Courses of Study 2016-2017 
    Jun 12, 2024  
Courses of Study 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduation Requirements

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .

Graduation Requirements for the Bachelor of Science

1. Credit Requirements:

  1. Minimum total credits: 120 academic credits are required for graduation.

    Important Exceptions:
    • Repeated courses increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the course. These credits do count toward the minimum 12 credits required for full-time status.
    • Review or supplemental courses (e.g., 1000- to 1099-level) increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the course. These credits do not count toward the minimum 12 credits required for full-time status.
    • Physical education courses do not count toward 120 academic credits for graduation. They do not count toward the minimum 12 credits required for full-time status.
  2. Minimum credits at Cornell: 60 academic credits must be successfully completed at Cornell.
  3. Maximum non-Cornell credits: 60 non-Cornell credits (AP, CASE, IB, GCE, French Baccalauréat, course work completed at other accredited institutions, and Cornell Abroad) can be applied toward degree requirements. A first-year student is able to earn up to 30 non-Cornell credits before his or her first semester in CALS.
  4. Minimum credits from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: 55 CALS credits are required for graduation. CALS credits include all courses from departments within CALS and courses offered in the Biological Sciences, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Information Science, Nutritional Sciences Departments, Statistical Science and SEA semester. Specifically, courses offered under the following subject prefixes count as CALS credits: AGSCI, AIISP, ALS, AEM, ANSC, BEE, BIOG, BIOAP, BIOEE, BIOMG, BIOMI, BIOMS, BIONB, BIOSM, BSOC, BTRY, COMM, DSOC, EAS, EDUC, ENTOM, ESS (SNES), FDSC, IARD, INFO, LA, NS, NTRES, PLBIO (BIOPL), PLBRG (PLBR), PLHRT (HORT), PLPPM (PLPA), PLSCI, PLSCS (CSS), SEA, STSCI, VIEN.
  5. Minimum letter-graded credits (course work taken with a grade of A, B, C, or D): 100 (prorated based on non-Cornell credits).*
  6. Minimum Structured/lectured credits (course work not earned through independent study, research, teaching assistantships, and/or internships): 105 (prorated based on non-Cornell credits)

*The prorated formula is available at

2. Physical Education Requirement:

  1. Physical Education Requirement: Successful completion of two 1-credit nonacademic PE Cornell courses with a satisfactory grade. Students are expected to complete the Physical Education Requirement in their first two semesters at Cornell. Note: Physical education credit does not count toward the 120 credits needed to graduate or toward the 12-credit minimum required for full-time status.
    Exception: Students who transfer to Cornell from another college or university will be awarded one term of physical education credit for each full term (minimum of 12 semester credits) academic transfer credit they are granted by Cornell prior to matriculation.
  2. Swimming Requirement: Successful competition of the swim test Swim tests are normally taken as part of the orientation process.
    Exception: Students who externally transfer to Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who are exempt from the Physical Education Requirement are exempt from the swim test.

3. Residency Requirements:

  1. Eight semesters of full-time study are expected.
    1. Transfer students are credited with one semester in residence for each full-time semester earned at another institution.
    2. Internal transfer students must be enrolled in CALS for at least two full-time semesters. This includes the conditional term for internal transfer students.
  2. The final semester before graduation must be completed in a Cornell program as a full-time student. (The School of Continuing Education does not count towards a final semester in residency.)
  3. Students in the ninth and final semester may apply for prorated tuition. The eligibility criteria are listed below. The prorated formula is availabe at

    All of the following conditions must be met in order for a student to be considered for prorated tuition:
    1. The prorated semester is the ninth and final semester of study.
    2. The student is in good academic standing with the college and the major.
    3. Maximum of 9 credit hours of course work are allowed under prorated tuition. Students cannot exceed the number of credits approved or full tuition will be charged, and no refund will be allowed if fewer credits than applied for are completed.
    4. Approval of the student’s faculty advisor, the college registrar, and the university registrar is required for all requests. Note that approval is conditional until grades are finalized at the end of the semester immediately preceding the prorated semester. Should those grades indicate that more than the requested number of prorated tuition credits are required for graduation, prorated tuition will be adjusted accordingly.

Students applying for prorated tuition must submit no later than the last day to add classes in the semester in which proration is requested. Applications received after that time will not be considered.

Please be advised that prorated tuition may impact the student’s financial aid, student loans, scholarships, non-Cornell health insurance programs, athletic eligibility, or other considerations. It is the responsibility of the student to investigate and resolve these situations prior to submitting this application.

4. Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirements:

Minimum cumulative GPA: 2.00 or above must be maintained for good standing and to meet the degree requirements. The cumulative GPA includes all grades earned at Cornell.

5. Schedule Requirements:

  1. Students are expected to enroll in at least one CALS course each semester until 55 CALS credits have been earned.
  2. Freshmen may not enroll in more than 18 credits, not including physical education.
  3. Freshmen are limited to one optional S–U course per semester.
  4. PE and supplemental course work do not count toward the 12-credit minimum required for full-time status.
  5. Students wishing to enroll in more than 22 academic credits (to a maximum of 25 academic credits) must submit an online petition through Chatter by the end of the add deadline if the following criteria has been met:
  • Have completed two terms of study at Cornell
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.300 in their previous two semesters
  • Are in good standing with the university
  • Have no incompletes
  • Attain approval from academic advisor

6. Distribution Requirements:

The purpose of the distribution requirement is to provide a broad educational background and to ensure a minimum level of competency in particular skills. Through study of the physical and life sciences, students develop their understanding and appreciation of the physical sciences, enhance their quantitative reasoning skills, and gain an appreciation of the variability of living organisms. The social sciences and humanities give students perspective on the structure and values of the society in which we live, and prepare them to make decisions on ethical issues that will affect their work and role in society. Written and oral expression is designed to help students become competent and confident in the use of oral and written communication to express themselves and their ideas.

Please note:

  • Courses taken with the S/U grading option can be used to satisfy the distribution requirements and you may want to check with your faculty advisor if this course overlaps with a major requirement.
  • Courses will not be counted towards more than one college distribution requirement (example: ENGL 2800  can be included in either the Humanities and Social Sciences distribution requirement in the LA category or the Written Expression distribution requirement, not BOTH).
  • Credits received for independent study, field, teaching, research, work experience, and internships cannot be used to fulfill the distribution requirement.
  • Courses that are review or supplemental in the discipline, such as 1000- to 1099-level courses, will not be counted in the distribution areas.

For a comprehensive search engine of the college distribution requirements, please go to

Physical and Life Sciences:

18 credits in at least three disciplines with a minimum of 6 credits in introductory life sciences/biology, a minimum of 3 credits in chemistry or physics, and a quantitative literacy course.

Introductory Life Sciences/Biological Sciences:

The following courses can be taken to complete the minimum 6 credits of introductory life sciences/biology. Consultation with your advisor on the best selection/sequence of courses is recommended as some courses may be more appropriately suited for your major. (Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements ( and our website that includes summer/winter courses ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement):

Biological Sciences majors: Please refer to the following site:


Courses to complete the minimum 3 credits of chemistry/physics:

  • all courses with a CHEM and/or PHYS prefix (excluding courses that are supplemental, independent study, research, TA, internship, and First-Year Writing Seminar). Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.


Quantitative Literacy Requirement:

Faculty legislation requires minimum competency in quantitative literacy to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This requirement can be satisfied in one of three ways:

  • Earning a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus exam or the AP Statistics exam; or
  • Transferring an approved calculus or statistics course with a grade of “C” or better; or
  • Taking an approved math or statistics course at Cornell.

A complete listing of approved math and statistics courses is available online at

Other Physical/Life Sciences:

Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements  ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.

Social Sciences and Humanities:

Students must complete four courses in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

  • One course must fulfill the Human Diversity (D-AG) category. No more than two courses in the same department will be counted toward the distribution requirement.

A list of courses that can be applied toward the humanities and social sciences distribution can be found on


  • Human Diversity (D-AG)
  • Cultural Analysis (CA)
  • Historical Analysis (HA)
  • Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM)
  • Literature and the Arts (LA)
  • Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA)
  • Foreign Language (FL)

Detailed descriptions follow.

Human Diversity (D-AG):

These courses address several of the college’s stated goals for undergraduate education, specifically, the expectation that in the course of earning a degree, students will enhance their abilities to communicate with people of different cultural perspectives; to listen carefully and respectfully to the views of others, especially views with which they disagree; and to employ ethical reasoning in judging ideas, actions, and their implications. These courses explore the challenges of building a diverse society, and/or examine the various processes that marginalize people and produce unequal power relations in terms of race, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, gender, age, or economic status. For transfer credit to be awarded a petition must be completed. Please follow the instructions outlined on the following site:

Cultural Analysis (CA):

These courses study human life in particular cultural contexts through interpretive analysis of individual behavior, discourse, and social practice. Topics include belief systems (science, medicine, religion), expressive arts and symbolic behavior (visual arts, performance, poetry, myth, narrative, ritual), identity (nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality), social groups and institutions (family, market, community), and power and politics (states, colonialism, inequality).

