Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    May 08, 2021  
Courses of Study 2020-2021

Special Academic Options

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

Degree Programs

The following programs allow students to alter the regular college or major requirements or to work toward more than one degree.

Concurrent Degree Option with Other Colleges

The Concurrent Degree Option enables especially ambitious undergraduate students to pursue programs of study in two colleges. Concurrent Degree candidates may earn both a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and (1) a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Engineering; or (2) a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning; or (3) a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Studies from the Department of City and Regional Planning in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Students enter one of these colleges as freshmen or sophomores and begin the Concurrent Degree Option with the second college in the second or, in some cases, the third year. The Concurrent Degree Option ordinarily takes five years to complete, and students are eligible for 10 semesters of financial aid. For further information contact Richard Keller, Deputy Director of Advising, in the Student Services Office, KG17 Klarman Hall, ( and visit the Office of Internal Transfer and Concurrent Degree website.

Double Registration with and Early Admission to Professional Schools

Registration in the senior year of the College of Arts and Sciences and the first year of Cornell Law School or the Johnson Graduate School of Management is occasionally possible. A very few exceptionally well-prepared students who have earned 105 credits before the start of the senior year and have been accepted by one of the above-named professional schools may be permitted to register simultaneously in the college and in one or another of these professional schools during the seventh and eighth terms. They earn the B.A. degree after the first year of professional school.

Students with 8 or fewer credits and two or fewer courses to complete may apply to enter the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) program during (but no earlier than) their eighth semester; concurrent degree students may enter this program no earlier than the ninth semester. They earn the bachelor degree after their first term with dual enrollment and then formally enter the Graduate School for their final M.Eng. term.

Students interested in the joint program with the Law School, the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA), or the Graduate School of Management, or in early admission to the master of engineering program should apply to the relevant program. All candidates should confirm their eligibility with an advisor in the Student Services Office, KG17 Klarman Hall.

Double-registered students must, of course, complete all requirements for the B.A. degree, including 100 credits in Arts and Sciences courses.

Teacher Education

Students interested in teaching may complete a minor in education at Cornell. Those who complete the minor may pursue teaching in public (including charter) or independent schools. Public school teaching usually requires certification (licensure), which students can attain through a variety of graduate programs around the country. (Cornell faculty listed at can advise students on program options.) An especially convenient and strong option is the program at Ithaca College that leads to New York State licensure and either a Master of Arts in Teaching (for those wishing to teach at the secondary level) or Master of Science in Childhood Education (for those wishing to teach at the elementary level). A special agreement between Cornell and Ithaca College streamlines the application process. For information about Cornell’s minor in education, as well as certification areas available under the agreement with Ithaca College, visit or

Certificate in Liberal Arts (Cornell Prison Education Program)

The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) leads a coalition of regional colleges in providing higher education in several correctional facilities near Ithaca, NY. The Certificate in Liberal Arts is offered at Five Points Correctional Facility in Auburn, NY. Incarcerated students are non-matriculates, but earn Cornell credits which can be transferred to other colleges where the students later matriculate. The Cornell Prison Education Program will govern the certificate program, including admission, oversight, and student advising.

To qualify for the Certificate in Liberal Arts, students must pass courses from Cornell in each of the following areas:

  1. Writing – one course will teach the art of writing.

  2. Literature/Humanities - one course in the humanities studies the way meanings and pleasures are created by the cultural forms—literature, philosophy, the arts–that answer those human needs.

  3. Social Science - one course to expose students to systematic study of the ways that individuals, society, and institutions shape (and are shaped by) the world we live in.

  4. History - one course to introduce students to history as an interpretive discipline that uses different social scientific and humanistic methodologies to unlock knowledge of the past so as to better understand the present and as well as what the future may hold.

  5. Science/Mathematics - one course in science or mathematics provides practice and understanding of quantitative reasoning and a first-principles approach to the application of fundamental knowledge.

  6. Independent Research Project.

Special-Interest Options

The following options enable students to pursue special interests within the usual degree programs.

Independent Study and Undergraduate Research

Independent study affords students the opportunity to pursue special interests or research not treated in regularly scheduled courses. A faculty member, who becomes the student’s instructor for the independent course, must approve the proposed study and agree to provide continuing supervision of the work.

