Courses of Study 2019-2020 
    Feb 01, 2023  
Courses of Study 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Policies and Procedures

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .


Academic Integrity Policy

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) faculty, students, and administration support and abide by the University Code of Academic Integrity.  Absolute integrity is expected of every student in all academic undertakings; students must in no way misrepresent their work, fraudulently or unfairly advance their academic position, be a party to another student’s failure to maintain academic integrity or violate the principle of academic integrity in any other manner.  The following actions are examples of violations of the Code of Academic Integrity.  This is not a definitive list:

  • Knowingly representing the work of others as one’s work.
  • Using, obtaining, or providing unauthorized assistance on examinations, papers, or any other academic work.
  • Fabricating data in support of laboratory or fieldwork. 
  • Forging a signature to certify completion of a course assignment or a recommendation to graduate school.
  • Unfairly advancing one’s academic position by hoarding or damaging library materials.
  • Misrepresenting one’s academic accomplishments.

Cornell’s Code of Academic Integrity is a policy that describes the process for how individuals who have allegedly violated Cornell standards for academic integrity are to be evaluated regarding presumed violations, and if found to be in violation of those standards, sanctioned. The code provides for informal resolutions of suspected violations through a primary hearing between the faculty member, the student involved, and an independent witness. If necessary, a hearing before a hearing board follows. Specific policies and procedures are on the CALS website

The Academic Integrity Hearing Board for CALS consists of three elected faculty members, three elected student members, a Chair appointed by the Dean of the College, and the Associate Director of Advising and Diversity, Lisa Ryan, who serves as Secretary and Record Keeper. Professor Dawn Schrader is the current Chair.  Individuals who observe or are aware of an alleged violation of the code should report the incident first to the faculty member in charge of the course or, if that is not possible, to the College’s Hearing Board Chair or Secretary.

Academic Standing

CALS expects all of its students to maintain good academic standing, which is defined as:

  • Semester GPA of at least 2.00.
  • Cumulative GPA of at least 2.00.
  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum 12 or more academic credits per semester.
  • Reasonable progress toward completion of major and distribution requirements.

At the end of each semester, the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions reviews the records of those students who are failing to meet the academic requirements of the College or who persistently fail to attend classes. For students not making satisfactory progress, the committee takes appropriate action, including, but not limited to, issuing warnings, placing students on probation, granting students leaves of absence, advising students to withdraw, or suspending or expelling students.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

Students wishing to take a leave are required to apply for a voluntary leave of absence with an expected return date in a future semester.  A leave of absence is granted upon request for up to five years.  A leave exceeding five years results in a withdrawal from the University.  Students on a leave of absence may not enroll in any courses offered by the University.  Students on a leave of absence   are not eligible for services such as housing, dining, library, and transportation services. 

Types of Leaves

Voluntary leave. A voluntary leave may be taken for an upcoming, future semester or by the 12th week of the current semester. A voluntary leave must be submitted to the CALS Office of Student Services with the form available through Chatter Resources. Filing the form serves as appropriate notification to university offices and assures that the leave is reflected appropriately on the student’s official transcript. A leave granted during the semester goes into effect based on the day the student submits the form to the CALS Office of Student Services.  

Voluntary leaves are issued in two ways:

  • Unrestricted for students in good academic standing (no restrictions placed on the length of leave up to five years, or activities pursued).
  • Restricted (length of leave and activities pursued may be specified).

Health Leave. Students with health concerns must pursue a Health Leave of Absence through Cornell Health. The CALS Office of Student Services will grant and readmit a student from health leave only upon the recommendation of Cornell Health. 

A student requesting to return from a leave of absence, unrestricted, restricted or exceeding five years, must petition to return through Chatter Resources. Returning from restricted leave petitions are reviewed by the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions. Students must receive clearance from both Cornell Health and the college to be readmitted.  Students should initiate the return process with Cornell Health and then submit the petition to return through Chatter Resources.

All grading/incomplete policies are in effect during a leave of absence.  If you have questions concerning the make-up of incomplete grades, please meet with an academic advisor in the CALS Office of Student Services.


A student who decides to withdraw from Cornell University for personal reasons or matriculation in another institution of higher learning, with no intention of returning, must submit the University Withdrawal Form.  The form is available through Chatter Resources.  The student’s withdrawal from the University will be effective the date the student submits the form. Students not requesting a leave and who fail to become registered  will be withdrawn from the university.

For more information, refer to the University Registration section of the catalog.

Non-Cornell (Transfer) Credit

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 is taken at another accredited institution listed as a recommended course or a foundational course, will necessarily be eligible for Cornell credit.

Non-Cornell credit is defined as:

For non-Cornell credit to be accepted by CALS:

  • The coursrework must be completed at a regionally accredited institution in the United States or the student’s country of permanent residence;
  • 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 student will be given credit/exemption out of a course);

Be equivalent in rigor to a Cornell course, as judged by:

  • Course content and/or
  • The use of a textbook similar to that used in the parallel Cornell course and/or
  • 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
  • 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 college transcript is sent directly to Cornell University.

A student may apply a maximum of 60 non-Cornell credits towards their graduation requirements.

  • Students are limited to 15 advanced placement credits (this includes all non-Cornell credit earned before matriculation as a first-year student from an accredited college/university).
  • Global Learning (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 Student Services staff will work with the student to determine which credits best fulfill CALS graduation requirements.

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 Office of Student Services and/or the major department will determine how the credit should be applied.
  • Faculty advisors determine how non-Cornell credit will be applied toward major requirements; the CALS Office of Student Services staff determines how non-Cornell credit will be applied toward CALS graduation requirements.

Students who plan to take courses at another regionally accredited institution should complete a transfer credit pre-approval form located in Chatter Resources or through the CALS Transfer Course database. It is possible that the course a student would like to complete has already been approved. 

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 an official college transcript.

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

  • The course was a standard course available to all students registered at the college/university.
  • The course is taken on a college/university campus with matriculated degree students and is taught by a college/university professor.
  • The course instructor is a faculty member (includes adjunct) at the college offering the course.
  • The course is not listed on the high school transcript as a course counting towards the high school diploma.

Credit may be awarded only after the CALS Freshman Admissions Requirements for Secondary School Subjects criteria has been met.Students must submit the CALS application for credit earned while in High School for each class along with an official college transcript to CALS Office of Student Services, 140 Roberts Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853. The form is located through Chatter Resources.

College Credit Earned by Homeschooled Students

If a student is enrolled in college or university courses during their homeschool experience, non-Cornell credits may be awarded only after the CALS Freshman Admissions Requirements for Secondary -School Subjects criteria has been met. Transfer credit cannot be awarded toward courses used to satisfy secondary school/General Education Diploma (GED) requirements. If a General Education Diploma is awarded, students may be able to apply a maximum of 15 non-Cornell credits, earned before receipt of the General Education Diploma.

Credit by Examination

CALS students can earn up to 15 Advanced Placement (AP) credits.  These credits are awarded by achieving high scores on placement exams or completing college-level coursework that meets the guidelines for transfer while still in high school.  Credits can be applied toward distribution requirements.  More information and scores can be found on the CALS Important Forms and Policies page.


Academic Advising

The academic advising program within the Student Services Office supports all students, serves as the College’s central undergraduate advising office, supports the faculty advising system, and offers consultation and support for academic issues, including the college petitions process.  There are several staff members available to assist students in understanding college/university policies as well as to provide an extra network of support and referral throughout a student’s undergraduate career.

Career Development

Career development services are provided to all students and alumni of the College to help students understand the career opportunities available to them and how they should prepare to take advantage of these opportunities.  These opportunities include self-assessment, career exploration, decision making, and transition to employment or further study.  An active on-campus recruiting program brings more than 135 employers to campus each year to interview students for full-time and summer jobs.  Additionally, the office provides information on hundreds of internships.  Services are designed to assist students and alumni with those activities and to help them develop the career planning and job search skills they will find useful as their career paths progress and change.

Faculty Advisors

Faculty advisors are a crucial resource for undergraduate students.  They are the student’s principal point of contact regarding their academic progress.  Faculty advisors help students with curriculum questions and major requirements.

Pre-Health Advisors

Pre-Health advisors can provide information and answer questions about medical, dental and veterinary schools, health-related careers, and training opportunities.  Additional information about pre-health programs can be found on the Career Services website.

Peer Advisors

Peer advisors are a vital part of the CALS Office of Student Services.  They provide programs, services, and leadership to the global CALS community in a supportive, inclusive, and respectful manner. 

Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions

Students in the College who believe that their circumstances might warrant an exemption from a College rule may submit a petition to the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions. The petition form is online in Chatter Resources or available in the CALS Office of Student Services, 140 Roberts Hall. A petition is usually prepared with the assistance of a student’s faculty advisor. The advisor’s recommendation is helpful to the committee.

The Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions reviews the petition and determines whether the evidence would warrant an exemption or other action.  If the committee does not believe that the case warrants review, the petition will be denied. All decisions are final. Students may appeal a decision only if they can present new information or documentation.

The Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions is a college committee of six faculty and two student members. On behalf of the faculty, the committee:

  • Reviews CALS students’ progress toward meeting graduation requirements.
  • Reviews petitions submitted by students pertaining to exceptions from CALS academic regulations, requirements, policies, and procedures.
  • May reconsider action previously taken by the committee.
  • Reviews petitions for readmission from students previously placed on a required leave by the committee.

Electronic petitions can be found in Chatter Resources. For more information, please review Information on Filing Petitions or contact the CALS Office of Student Services, 140 Roberts Hall.


A student is held responsible for and receives a grade for those courses in which he or she enrolls unless the student officially changes such enrollment. It is College of Agriculture and Life Science policy that a student’s completed academic record is final one year from the date the degree is conferred. After that time, no changes will be made to majors, minors, grades, honors, awards, or any other aspect of a completed academic record.  

Each semester’s work is an entity, and grades are to be assigned for work completed during the normal period of the semester. All faculty are responsible for providing earned grades at the end of each semester for students who are officially enrolled in their course. See Grading Guidelines .


It is rare for a student to request an incomplete. It is far better to plan ahead by using advising and academic support resources to finish coursework on time. While it is the student’s responsibility to initiate a request for a grade of incomplete, reasons for requesting one must be approved by the instructor. The instructor will establish specific make-up requirements and deadlines for completion.

CALS students should not re-enroll in a course where they have received an incomplete (INC). Instead, coursework should be completed under the direction of the course instructor.  An incomplete not made up by the end of two successive semesters reverts to a failure (F). In the case of a graduating senior, incompletes revert to failures at the time of graduation. When a passing grade is submitted, an asterisk appears on their official transcript next to the grade to indicate the initial grade was incomplete.

For additional information, please refer to University guidelines on incompletes found under Grading Guidelines .

R Grades (Multi-term Courses)

R is recorded for satisfactory progress at the end of the first semester of a multi-term course. A course in which a student receives an R grade will count towards a student’s full-time status for the semester. Credits and grade are awarded on the final course at the completion of all classes in a multi-term course.

Grade Changes

Grade changes after the end of the final exam period may be made only in the event of a calculation error or entry error on the part of the instructor. Grade changes based on additional work submitted by a student will not be accepted. 

Academic Honors

The college encourages high academic achievement and recognizes outstanding students in several ways:

1. Dean’s List. Each semester, students are recognized for academic excellence by inclusion on the Dean’s List. The following criteria determine eligibility for the Dean’s List in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences:

  1. a minimum enrolled course load for the semester of 12 letter-graded credits;
  2. achievement of a semester GPA of at least 3.50; and
  3. achievement of an S grade, or a “C-” or better grade in each course (including physical education), with no “Incompletes,” “Withdrawals (W),” or “NGR grades.”
  4. Dean’s List will be granted retroactively if students meet all the requirements after successful course completion of INC grades or NGR grades. It is the students’ responsibility to notify CALS Student Services that Dean’s List should be granted retroactive.

2. Bachelor of Science with Honors

  1. Students receiving a cumulative Cornell GPA of 4.00 or higher will graduate “summa cum laude.”
  2. Students receiving a cumulative Cornell GPA of greater than or equal to 3.75 and less than 4.00 will graduate “magna cum laude.”
  3. Students receiving a cumulative Cornell GPA of greater than or equal to 3.50 and less than 3.75 will graduate “cum laude.”

3. Bachelor of Science with Distinction in Research. Students will graduate with a bachelor of science degree with distinction in research when, in addition to having completed all the graduation requirements, they have satisfactorily completed the research honors program in their area of interest and have been recommended for the degree by the honors committee of that area. Special requirements are given in the section titled Research Honors Program.

4. CALS Honor Society is the undergraduate honor society for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Membership is comprised of the top 10 percent of the senior class. In keeping with the traditions of scholarship, leadership, and citizenship, members are encouraged to provide tutoring services to peer students and participate in various on- and off-campus community service opportunities and programs.

Class Rank

CALS does not compute class rank.

Registration and Course Enrollment


University registration is the official recognition of a student’s relationship with the university and is the basic authorization for a student’s access to campus resources. To become a registered student at Cornell University, a student must adhere to the University Registration requirements. Students can check their registration status using Student Essentials.

