Courses of Study 2014-2015 
    Jun 15, 2024  
Courses of Study 2014-2015 [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, a major in the College of Arts and Sciences, serves students who demonstrate exceptional promise and show the maturity to plan and carry out, with the help of their advisor, an idiosyncratic but thoughtfully designed program of study. Some college scholars take diverse courses across a variety of disciplines that relate to a core research interest; others go into great depth within a single field of study.

College scholars are required to complete 120 credits of course work (100 in the college), 34 courses, the university’s physical education requirement, and, unless they qualify for acceleration, eight full semesters of study. College scholars typically complete more than half of the 120 credits required to graduate in the major field of study they have delimited in consultation with their advisors and the program directors. Although the program does not provide the structure of a traditional department (for instance, there is no required course sequence), the advisory board and the directors are committed to ensuring the quality of the students’ programs of study. Scholars are expected to select courses that will not only prepare them well for the specialized project they propose to complete during their senior year, but will also expose them to the disciplines and methods essential to a liberal arts education. At the end of each semester, all students submit an updated project description and course plan to their advisors and the directors of the program.

All college scholars must write a thesis in their last year to complete the major. Students who opt for the one-semester senior project are not eligible for honors. To be eligible to enroll in the yearlong honors thesis course, college scholars need to have completed a minimum of two college scholar seminars (one in science or math, and one in the humanities or social sciences) and maintained a GPA of 3.5 or above.

Applications to the College Scholar Program are due early in the fall semester of the sophomore year. Up to 40 students are selected each year into the program. Application materials and deadlines are available on the program’s website:

Students interested in the program can send their questions to or call the office at (607) 255-4833 to schedule an appointment with the program director, Dean Anne Birien.

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. 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 (607-255-5004), 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 interested in teaching may complete a minor in education at Cornell. Those who complete the minor may pursue teaching in public (including charter) or independent schools. Public school teaching usually requires certification (licensure), which students can attain through a variety of graduate programs around the country. (Cornell faculty listed at can advise students on program options.) An especially convenient and strong option is the program at Ithaca College that leads to a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) and New York State certification. A special agreement between Cornell and Ithaca College streamlines the application process. For information about Cornell’s minor in education, as well as certification areas available under the agreement with Ithaca College, visit or

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). 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 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 visit the IMPAC web-page, at For full information, brochures, etc., see the IMPAC Program Director in 387 Rockefeller 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.

Health Careers

The breadth and depth afforded by a liberal arts education are invaluable for students planning health careers, whether they intend to practice or go into research. Such education has a profound effect on the health professional’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 health careers are urged to meet with Ana Adinolfi, Health Careers advisor in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising (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 consult with 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. For information about the sites currently available, students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Archaeology: Professor Caitlín Barrett (, G23 Goldwin Smith Hall. Students planning on attending field schools organized by other institutions should also contact the Archaeology DUS.

Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML)

The Shoals Marine Laboratory, run cooperatively by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire, is a seasonal field station located on 95-acre Appledore Island off the coast of Portsmouth, NH, in the Gulf of Maine. SML provides a unique opportunity to study marine science in a setting noted for its biota, geology, and history. Please refer to the Shoals Marine Laboratory section under Biological Sciences for a list of courses (BIOSM) offered.
For more information, contact the Shoals Marine Laboratory office, 106A Kennedy Hall, 255-3717, email:, or visit

Cornell in Washington

Cornell in Washington is a fall or spring semester, or summer, 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 or summer 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 the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising.