Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    Jun 23, 2024  
Courses of Study 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Policies and Procedures

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 

Academic Integrity

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.

The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell is a print-friendly document that includes the actual Code of Academic Integrity. More information can be found on the CALS website.

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 of 12 or more academic credits per semester.
  • Reasonable progress toward meeting the requirements to graduate. Reasonable progress means completing courses to meet both college and major requirements to facilitate graduating within eight semesters.

Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University is committed to helping each student reach his or her full academic potential. Students are encouraged to give thoughtful consideration to their academic and personal goals leading them to take responsibility for their academic choices and decisions. The Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions has two main tasks: (1) to decide on students’ petitions for exceptions to college requirements or rules and (2) to review the records of students who fail to maintain good academic standing and to take appropriate action.  For students not making satisfactory progress, the committee takes appropriate academic action. It accomplishes both tasks with attention to each individual situation.


Students with extenuating circumstances that necessitate exception to normal rules may be eligible to submit a petition to the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions. College and University policies guide petition decisions. 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 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.

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

Academic Actions

At the end of each semester, the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions reviews the records of all students and takes appropriate action, including but not limited to issuing warnings, placing students on academic probation, granting students leave of absence, advising students to withdraw, or suspending or expelling students. Students are urged to explain their academic performance.

Leave of Absence/Return/Withdrawal

Students wishing to take a leave are required to request a voluntary leave of absence with intent to return in a future semester. A leave of absence is granted for up to five years. A request for an extension of the leave past five years must be submitted in writing prior to the end of the last semester on leave. A leave exceeding five years results in an official withdrawal from the University. Due to changing curriculum and major requirements, readmission from a leave five years or greater requires reapplication through CALS Admissions. 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. To satisfy Cornell degree requirements, courses taken at an external institution must be pre-approved. Credit for courses completed at foreign institutions during a leave of absence will not be accepted for transfer credit unless students are returning to their countries of permanent residence during their leave of absence.

Types of Leaves

Voluntary leave. A voluntary leave may be taken for no less than one semester and no greater than five years.  During the semester, a student may request to take a voluntary leave of absence through the last day of the term.  Students who are in good standing with the college at the conclusion of a semester may request to take a voluntary leave to suspend their studies prior to the start of the upcoming semester.  Submitting the form serves as appropriate notification to university offices and assures that the leave is reflected appropriately on the student’s official transcript. Once a leave of absence granted during the semester has been approved, the effective date of the leave is backdated to the date the student submitted the form.   

Voluntary leaves are issued in two ways:

  • Unrestricted for students in good academic standing with no restrictions placed on the length of leave up to five years, or activities pursued.
  • Conditional Leaves are granted by the College on an individual basis. The Office of Student Services will communicate a clear expectation of conditions required for eligibility for return.

Required Leave refer to the Academic Standing section for more information.

Health Leave. Health Leaves cannot be requested with the University leave form. 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.

Return from Leave

A student requesting to return from a leave of absence, voluntary, or conditional must request to return through DUST. All requests for readmission must be received by July 15* for the fall semester and November 30* for the spring semester. Returns from required and conditional leaves 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 request to return to CALS through DUST.

All grading/incomplete policies are in effect during all types of leaves.  If you have questions concerning the make-up of incomplete grades, please speak with an academic advisor in the CALS Office of Student Services.


Voluntary withdrawal. 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 online University Withdrawal Form.  Students not requesting a leave and who fail to become registered will be withdrawn from the university.

Required withdrawal. refer to the Academic Standing section for more information.

*Subject to change

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 (transfer) credit is defined as:
For non-Cornell (transfer) credit to be accepted by CALS:
  • The coursework must be completed at a regionally accredited, degree-granting institution in the United States or the student’s country of permanent residence;
  • For courses taken outside the United States, and not through Cornell sponsored study abroad programs, may be evaluated provided that the coursework is taken at the college level and recorded on an official transcript. Additionally, students who wish to transfer credit(s) from outside of the United States may be requested to submit an international credential evaluation or proof of accreditation for the institution where the coursework was completed.
  • The coursework has been taken through a CALS approved study abroad program and approved prior to departure for a fall or spring semester.
  • The credits do not duplicate course work already completed at Cornell;
  • Quarter-system credit is equivalent to 2/3 semester-credit.
  • 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 (transfer) 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 study abroad program 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.
  • CLEP and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) are not eligible for transfer credit.
  • Grades for courses taken at external institutions do not appear on the official Cornell transcript and are not included in the Cornell cumulative GPA. 
  • External transfer credit will not be awarded for courses taken during a fall or spring semester in which a student is enrolled at Cornell in a degree program.
Transfer 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 (transfer) credit will be applied toward major requirements; the CALS Office of Student Services staff determines how non-Cornell (transfer) credit will be applied toward CALS graduation requirements. Additional course materials may be required to review the course including textbooks, syllabus, etc.
To Pre-approve Non-Cornell (transfer) Credit

Students who plan to take courses at another regionally accredited institution should have prospective transfer courses pre-approved so that you can be certain they will transfer. The form to have college requirements pre-approved can be located through the CALS Transfer Course database. Check with your major advisor to pre-approve a course for a specific major requirement. An official transcript from the offering institution (bearing the institutional seal and Registrar’s signature) must be sent to the CALS Office of Student Services before official transfer credit will be awarded.

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 have 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.

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 have 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.

AP/IB/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 team within the Office of Student Services supports all CALS undergraduate 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 provide an additional network of support and referral throughout a student’s undergraduate career.

Career Development

Career development services are available to support all students and alumni of the College in exploring careers and developing strategies to reach one’s career goals.   Services include self-assessment, support with career exploration, decision making, and transition to employment as well as graduate and professional school. An active on-campus recruiting program brings more than 135 employers to campus each year to interview students for full-time positions and internships.  Services are designed to assist students and alumni in developing the career planning and job search skills necessary to manage one’s career.

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.

International Engagement

To support students’ diverse interests, needs, and desires, there are a variety of international opportunities available to CALS students. The international team within the Student Services Office supports and students on all international opportunities and guide them through the application process. While a semester or academic year may be the more traditional approach to an international experience, this is not the only option. We encourage students to look at all of the opportunities available to them based on their needs, interests, and goals. Having a meaningful international experience can increase a student’s independence, ability to be flexible, and marketability in the workforce.

Pre-Health Advisors

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

Pre-Law Advisors

Pre-law advisors can provide academic and career guidance and answer questions regarding law related careers, law school applications, and identifying experiential opportunities. Additional information about law-related careers can be found on the CALS website and/or 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.


Letter Grades

See ‘Grading Guidelines’.

S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) Grades:

The purpose of the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) system is to encourage students to venture into courses outside their main areas of familiarity without great risk to the academic record.

  • S means satisfactory, as defined by performance that would be graded C- or higher, and U means unsatisfactory, as defined by performance that would be graded below C-. 
  • Cornell does not issue grades on a Pass/Fail basis; the S/U threshold for successfully completing and earning credit for a course is a minimum grade of C-. 
  • Grades of S and U are not given grade point values or considered in computing grade point averages.
  • Students earn credit toward the fulfillment of graduation requirements for course grades of S, but not for course grades of U. 
  • Students must select their grading option by the end of the drop-deadline of the semester. No exceptions to this deadline are permitted.
  • Within the 120 credits required for the degree, a minimum of 100 letter credits must be earned.

More information is in the Grading Guidelines section of the catalog.


The symbol of Incomplete is only appropriate when two basic conditions are met: (1) The student has substantial equity at a passing level in the course with respect to work completed; and (2) the student has been prevented by circumstances beyond their control, from completing all of the course requirements 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. Generally, deadlines are two successive semesters, but instructors may require shorter deadlines. Once a CALS student has graduated, no additional work can be completed.  Evidence of an incomplete remains permanently on the transcript. When the course has been completed, a grade is entered with an asterisk, indicating that it was not completed during the regular semester.

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

Changes in Grades

To avoid the influencing of grades by improper consideration or student pressure, a grade, once given, may only be changed if an error in the original grade is confirmed by the instructor.  The instructor should be willing to review the basis of an assigned grade with an inquiring student and correct the grade if an error is found. As a matter of equity, grades must not be changed after the end of a semester on the basis of a student’s subsequent completion of additional work. Upon graduation, all courses and grades on a student’s transcript are frozen and may not be altered.  For additional information, see faculty legislation regarding Grade Changes.

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.
  1. achievement of a semester GPA of at least 3.50; and
  1. 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.

Registration and 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. Students can check their registration status using Student Essentials

To become a registered student at Cornell University, a student must:

  • settle all financial accounts, including current semester tuition
  • satisfy New York State and university health requirements
  • have no registration holds from their college, Cornell Health, or the Bursar.  

Enrollment in courses does not constitute or imply university registration. Further information can be found on the University Registration page.


Students may add and drop classes during the specified enrollment periods (pre-enrollment and add/drop) of each fall and spring semester through Student Center enrollment pages or submission of a completed add/drop form.  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. Students must enroll in at least one CALS course each semester until 55 CALS credits have been earned. Review or supplemental courses (1000- to 1099-level courses and Physical Education (PE) courses) will not count toward the 12-credit minimum required for full-time status. First-year students may not enroll in more than 18 academic credits (including PE or review/supplemental courses) and are limited to one S-U optional course per semester.

*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

Effective Fall 2020,  The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will have a similar credit limit policy as in past semesters yet will be more strongly enforced. Refer to the CALS website for more information.

Taking a course more than once (repeated)

Students wishing to pursue research opportunities may enroll in Cornell courses such as research or independent study more than once. For more information go to the section in the courses of study.

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 the 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.
  • If a student repeats a course with a non-Cornell (transfer) class after the course has previously been passed at Cornell, the course will not transfer into CALS.
Time Conflict

Effective Fall 2020, students will not be allowed to enroll in two classes with conflicting meeting times.

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 the 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 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.

  • 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.
  • After the academic drop deadline, through the withdrawal deadline for a given term, students may request to withdraw from a class by submitting a petition to the CALS Office of Student Services.
  • If the drop results in a student going lower than 12 academic credits or there are issues of Academic Integrity at stake, a student will be required to meet with a CALS Student Services Advisor before the petition is processed.
  • Courses with “no drop” policies or early drop dates are not eligible for this process.
  • Courses officially dropped after the academic drop deadline will be permanently noted on the transcript with a “W” where the grade would normally appear and there is no impact to the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA).This is a matter of record and is permanent.
  • A meeting with a CALS Office of Student Services advisor might be required if there are questions about the above criteria.