Course Enrollment

Through Student Center enrollment pages or submission of a completed add/drop form, students may add and drop classes during the specified enrollment periods (pre-enrollment and add/drop) of each fall and spring semester.  Students select and enroll in up to 18 academic credits during the pre-enrollment* period through Student Center and up to a maximum of 22 credits during Add/Drop. 

*Pre-enrollment is an enrollment request; it is not a guarantee of enrollment. Before the beginning of each semester, course requests are evaluated by the offering college department. At the beginning of the Add/Drop period, it is the student’s responsibility to confirm their schedule in Student Center.  Students can electronically enroll in 18 academic credits during pre-enrollment and are limited to a maximum of 22 credits during the Add/Drop process.

Specific deadlines and further instructions regarding course enrollment are available in the Course Enrollment and Credits  section of this catalog and the Class Roster each semester. Note: individual courses may have add/drop deadlines separate from the University dates.

Minimum number of credits per semester

Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 academic credits per semester to be considered a full-time student in good academic standing.  Students should enroll in an average of 15 academic credits per semester to be on track to graduate in 8 semesters.

Maximum number of credits per semester

Students may not enroll in more than 22 academic credits, up to a maximum of 25 academic credits. An online petition must be submitted by the add deadline through Chatter Resources to the CALS Registrar.  The following criteria must be met:

  • Two semesters of study completed at Cornell.
  • Minimum term GPA of 3.300 in their previous two semesters.
  • Be in good standing with Cornell University and CALS.
  • No incompletes.
  • Approval of the student’s academic advisor.
Repeated Courses

Repeated courses are courses taken a second (or subsequent) time, even if a passing grade was earned. It is the student’s responsibility to inform CALS Office of Student Services and the faculty advisor that they are planning on repeating a course. Note:

  • Both classes and both grades are included on the official transcript (i.e., if a course is repeated, the second course does not replace the first course on the official transcript) and calculated as part of the cumulative GPA.
  • If a student retakes a course in which a passing grade was earned, both grades will be recorded and calculated accordingly as part of their cumulative GPA (grades of U and UX have no impact on a GPA).
  • Credits earned from repeating a course do not count toward the minimum number of credits required for graduation.
  • Repeated course credits count toward the minimum of 12 credits per semester required for good academic standing and full-time status.

Students are allowed to register for repeatable type courses such as special topics or special studies (4960, 4970, 4980, 4990).

Time Conflict

Students will not be able to enroll in two classes that meet at the same time. If you have an exceptional situation that requires enrollment in conflicting classes, contact the CALS Office of Student Services.

Forbidden Overlaps

The university offers a broad range of diverse courses. Many of these courses have overlapping content, and students must make their selections carefully to ensure that they will receive credit for each course they take. Students who enroll in courses with overlapping content will only receive credit for one of those courses. Please refer to the list of courses with overlapping content.

Students may enroll in a course that is considered to be an overlap. It is the student’s responsibility to inform CALS Office of Student Services and the faculty advisor that they are planning on enrolling in a forbidden overlap course. Note:

  • Forbidden overlap courses count toward the minimum of 12 credits per semester required for good academic standing and full-time status.
  • Both courses and both grades are included on the official transcript (i.e., if a class is repeated, the second course does not replace the first course on the official transcript) and calculated as part of the cumulative GPA.
  • Completing a forbidden overlap course will increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the class.
  • Credits earned from a forbidden overlap course do not count toward the minimum number of credits required for graduation.

Undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences may not audit courses.

Enrollment Changes

A student is held responsible for and receives a grade for enrolled courses unless the student officially changes their enrollment.

All changes in courses, credits, grading options, or sections must be made by the student using the online Add/Drop through Student Center or by submitting the official course Add/Drop form at the CALS Office of Student Services, 140 Roberts Hall. Approval of the faculty advisor may be required to change course enrollment. Department or course instructor approval may be required for select courses. Note: Brief add/drop periods exist for half-semester courses.

Students may add courses and change credit hours, if applicable, during the first 15 days of the semester, drop courses and change grading options through the 57th calendar day of the semester. Requests to add a course to previous semesters enrollment are not permitted. Students wishing to withdraw from a course after the end of the 57th calendar day but before the end of the 12th week of the semester must submit a petition with a written statement to CALS Office of Student Services.  Students may petition to withdraw from a course if it does not result in fewer than 12 credits, and there are no issues of Academic Integrity with the class.  Courses with “no drop” policies are not eligible for this process.  Approval of the petition results in the grade of “W” (withdrawn) permanently appearing on the official transcript.  A meeting with a CALS Office of Student Services advisor might be required if there are questions about the above criteria.