An excellent way to benefit for undergraduates to benefit from being at a research university is to participate in ongoing faculty research. About 400 students participate each year in undertaking research and earning independent study credit for what they learn and contribute. They sharpen their critical and creative abilities and test their interest in pursuing a research career. Sometimes they publish their work.

Students interested in research should consult the director of undergraduate studies in the department of interest to find out about available opportunities and can also consult The Cornell Undergraduate Research Board, an undergraduate organization, conducts an annual open house to help students get started in research and an annual forum at which undergraduates present their work.

To apply for independent study, students must, in agreement with their independent study faculty supervisor, complete the online form and submit it before the add deadline. On this form, students must outline a proposal for independent study, describing the proposed project, the expected results/deliverables, the number of hours of work and supervision and the number of credits. The faculty supervisor will need to approve the independent study form electronically once submitted and include the number of credit hours.

Independent Study should be regarded as at least as demanding as a regular course assignment. The following are guidelines for assigning credit for independent study:

  • In a laboratory, approximately three to five hours of work per week is usually expected for each credit.
  • In tutorials in the humanities and social sciences, the amount of work required for an independent study should more than equal the amount required for a regular course (three hours of work and one class meeting per week for each credit).
  • For one or two credits, the written work may be a series of short assignments, project reports, or compilation of data.
  • For three or four credits, students should produce an integrated written paper as is required in an advanced seminar, or a detailed laboratory report which includes critical bibliographical work and an explication of the context of the particular study. In some cases the project itself - a film, a novel, a construction - replaces written results of research. But in all cases something reviewable must be produced. Credit may not be awarded for experience alone.

Note there are the following restrictions:

  • Students who are being paid for assisting faculty in research cannot earn course credit for that work.
  • In one semester students may earn up to six credits of independent study with one instructor or up to eight credits with more than one instructor.

Prelaw Study

Law schools seek students with sound training in the liberal arts and sciences; they neither require nor prefer any particular program of study. Students should therefore study what they love and do well. While doing that, they should also develop their powers of precise, analytical thinking and proficiency in writing and speaking. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are applying to law school are encouraged to consult the Pre-Law Advisor in A&S Career Development, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall (

The college offers a minor in law and society. This program offers a broad scope, complements almost any major, and attracts many students not intending to become lawyers as well as some who do. For further information, visit the Law and Society minor webpage.

Health Careers

The breadth and depth afforded by a liberal arts education are invaluable for students planning health careers, whether they intend to practice or go into research. Such education has a profound effect on the health professional’s understanding of the world and hence usefulness to patients, and it affords the flexibility of mind that is needed for major research undertakings. Health professions schools do not prescribe or even prefer a particular major; they do, however, require particular undergraduate courses. Students who are interested in health careers are urged to meet with a pre-health advisor in either 172 Goldwin Smith Hall ( or KG17 Klarman Hall ( Interested students can also access additional information at

Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity

The Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity is a highly-selective program for students who want a small cohort experience which fosters team building, collaborative learning and lifelong relationships. The Program combines a superb liberal arts education in Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences with cutting-edge programs for undergraduates at Cornell Tech in New York City. Milstein Program students understand the necessity of a diverse set of skills to tackle today’s most challenging issues. The interdisciplinary learning experience of the Milstein Program helps students become innovative leaders across a broad spectrum of fields—leaders who are both tech-savvy and steeped in humanistic values.

The Milstein Program is supported by three courses:

All Milstein students choose among 40 majors in the College of Arts & Sciences and pursue a broad and rigorous course of study in the liberal arts and sciences. Students interested in majoring in computer science will need to double major and choose an additional major within the College. During their first two years, students in the Milstein Program prepare for summer study at Cornell Tech by taking courses in math, computer science, statistics and data analysis.

During the summers after the sophomore and junior years, students will live and learn at the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City with access to leading thinkers and practitioners in technology, industry and design, and all that the city offers.

College of Engineering Co-op

The College of Engineering Co-op is an educational experience combining academic and career interests with industry experience, offering the opportunity to clarify academic focus and test career interests and goals. While the Co-op semester and Co-op summer term do not count as semesters of residency in the College of Arts and Sciences, students may be able to retain their initial graduation date through early graduation or summer session enrollment. Arts and Sciences students wishing to participate in the Co-op program should contact the Engineering Co-op Office at and may wish to discuss their academic plan with an advisor in the A&S Student Services Office.

