Courses of Study 2018-2019 
    Jul 24, 2024  
Courses of Study 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduation Requirements

In the College of Arts and Sciences .


Undergraduate Degrees

The College of Arts and Sciences offers a liberal arts and sciences undergraduate education and awards a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, no matter the student’s major.

An education in the liberal arts and sciences involves a broad spectrum of study, in a number of fields, in which students hone their critical and imaginative capacities, gain experience with views of the world radically unlike one’s own and learn to think in complex ways about information, experiences, and the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.

How one pursues these goals is highly individual and the college relies on each student and his/her faculty advisor to design an appropriate course of study. The graduation requirements, detailed below, help students accomplish these educational goals through the development of: 

  • familiarity with the different ways of knowing that are reflected in the various disciplines and fields of study within the humanities,  social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences
  • cultural breadth (both geographical and temporal)
  • effective writing and quantitative skills
  • facility in a foreign language beyond the introductory level
  • imaginative and critical thinking
  • a depth of understanding, through pursuing a major, in at least disciplinary area.

Graduation Requirements

  1. First-year writing seminars: two courses. For the class of 2018 and beyond, this requirement must be completed by the end of the second year. (See “John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines .”) Students with a score of 5 on the AP Literature and Language exam may receive 3 credits (max) and be exempt from one First-year writing seminar.
  2. Foreign language: completion of one course taught in the language at the nonintroductory level or above (Option 1) or at least 11 credits in one language (Option 2). For a list of language offerings, see “Language Study at Cornell.”
  3. Distribution: nine courses (may overlap with courses counting toward a major).
  4. Breadth: two courses (may overlap with courses for distribution, major, or electives).
  5. Major (see individual department listings  for major requirements).
  6. Electives: four or five courses (at least 15 credits) not used to fulfill other requirements (other than the breadth requirements) and not in the major field. Elective courses may be used to complete a minor.
  7. Residence: eight full-time semesters, unless a student can successfully complete all other requirements in fewer than eight semesters and meet the additional criteria to accelerate graduation. (See “Acceleration” below.)
  8. 34 courses: a 3- or 4-credit course counts as one course. A 2-credit course counts as half a course; a 1-credit course does not normally count toward the requirement; a 6-credit language course counts as one and one-half courses. (See “Courses and Credits” for some 1-credit courses in performance and media studies that can be cumulated to count as one-half course.)
  9. Credits: a total minimum of 120 academic credits, of which a minimum of 100 must be taken in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell. A minimum of 80 credits must be in courses for which a letter grade was received. (See below for “Courses that do not count” as academic credits or courses.)
  10. Physical education: completion of the university requirement  (passing a swim test and two 1-credit nonacademic courses). Note: Physical education credit does not count toward the 120 credits needed to graduate or toward the 12-credit minimum required for good academic standing each semester.
  11. Application to graduate (see “Graduation”).

Undergraduates are responsible for knowing and fulfilling the requirements for graduation and for alerting the college to any problems with their records. To check on their progress toward the degree, students are urged to consult their advising deans and to check their DUST (Distributed Undergraduate Student Tracking) reports at The DUST report is updated after each semester to reflect the student’s progress in college requirements. To check on their progress in the major, students should consult their major advisors.

Foreign Language Requirement

The faculty considers competence in a foreign language essential for an educated person. Studying a language other than one’s own helps students understand the dynamics of language, our fundamental intellectual tool, and enables students to understand another culture. The sooner a student acquires this competence, the sooner it will be useful. Hence, work toward the foreign language requirement should be undertaken in the first two years. Students postponing the language requirement for junior and senior years risk not graduating on time. Courses in foreign languages and/or literature are taught in the College of Arts and Sciences by the following departments: Africana Studies and Research Center , Asian Studies , Classics , Comparative Literature , German Studies , Linguistics , Near Eastern Studies , and Romance Studies .

The language requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:

Option 1: Passing (a) a nonintroductory foreign language course of 3 or more credits at Cornell at the 2000-level or above or (b) any other nonintroductory course at the 2000-level or above conducted in a foreign language at Cornell. OR

Option 2: Passing at least 11 credits of study in a single foreign language (taken in the appropriate sequence) at Cornell.

Any exceptions to these rules will be noted elsewhere in individual department descriptions.

Students whose speaking, reading, and writing competence in a language other than English is at the same level we would expect our entering freshmen to have in English (as shown by completing high school in that language or by special examination during their first year here at Cornell) are exempt from the college’s language requirement.

Language Placement

Entering students who have completed two or more years of high school study in a language, who have been awarded credit for language work at another college or university, or who are native speakers, bilingual, or have spoken the language at home, may enroll in a course in the same language only after being placed by examination. The placement exam may have been taken in high school (SAT II, taken after the last course, or AP, if the score was 4 or 5) or at Cornell (Language Placement [LP] test). Students should seek to satisfy the language requirement in their first years at Cornell. A student with test scores one or more years old may be required to re-take the Cornell placement test if the instructor deems it necessary. The Cornell Advanced Standing Examination (CASE) places students in the appropriate advanced level course. While you may receive credit for the CASE exam, this credit does not count as Arts and Sciences credit.

Language Placement Tests and Advanced Placement Credit

  1. The following language placement and advanced standing tests are scheduled at the beginning of each semester:
    • Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Japanese, and Korean (some of which are available online; please refer to the department website);
    • French, Italian, and Spanish (please refer to the department website);
    • German (please refer to the department website);
    • Russian (3:30pm on Monday, August 20, 110 Morrill Hall).

The advanced standing examination in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, is called the CASE (Cornell Advanced Standing Examination). Eligibility for the CASE may be determined from the placement tables.

Native speakers of Spanish who have completed their secondary education in a Spanish-speaking country do not take the CASE. For these students, the Spanish program offers a walk-in service, the Native Language Accreditation for Spanish (NLAS), in the third week of September and the first week of February. Students interested in this service should consult the Romance Studies webpage to see who administers the NLAS exam. The NLAS examiner can officially exempt a native speaker from the language requirement. Speakers of Spanish who completed their secondary education in a non–Spanish-speaking country are required to present an LP test score or to take the CASE exam when eligible to determine appropriate placement.

Cornell does not recognize IB test scores for placement in language courses, please follow the general instructions above.

  1. Arabic: departmental examination, Department of Near Eastern Studies, 409 White Hall.
  2. Ancient Greek: departmental examination, Department of Classics, 120 Goldwin Smith Hall.
  3. Hebrew: departmental examination, Department of Near Eastern Studies, 409 White Hall.
  4. Latin: departmental examination, Department of Classics, 120 Goldwin Smith Hall.
  5. Persian: departmental examination, Department of Near Eastern Studies, 409 White Hall.
  6. Turkish: departmental examination, Department of Near Eastern Studies, 409 White Hall.
Placement Tests    
LPF SAT II Language Courses Upper-Level Courses

below 37 below 410 1210  
37–44 410–480 1220  
45–55 490–590 1230  
56–64 600–680 2060  
65 and above 690 and above   CASE required for placement.
AP 4 in language, 3 credits   Enroll in FREN 2060 or FREN 2090
AP 5 in language, 3 credits    CASE required for placement.
AP 4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits    CASE required for placement.



Placement Tests    
LPG SAT II Language Courses Upper-Level Courses

below 37   1210  
37–44   1220  
45–55   1230  
56–64   2000  
65 and above     CASE required for placement.
AP credit based on departmental examination.   CASE required for placement.



Placement Tests    
LPI SAT II Language Courses Upper-Level Courses

below 37 below 370 1201 or 1401  
37–48 370–450 1202  
49-64 460–680 2201  
65 and above 690 and above   CASE required for placement.
AP 4 or 5 in language, 3 credits    CASE required for placement.
AP 4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits    CASE required for placement.



Placement Tests    
LPS SAT II Language Courses Upper-Level Courses

below 37   1210  
37–44   1220 or 1120  
45–55   1230  
56–64   2000  
65 and above     CASE required for placement.
AP 4 or 5 in language, 3 credits    LPS required for placement & CASE required if eligible.
AP 4 or 5 in literature, 3 credits   LPS required for placement & CASE required if eligible.
SAT II   All students required to take LPS.

Distribution Requirements

In satisfying the distribution requirements, students become acquainted with a broad range of subject matter and points of view among disciplines in the college and explore areas that may be entirely new to them. Or, to look at it another way, as first-year students explore subjects that interest them, they begin to satisfy distribution requirements. Consequently, first-year students should take courses to prepare for possible majors and to explore subjects new to them and take no course only in order to satisfy a distribution requirement. Although students may complete distribution requirements over eight semesters, they can take advanced courses in subjects they (perhaps unexpectedly) find intriguing only if they have completed the introductory prerequisites. Consequently, students should not postpone satisfying distribution requirements until the last semesters. Once sure of a major, students should consider which distribution requirements are yet unfulfilled and how to fulfill them with courses that complement their overall program. Courses in the major may be applied to the distribution requirements unless prohibited by one of the restrictions noted under restrictions on applying AP credit, transfer credit, and Cornell courses to distribution requirements.

Students must complete four courses in science and quantitative reasoning, identified below under the categories Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS-AS/PBSS-AS) and Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning (MQR-AS). In addition, they must complete five courses of 3 or more credits each from four of the five categories of courses in the humanities and social sciences with no more than three in the same department. The five categories of courses fulfilling the distribution requirements in humanities and social sciences are: Cultural Analysis (CA-AS), Historical Analysis (HA-AS), Knowledge Cognition and Moral Reasoning (KCM-AS), Literature and the Arts (LA-AS), and Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA-AS). How an individual course is categorized is indicated with the appropriate abbreviation in its course description.

It is important to recognize that only courses with the proper designation in the Courses of Study can be used toward fulfilling the distribution requirements in Arts and Sciences. Some topics courses and courses offered through the Society for the Humanities, among others, do not count toward distribution. Unless otherwise specified, variable credit courses, including independent study courses, may not be used for distribution credit.

Students wishing to take an Arts and Sciences course that does not have a rubric assigned to it should consult their advising dean to ascertain the status of the course and see if it has, in fact, been assigned any distribution rubric. Students may not petition to change the rubric of any given course, nor may any faculty member change the rubric of a course for an individual student. Faculty members wishing to change the rubric for a course they teach must petition the Educational Policy Committee for a change in rubric, and that rubric must then be applied to the course for all students in the course.

Distribution Rubrics:

Cultural Analysis (CA-AS):

Courses in this area study human life in various 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), power and politics (states, colonialism, inequality).

Historical Analysis (HA-AS):

Courses in this group 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-AS):

Courses in this area 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-AS):

Courses in this area 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-AS):

Courses in this area 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). Please note that CRP 1100 (The American City) and CRP 1101 (Global City) satisfy SBA-AS.

Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning (MQR-AS):

Courses satisfying this requirement help students develop the skills to solve problems through understanding abstract, logical relationships. Such skills include mathematical analysis of data, modeling natural and manmade systems, and creating algorithms essential to computation. These courses explore specific quantitative methods, strategies for applying quantitative reasoning in diverse areas, and the intrinsic elegance of mathematics.

In completing four courses in science and quantitative reasoning, students must take at least one course from the “Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning List” below.

Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS-AS/PBSS-AS):

Courses satisfying this requirement provide an appreciation of how science generates and categorizes knowledge about nature, explore the relevance of science to society, develop proficiency in techniques of the natural sciences, and assess the limitations and strengths of science as a mode of inquiry.  These courses expose students to both the process and substance of science and introduce them to the frontiers of contemporary research in the natural sciences.

In fulfilling the four courses in science and quantitative reasoning, students must take at least two science courses. At least one of these must be from the “Physical and Biological Sciences Primary List” below.

Physical and Biological Sciences Primary List (PBS-AS):

(The courses listed individually are all cross-listed in an Arts and Sciences science department.)

Animal Science:

Applied and Engineering Physics:


All 3- or 4-credit courses except:

Biological Sciences:

All 3- or 4-credit courses except:

Biological and Environmental Engineering:

Biology & Society:

Biomedical Engineering:

Biometry and Statistics:

Chemistry and Chemical Biology:

All 3- or 4-credit courses.

Chemical Engineering

Cognitive Science:

Computer Science:

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences:

All 3- or 4-credit courses except:

Electrical and Computer Engineering:



Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies:

Food Science:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Studies:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering:


Natural Resources:


All 3- or 4-credit courses.

Plant Sciences:

Plant Soil and Crop Sciences:


Science and Technology Studies:


Veterinary Medicine:

Physical and Biological Sciences Supplementary List (PBSS-AS):

Students may select additional science courses from the following list:

Animal Science:


Applied and Engineering Physics:


Biology & Society:

     (When taken for 3 credits, will count for Science Supplementary)

Biometry and Statistics:

Cognitive Science:

Computer Science:

Electrical and Computer Engineering:



     (When taken for 3 credits, will count for Science Supplementary)

Food Science:

Natural Resources:

Near Eastern Studies

Nutritional Sciences:

Plant Biology:

Plant Horticulture:

Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology:


Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning List (MQR-AS):

Additional Requirements:

If students choose two courses from this list to satisfy part of the distribution requirement, those two courses may not have significant overlap. For example, students may not choose two beginning courses in statistics. Nor may they earn credit toward the degree for overlapping courses: AEM 2100 - Introductory Statistics  BTRY 3010 - Biological Statistics I  BTRY 6010 - Statistical Methods I , ENGRD 2700 - Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics  HADM 2010 - Hospitality Quantitative Analysis , ILRST 2100 - Introductory Statistics  ILRST 6100 - Statistical Methods I , MATH 1710 - Statistical Theory and Application in the Real World , PAM 2100 - Introduction to Statistics  PAM 2101 - Statistics for Policy Analysis and Management Majors  PSYCH 2500 - Statistics and Research Design , SOC 3010 - Statistics for Sociological Research , STSCI 2100 - Introductory Statistics , STSCI 2150 - Introductory Statistics for Biology , STSCI 2200 - Biological Statistics I .

Applied Economics and Management:





City and Regional Planning:


Cognitive Science:

Computer Science:

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology:


Electrical and Computer Engineering:


Human Development:

Industrial and Labor Relations:

Information Science



All 3- or 4-credit courses except first-year writing seminars.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering:

Medieval Studies:


Operations Research and Information Engineering


Policy Analysis and Management:



Statistical Science:

Visual Studies:

Breadth Requirements

Students must include in their undergraduate program at least one Arts and Sciences course that focuses on an area or a people other than those of the United States, Canada, or Europe and one course that focuses on an historical period before the 20th century. Courses that satisfy the geographic breadth requirement are marked with a (GB) when described in this catalog. Courses that satisfy the historical breadth requirement are marked with an (HB). Many courses satisfy both requirements (GHB), and students may in fact use the same course to satisfy both. Students may use courses satisfying distribution, major, or elective-but not writing-requirements in satisfaction of either of the breadth requirements. They may also apply Cornell courses (not credit from an examination) conferring Option 1 in a non-Western language toward the geographical breadth requirement.

Restrictions on Applying Cornell and Non-Cornell Courses and Credits to Distribution and Breadth Requirements

Restrictions on Applying AP Courses and Credit from Other Institutions to the Distribution Requirements

Students may not apply AP credit or transfer credit from another institution to the breadth requirements or to any distribution requirement.

Students who transfer to the college from another institution are under the above rules for advanced placement credit, but are eligible to have credit for post–high school course work taken during regular semesters (not summer school) at their previous institution count toward all distribution requirements. Transfer students receive a detailed credit evaluation when they are accepted for admission.

