants.

Several academic departments in the college endorse programs for their majors that do not fully meet the Arts and Sciences requirement for direct enrollment or language immersion:

  • Classics: Duke-ICCS program in Rome or Sicily; College Year in Athens
  • Theater: BADA, London.
  • Math: Math in Moscow Program; Budapest Semester in Mathematics.
  • Biology: Duke/OTS Costa Rica; BU Ecuador (SPAN 2090  required.)

While prior language preparation is not required for many of these programs, it is strongly encouraged by the college, and students normally complete some study of the host language at Cornell before attending these programs. Other specialized programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the college in consultation with the DUS of the major department. In all cases, the college GPA and area studies requirements will apply.

In general, English-language programs in non-English-speaking countries are acceptable only if the host-country language is not offered at Cornell, and if the program of study allows direct access to regular university courses, taught in English, for degree candidates of that institution. Formal, accredited study of the host country language must be a part of the academic curriculum.

The college does not approve study abroad that tours more than one country or that is more touristic than scholarly in content and structure.

Students must be in good academic standing and hold a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the time of application. Good academic standing must be maintained after approval by the college. Most universities and programs approved by the college also require a 3.0 GPA, with some individual institutions setting a higher requirement. Students applying to study abroad in a language other than English must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in language study at Cornell, in addition to the overall GPA requirement. Any grades of “Incomplete” must be resolved before study abroad, and should be avoided in the semester before departure.

Study abroad in Asia or the Middle East normally requires a minimum of two years of language study at Cornell, but students who begin language study in the sophomore year may be approved for language-intensive study abroad with 2-3 semesters of prior study. Students who do not meet the required two years of language study at the time of application should make an appointment to meet with Dean Wasyliw to discuss their eligibility, and will be expected to enroll in language classes each semester prior to departure.

At least one upper-level area studies course or one course in the history, culture, economics, politics, or social relations of the country of destination (3 or more credits) in addition to language study is required as part of every student’s preparation for study abroad. A list of approved area studies courses offered each semester for a specific country or world region may be found on the Arts and Sciences Study Abroad website. Students planning to study in Australia or New Zealand who cannot fulfill this requirement at Cornell must enroll in an area studies course while abroad.

The College of Arts and Sciences allows a maximum of two semesters approved study away from the Cornell campus to count toward the degree requirements. Approved semesters include Cornell in Washington, Urban Semester, and SEA Semester, as well as all Cornell Abroad destinations. All students must fulfill the residency requirement of six semesters on the Cornell campus in Ithaca; students who transfer to Cornell must complete a minimum of four semesters of residence on campus in Ithaca and may not study abroad during any of those four semesters. Internal transfers must complete four semesters of residence on campus in the College of Arts and Sciences.

All students who enroll in and successfully complete a full academic load of approved courses will earn 15 Arts and Sciences credits/4 courses toward their degree for each semester abroad. All students must enroll in a full course load as defined by the host institution, and all courses must be taken for a letter grade. Students attending programs that use the US credit system for evaluation must enroll in a minimum of 15 academic credits. All coursework must be eligible for Arts and Sciences credit. Any course that falls outside the scope of the liberal arts and sciences may only be taken with the prior approval of Dean Wasyliw, and will earn non-Arts credits. Students are limited to a maximum of one such course per semester. The fall term at British universities will earn a maximum of 12 credits, and may require extra coursework. Two terms at Oxford or Cambridge may earn up to 20 credits. Some foreign universities offer courses for visiting students that are not eligible for any academic credit. Orientation or pre-session courses will not normally earn academic credit from the college even though they appear on the transcript. Students may not earn additional credit for enrolling in extra courses during the semester or year abroad, and may not register for independent study credit at Cornell while they are enrolled in programs abroad. All proposed courses must be approved by a faculty advisor and Dean Pat Wasyliw as part of the application process, and any later changes must have Dean Wasyliw’s approval for assurance of credit. Major credit is decided by the department only after completion of study abroad and examination of all relevant coursework. Final credit for study abroad can be awarded only after completion of the term abroad, after the college receives the official program transcript.

All courses and grades will be listed on the Cornell transcript. Grades earned abroad are not converted to the Cornell grade scale and are not calculated into the Cornell GPA. Credit from study abroad may be used to satisfy distribution requirements

Internship opportunities on some Cornell programs abroad are available as an option in addition to full-time study rather than as a medium for earning academic credit. Some programs allow registration in an internship program without awarding academic credit; students who elect this opportunity must remain enrolled in the equivalent of 15 academic credits. The Hansard Scholars Programme in London is approved for 12 Arts and Sciences elective credits for the semester. Please note that the Government Department does not approve the Hansard Scholars Programme for major credit. Programs that place internships at the center of their curricula are not approved by Arts and Sciences.

See for a full listing of all Arts and Sciences study abroad policies.

Summer Residential Programs in Archaeology

During the summer months students may participate in a Cornell-sponsored archaeological project. In recent years the program has organized archaeological projects in Central America, Greece, Israel, Italy, Turkey, and New York State. Students should contact the Archaeology Program for information about the sites currently available. Students planning on attending field schools organized by other institutions should contact Professor Annetta Alexandridis, GM08 Goldwin Smith Hall, or

Shoals Marine Laboratory

Shoals Marine Laboratory is a seasonal field station that offers a diversity of college courses designed to introduce undergraduates to marine biology; all courses award Cornell credits through Summer Session.  Paid biological and sustainable engineering internships, and a non-credit program in archaeology are also available. The laboratory is located on Appledore Island, six miles off the Maine/New Hampshire coasts. Students should contact the Shoals Marine Laboratory Office, 106A Kennedy Hall, e-mail, or visit for further information.

Cornell in Washington

Cornell in Washington is a fall, spring or summer semester program in the heart of Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital. This unique experience offers students in all colleges an opportunity to earn full academic credit for a semester in Washington, D.C. Students take part in small seminars led by Cornell faculty, and gain work experience through an internship of their choosing. In the fall and spring semesters, students also have the chance to carry out individual research projects. Learn more about Cornell in Washington Program .

Off-campus Programs Offered by Other Colleges

Students wishing to participate in the Urban Semester program, Capital Semester in Albany program, or the Earth and Environmental Systems (EES) semester in Hawaii must petition their advising dean with a list of the courses they wish to take during the program and a well-reasoned explanation of why the proposed semester is crucial for their major course of study. Students interested in the Cornell in Rome program should consult Dean Patricia Wasyliw in 55 Goldwin Smith Hall.