Historical Analysis (HA):

These courses interpret continuities and changes—political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, artistic, scientific—through time. The focus may be on groups of people, dominant or subordinate, a specific country or region, an event, a process, or a time period.

Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM):

These courses investigate the bases of human knowledge in its broadest sense, ranging from cognitive faculties shared by humans and animals such as perception, to abstract reasoning, to the ability to form and justify moral judgments. Courses investigating the sources, structure, and limits of cognition may use the methodologies of science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, or philosophy. Courses focusing on moral reasoning explore ways of reflecting on ethical questions that concern the nature of justice, the good life, or human values in general.

Literature and the Arts (LA):

These courses explore literature and the arts in two different but related ways. Some courses focus on the critical study of artworks and on their history, aesthetics, and theory. These courses develop skills of reading, observing, and hearing and encourage reflection on such experiences; many investigate the interplay among individual achievement, artistic tradition, and historical context. Other courses are devoted to the production and performance of artworks (in creative writing, performing arts, and media such as film and video). These courses emphasize the interaction among technical mastery, cognitive knowledge, and creative imagination.

Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA):

These courses examine human life in its social context through the use of social scientific methods, often including hypothesis testing, scientific sampling techniques, and statistical analysis. Topics studied range from the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes of individuals to interpersonal relations between individuals (e.g., in friendship, love, conflict) to larger social organizations (e.g., the family, society, religious or educational or civic institutions, the economy, government) to the relationships and conflicts among groups or individuals (e.g., discrimination, inequality, prejudice, stigmas, conflict resolution).

Foreign Language (FL):

These courses are taught by the following departments: Africana Studies and Research Center (ASRC—language only), Asian Studies (BENGL, BURM, CHIN, HINDI, INDO, JAPAN, KHMER, KOREA, SANSK, TAG, THAI, and VIET), Classics (GREEK, LATIN, SANSK), German Studies (GERST—language only, DUTCH, and SWED), Linguistics (LING— languages only), Near Eastern Studies (NES—languages only), Romance Studies (CATAL, FREN, ITAL, PORT, QUECH, and SPAN), and Russian Studies (RUSSA, HUNGR, POLSH, SEBCR, and UKRAN).

Written and Oral Expression:

9 credits total required:

  • At least 6 credits must be Written Expression. Oral Expression may be required for some majors. It is not required by the college

Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.

Non-Cornell Credit Policies

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell University reserve the right to determine, in their sole discretion, whether course credit earned at other schools, either secondary or post-secondary, meet the College’s and the University’s academic standards and will therefore be eligible to be applied toward Cornell degree requirements.

Applicants and matriculated students should not assume that, because a particular course taken at another school is listed as a recommended course or a foundational course, it will necessarily be eligible for Cornell credit.