Restrictions on Applying Cornell Courses to the Distribution and Breadth Requirements

  1. First-year writing seminars and  ENGL 2880  or ENGL 2890  taken to satisfy a first-year writing seminar requirement may not count toward any other college requirement.
  2. No single course may satisfy more than one distribution requirement.
  3. Students may count courses in their major toward distribution and breadth.
  4. Only courses with the proper designation in the Courses of Study can be used toward fulfilling the distribution and breadth requirements in Arts and Sciences.
  5. A student may not petition for alteration of a particular course’s distribution or breadth rubric, nor may a faculty member change a course rubric for an individual student. The rubric for a course may be changed only if the Educational Policy Committee grants a petition by the course’s instructor to change the rubric. If the rubric changes, it does so for the class as a whole and never for an individual student.

The Major

In their last two years, students devote roughly one-half of their time to acquiring depth and competence in a major subject. The major does not necessarily define a student’s intellect or character or lead directly to a lifetime occupation, although it sometimes does some of each. Through the major, students focus and develop their imaginative and intellectual capacities through a subject they find especially interesting.

Most departments and programs specify certain prerequisites for admission to the major; they are found on the pages for each department and program available at Departments, Programs of Study and Courses .

Students may apply for acceptance into the major as soon as they have completed the prerequisites and are confident of their choice. This may be as early as the second semester of freshman year, and must be no later than the end of the second semester of sophomore year. To apply, they take a copy of their official transcript to an appointment with the director of undergraduate studies in their prospective major. A department or program may refuse admission into the major if the applicant’s performance does not meet established standards. A student without a major at the beginning of the junior year is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree and risks not being allowed to continue in the college. That student must meet with an advising dean and may be placed on a leave of absence as early as the first semester of the junior year if he or she has not declared a major.

Double majors

Only one major is required for graduation. Some students choose to complete two or more majors. No special permission or procedure is required; students simply become accepted into multiple majors and find an advisor in each department. All completed majors are posted on the official transcript. Students who complete more than one major are exempt from the college’s “Electives” requirement. Students should “double major” only if their intellect and deep interest direct them to do so. If students majoring in more than one subject decide they do not wish to complete the second major, they must go to the department and formally withdraw from that major.


A student may pursue minors in any department, in any college that offers them, subject to limitations placed by the department offering the minor or by the student’s major. Completed minors will appear on the student’s transcript. Not all departments offer minors. Consult the appropriate department or program listing in this Courses of Study or contact the appropriate department for information on minors offered and how to pursue a minor.


Of the 34 courses and 120 credits required for graduation, almost one-third are electives. How students use these electives frequently makes the difference between an ordinary and a truly interesting course of study. Students must complete a minimum of four courses totaling at least 15 credits offered outside the major field and not counted toward the major. (One-credit courses do not count toward course count.) The courses may not be used to fill another requirement except breadth. Students may group electives to complete one of the established minors or a second major. Electives may come from outside Arts and Sciences. AP credits not otherwise used may fulfill elective requirements, unless you are graduating with one major and the AP credits are in the same field as that major.


The College of Arts and Sciences is a residential community for students who devote their energy and spirit to full-time study. The faculty believes that integrated, full-time study for a defined period best promotes intellectual and creative development and best prepares students for citizenship and careers.

Consequently, eight semesters of full-time study in the College of Arts and Sciences are integral to earning the B.A. degree. Even if the minimum requirements can be met in fewer semesters, the faculty of the college expects students to take advantage of the resources of the university for eight full semesters and obtain as rich and advanced an education in the liberal arts and sciences as possible. Students may complete their undergraduate degrees with credits earned at other institutions or as part-time or summer students at Cornell only if they have completed their eight full-time semesters of residence or satisfied the criteria listed below under “Prorated tuition in final semester.”

For transfer students from other institutions, each full semester of study at their previous institution counts as one of the eight semesters of residence. However, even if transfer students have completed more than four full semesters at their previous institution, they must spend a minimum of four semesters on the Cornell campus in Ithaca enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. Internal transfers from other colleges at Cornell must spend four semesters on campus in Ithaca as students in the college. Only if a transfer student spends at least four semesters in the College of Arts and Sciences can he or she accelerate (see “Acceleration” below).

