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

Degree Programs

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) offers programs leading to the degrees bachelor of science (B.S.), master of science (M.S.), and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.). Professional degrees include the master of professional studies and master of landscape architecture. Some registered professional licensing and certification programs are also available.

All curricula required for degrees in CALS are registered with the New York State Education Department.

Bachelor of Science Degree

Departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences foster study for the bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in over 20 major programs. To qualify for the degree, students must fulfill requirements established by the faculty of the College and administered through the Office of Academic Programs (CALS Graduation Requirements).

The college learning outcomes expected for all students to earn a B.S. degree are listed below:

  • Explain, evaluate, and effectively interpret factual claims, theories, and assumptions in the student’s discipline(s) (especially in one or more of the college’s priority areas of land grant–agricultural sciences, applied social sciences, environmental sciences, and/or life sciences) and more broadly in the sciences and humanities
  • Find, access, critically evaluate, and ethically use information
  • Integrate quantitative and qualitative information to reach defensible and creative conclusions
  • Communicate effectively through writing, speech, and visual information
  • Articulate the views of people with diverse perspectives
  • Demonstrate the capability to work both independently and in cooperation with others
  • Apply methods of sustainability to the analysis of one or more major challenges facing humans and the Earth’s resources. 

Undergraduate Majors

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers 22 undergraduate majors and more than 25 minors, many of which are cross-departmental to take advantage of the knowledge experience, and expertise of the faculty from several disciplines. Faculty identify a sequence of courses that constitute the requirements for each major.  In addition, all students must meet the minimum distribution requirements of the College. Courses of study are designed to provide systematic development of basic skills and concepts as well as critical thinking. Many majors provide the opportunity for students to concentrate in a particular focal area. The following units offer major fields of study for undergraduates. Students should consult with the faculty or staff coordinator regarding requirements and opportunities for concentrations in the major.

Additional Course Offering Areas:

*Agriculture and Life Sciences (ALS) courses are not associated with any departments, other than instructors from departments or the Center for Teaching Innovation. These courses have broad interest among students across the college.

Double Majors in CALS

Students are admitted into a single major and have the option during their academic career to pursue a second major within CALS as well as complete one or more minors offered by the University. Course requirements for double majors may overlap. Students interested in declaring a second major must contact the department of interest to discuss requirements and identify a second faculty advisor.

Undergraduate Minors

Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences may pursue one or more minor fields of study offered by any department within Cornell University, subject to limitations placed by the department offering the minor or by the student’s major. Minor fields of study do not require an academic advisor, but each minor field has a contact person who will provide information and verify the student will successfully complete the requirements of the minor by graduation. Students may complete as many minors as they wish; the requirements of minors may overlap. Minors offered by CALS are described along with the majors later in the CALS section of this catalog. Not all majors or departments offer minors. Minors available at the university can be found on Cornell University’s academics website.

Graduate and Professional Fields of Study

CALS offers research-centered (MS/PhD) advanced degrees in more than 30 fields of study and course-based professional master’s degrees in several key areas of specialization. While research-centered graduate degrees often lead to academic careers and scientific discovery, professional master’s degrees (MEng, MLA, and MPS) are designed to enhance careers in industry, government, and non-profit agencies. To learn more about graduate degree programs available, reference the listing below of current directors of graduate studies, and review degree programs administered by the Graduate School . General information on graduate study at Cornell University is available on the Graduate School’s website.

Master of Professional Studies (MPS) 

The MPS program is a specialized master’s program designed especially for those who are interested in the growing complexity and diversity of systems and issues in the agricultural, life, social, and environmental sciences. The program offers challenging opportunities for those with appropriate skills, experience, and educational backgrounds. Individuals who have already embarked on professional careers and those who plan to continue education in their current fields or related ones often select this program.

The MPS program emphasizes breadth of training via course work rather than research experience. MPS degree candidates take the same courses as other graduate and professional students and complete a problem-solving capstone project, working with their faculty advisor. CALS offers a variety of MPS degree concentrations and specializations tailored to each student’s professional graduate development objectives. The CALS MPS program is typically completed in one academic year. For more information, visit the CALS MPS website.

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

The intention of this accredited, license qualifying curriculum is the teaching of the theoretical underpinnings of the field of landscape architecture while building the necessary skills for practicing this challenging profession.  The program consist of design studios, courses in technical and computer skills, and the development of a concentration focused on the student’s personal area of interest. Individuals holding an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture or architecture or having unique employment experience may also apply for the MLA degree. Additional details are available on the CALS Landscape Architecture website.


A one-year, course-based master’s degree program that emphasizes professional development and intellectual investigation in the areas of agriculture, life sciences and global development.

