Courses of Study 2021-2022 
    May 19, 2024  
Courses of Study 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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.

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.

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 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 a maximum of six credits of independent study or project team with one instructor or a maximum of eight credits with more than one instructor or project team.

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 should refer to the Pre-Health Resources website.

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. Students apply during admission to Cornell, with some space reserved for current students to apply in the spring of their first year. 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 these 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. Milstein Program students take two elective courses from among this approved list, including Milstein Faculty Fellow seminars (which are open to all students). These courses study the social, cultural, economic, environmental, physical and psychological impact of technology and explore concepts of design thinking, research methods, or community engaged project work.

  • Electives may be taken at any time during the Milstein Program
  • Students may petition to include other courses outside the approved list

In their junior year Milstein Program scholars undertake an original, collaborative research project focusing on the theme of innovation and change; partner with a local non-profit, institution, student or community group; work closely with another Milstein Program scholar; present their research at the end of their junior year (or senior fall). Each junior in the program receives funding for their project. 

During the summer, sophomores participate in programming in-residence 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 does not count as a semester of residency in the College of Arts and Sciences, students may be able to retain their initial graduation date through early graduation or additional 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 experience 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 in study away programs 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’s Education Abroad office provides general advising on program choices and coordinates the application process for all Cornell students. For detailed information on approved programs and the application process, see Education Abroad.

Students will also work with their Arts and Sciences study abroad advisor as they plan how their study abroad coursework will integrate into the Arts and Sciences curriculum. Arts and Sciences students who wish to study abroad should review, and then make an appointment to meet with their Arts and Sciences study abroad advisor.

Requirements for College Approval to Study Abroad

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Good academic standing
  • Acceptance into a major or eligibility to affiliate with a major
  • For students applying to non-English speaking programs, completion of language coursework at the required level, with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA in language courses. (Some programs may require a higher language GPA)
  • Must be applying to a study abroad program approved by Arts and Sciences
  • Must be a second-semester sophomore, a junior, or a first-semester senior during the study abroad semester(s). Students may not study abroad in their final semester
  • No unresolved grades of “Incomplete” prior to start of the study abroad program
  • Must fulfill the Arts and Sciences residency requirement (see Residency Requirements  for the College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Must fulfill any additional requirements set by the study abroad program
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.

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 may require one to two semesters of additional language study.

In general, 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. Approximately 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. As such, students can often be approved for language-intensive study abroad in these world regions with fewer than the full two years of language instruction prior to their departure. These students should make an appointment with their A&S study abroad advisor to discuss their eligibility.

Department-specific programs: Some 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
  • Cognitive Science: Osnabrück exchange
  • Math: Math in Moscow Program; Budapest Semester in Mathematics; Budapest Semester in Mathematics Education
  • Performing and Media Arts: BADA, London
  • Physics: BU-University of Geneva/CERN

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 other requirements to study abroad will still 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

All students wishing to study abroad are strongly encouraged to take a course on the history, culture, economics, politics, or social relations of the country or world region of the study abroad destination—either here at Cornell or while abroad.  As students prepare to study abroad, they should thoughtfully consider whether their experience abroad would be most enhanced by taking an area studies course at Cornell before their departure, or by taking it as one of their study abroad courses.

Credits and Grades

Students who successfully complete a full academic load of approved liberal arts 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. No credit is awarded for grades below a C (or the equivalent).
  • Students may not earn additional credit for enrolling in extra courses during the semester or year abroad.
  • 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 the student’s Arts and Sciences study abroad advisor, and will earn non-Arts credits. Students are limited to one such course per semester.
  • Internships will not earn academic credit. Students who elect to participate in an internship opportunity must remain enrolled in the equivalent of 12-15 academic credits. (If students elect to take an internship course, they nearly always would earn 12 rather than 15 academic credits.)
  • Students may not register for independent study credit or any other courses at Cornell while they are enrolled in programs abroad.

All proposed study abroad courses must be approved by the student’s A&S study abroad advisor as part of the application process, and any later changes to this list of approved courses must have their approval for assurance of credit. Credit from study abroad may be used to satisfy distribution requirements with the approval of the study abroad advisor.

Major credit is confirmed 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, and after the college receives the official program transcript.

All courses and grades will be listed on the Cornell transcript as they appear on the study abroad transcript. Grades earned abroad are not converted to the Cornell grade scale and are not calculated into the Cornell GPA.

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 study away semesters include all A&S approved study abroad destinations, Cornell in Washington, Cornell in Rome, and the Cornell China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program. See Residency Requirements  on the Arts & Science Graduation Requirements page in this catalog for more information.

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 the 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 1500 BIOSM 1610 BIOSM 1780 ) 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.