Approved study abroad, SEA Semester, Urban Semester, and Cornell in Washington are considered semesters of residence but not semesters on the Cornell campus. Students may spend no more than two semesters on such programs and must be on campus during their last semester.

Concurrent degree students spending 10 semesters at Cornell who feel they need three semesters abroad may petition the Academic Records Committee for permission but must demonstrate the academic necessity of the extended time away. Semesters of extramural study in Cornell’s School of Continuing Education, semesters of study at other institutions, and summer sessions anywhere do not count as semesters of residence.

Students in good academic standing may take a personal leave of absence and enroll in the School of Continuing Education, but such semesters of extramural study do not count as terms of residence and credits from such semesters may not be used to reduce the terms of residence.

Acceleration or Delay of Graduation


The faculty of the college desires that each student achieve depth, as well as breadth, from his or her undergraduate education. Indeed, benefiting from opportunities for advanced, seminar, and independent (sometimes honors) work is what best characterizes undergraduate education in the college. If a student feels he or she does not need eight semesters in order to achieve this depth, the student can apply to accelerate by a term (and in rare cases, two terms).

Students matriculating as first-year students may not compress their undergraduate education into fewer than six semesters of residence. Transfer students, both from other institutions and from other colleges at Cornell, must spend at least four semesters in the college on campus in Ithaca. Acceleration is thus limited to transfer students who enter as sophomores.

A student desiring to accelerate needs to meet with their advising dean to review the requirements for acceleration and to complete and submit the “Application to Accelerate” anytime between pre-enrollment two semesters before the desired graduation date and pre-enrollment during the desired penultimate semester (e.g., if the desired graduation date is May 2019 the application must be submitted after pre-enrollment in spring 2018 semester and before pre-enrollment in fall 2018). This ensures he or she may have time to also submit the online application to graduate by the deadline.

Students cannot apply credits obtained while on a leave of absence towards eligibility to accelerate. To graduate, accelerants will need to fulfill all other graduation requirements except for the residency requirement. If a student does not meet the requirements for acceleration, that student may not petition for an exception. Acceleration is, in itself, an exception to the normal rules of the college, and the Committee on Academic Records does not grant exceptions to exceptions.

Ninth semester

Students who can graduate in eight semesters should do so. If a worthy academic plan for a full ninth or tenth semester is approved, the student enrolls in the college as a special student for the additional work. Such a status allows enrollment in a full schedule of courses and full access to campus resources for full tuition, but allows financial aid only from loans or outside agencies, not from Cornell funds. Students who need fewer than 10 credits in a ninth or tenth semester to graduate should complete the outstanding courses and pay prorated tuition. Students may spend a ninth semester with Cornell aid only with permission of the Committee on Academic Records. Such permission is normally granted only to the following:

  1. Students who have been ill or experienced other unexpected circumstances beyond their control.
  2. Students who were academically underprepared for the curriculum at Cornell and needed to begin with a lighter schedule of courses than normal. (See your advising dean about this option.)

Proration of Tuition

Prorated tuition in the final semester

Students who have completed seven full-time semesters may complete their degrees by taking nine or fewer credits and pay prorated tuition at Cornell during their eighth semester of residency only if:

  1. They have completed all requirements by the end of the seventh semester, met the criteria for accelerated graduation, and are remaining to complete study beyond what is required for the degree.
  2. They are writing an honors thesis in the eighth semester and can complete all degree requirements by taking exactly two courses, one of which is the thesis itself. They must register for the thesis and one additional full course of at least three credits.

A student must make an appointment with Assistant Dean Richard Keller to confirm his or her eligibility for prorated tuition and receive a prorated tuition form to be approved by his or her faculty advisor and Assistant Keller. The student must specify the courses and the number of credits to be taken in the final term, and the faculty advisor must be able to certify that those credits will allow the student to complete his or her graduation requirements. The prorated tuition form must be completed and approved before the end of the second week of the final semester. The deadline submission cannot be extended.