Study Away Programs

Many students find it important to their majors or to their overall academic programs to study away from campus or abroad for one or two semesters. The college encourages its students to pursue such studies and grants credit toward the degree for work satisfactorily completed. Students should discuss their interest to study away with their academic advisors early on during their time at Cornell so they can plan their course schedule accordingly.

Study Abroad

The College of Arts and Sciences encourages study, both on campus and abroad, that provides a greater understanding of the world’s peoples, cultures, economies, and environments, and prepares graduates for the challenges of international citizenship in the twenty-first century. Study abroad programs approved by Arts and Sciences provide educational immersion through study at foreign institutions alongside degree candidates rather than in self-contained programs with courses specially designed for foreigners. The college approves only those study abroad proposals demonstrating realistic and coherent academic goals consistent with the philosophy of a liberal arts education. The college does not approve study abroad that tours more than one country or that is more touristic than scholarly in content and structure. International students will not be approved to study in their home country.

The Office of Global Learning provides general advising on program choices and coordinates the application process. Detailed information on approved programs and the application process can be found on the Office of Global Learning’s website. Students apply to their specific program through the Office of Global Learning, while also completing the college’s course approval form.

See for a full listing of all Arts and Sciences study abroad policies.

Students who have questions about the study abroad program should make an appointment to meet with Advising Dean Peggy Parmenter.

Requirements for College Approval

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher and good academic standing
  • Good academic standing, including having no unresolved grades of “Incomplete” prior to starting the study abroad program
  • Language study at the required level
  • Completion of Area Studies course work
  • Acceptance into a major or eligibility to affiliate with a major
  • Fulfillment of the Arts and Sciences residency requirement
  • A 3.0 cumulative GPA in language study at Cornell, in addition to the overall GPA requirement, for students applying to study abroad in a language other than English.
  • Fulfillment of foreign university or program requirements
Language Preparation

The college’s language requirement for study abroad varies depending on the program, the region of the world, and whether the language is taught at Cornell.

English-speaking countries: All study abroad in English-speaking countries is undertaken through direct university enrollment. Arts and Sciences students will engage in a full course of study alongside regular degree candidates in the host country. For study in the UK especially, substantial academic work in the major field will be considered essential for university acceptance, and students will be expected to select half of their courses at the advanced level in their majors.

Non-English-speaking countries: In general, English-language programs in non-English-speaking countries are acceptable only if the host-country language is not offered at Cornell, and if the program of study allows direct access to regular university courses, taught in English, for degree candidates of that institution. Formal, accredited study of the host country language must be a part of the academic curriculum.

For study abroad in non-English-speaking countries (the language of which is taught at Cornell), students must complete at least two semesters of language study at the 2000 level. Some programs in France, Spain, and Latin America may require one to two semesters of additional language study.

Generally speaking, approved programs for study abroad in French-, Spanish-, Italian-, German-, Portuguese- and Russian-speaking countries must offer all academic instruction in the language of the host country, with direct access to regular university courses alongside degree-seeking students at that institution. Students may enroll in program courses offering upper-level language instruction and topical courses taught in the host language, but at least 50% of academic coursework must be completed in regular university courses. University-based courses that are offered exclusively for foreign students and are not part of the degree structure for regular degree-seeking students will not be considered eligible for credit.

Study abroad in Africa follows direct-enrollment rules for Anglophone countries, and language immersion rules for Francophone countries.

For study abroad in Asia and the Middle East, coursework entirely in the host language is not always practical even after two or more years of language preparation at Cornell. For these world regions, students may be approved for programs that combine upper-level language study with additional subject coursework in English. Students who begin language study in the sophomore year may be approved for language-intensive study abroad with fewer than the recommended semesters of prior study. These should make an appointment with Advising Dean Peggy Parmenter to discuss their eligibility.

Department-specific programs: Several academic departments in the college endorse programs for their majors that do not fully meet the Arts and Sciences requirement for direct enrollment or language immersion:

  • Classics: Duke-ICCS program in Rome or Sicily
  • Performing and Media Arts: BADA, London
  • Math: Math in Moscow Program; Budapest Semester in Mathematics; Budapest Semester in Mathematics Education
  • Cognitive Science: Osnabrück exchange

While prior language preparation is not required for these programs, it is strongly encouraged.