  • Instruction Mode: In-Person, Ithaca, NY
  • Length of Program: Full-Time, 30 credits
  • Prerequisites: Students will have met most prerequisites by virtue of the requirements for admission.
  • Twenty credit hours must be taken within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and at least 24 credits must be in courses numbered 4000 or higher.
  • Problem-solving project: A maximum of 6 of the required 30 credit hours may be earned through the student’s problem-solving project.
  • A maximum of 6 credit hours earned outside the program, at Cornell University or elsewhere, may be counted toward these requirements at the discretion of the student’s faculty advisor. These credits must be appropriate to the subject of study and completed not more than five years before admission.
  • One semester must be earned by carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours. In certain circumstances, the second semester credit may be earned by accumulating the remaining credit hours in the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions at Cornell University or through transfer of credit 
  • Additional requirements:              
    • A minimum grade point average of 2.5 (minimum of 18 credit hours with letter grades at Cornell).
    • Completion of the degree within four years of admission. Some fields of study may have special requirements, so students should check with the field’s director of graduate studies for specific details
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), First Professional


A master’s degree program that provides the foundational, historical, theoretical, technical, and skills-based grounding of the field of landscape architecture. The core of the degree program is the design studio that introduces students to fundamental design methodologies and they are asked to pursue and develop their design process and learn about research methodologies. The First Professional 6 Semester MLA degree is accredited by NYSED and LAAB and is a first professional landscape architectural license qualifying degree intended for those students who do not hold a first professional degree in landscape architecture or architecture or pre-professional degree including, but not necessarily limited to, Bachelor of Landscape Studies, Bachelor of Environmental Design, Bachelor of Design, or Bachelor of Architectural Studies.

  • Instruction Mode: In-Person, Ithaca, NY
  • Length of Program: Full-Time, 90 credits, 6 semesters
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), Post Professional


A master’s degree program that provides the foundational, historical, theoretical, technical, and skills-based grounding of the field of landscape architecture. The core of the degree program is the design studio that introduces students to fundamental design methodologies and they are asked to pursue and develop their design process and learn about research methodologies. The Post Professional 4 Semester MLA degree is intended for those students who hold a United States or Canadian accredited first professional degree in landscape architecture or architecture including BLA, BSLA, or BArch degrees.

  • Instruction Mode: In-Person, Ithaca, NY
  • Length of Program: Full-Time, 60 credits, 4 semesters

Dual Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning

The dual degree in regional planning (MRP) and landscape architecture (MLA) prepares students for work in areas such as physical planning, environmental analysis, community development, and urban design — skills which are highly sought after in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Concurrent degree candidates may earn two distinct and independent graduate degrees from both colleges and must satisfy all requirements for both degrees. The dual degree offering is limited to participants in the 90-credit (first professional) MLA program. For further information about the Dual Master’s of Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture, visit the City and Regional Planning website.


Directors of Graduate Studies

Agriculture and life sciences [M.P.S. (agr.)]: Office of Professional Programs, 211 Kennedy Hall,

Animal science: Michael Thonney, 114 Morrison Hall,

Applied economics and management: PhD: Arnab Basu, 441 Warren Hall, MS: Calum Turvey, 450A Warren Hall, MPS: Aija Leiponen, 351C Warren Hall,

Atmospheric sciences: Toby Ault, 1104A Bradfield Hall,

Biochemistry, molecular, and cell biology: Chris Fromme, 457 Weill Hall,

Biological and environmental engineering: Peter Hess, 202 Riley-Robb Hall,

Biophysics: Toshi Kawati, C4-151 Veterinary Medical Center,

Communication: Jeff Niederdeppe, 476 Mann Library,

Computational biology: Jason Mezey, 101B Biotechnology Bldg.,

Development sociology: Fouad Makki, 251C Warren Hall,

Ecology and evolutionary biology: Monica Geber, E413 Corson Hall,

Entomology: Brian Nault, 525 Barton Lab,

Environmental toxicology: Andrew Yen, T4-008 Vet Research Tower,

Food science: Sam Nugen, 241 Stocking Hall,

Genetics, genomics and development: Andrew Grimson, 445 Biotechnology Bldg.,

Horticulture: Thomas Björkman, 205 Hedrick Hall,

International agriculture and rural development [M.P.S. (agr.)]: James Lassoie, 201 Fernow Hall,

International development: James Lassoie, 201 Fernow Hall,

Landscape architecture [M.L.A.]: Josh Cerra, 444 Kennedy Hall,

Microbiology: Joseph Peters, 175A Wing Hall,

Natural resources: Joseph Yavitt, G21 Fernow Hall,

Neurobiology and behavior: Mike Webster, W307 Mudd Hall,

Nutritional sciences: Barbara Strupp, 217 Weill Hall & 102 Savage Hall,

Plant biology: Michael Scanlon, 140 Emerson Hall,

Plant breeding and genetics: Michael Mazourek, 248 Emerson Hall,

Plant pathology and plant-microbe biology: Adam Bogdanove, 360 Plant Science Bldg.,

Soil and crop sciences: Olena Vatamaniuk, 608 Bradfield Hall,

Statistics: James Booth, 1172 Comstock Hall,