Prorated study in special circumstances

The college and university support students (with financial aid and services) as best they can to make full-time study possible. Occasionally, however, extraordinary but nonfinancial medical circumstances make studying part-time temporarily necessary and appropriate. Students in good academic standing  who face extraordinary situations may, through discussion with their advising dean, petition the Committee on Academic Records for a part-time schedule and proration of tuition in the college.

Courses and Credits

Students must complete at least 34 full courses (which may include courses students place out of with AP credit) to be graduated. Not all courses are full courses. Course equivalencies are as follows:

Counting courses:

1-credit courses: Certain 1-credit courses in Music, and in Performing and Media Arts, may aggregate so that each two can count as a half course, and four can count as a full course. Otherwise, single-credit courses do not count as part of the 34.
2-credit course = one-half course
3-, 4-, or 5-credit courses = one full course
6-credit language course = one and one-half course
Other 6-credit courses = one full course each
8-credit courses = 2 full courses each

Counting credits: Students must earn a minimum of 120 credits (which may include AP credits). Of the 120, a minimum of 100 must be from courses taken in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell.

Courses that do not count toward the 120 credits required for the degree or toward good academic standing: The College of Arts and Sciences does not grant credit toward the degree for every course offered by the university. Courses in military training, training as an emergency medical technician, service as a teaching assistant, physical education, remedial or developmental training, precalculus mathematics, supplemental science and mathematics, offered by the Learning Strategies Center and English as a second language are among those for which degree credit and credit toward the 12 credits required each semester for good academic standing are not given. Students should consult for more information and a list of courses that do not count for academic credit.

Other cases in which a course may not receive credit or count toward good standing include the following:

  • A course identified as a prerequisite for a subsequent course may not be taken for credit once a student completes that subsequent course.
  • A repeated course. (For more information, see “Repeating courses,” below.)
  • A “forbidden overlap,” that is, a course with material that significantly overlaps with material in a course a student has already taken. Students should consult for more information and a list of overlapping courses.

  • Students enrolled in courses for undergraduate teaching assistants may petition once to have the nondegree credits count toward good academic standing. This would allow continued eligibility for graduating with distinction in all subjects, but would disqualify the student from being on the dean’s list that semester.

Courses that count toward the 100 required Arts and Sciences credits may include liberal arts courses approved for study abroad during a semester or academic year of full-time study (not summer study), courses taken in certain off-campus Cornell residential programs, and courses (usually no more than three) that certain departments accept from other colleges at Cornell as fulfilling major requirements (and substituting for Arts and Sciences courses). In addition, all courses that appear on the Supplementary Science and Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning lists, count toward the 100 credits required in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Courses that do not count toward the 100 required Arts and Sciences credits include credits earned in other colleges at Cornell (except in the cases noted above), credits earned in any subject at institutions other than Cornell, and advanced placement credits. AP credits count as part of the 120 credits and 34 courses required for the degree but not as part of the 100 Arts and Sciences credits and may not be applied to distribution or breadth. AP credits are posted on the transcript. If, subsequently, a student takes the course out of which s/he had placed, the AP credit will be removed because of the overlap in content (for more information on AP credits, please see “Placement ”).

Repeating courses
Students occasionally need to repeat courses. If the instructor certifies that the course content is significantly different, credit is granted a second time. If the content is the same, both grades nonetheless appear on the transcript and are included in any GPA that is calculated, but the course and credit count toward the degree only once. Repeated courses do not count toward the 12 credits required for good academic standing. Students considering repeating a course should discuss the matter with their advisor and an advising dean. Students who plan to repeat a course they did not fail must submit a petition to their advising dean. If the original course grade was F or U, no petition is necessary.