Other specialized programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the college in consultation with the DUS of the major department. In all cases, the college GPA and area studies requirements will apply.

The Cornell-in-Rome program, administered by the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning, is open to Arts & Sciences students and does not require previous study of Italian. For further information, please contact that program directly.

Area Studies

At least one course in the history, culture, economics, politics, or social relations of the country of destination (3 or more credits, usually at the upper level) is required as part of every student’s preparation for study abroad. A list of approved area studies courses offered each semester for a specific country or world region may be found on the Arts and Sciences Study Abroad website. Students planning to study in Australia or New Zealand typically cannot fulfill this requirement at Cornell and therefore must enroll in an area studies course while abroad.

Residency Requirement

The College of Arts and Sciences allows a maximum of two semesters approved study away from the Cornell campus to count toward semesters in residence. Transfer students from external institutions may use a maximum of one semester of study away from campus for the residency requirement. Approved semesters include Cornell in Washington, SEA Semester, Cornell in Rome, the Cornell China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program, and all A&S approved study abroad destinations. See “Residency Requirement” under “College Graduation Requirements” for more information.

Grades and Credits

Students who successfully complete a full academic load of approved courses will earn 15 Arts and Sciences credits toward their degree for each semester abroad. All students must enroll in a full course load as defined by the host institution, and all courses must be taken for a letter grade. Students attending programs that use the US credit system for evaluation must enroll in a minimum of 15 academic credits. All coursework must be eligible for Arts and Sciences credit. Any course that falls outside the scope of the liberal arts and sciences may only be taken with the prior approval of Advising Dean Peggy Parmenter, and will earn non-Arts credits. Students are limited to one such course per semester.

Two terms at Oxford or Cambridge may earn up to 20 credits. Some foreign universities offer courses for visiting students that are not eligible for any academic credit. Orientation or pre-session courses will not normally earn academic credit from the college even though they appear on the transcript. Students may not earn additional credit for enrolling in extra courses during the semester or year abroad, and may not register for independent study credit at Cornell while they are enrolled in programs abroad. All proposed courses must be approved by a faculty advisor and Peggy Parmenter as part of the application process, and any later changes must have their approval for assurance of credit. Major credit is decided by the department only after completion of study abroad and examination of all relevant coursework. Final credit for study abroad can be awarded only after completion of the term abroad, after the college receives the official program transcript.

All courses and grades will be listed on the Cornell transcript. Grades earned abroad are not converted to the Cornell grade scale and are not calculated into the Cornell GPA. Credit from study abroad may be used to satisfy distribution requirements.

Internship opportunities on some Cornell programs abroad are available as an option in addition to full-time study rather than as a medium for earning academic credit. Programs that place internships at the center of their curricula are not approved by Arts and Sciences. Some programs allow registration in an internship program without awarding academic credit; students who elect this opportunity must remain enrolled in the equivalent of 15 academic credits. Students on the Hansard Scholars Programme in London, an exception approved by the Government Department, will earn 12 Arts and Sciences credits for the semester.

Cornell in Washington

Cornell in Washington is a fall or spring semester, or summer, program in the heart of Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital.  This unique experience offers students in all colleges an opportunity to earn full academic credit for a semester or summer in Washington, D.C.  Students take part in small seminars led by Cornell faculty, and gain work experience through an internship of their choosing. In the fall and spring semesters, students also have the chance to carry out individual research projects. Learn more about Cornell in Washington, Semester Program .

Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML)

Shoals Marine Laboratory is Cornell University’s own marine field station on Appledore Island, located in the Isles of Shoals archipelago in the Gulf of Maine. SML focuses on marine science education, research and sustainability, and is open to students in all majors across Cornell. The lab offers introductory biology courses (BIOSM 1780 BIOSM 1610 BIOSM 1500 ) that fulfill college requirements, as well as a wide range of upper-level courses, all with an emphasis on hands-on biological field work. Courses are taught in two-week blocks all summer, and earn credits that show up directly on Cornell transcripts. Scholarships, paid internships and student employment opportunities are available to all Cornell students. Visit Shoals Marine Laboratory for a complete list of opportunities.