   1.  Non-Cornell credit defined as:

CALS Exchange credits are considered Cornell credits

   2.  Non-Cornell credit is accepted by CALS when:

  • the credits are earned at an accredited institution;
  • the credits do not duplicate course work already completed at Cornell;
  • the credits have not been applied toward high school graduation requirements (Please note: A student earns credit in high school for successfully completing the AP class. If the student receives a sufficient score on their AP exam, the score on the AP exam will award the student credit/exemption out of a course.)
  • the course is equivalent in rigor to a Cornell course, as judged by:
  1. Course content and/or
  2. The use of a textbook similar to that used in the parallel Cornell course and/or
  3. The use of examinations, writing assignments, projects, portfolios, or other submitted work that is substantially similar to those required in a similar Cornell course and/or
  4. Substantial similarity in meeting hours of the Cornell and non-Cornell course
  • the course is completed for a U.S. letter grade of “C” or better; and
  • an official transcript is sent directly to the CALS Student Services Office from the college/university where the credits were completed.
  1. A student may apply a maximum of 60 non-Cornell credits toward his or her graduation requirements.
    • Advanced placement credits (this includes all non-Cornell credit earned before a student’s first semester in a college/university) are limited to 30 credits.
    • Cornell Abroad (not CALS exchange) credits are limited to 15 credits per semester, 30 per academic year.
    • If more than 60 non-Cornell credits have been completed, the CALS Registrar will work with the student to determine which credits best fulfill CALS graduation requirements.
  2. Non-Cornell credits are recorded and can be applied toward CALS credits, distribution requirements, and major requirements.
    • Non-Cornell courses that are similar to courses offered in CALS are recorded as CALS credits and count toward the minimum of 55 CALS credits required for graduation.
    • Non-Cornell courses that are equivalent to Cornell courses that fulfill distribution requirements are recorded under the appropriate distribution area.
    • Non-Cornell courses that are equivalent to endowed courses can be applied toward distribution requirements or general electives.
    • If a course has no comparable course at Cornell, the CALS Registrar will determine how the credit should be applied.
    • Faculty advisors determine how non-Cornell credit will be applied toward major requirements; the CALS Registrar determines how non-Cornell credit will be applied toward CALS graduation requirements.
  3. Students who plan to take courses at another institution should complete a transfer credit pre-approval form located on Chatter or directly linked through .  It is possible that the course a student would like to complete has already been approved and is in the database.
  4. Students may concurrently enroll in courses at both Cornell and another institution. However, a student must maintain the 12 academic credit minimum at Cornell to remain in good academic standing.

College Credit Earned While in High School

Cornell University does not accept credit for courses sponsored by colleges or universities but taught in the high school to high school students, even if the college provides a transcript of such work. CALS does not accept credit from College Now, SUPA, University in High School, NOLS and other comparable programs. CALS does not accept credit for programs offered to students for completion of high school degree in a college setting such as, but not limited to, Bard, TAMS, etc.

Course work completed while in high school may be considered for credit if there is sufficient evidence that:

  1. The course was a standard course available to all students registered at the college/university
  2. The course instructor is a faculty member (includes adjunct) at the offering college
  3. The course was not used to fulfill high school requirements

Students must submit both an application for credit earned while in high school and a college verification form along with an official transcript to CALS Student Services Office, 140 Roberts Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853.


College Credit Earned by Homeschooled Students

If a student is enrolled in college or university courses during his or her homeschool experience non-Cornell credits will be awarded only if the criteria below are met. Transfer credit cannot be awarded toward courses used to satisfy secondary school requirements.

The courses cannot be used to fulfill CALS published Freshman Admissions Requirements for Secondary-School Subjects. Transfer credit will be awarded above and beyond the following secondary school requirements:

  • 4 courses in English
  • 4 courses in Math
  • 3 courses in Science (including 1 biology, and 1 of chemistry or physics)

Additional College Requirement:

  • 4 courses in Social Sciences or Humanities

Graduation Procedures

  1. The progress of each student toward meeting the degree requirements is recorded each semester. Students can review their degree progress online through Chatter. Navigate to the DUST tab at the top of the screen.  Choose the Degree Progress tile then College Degree Program then click “Continue on to Degree Progress.”
  2. Students who have been in residence for eight semesters and who have met the graduation requirements will be graduated. A student who wishes to either graduate early or delay graduation must complete an additional application online through Chatter.
  3. A student must complete the Application to Graduate (Part I and Part II) with the CALS Student Services Office.

Submission Deadlines For the Application to Graduate:

January graduates: mid-October

May graduates: mid-December

Failure to meet these deadlines could result for May candidates a student’s name being omitted from the commencement program and/or a delay in a student receiving their diploma.

Student Responsibilities: It is the student’s responsibility to complete The Application to Graduate.

  • Part I of the Application to Graduate is available online through Chatter.
  • Part II of the application requires students to schedule a meeting with his/her faculty advisor(s) to complete Part II of the application. 
  • Students submit a completed Part II.
  • Students should seek clarification from his/her advisor and/or the CALS Registrar if graduation requirements are unclear.

Note: If a student is completing more than one major and/or a minor, the student must meet with and complete Part II of the Application to Graduate with all advisors.

Faculty Advisor Responsibilities: It is the faculty advisor’s responsibility to complete Part II of the Application to Graduate with the student, listing any outstanding requirements on the application (including courses in which the student is currently enrolled); and answer any student questions regarding major requirements.

CALS Student Services Office Responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the CALS Registrar to update the graduation summary of seniors before each student’s final fall semester. The CALS Registrar is available to review degree requirements by appointment (link accessible for current CALS students only).

Commencement Information: Commencement information will be provided to all graduating seniors directly by the Commencement Office. Information is available at