Using courses to fulfill more than one requirement:
A course may fulfill more than one college requirement in any of the following situations:

  1. A course may be used to fulfill distribution, breadth, and a major requirement (except as noted in earlier sections on restrictions on applying AP credits, transfer credits, and Cornell courses to distribution requirements).
  2. A one-semester course in foreign literature (not language) or culture that is acceptable for certifying option 1 in that language may also be applied to the relevant distribution requirement and, if appropriate, to the breadth requirement.
  3. Courses may count toward breadth requirements and toward any other requirement except first-year writing seminars.
  4. Courses in a second major may count as electives.

Summer session credit
A student may earn credit toward the degree by completing courses in Cornell’s summer session or by successfully petitioning for transfer credit for summer courses at other colleges. Students should consult their advisors regarding summer study plans.

Credit for summer courses not taken at Cornell must be approved by the appropriate Cornell department. Approval forms and information are available online,, and in the Office of Undergraduate Advising. Students are advised to submit course descriptions, syllabi, and approval forms to the director of undergraduate studies in the relevant Cornell department for prior approval of each course. Transcripts for completed work at other institutions must be sent to the Office of Undergraduate Advising,  KG17 Klarman Hall. Credit approved for summer courses away from Cornell (including summer courses abroad) counts toward the 120 credits and 34 courses required for the degree, but not toward the 100 credits required in the college at Cornell. It may not be applied to distribution or breadth requirements but may be applied to elective requirements and to major requirements (with the approval of the department).

Summer session at Cornell or elsewhere does not count toward the eight-semester residence requirement. Students are permitted to earn up to 12 credits in one summer.

Transferring credit earned away from Cornell while on leave of absence
See “Leaves of Absence .”

Transferring credit (for transfer students from another institution or from another Cornell college)
Transfer students must satisfy all normal requirements for the degree, including eight semesters of full-time study. They must always complete at least 60 credits and 16 courses at Cornell and be in residence on campus in the college for at least four regular semesters (summer session does not count toward the residence requirement). The college evaluates credit and residence earned either at another school or college at Cornell University or at another accredited institution and determines the number of credits and courses the student may apply toward the various requirements for the bachelor of arts degree at Cornell. In addition, the college reevaluates advanced placement credit allowed by another institution, including another college at Cornell. Evaluations of transfer credits are provided when students are notified of their admission. Once matriculated in Arts and Sciences at Cornell, transfer students must adhere to the same rules for transferring credit earned on leave as all other students.


Application to Graduate

In the first semester of their senior year, students will receive an e-mail instructing them to complete an online application to graduate. The application is intended to help seniors identify problems early enough in the final year to make any necessary changes in course selection to satisfy those requirements. Nonetheless, meeting graduation requirements is the student’s responsibility; problems that are discovered, even late in the final semester, must be resolved by the student before the degree can be granted. Students are responsible for checking their DUST reports and transcripts and alerting their advising deans of any problems with the academic record.

Degree Dates

There are three degree dates in the year: December, May, and August. Students who plan to graduate in August may attend graduation ceremonies in the preceding May. Students graduating in December are invited to a special recognition ceremony in December; they may also attend graduation ceremonies the following May.


Bachelor of Arts with Honors

Almost all departments offer honors programs for students who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishment in the major and succeeded in research. The conferring of honors, and the requirements for conferral (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude) are set by the departments for each major, the Independent Major Program, or the College Scholar Program. Minors do not offer honors programs. Students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies with questions about honors in the respective program.

Bachelor of Arts with Distinction

The degree of Bachelor of Arts with distinction in all subjects will be conferred on students who have completed the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, if they have met the following requirements by the end of their final semester:

  1. completed at least 60 credits while registered in regular sessions at Cornell;
  2. achieved a GPA in the upper 30 percent of their class at the end of the seventh semester, or next-to-last semester for transfers and accelerants;
  3. received a grade below C– in no more than one course;
  4. received no failing grade (excluding PE);
  5. have no frozen Incompletes on their records; and
  6. maintained good academic standing, including completing a full schedule of at least 12 credits, in each of their last four semesters. (Students who have been approved to be prorated for the final semester in order to complete an honors thesis are considered to be in good academic standing and therefore eligible to receive distinction.)